Better Than the Snack Bar Baked Chicken Nuggets…with all the sauces. And I do mean ALL the sauces. Never enough sauce. These chicken nuggets are breaded and seasoned, oven-baked, then dipped in an assortment of sauces. Everything from creamy honey mustard, to caesar, to BBQ, to ranch. The options are endless and so delicious. This is what I call snack bar food at home. These nuggets are baked, not fried, and so much tastier. Serve with oven-baked french fries and veggies for an easy kid-friendly summer dinner that’s so much fun and full of flavor.
Well, this is a fun recipe! I speak about this every single summer, but to me, summer is about taking yourself back to being a kid for a few months. Which includes enjoying all the fun summertime food. Growing up on the lake in Ohio meant our summers were hot and humid. If we weren’t swimming in the lake, we were at the pool. The pool was always slightly preferred because, hello…the snack bar. Anyone who spent their childhood summers at their local pool knows all too well about the snack bar.
They’re not fancy, but they’re the best. I was a chicken fingers and soft-serve ice kind of kid, but my brothers lived on the slushies.
Anyway, these chicken fingers are inspired by those snack bar chicken fingers that I’d get all summer long.
But I also had another source of inspo, my brother Creighton. Creigh loves himself some chicken nuggets. Mickey D nuggets, freezer nuggets, high school cafeteria nuggets (he says those were the best)…he loves them all.
But the most important factor to a good nugget?
The sauces. Crieghton says you need lots and lots of sauces. He’s a double-dip kind of guy, and he also loves to mix sauces. So this week I set out to recreate his favorites, but to make them even better and healthier too. We’re also not frying these nuggets, we’re baking them!
Here are the details
We’re not frying these nuggets, we’re baking them! So start by mixing up an egg with some pickle juice and then toss in the trimmed chicken tenders. The is our “glue”, it helps adhere the breading onto the chicken. The pickle juice is key. I’ve heard this is what Chick-Fil-A does for their nuggets. And I have to say, it really does add something special.
Next, combine finely crushed cornflake crumbs with Panko breadcrumbs. The cornflakes are key. As the chicken bakes in the oven, the breading “fries” and becomes extra crisp.
Now bake the chicken in the oven until it crisps all over. My secret is to gently drizzle the chicken with olive oil before it bakes. This helps the coating to really crisp up nicely in the oven. You can’t skip this step, it’s crucial.
While the nuggets bake, make your sauces
Ok, so there are a lot of sauces to this recipe. I of course do not expect you to make them all. Though if you are having a dinner party I would recommend whipping them all up. This gives everyone some delicious options for dipping.
For now, instead of making them all, pick one or two of your favorites. Each of the sauces is incredibly easy to mix up and requires nothing fancy. These don’t take much time at all.
Included in today’s recipe are creamy honey mustard, caesar dressing, sweet chili, and BBQ ranch. Of course, ketchup is always recommended as well. Oh, and a buffalo sauce would be great too, but I had to draw the line somewhere…trust me I wanted to make and include them all!
Each sauce is just as easy as the next. Simply combine all the ingredients and taste for salt. No cooking or blending in a food processor is required!
All the sauces are SO GOOD! My favorite is honestly good ole’ ketchup, but I do really love the honey mustard. It is SO GOOD, my favorite combo right now. And that homemade caesar dressing (also very obsessed with this).
So, the real question is…
Which sauce or sauces are you all about??
So curious to know? Please, please tell me in the comments. And if I missed any great ones, you have to inform me of them!
So in the end, Creighton was EXCITED! In fact, he said I made his week with these. He said the sauces are all “gas”…whatever that means.
Got to love him. He’s always got something funny to say.
I’d recommend serving these with home-baked french fries and plenty of veggies on the side. Great for a weeknight, fun for a summer dinner party, or even to take on a picnic. However you serve these up, they’re guaranteed to be a hit!
Looking for other fun, kid-friendly dinners? Here are some favorites:
Lastly, if you make these Better Than the Snack Bar Baked Chicken Nuggets, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Better Than the Snack Bar Baked Chicken Nuggets...with all the sauces
Calories Per Serving: 190 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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Creamy Honey Mustard
- 1/4 cup hot sauce (I like Franks red hot)
- 3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and pickle juice. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Combine the cornflakes, Panko, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and a pinch of pepper to a bowl.3. Dredge the chicken through the crumbs, pressing to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.4. To make each sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and season with salt.