Last night’s dinner conversation topic was: “What’s your favorite kids movie?” Without hesitation, I quickly rattled off, “Toy Story”. Some of the other titles that got the thumbs-up were Madagascar, Up, Iron Giant, Frozen (my vote again!), WALL-E, Despicable Me and Finding Nemo.  When a kids movie succeeds, it usually targets young and old alike and is perfect for any age. It must strike a family-friendly balance…the right mix for all! The same is true for chicken nuggets (ha-ha), no really! You have to strike that perfect balance when creating the best chicken nugget ever.  They have to be tasty, crispy, golden, and of course, HEALTHY. And these nuggets really speak to the whole family.  (Even adults….Shhh!)  They are especially good paired with Oven Baked Crispy Fries or Baked Seasoned Potato Wedges 

(P.S. Instead of the traditional egg dredging, I have secretly used unsweetened applesauce**. I like the way it holds in the moisture and helps the breading to stick.  It adds just a hint of apple flavor and really perks up the typical chicken nugget.)


Baked Chicken Nuggets

Every kids dream...and adults are happy too; because these homemade crispy chicken nuggets are baked until golden (instead of fried). Seasoned with Parmesan, thyme, Italian seasoning and dredged in applesauce and Panko crumbs, Both toddlers and adults love them! 

Servings 4


  • 2 boneless (cut into even bite-sized pieces) skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs, plain
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese *finely-grated or powdered
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasonig
  • coarse sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup applesauce unsweetened
  • olive oil cooking spray * (see note)
  • optional sauces for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme and Italian seasoning. Toss until combined.

  2. In two separate shallow bowls, place the flour in one and  the applesauce in the other.  

  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put a few chunks of chicken into the flour, and toss until coated. 

  4. Then with tongs transfer to the applesauce until coated. Finally, transfer to the panko mixture, and toss until it is completely coated. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet or prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken is coated with the mixtures.

  5. Then bake 8 to 10 minutes. Turn over then cook another 4 – 5 minutes or until cooked through.  Serve chicken nuggets warm with your favorite dipping sauce(s), if desired. (Ketchup and Ranch are pictured.)

Recipe Notes

*If you do not have parchment paper, spray the baking pan generously with cooking spray so the nuggets do not stick.

**Use a plain, unsweetened applesauce, and roll the chicken into it. Don't use an applesauce with sugar, because the sugar will cause the nuggets to burn.

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