These Chicken Zucchini Nuggets are a kid-friendly handheld protein-veggie combo. It’s a protein source that kids of all ages can enjoy! A great way to get veggies into everyone at the table.
What We Love About Them
The ingredients are simple and inexpensive. They can be found at most grocery stores. Plus, the meat is flexible – use either ground turkey or chicken. We prefer the flavor of ground chicken but buy whatever is most affordable.
These Chicken Zucchini Nuggets can be cooked in a pan on the stove, in the oven or your air fryer. These freeze fantastically, so double batch and freeze the extras! Bonus: they Whole30, Paleo, and Keto compliant. Additionally, they are also egg-free and nut-free.
You will be blown away by how simple yet delicious they are! Great for an egg-free breakfast or fast weeknight dinner. And I highly recommend dipping them in my Date Mustard Sauce (pictured).
Salting your Zucchini
Zucchini is a great veggie to add into dishes as it’s decently neutral in flavor. But, it has a high moisture content. This makes it perfect for baking, but terrible for getting crispy.
To make sure these nuggets aren’t soggy, be sure to salt your zucchini! How much? A good rule of thumb is 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon salt per pound of zucchini. Here I use just a half teaspoon. I share my easy method to removing the moisture in the recipe below.
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- Grated Zucchini – I love using my large food processor to do this quickly. You can also hand grate it. I don’t peel them before I do.
- Ground Chicken – I prefer the flavor of ground chicken for these, but you can also use ground turkey.
- Minced Dried Onion – You can find this spice at most grocery stores in the spice aisle.
- Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic – I have come more and more to prefer the texture of granulated garlic, but either works!
- Salt and pepper – Don’t overthink it. Just basic table salt and ground black pepper here.
- Coconut or avocado oil, if frying on stove
Chicken Zucchini Nuggets
- 2 cups grated zucchini I use my food processor grating blade to do so quickly!
- 1 lb ground turkey or chicken
- 1 tablespoon dried chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt plus extra to salt zucchini
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Coconut or avocado oil if pan frying
- Spread shredded zucchini in the middle of a clean towel and salt. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fold up towel from edges and wring out extra moisture out of the zucchini. I usually do this over the sink and be aggressive in your wringing - the more moisture you get out the crispier these nuggets will be!
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, except for cooking oil, stirring until combined (I use my hands here to mix).
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I use about a 1/4" deep of oil.
- Once heated, flatten a spoonful of the meat mixture in between your hands, then place into the hot oil. You choose how big these nuggets are - my kids like the smaller nugget size, but you will have to do less batches if you make them more of a patty. Up to you!
- Cook until brown on both sides and cooked through (length of cooking time will depend on the size of your nuggets - usually about 5 minutes per side, but keep an eye on them!).
- AIRFRYER INSTRUCTIONS: Form your nuggets or patties the same as above and spray your air fryer basket with oil, as these are goopy and will stick if you don't. Place in a single layer in your airfryer basket. Cook at 350 for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- OVEN INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. As you shape the nuggets, place about an inch apart on the parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and then bake another 10 minutes.
I made these with ground turkey because that’s what I had on hand. My picky kids had no idea there was zucchini in them and declared that they were the best chicken nuggets they had ever eaten. I’ll be making them again next week by request!
I was looking for a healthy snack / lunch option, and these came in clutch! I took these on a road trip recently when I knew my fam was getting breakfast that wasn’t gluten-free. I even like them cold! This is my third time making them in a short amount of time. And the date mustard? PERFECTION!!
Delish! Add as a side to anything.
Squeezed the water out and that made them nice and crispy on the outside while still being moist on the inside. Will have over and over again.
We love these easy ones – so happy you enjoyed them and want them on the regular. Thank you!
These look really good! I am wondering if they freeze well?
Good question! They freeze great! Store in the freezer in a sealed container for up to 3 months. I love airfrying them out of the freezer to get them crispy. Enjoy!
