Whole30 Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies
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Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies - Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nut-free, airfryer option

These Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free Whole30 Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies are a perfect family win. The hand-held shape is perfect for little hands, though these aren’t just for kids! Great for your picky eaters and to get more vegetables in,

Hidden Veggies?

I love that these Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies get in a veggie without any noticeable taste. I promise! Check out all the positive reviews below if you are unsure.

The key is to blend steamed riced cauliflower into ground chicken so it becomes just part of the chicken nugget. I do so by steaming frozen riced cauliflower in the microwave. I prefer to just buy steam in a bag frozen cauliflower. But, I also do it by just putting frozen riced cauliflower in a reusable Stasher bag, sealing it most of the way, and then microwaving on high for 5 minutes. Stasher bags are fantastic for steaming frozen veggies in the microwave!

I prefer to mix this all together in a food processor for easy blending. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just mix in the frozen cauliflower by hand. However, there will still be small noticeable pieces of cauliflower within the nugget. That can be a turn off for picky eaters, if that’s a factor.

Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies - Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nut-free, airfryer option

Make it a Meal

We love them dipped in my Whole30 Date Mustard (pictured), Whole30 Ranch, or BBQ Sauce. Delicious paired with my Garlic Fries, roasted potatoes, or Whole30 Mashed Potatoes and a side salad or roasted veggies.

Tips and Tricks

We make them in the oven for an easy one batch and done. But they can also be done in a single layer in your air fryer or on the stove in shallow oil for the crispiest outside.

Plus, these freeze great – so double batch and let your kids pull them out as needed. After cooking, freeze in a sealed container for up to 3 months. We love reheating them in the air fryer.

We prefer the flavor of using ground chicken for these. However, ground turkey works well too, if that is more accessible to you. A family win all around!

Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies - Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nut-free, airfryer option


  • Ground chicken – We love the flavor of ground chicken, but you can also use ground turkey if that is more accessible to you!
  • Steamed Riced Cauliflower – I love using easy steam in a bag frozen riced cauliflower for this.
  • Dried Potato Flakes – Dried potato flakes is just another name for instant mashed potato flakes. These Bob’s Red Mill ones are Whole30 compatible, though these are the cheap ones I get from Walmart if I am not doing a Whole30 (not Whole30 compatible due to sulfites). If you are not on a Whole30, whatever instant mashed potato flakes your local store has should be fine.
    • Note: If you can’t find compatible potato flakes or need a Keto version, use 1/2 cup almond flour instead of the potato flakes
  • Eggs – Large whole eggs
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika
  • Tapioca or Arrowroot Flour or Starch
  • Garlic Salt – My favorite Whole30 compatible garlic salt comes from Trader Joe’s. But, if not on a Whole30, most garlic salts will work just fine. Or, you can use regular salt in an equal amount and an additional 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies - Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, nut-free, airfryer option

Whole30 Chicken Nuggets with Hidden Veggies

Autumn @wholefoodfor7
5 from 17 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people


  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup steamed riced cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup dried potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes) see notes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, divided
  • 1/2 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour or starch
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt


  • If using the oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.
  • Food Processor: Combine the cauliflower, eggs, potato flakes in a food processor and process until combined. Add the ground chicken and salt. garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/2 teaspon paprika and process again until well combined. Using the food processor will help the cauliflower blend in better to the ground meat. and is recommended.
  • By Hand: In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken, cauliflower, eggs, potato flakes, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1/2 teaspon paprika in a bowl. I find this easiest to do by hand. Mix until well combined.
  • In a small bowl, combine the tapioca or arrowroot, garlic salt, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika.
  • Scoop out about 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat mixture. Drop into the tapioca flour mixture, rolling around until coated. Flatten into more of a nugget shape and place on parchment. Repeat with all of the meat mixture.
  • Spray uncooked nuggets generously with cooking oil spray. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Flip and spray again with cooking oil spray. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until both sides are golden.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze cooked nuggets in a sealed container for up to 3 months.
  • AIRFRYER COOKING: Cook in a single layer at 350 for 8-10 minutes until golden and not pink in the center. These will need to be done in a single layer, so I usually use the oven method to avoid multiple batches. The airfryer is awesome for reheating these though!
  • STOVETOP COOKING: If you want McDonalds-cispy outside, pan fry these in 1/2 cup melted coconut or avocado oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes each side.


