Forget waiting in that line at the drive-thru for some chicken nuggets. You can make these at home and they’re going to blow you away.
I am sharing my cowboy-style chicken nugget recipe and you all are going to love it. I went and drove through McDonald’s and the Burger King and picked up some samples for comparison and came up with a far superior nugget recipe that you can find below, and the secret is in the crust batter.
TIP: Chilling the chicken nuggets in the ice box with buttermilk makes them tender and fry up better.
Start a few hours before you want to eat, and grab a big boneless chicken breast. Trim all of the fat off. Cut the chicken into 1” cubes. Pour buttermilk over top and let them sit in the ice box for about four hours. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts you’ll probably get 15 to 20 nuggets out of this.
TIP: Slice the chicken into equal-sized pieces so they fry for the exact same amount of time.
Corn Starch: Not Only For Making the Batter Sticky!
Y’all, here’s a cowboy tip of a different color. I’ve been on many long drives – not the kind with the car, the kind with cattle – and after a few hours of that kind of friction on a horse, it can start to get uncomfortable down there. Catch my drift?
Well. Put some of this corn starch where you’ve got some problems with too much friction and it will keep all that chafing at bay. I’m full of all kinds of useful information, see, and you never know when you’re gonna get it. You’re welcome. Trust me, if you ever need this stuff, you’ll be thanking me!
Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Recipe
Where were we? Oh! Corn starch for food!
For the dredging flour, start with about a cup and a half of all-purpose flour. Add the corn starch and all the spices, including Red River Ranch Original Seasoning. It’s the smoked paprika that’s going to give it that traditional fried chicken color and help the nuggets fry up beautiful golden brown. Of course, smoked paprika gives everything a wonderful flavor.
Once the flour mixture is finished and whisked all together, grab a second bowl. Crush up a few handfuls of Saltine crackers. These are going to add a crunch to the outer layer of the nugget, so we aren’t going to mix the cracker crumbles with the flour mixture.
Tip: Don’t crush the crackers into a powder because you want some crunch left.
Lard Have Mercy
To make these chicken nuggets perfect – go all the way back in time to what Mama used to do and fry them in lard. It’s cheaper, and will add the perfect flavor. The oil needs to be right at 330 degrees to start so that these fry evenly.
Fry these nuggets in Cast Iron. Cast Iron holds a more consistent heat and is going to give you perfect, evenly fried chicken.
Batter Up the Nuggets
Start by taking a fork and piercing a piece of chicken that should still be soaking in the buttermilk. Dip the chicken in the flour mixture, then back in the buttermilk, then back in the flour mixture, and then in the cracker crumbs. Smush the crumbs into the nugget with your hands and set the nugget on the wire rack. We want these to sit for about five minutes to give the batter time to stick a little better.
Time for the Fryer
Use a spatula to place the nuggets in the hot oil, one by one. The nuggets are going to cool off the oil so at this point, heat it up a little more so that the oil stays at about 325-330 degrees the entire time these nuggets cook. When golden, gently remove with tongs or a spatula and let them cool on a wire rack for at least five minutes. These nuggets are hot!
When they’re cooled, dip them in your favorite sauce and enjoy. You do not ever have to leave your house for delicious, crispy chicken nuggets again.
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Cowboy Chicken Nuggets – Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
- 2 to 3 cups buttermilk
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons dry minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Kent’s Original seasoning or your favorite all purpose seasoning
- 1 sleeve saltine crackers
- Lard or oil for frying
- Trim off any excess fat from the chicken and cut into about 1-inch cubes.
- Place the cubes in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Cover and place in the icebox for about 4 hours.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, dry mustard, onion powder, smoked paprika, minced garlic and Kent’s seasoning.
- Crumble the crackers into a small bowl.
- With a fork or tongs, remove the chicken cubes from the buttermilk, one at a time, and dredge through the flour mixture to thoroughly coat. Dip back into the buttermilk, followed by the flour mixture, back into the buttermilk and finish by coating them well in the crumbled cracker crumbs. Lightly press the crumbs into the chicken to help the breading stay on. Place on a wire rack and let rest about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add about 3 inches of Lard or oil to a Dutch oven or deep fryer and heat to about 325 to 330 degrees F.
- Add a few nuggets to the lard/oil at a time. Roll the nuggets around as they fry until they are a rich golden brown and crispy, about 4 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.
Original seasoning available at KentRollins.com