The Cut Of Chicken You Should Use To Make Nuggets

Nothing beats a freshly made batch of chicken nuggets, but stopping by a fast food restaurant every time you're craving some isn't exactly realistic. The kind from the frozen section of the grocery store is a convenient alternative, however, the texture and taste don't always cut it. Luckily, chicken nuggets aren't complicated to make from scratch at home and they don't require any special ingredients or tools either.

No matter what chicken nugget recipe you use, you'll notice that nine times out of ten it'll call for chicken breast or white meat. While chicken breast is proven to yield tasty chicken nuggets — after all, it is one of the cuts McDonald's uses — you may want to consider using thigh meat instead. Chicken nuggets made with chicken thighs tend to be a lot juicier and more flavorful than ones made with breast meat, and as an added bonus, they end up being cheaper to make.

Why chicken thighs are ideal for chicken nuggets

Chicken nuggets aren't just made up of ground chicken that's been battered and fried. Traditionally, they also contain filler ingredients like breadcrumbs and eggs to create a consistency that's juicy and tender but not soggy. If you use chicken thighs rather than breasts, that consistency is a lot easier to achieve without as many fillers. Chicken thigh meat is dark meat, meaning it contains higher amounts of connective tissue and fat and therefore is naturally juicy. White or breast meat, by contrast, hardly contains any and therefore relies on other ingredients to keep it moist.

If you don't mind your chicken nuggets containing more fillers and less meat, then you may not mind using chicken breast. But if you actually want to taste the meat and don't mind more fat, opt for chicken thighs because your chicken nuggets will have the perfect balance of tenderness and meaty flavor.

Chicken nuggets made with thigh meat cook differently

When you make chicken nuggets with thigh meat, technically you don't have to include any of the usual filler ingredients at all. Instead, you can simply grind up the thigh meat with your choice of seasoning, form it into nuggets, then coat them in the batter. If you do have a trusted chicken nugget recipe, however, you can just as easily substitute the breasts for the thighs at a 1-to-1 ratio. It'll still make a noticeable difference in terms of juiciness.

When it comes to frying your thigh meat chicken nuggets, the process is also more foolproof than when you use breast meat. Since thigh meat doesn't dry out as easily, a little extra time on the stove won't ruin its texture, in fact, it'll even give your nuggets a crispier crust in the process. If moist on the inside and extra crispy on the outside sounds like your ideal chicken nugget, then you'll want to make sure to start with thigh meat.