SUBSTITUTIONS: We prefer ground chicken with these, but you can also use ground turkey.
*Dried potato flakes is just another name for instant mashed potato flakes. These Bob's Red Mill ones are Whole30 compatible, though these are the cheap ones I get from Walmart if I am not doing a Whole30 (not Whole30 compatible due to sulfites). If you are not on a Whole30, whatever instant mashed potato flakes your local store has should be fine. 
FOR KETO or if you can't find compatible potato flakes = use 1/2 cup almond flour instead. 
Keyword budget-friendly, dairy-free, easy, gluten-free, kid-friendly, main dish, paleo, whole30


  1. 5 stars
    What a hit!! So so easy to make. And my pickiest eaters (5 year old and husband!) both raved about how good these were. It’s a nugget I can feel good about serving to even my 11 month old.

  2. 5 stars
    I was worried I wouldn’t like this recipe because I’m big on texture, but they were so, so good! Texture was great. The crunch was amazing. And the date mustard was incredible!! Thank you for such a great recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    Where have these been all my Whole 30 life?!? Delicious! Can’t wait to make a double batch and freeze!

  4. If using frozen riced cauliflower, do you need to steam first?

    • Yes, whether fresh or frozen, the cauliflower should be steamed first. Enjoy!

  5. Made these last night for dinner and everyone loved them! I prepped everything in the morning and stored in the fridge until dinner time-they came out perfectly. The kids hoped they would be crispier (I baked in the oven) but I could see making these as an extra item another day and then rewarming as needed in the air fryer for the crispier outside.

    Also—I quadrupled the recipe and now we have chicken nuggets for a quick and healthy meal waiting in the freezer. Thanks Autumn for another winning recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    Amazing! Easy. Baked these and they still turn out like a gluten-full nugget. I also doubled the recipe and used for my son’s lunch and froze the rest. They reheat great! My husband loved them too! I will be making this again!

    • Fantastic that these were a family win! I love that your son enjoyed them for lunch and that they were a hubby win too. Thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    These came together quickly and the whole family from my husband to the 17 month old liked them! I appreciated you being honest about the outcome of the various cooking methods. I did them in the oven and they were still delicious but weren’t super crunchy. I’m going to reheat them in the air fryer today for a crunch! Definitely making a double batch next time to freeze some!

    • 5 stars
      These are just so good!!! Thank you for creating these!! I’ve always loved a good ‘biggie and these are GOOD!!

  8. 5 stars
    Wow wow wow! As usual, another incredible recipe from you, Autumn! We made a double batch to have some to freeze for a night we are scrambling. Everyone from the 3yo to the oldest devoured these tasty nuggets. Happy for the added veggies, the delicious flavor, and most of all the simplicity. We laughed and wondered why we haven’t tried making homemade chicken nuggets sooner! Thank you!!

    • AW! I adore that this was such a slam dunk for your family. So fantastic, thank you!

  9. This recipe looks amazing! Am I able to substitute the egg for anything? We are an egg free household.

    • That’s a great question but I don’t have an egg free modification worked out for this one. I recommend checking out the modifications Unbound Wellness offers.

  10. These are a weekly staple in our house! I have made them exactly as written but also using gluten free panko for extra crunch too since we just need gluten free and not whole 30. The kids love them! And I love being able to sneak in some extra veggies

  11. 5 stars
    So delicious! My family really enjoyed these- even my very particular, choosy child couldn’t detect the veggies. Served them with your epic Date Mustard Sauce.

    • Woot woot for passing the picky veggie detector test! 🥳. I’m so happy they were a win for your family!

