How to Make Copycat McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets at Home

Homemade McDonald's chicken nuggets? We're lovin' it!

While fast food restaurants may all still be fighting for the title of best fast food chicken sandwich, we think everyone can agree that the award for most nostalgic fast food chicken item undoubtedly belongs to McDonald’s chicken nuggets (a.k.a. Chicken McNuggets).

Moist, juicy and coated in a light and crispy batter, nothing transports you back to your childhood quite like dipping and dunking McNuggets in your favorite dipping sauce. Relive a bit of your adolescence with this copycat McDonald’s chicken nugget recipe (then try your hand at these other McDonald’s copycat recipes).

How Are McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Made?

One of the world’s greatest mysteries: just what exactly is in a Chicken McNugget? Despite what you may have heard, they are not made with pink goo or slime—and that’s just one of the McNugget facts you might not have known. According to McDonald’s, their chicken nuggets are made with “all white meat chicken and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.”

In their production facilities, the chicken is finely ground and blended with spices and a proportional amount of chicken skin— which adds flavor and moisture, and helps bind the nuggets together. From there, the meat is molded into the four McNugget shapes: the ball, the bone, the boot and the bell.

After the nuggets are shaped, they’re coated in two different batters before being partially fried to set the batter. Next, they’re flash frozen, packaged and shipped worldwide. The cooking process is completed in-house at your local McDonald’s.

If you’re looking for something new to go with your McNuggets, check out these McDonald’s secret menu faves.

McDonald’s Chicken Nugget Copycat Recipe

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Yield: 20-24 chicken nuggets

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 cup water
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying

Directions

Step 1: Grind the chicken

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In a food processor, pulse the chicken until it starts to break down.

Step 2: Add egg and season

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Next, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. (For a nugget with some kick, try adding spices from this spicy nuggets recipe.) Blend the mixture until it achieves a smooth and thick paste-like consistency.

Step 3: Shape

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Dip your hands in water and then grab a little less than 1 ounce of the chicken mixture. Gently shape into a flattened nugget shape of your choice, then set aside onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat until all of the chicken mixture has been shaped into nuggets.

Step 4: Dredge

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Add the cornstarch to a shallow bowl. Then, take each nugget piece and dredge it through the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Return the nuggets to the lined sheet pan.

Step 5: Mix

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder and remaining salt and pepper. Add the egg and water and beat until a smooth, thin batter forms.

Step 6: Dip

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Dunk each cornstarch-coated nugget into the batter, allowing the excess to drip away before returning the nuggets to the lined sheet pan.

Editor’s Tip: There will likely be some batter left over. Discard it after use since it has been contaminated with raw chicken.

Step 7: Freeze

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When all the chicken nuggets are coated in batter, transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and let the nuggets chill for 1 to 2 hours until the batter is set.

While you wait, read about the first McDonald’s menu ever.

Step 8: Fry

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When ready to cook, fill a deep fryer or deep skillet with 2-3 inches of oil. (Newbie to frying? Here are our best frying tips.) Preheat the oil to 350°F and then carefully lower 3 to 4 of the chilled nuggets into the oil. Let the nuggets cook for 3-4 minutes per side, turning once to ensure all sides cook and turn golden. Remove to a towel-lined plate to drain and cool.

Editor’s Tip: You can transfer the cooked nuggets to a clean sheet pan and keep them warm in your oven while frying the rest of the nuggets.

Step 9: Serve

Serve the nuggets warm with your favorite selection of dipping sauces—we suggest one of these BBQ sauces. Enjoy!

Seems like too much work? Here are the best frozen chicken nuggets.

Tips for Making McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

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Grind Your Own Chicken

Replicating the texture on McNuggets requires grinding your own chicken in a food processor. Don’t swap for packaged ground chicken from the grocery store—it won’t yield the same result.

Wet Your Hands

When shaping the McNuggets, dip your hands in water before shaping each one. The water creates a barrier from the heat of your hands, which prevents the chicken mixture from sticking to them.

Consistent Size

To ensure your nuggets cook fully and evenly, try your best to make your nuggets about the same size and thickness. It will make the frying process much easier. For best results, measure out the chicken using a food scale.

How to Store McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

Store in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, warm in a 400° oven for 10-12 minutes until crisp and heated through. Cooked McNuggets may also be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake in a 400° oven for 18-20 minutes until crispy and heated through. You could also try reheating them in your air fryer with these air fryer tips.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.