Sheet Pan Pretzel Chicken Nuggets

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These OUTSTANDING pretzel-crusted chicken nuggets, baked to perfection, are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. This no-stress recipe with easy/breezy clean-up means a RELAXED cooking experience.
plate with chicken nuggests and mustard
These crunchy chicken nuggets are a healthier, homemade alternative to food everyone loves!

Everybody loves chicken nuggets, from kiddos to adults! However, we’re not so crazy about the fried or frozen options. I’m excited to offer a homemade, healthier version that gives CRUNCH a new meaning. My golden chicken nuggets are baked, not fried, and are crusted with pretzels. You can’t get any crunchier than pretzels! The crust stays crispy, while the chicken inside is moist and tender. I first made these for game-day. I was tired of the standard fare of chicken wings and sliders and was ready to try something different.

Tampa skyline with sport images

I live in Tampa, Florida. If you watch any professional sports, football, baseball, or hockey, you know my Tampa teams ROCK! Last season, we won the Big Game, the Stanley Cup, and the American League Champs. Needless to say, I make a lot of game-day food!! Naturally, it has to impress my guests while keeping me, the hostess, happy and stress-free, so I can enjoy the game too. These easy chicken nuggets are a winner!

Baking pan lined with foil and cooking spray
Line a baking/sheet pan with foil or parchment and lightly coat with cooking spray

As always, preheating the oven is necessary. In this case, preheat to 425°F. Line two baking sheet/pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper – either will work and lightly coat with the cooking spray.

image of ingredients
Ingredients

These yummy bites are made with crunchy mini pretzels, skinless, boneless chicken thighs, and sweet/tangy honey mustard. Crushing the pretzels is the first step. This can be accomplished in two different ways. I’ve done it manually by putting the pretzels in a ziplock plastic bag and pounding the daylights out of them with a rolling pin (a meat mallet also works). While this is a great way to take out any pent-up aggression, it takes longer than you think it will, and the plastic bag has a tendency to tear. I ended up double bagging the pretzels.

food processor and bag with crushed pretzels
Crush the pretzels in a food processor or in plastic bag using a rolling pin.

As much as I am fond of using plastic bags because of the easy clean-up, I found it much quicker and easier to use a food processor to pulverize the pretzels. There was less mess, and it took seconds. The end result is the same, so use whatever method you prefer. Transfer the crushed pretzels to a shallow bowl. A pie pan/tin/plate is the perfect shape and size.

cut up chicken
Slice the chicken in bite-size pieces

The chicken needs to be cut into bite-size pieces. I chose chicken thighs for their tenderness and flavor. However, boneless breasts can also be used. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. It then needs to be coated with flour so that the mustard sauce can better adhere to the chicken.

chicken pieces in bag with flour
Coat the chicken pieces in flour.

While a bowl will work, for this, I absolutely prefer using a plastic bag. Place the seasoned chicken in the plastic bag (or bowl), add the flour, and gently shake to coat it.

bowl with eggs and honey mustard, and whisk
Whisk the eggs and honey mustard in a shallow bowl or pie plate.

In another shallow bowl or, better yet, pie pan, whisk up the eggs and honey mustard.

shallow bowls with honey mustard mixture and a bowl with the crushed pretzels
Pie plates make perfect bowls for the honey egg mixture and the crushed pretzels

Dip each chicken piece in honey mustard mixture, letting excess drip off, then roll in pretzels, pressing in the pretzels with your fingers.

chicken dipped in mustard sauce and dipped in crushed pretzels
Dip the flour coated pieces in the mustard/egg mixture and coat with crush pretzels.

Transfer to prepared baking sheet/pans in an even single layer and spray generously with cooking spray. Canola spray or olive oil spray works best. If you’ve only used non-stick spray to prevent food from sticking to a pan, this is a nifty kitchen hack! The chicken benefits from a light coating of oil to create a crispy coating without drowning it in oil. Bake the nuggets for 8 minutes.

nuggets on sheet pan
Arrange the nuggets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet/pan and generously coat with cooking spray.

Turn chicken and cook another 8-10 minutes until it’s cooked through and pretzels are golden brown. Serve chicken with a side of honey mustard for dipping. Ranch dressing is also delicious!

nuggets on sheet pan
Bake 8 minutes, turn and bake another 8-10 minutes

If you like a kick of heat, lightly dust the nuggets with cayenne powder. Roasted Potato, Asparagus, and Radish Salad with Herby Dressing perfectly pairs with these crunchy bites. Besides being great game-day eats, Sheet Pan Pretzel Chicken Nuggets also great chopped up in salads or as a lunch or dinner.

Sheet Pan Pretzel Chicken Nuggets

Recipe by Jane BruceCourse: Starter, Dinner, SnackCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

4-6

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Enjoy a healthier, homemade version of your favorite finger food. Crusted with crushed pretzels and baked to perfection, these nuggets are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside without all the oil! 

Ingredients

  • 1 -16 oz bag mini pretzel twists, crushed

  • 1/4 c. Honey Mustard, plus more for serving

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • Canola or Olive Oil Cooking spray

Directions

  • Prep: Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. Crush the pretzels in a food processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or kitchen mallet. Cut chicken in bite size pieces
  • Transfer the pretzel mix to a shallow container (a pie plate works great!). In another shallow bowl, whisk together honey mustard and eggs. Season chicken with salt and pepper, place in a plastic bag and add flour. Gently toss to coat evenly with flour. Dip each chicken piece in honey mustard mixture, letting excess drip off, then roll in pretzels, pressing in the pretzels with your fingers. Transfer to prepared baking sheets in an even single layer and spray generously with cooking spray.
  • Bake 8 minutes. Turn chicken and cook another 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and pretzels are golden. Serve chicken with more honey mustard.

Notes

  • Aluminum foil: Parchment paper will also work
  • Chicken: Boneless chicken breast can also be used.
  • Pretzels: Mini pretzels are the easiest to crush, but any type of pretzel will work
  • Zhoosh: Sprinkle with a light dusting of cayenne pepper

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