I live in a tiny town 25 minutes out of Ft worth that has ZERO fast food places. Not even a McDonalds or Sonic or Dominos. I avoid fast food anyway, but when a craving strikes I really have no choice but to get creative. These are like a healthier version of Chick-fila. I can pronounce all the ingredients, and they are shallow fried in HIGH benefit avocado oil. Spoiler alert: don’t try to bake them. Its doesn’t work and they get weird and sticky. I already tried for you. Just fry them, and enjoy them. Guilt doesn’t have a place in my kitchen and it shouldn’t take up residence in yours either. And this is a totally CLEAN, primal and paleo friendly recipe.
- First, lets talk about the “weirder” ingredients you will need for this recipe. In the baking aisle of any grocery store where the flours/corn meal and breadcrumbs are typically there is a gluten free section of flour and baking alternatives.
- Tapioca starch is super light, airy and results in an almost weightless chicken nugget. I wouldn’t recommend baking with it, because it absorbs moisture rather quickly but for a quick fry, its fantastic. It will either be labeled tapioca flour or tapioca starch but its the same thing.
- Coconut flour is exactly what it sounds like: coconuts. It smells a little sweet, but doesn’t taste sweet when we mix it with spices. Its much lower in cholesterol than regular flour, so its a smart alternative even if you aren’t trying to avoid gluten intentionally.
- We fry them in avocado oil because it has a higher smoke point than EVOO, coconut oil or ghee and its tons healthier than canola, sunflower, peanut, soybean or other oils. Its important to use avocado oil because when a smoke point is reached, the nutrients break down and sometimes the oil can be harmful to you. This oil can cook up to 500 degrees before it begins to break down.
Ingredients: (This recipe works for 1 to 3 large chicken breasts. If this is your first time frying- start with one Chicken breast which is enough to feed easily 2-3 people.) If you make 3 you will be frying for about 30 minutes and it will make about 5 batches. Get comfortable with it, and you can always make more.
- 1-3 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (trimmed of fat, diced into small nuggets)
- 2 Eggs
- 3 TBSP white vinegar
- 4 TBSP coconut milk
- 1 1/2 C. Tapioca Starch
- 3 TBSP coconut flour
- 2 TBSP Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Celery Salt
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 3/4 c Avocado Oil for frying. (if you are using ONE chicken breast, 1 cup is enough)
- Dice your chicken breasts on a plastic or glass cutting board (wood will just soak in bacteria) and set aside. In a medium sized bowl, mix together your wet ingredients. Crack in your eggs, add your vinegar and your coconut milk and whisk together until totally combined. Set aside.
2. Assemble your dry ingredients. In a large bowl, add the tapioca starch, the coconut flour, the chili powder, celery salt, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Gently whisk or use a fork to combine the ingredients really well. Set aside.
3. I ALWAYS dip, dredge and get all of my chicken coated and waiting for me before I turn on the oil. Because of the texture or the tapioca starch, you’ll need to fry pretty quickly so you want your chicken to be waiting on your oil, not vice versa. Make your assembly line. The cutting board with the nuggets, then the egg mixture, then the bowl with the tapioca starch and spices, then a plate to put them on next to the stove with the oil. This makes the process pretty seamless.
4. Begin coating all of the nuggets. I use tongs to help me get 5 or 6 at a time into the egg mixture, stir them around and then drop into the flour/spice mix. Coat them really well in the flour mixture, shake off the excess and set them gently on the clean plate next to the stove. I use my hands to get the nuggets out of the flour mixture so that its easier to shake off the excess. Repeat this process until they are all coated and ready.
5. In a large 12-14 inch high sided skillet similar to the one shown below (you can click on any photo to make it larger) heat avocado oil on medium high heat. Depending on your stove this may take about 4 minutes. If you have an “ugly” nugget use it to test the temperature of the oil. When you gently lay the nugget in (NEVER toss things into hot oil), it should bubble and make a noise instantly- if this doesn’t happen, take it out, wait 2 more minutes then begin. Put as many as you can into your oil without overlapping or touching. Fry for 4 minutes on one side, then use a CLEAN pair of tongs to flip and fry for 2 more minutes. They should be a light golden brown to dark brown. Repeat until all of your nuggets are finished.
6. Remove quickly from the oil one at a time, placing them onto a clean paper towel lined plate to let any excess oil drain. When you are done with the oil, turn off the pan, remove it from the heat and let it cool completely in the pan. Never pour oil down your drain or disposal. When it is cool I always pour it into an empty water bottle, close it with a lid and then place in the trashcan.
Your nuggets will be slightly crispy, light and airy on the outside and nice and juicy the inside. You can eat them immediately with your favorite sides and dipping sauces- or wrap them in foil and keep them in the fridge. They taste DELICIOUS cold sliced onto salads, or reheat them in the oven on a baking sheet to get them hot and crispy. Pack them in your kids lunches all week, or save for a weekend and add them to mini frozen waffles for a fun play on chicken and waffles. You’ll notice when you eat these that they don’t have the same heavy, oily feeling as other fast food nuggets, but are truly just as delicious. Enjoy friends!
*We eat these with ketchup, ranch or bbq sauce.
Please be extremely careful with hot oil around kids of any age. Make sure you keep the pan out of their reach while its cooling, and keep the kids out of the kitchen.
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