Amazing !!! I made single batch because I wasn’t sure about the zucchini but OMG it was amazing!!! Thank You!!
My stars are for the excitement of making these! I’m printing the recipe to try these! I can come back and update my stars:)
Wow! Wow! I eventually made these. So quick and easy. And so delicious. They certainly go well with the date mustard dipping sauce. Even my fussy 14 year old gave it a thumbs up.
Thank you Autumn.
Where is the recipe for the sauce?
Hello! That is my date mustard which you can search for in the search field at the top of the page or find at this website: https://wholefoodfor7.com/whole30-date-mustard/ . It’s our all-time fave!
Loved these in the air fryer!
I’m so happy to hear that, thank you!
So easy, and so flavorful!
I made these this evening for my kids. They’re not known for loving veggies, these they devoured. So simple and easy to make. I agree with the need to really squeeze out the moisture. And when you think you’ve squeezed enough, give it one last go. I baked these, next time I’ll give the air fryer a whirl!
I love a good kid win, hooray! Thank you!
Would it be best to cook these before or after freezing?
I would cook before freezing, then freeze in a single layer until frozen. Once frozen, store in a sealed container for up to 3 months. : )
I made these for the family last night! My 1 year old daughter loved them! I wish I had made a double batch! Next time I will!!
Aw, I love a kid-win! So happy your little one loved them, thank you!
I used turkey instead of chicken, but I seriously could have eaten 100 of these nuggets! How is it possible that something so simple and short on ingredients can taste SO AMAZING?! Also, dipping them in the date mustard is a MUST!
These are so good, easy and satisfying! We always make a double batch because they reheat so well. And the date mustard is INCREDIBLE, a must try. It will change your life. We put it on everything now! Thanks Autumn for this awesome staple!
Aw, I love that you not only enjoy this recipe but found that date mustard life-changing – I would have to agree there ; ). Thank you!
I made these tonight- and I was so surprised at how good they were! They are quite tasty and going to be even more of a staple once I ditch the hand grater lol.
So happy this easy one took you by surprise on taste, thank you! And agreed, using the food processor to shred definitely makes this one easier.
These were amazing! And so easy! Easily pleased both my husband and my infant (doing Baby led weaning). These will definitely be added to our frequent rotation list. Thank you Autumn!
I love that they were an easy family win, thank you!
Can you make these in the oven as well?
Thanks for asking and you sure can! Bake on parchment at 400 for 10 minutes, then flip and cook another 10 minutes until crispy. I will edit recipe to add that. Enjoy!
I’ll add my enthusiasm to the above comments. The nuggets and date mustard sauce are both SO good. Awesome new addition to our line up of go to recipes!
Really delicious and enjoy having a protein packed with veggies on hand. It’s hard for me to cook them well on the stovetop to find that perfect balance of crispy but not burned or getting the oil too hot, but I’m sure they’d be perfect in an air fryer. Still, easy and yum and in my rotation.
These are so good! Great way to get veggies and protein in for dinner.
This is one of my husbands most requested recipes! Made monthly in our house now! Such a GENIUS idea!
Wow, I love that your hubby requests this one!
We love these! I double the batch so we have leftovers the next day. With the honey mustard dressing, I could eat ten of these 😁
My husband just asked me to make these weekly👍
I love that your husband asked for these to be a regular, so great!
After freezing – whats the best way to re-heat?
We usually just heat them up in the microwave or airfryer, but you could also do it in the oven at 400 for like 8-10 minutes like you would frozen chicken nuggets. Enjoy!
These were so good! My 9 and 2 year old loved them, even knowing there were veggies inside. I made them in the air fryer and they turned out great.
I love that your kiddos loved them – hooray for a kid-win!
So just to be certain : we aren’t to squeeze the zucchini dry before mixing it in with everything else?
Good question. This one can go either way – it does fine without squeezing out the zucchini, but if you have the patience to salt and then squeeze out the excess liquid it will make them crispier!