What kid doesn’t love a nugget? And what grown-up doesn’t feel the nostalgia of childhood when dunking a plateful of nuggets into their favorite dipping sauce?
Of course, if you ask most people what comes to mind when they think about nuggets, they’ll likely say “chicken nuggets” from a fast-food restaurant. Well, here in The Kinder Kitchen, our nuggets are made from veggies and grains, not living beings who don’t want to be your lunch!
The good news is, not only are there many vegan chicken-style nuggets available in stores that kids ADORE (our favorite brand is Gardein), there’s also a bazillion recipes floating around the interwebz for both meaty and more veggie-based nuggets.
You might be asking, “What makes YOUR recipe so special among those bazillions, Shannon?”
Well, I worked for awhile to come up with a veggie-packed recipe that was healthy, with no oils or other refined ingredients, that would hold together beautifully, bake up crispy in both the oven AND the air-fryer, taste awesome with a variety of dips and coatings, and of course my kids had to LOVE it!
We sampled these veggie nuggets with ranch dressing, marinara, and my homemade vegan cheddar cheese sauce, all with rave reviews, and also tried them coated in Frank’s Red Hot which was a HUGE hit!
Well alright, let’s get to making some nuggets!
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper *
- ½ cup finely chopped kale *
- ½ cup finely shredded carrot
- 1 large or 2 small green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped *
- ½ cup frozen peas, defrosted and finely chopped
- ½ cup frozen corn, defrosted finely chopped
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- few twists cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 flax eggs (2 TBS ground flax seed mixed with 6 TBS warm water- let sit til thickened)
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- Frank's Red How Buffalo Wing Sauce (optional)
- Your choice of dipping sauces
- *I use my food processor to make quick work of finely chopping these ingredients.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If using an air fryer, no need to preheat.
- When all ingredients are prepped, gathered, and measured (remember mise en place?), add them all to a large mixing bowl.
- Thoroughly mix- using your hands is the best way to get everything combined as good as possible!
- Once mixed, place mixture in the refrigerator for half an hour to firm up.
- FOR OVEN BAKING:
- Using your hands, form mixture into small oval or round nuggets, approximately ½ an inch to ¾ inch thick, an inch or so wide, and 1½ to 2 inches long. Really, you're in control of what shape to make them!
- Place nuggets on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick coking spray, no closer than an inch apart.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the nuggets, then bake another 15 minutes.
- **If making Buffalo-style nuggets: after baking, toss in wing sauce. Serve immediately while nuggets are still crispy.
- FOR AIR-FRYER BAKING:
- Spray the bottom of the air-fryer basket with a very light mist of cooking spray, OR, if you're avoiding oil, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the basket.
- Form nuggets, then assemble as many as you can at a time in the air-fryer basket without the nuggets touching. If you have a rack apparatus that allows you to cook multiple layers at a time, your cooking time may need to be adjusted from what follows, because I don't have such a rack and tested this recipe in a single layer only.
- Air-fry nuggets at a temperature of 380 degrees for 8 minutes, flip nuggets, then cook another 8 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
Brown rice and quinoa should be fairly cooled before proceeding, because you'll be shaping the nuggets with your hands.
These freeze beautifully! Simply layer cooked and cooled nuggets on a baking tray and freeze, then plop the frozen nuggets into a freezer container.