This recipe for Low-Carb Chicken Nuggets with creamy mustard sauce takes the carbs out of a family favorite. These nuggets can be part of a keto, low-carb, dairy-free, or gluten-free diet.
Note: This recipe was originally published on June 1, 2016. It has been edited to update the post and photos.
The recipe for Low Carb Chicken Nuggets
This keto-friendly fried chicken nugget recipe is a healthier version of fast-food chicken nuggets. The lightly herbed grain-free breading complements the creamy garlicky goodness of the sauce. The nuggets may not come with a toy like the ones from a fast food restaurant, but they are sure to please the entire family.
There’s a reason chicken nuggets are on almost every existing kid’s menu. Kids love them! Unfortunately, most restaurant chicken nuggets have unhealthy oxidized fats, gluten, and MSG. My homemade fried chicken nuggets use almond flour as the breading base, and real seasonings, like garlic and thyme instead of artificial flavorings.
I pan fry these nuggets in avocado oil because of the health benefits and how well it holds up to high heat. When done, the nuggets boast a crisp, golden brown crust, and juicy, tender center. These nuggets are sure to be a treat you can’t get enough of.
If you prefer to bake the nuggets, I have you covered! I include baking instructions below.
If you live a keto lifestyle, you know hard it is to find healthy, low-carb chicken nuggets that taste good. I know the struggle too well.
This recipe was born from my desire to provide a chicken nugget recipe that tastes even better than fast food chicken nuggets, but is still low carb and keto-friendly. In this recipe, I combine the crispiness, color, and deliciousness of the traditional chicken nuggets minus the added carbs.
This recipe is straightforward and takes only 25 minutes to make. The fried nuggets taste so good, everyone will ask for more.
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What is the healthiest oil for frying food?
While opinions differ on what oil is the healthiest for frying, I prefer avocado oil. It’s loaded with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and resists breaking down under the higher temperatures needed to fry, sauté or sear foods.
Monounsaturated fatty acids such as the oleic acid found in avocados are linked to better heart-health. Because of this, using avocado oil instead of other, more inflammatory oils, may lower your risk of heart disease.
Sadly, avocado oil is costlier than other oils.
What can I substitute for avocado oil?
If you don’t have avocado oil, but want to make our fried chicken nugget recipe, you can substitute it with almond, coconut oil, or light olive oil. These oils each have their own health benefits and don’t break down easily under intense heat–if you use a refined version.
Coconut oil has a rich vanilla-ish flavor and may not be ideal for all recipes. The refined versions have a milder taste. Coconut oil is also solid at room temperature so you’ll need to melt it before using it. In this case, you can simply melt it in the pan before adding the nuggets.
Refined almond oil has a mild flavor, is great for pan-frying, and would work well with this recipe.
For most cooking purposes, we prefer less processed oils, but refined oils have a much higher smoking point. Since frying involves cooking at high temperatures, we prefer the potential loss of nutrients during the refining process as preferable to setting off the smoke detector and burning the house down.
If you have allergies, are on a tight budget, or just prefer other oils, fret not. You can substitute other oils in my fried chicken nugget recipe. Choose an oil you enjoy, but be sure it can hold up to heat.
Can you eat fried chicken on keto?
You might wonder if fried chicken is low carb, or even if fried chicken is keto-friendly. In fact, you can eat fried chicken on a ketogenic diet, but not the kind you get in a fast food restaurant.
The ingredients used in traditional fried chicken make it high-carb, which don’t work for those who live a keto lifestyle. However, fried chicken can be low carb when it’s made using a low-carb coating such as those containing almond flour.
Are fried chicken nuggets low carb?
One of my favorite ways to enjoy fried chicken is in the form of chicken nuggets. The smaller pieces of chicken cook through quickly, and it’s easier to get the middles done without burning the coating. Besides, who doesn’t love a meal that makes you feel like a kid again?
Like any other fried chicken, chicken nuggets can either be low carb or high carb. The difference is in the recipe.
For a low-carb fried chicken nugget recipe, handpick the flour and moisture coating. Leave out the wheat-based breading and avoid high-carb flour options. These include wheat flour, corn flour, crushed flaked corn cereal, rice cereal, panko, or other grain and starch-based breading alternatives.
Making your keto chicken nuggets with almond flour, like I do in this recipe, is one way to ensure they are low carb.
In addition to keeping the crumb coating low-carb, you also need to consider the moisture coating. When preparing low-carb homemade fried chicken nuggets, keep away from high carb, sugar containing moisture coatings such as ranch dressing, milk, or other sweetened salad dressings. These choices will increase the carb content of the final recipe. In this recipe, I use egg as my low carb choice.
What goes with chicken nuggets?
My fried keto chicken nugget recipe works with a variety of dishes. This varies depending on your taste, preference, or the occasion.
I like to serve these keto-friendly nuggets with a simple vegetable like our roasted green bean recipe or roasted Brussels sprouts. The kids might enjoy these broccoli cheese nuggets from Joy Filled Eats or these baked cucumber chips with salt and vinegar from Low Carb Yum.
A simple salad with my low-carb sesame ginger dressing or keto-friendly blue cheese dressing would make a great pairing as well.
Our bacon and blue cheese coleslaw would be another option.
BUT, who wants fries with their keto chicken nuggets? While potato fries won’t work on a low-carb diet, these pumpkin fries from Low Carb No Carb, these celeriac fries from Keto Vegetarian Recipes, and these Jicama fries from Butter Together all make great low-carb fry alternatives.
For those who prefer onion rings over fries, this keto-friendly onion ring recipe from Kimspired is a real treat. Of course, most people enjoy some ketchup with their fries! Step Away from the Carbs has an entire post that covers recipes for low-carb ketchup.
Can I bake keto chicken nuggets?
Baking chicken nuggets is an alternative method to frying these nuggets. The technique uses less oil, so some may prefer it.
To bake our chicken nuggets, start by preheating the oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Next, prepare the baking sheet. Line the sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat, then grease it well with your oil or fat of choice. Just be sure the oil has a high smoke point.
Prepare the nuggets in the same way you would if you were going to fry them. Instead of frying them, place them on the prepared sheet.
Bake the nuggets in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, flip, then bake them for another 10 minutes.
Is homemade fried food bad for you?
While l don’t like to eat fried food daily, I do love it and enjoy an occasional splurge. By making it at home, I can control the ingredients and preparation to minimize the risks. This recipe for keto chicken nuggets is an example of this.
While I’ve already discussed why the ingredients in the chicken nuggets affect nutrition, the type of oils and their treatment also make an impact.
In addition, to the choice of oils and coatings, it’s important to point out that homemade fried chicken nuggets only use oil once, so less of the oil will oxidize and fewer toxic compounds will be created.
Final words about our Keto Chicken Nuggets
Whether you make these nuggets to satisfy your inner child, or for the kids in your life, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I mean, who doesn’t love a meal where eating with your fingers is acceptable and encouraged. Enjoy!
Chicken Nuggets with Creamy Mustard Sauce
For the sauce
For egg mixture
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the coating
For the nuggets
- 1 pound pasture raised chicken breasts or tenders Cut into bite sized pieces, about ½ inch by ¾ inch.
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (may need more depending on the type of pan)
For the sauce
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients until smooth.
For the egg mixture
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the egg mixture, whisk until smooth.
For the coating mixture
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the coating mixture, stir until well mixed.
For the nuggets
Dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, then coat with almond flour mixture
Preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Heat about the avocado oil in the pan. In batches, add coated pieces to the heated pan. Brown on all sides, then, if necessary, decrease heat to medium low until chicken pieces are cooked through.
- Serve with sauce.