  12. 5 stars
    These were so tasty! I did them in the oven, so they weren’t super crispy, but I will try frying them next time. Thanks for the recipe! Looking forward to the leftovers on top of salad tomorrow.

    • So happy you enjoyed this one, thank you!

  13. 5 stars
    THANK YOU, AUTUMN! These are definitely a labor of love (I did a double batch), but oh so worth it!!! My husband and I thought they were delicious but the true test was with my picky 5 year old…and they passed with flying colors haha. Love that they have some hidden veg in them and are easy to heat up in the air fryer, which helps it to crisp up a bit since I baked them originally. Also, working with tapioca flour/starch was way better than AP flour as it didn’t get stuck to my hands.

    • A picky eater win is THE best! I’m so very happy to hear it was enjoyed all around, thank you!

  14. 5 stars
    This recipe was a huge hit with my family! Super flavorful and easy to make!! Next time I plan to double the recipe and freeze for a quick meal!! Thank You!

    • I LOVE a family win – especially one that involves veggies. Wahoo! Thank you!

  15. 5 stars
    Yummy, easy and budget friendly – all things we love at our house and always find in Autumn’s recipes! I made these as a healthier option (love the sneaky veggies and clean ingredients) for our 2 young grandsons. HOWEVER…..they are so good my hubby and I can’t stop eating them ourselves! Great texture and flavor, plus so easy to tweak the seasonings (simple for the 1 and 2yr old, kicked up a notch for the grown ups). Loved that you can bake a whole batch in the oven – fast and easy. Another winner! Off to make more to stock up the freezer 🙂 Thank you Autumn!

    • WAHOO that this was a win on so many levels for your family! I agree, my kid’s love these…and do I! Definitely not just for kids and love that they are fast and easy. Thank you! 💛

  16. 5 stars
    I made these nugs tonight after eyeing them for a while on your Instagram. So delicious! I fried mine in a cast iron for ultimate crispness and served them up with New Primal BBQ sauce. Easy to follow recipe, easy ingredients to find at the grocery store, and a fun recipe for when you want to eat out/want something different/want to feel like a kid again. 🙂 I’ll definitely be making these again.

    • It’s true, these are not just for kids ; ). I’m so happy you loved this easy recipe and easy-to-find ingredients. Thank you!

  17. 5 stars
    I was so excited to make these after Autumn posted them on Instagram that I made a double batch. The nuggets fried up well in my cast iron. The texture is reminiscent of commercial chicken nuggets. I’m excited to freeze them and have some to pull put for a quick meal. The only change I might make next time would be to double the spices or add Cajun seasoning because we like a little kick.

    • So glad these were enjoyed and putting some in the freezer for a quick meal is so handy! Thank you!

  18. 5 stars
    My son is newly diagnosed celiac and my other kids are reeling from the huge shift. I tried this recipe tonight after multiple other attempts at a nugget recipe. My kids, husband and myself all devoured these! They’re going into the weekly rotation. I’ll probably make in bulk and freeze for easy weeknight dinners. Thank you SO much for creating and sharing this recipe.

    • I know that is such an overwhelming shift, to build a new vocabulary of foods your family enjoys. I’m so very happy to hear this one was a family hit – hooray! I hope you find some other favorites here and good luck with this process, you can do this!

  19. 5 stars
    Delicious, easy, healthy and perfect for a saturday afternoon

  20. 5 stars
    Delicious, easy, healthy and perfect for a saturday afternoon!

    • Thank you! I’m so happy these were a win and enjoyed!

  21. What kind of potato flakes do you use?

    • Hi! If you are on a Whole30, I’d recommend Bob’s Red Mill brand, which is just dehydrated potatoes. Other mainstream brands often have sodium bisulfite, which is an additive not allowed on Whole30. I find them at Walmart, walmart.com, or amazon. Enjoy! : )

    • Anyone try this in an air fryer ? What would be the cooking time and temp?

      • They definitely work in the airfryer in a single layer. See step 8 on the recipe for full instructions!


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