Spicy Chicken Nuggets

spicy chicken nuggets

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Marinating: 30 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yields: 18 nuggets

There's no frying or trip to the drive-through required to enjoy some spicy chicken nuggets. This recipe gets them crispy, juicy, and tender by using the oven. They’re craveably spicy and full of satisfying crunch. The key is to toast the breadcrumbs before breading the chicken nuggets, then bake them to golden perfection. There’s no extensive breading process, either. The nuggets are marinated in a spicy yogurt, then dipped into the breadcrumbs—that’s it! 

Serve them alongside some homemade tots and a salad for a complete meal.


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    spicy chicken nugget ingredients
  2. Butterfly each chicken breast so you have a total of 4 cutlets. Pound each cutlet to 1/2 inch thick.

    pounded chicken cutlets
  3. Cut each cutlet into 2-inch sized pieces (or whatever size you like, you can also cut them into tenders).

  4. Whisk together the Greek yogurt, egg, hot  sauce, half of the cayenne pepper, paprika, and a sprinkle of the salt and pepper.

    chicken nugget marinate
  5. Add the chicken to the yogurt mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

    chicken nuggets in marinade
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F.

    Combine the remaining salt, pepper, and cayenne with the panko breadcrumbs, and Italian breadcrumbs. Add the breadcrumb mixture to a baking sheet and spread out evenly. Toast on the middle rack in the preheated oven, shaking often until all the breadcrumbs are toasted and golden brown.

    toasted breadcrumbs
  7. Remove the chicken pieces from the yogurt mixture, shaking off the excess liquid and place it in the breadcrumbs, flipping to coat both sides. Lower the oven to 375 F.

    chicken nuggets coated in breading
  8. Place the nuggets on a parchment lined baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack.

    chicken nuggets on a baking rack
  9. Bake for 15 minutes or until the nuggets are cooked to a golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 F. You can flip them halfway through if you don't have the cooling rack. The cooling rack prevents them from getting soggy.

    Sprinkle with even more cayenne pepper if you wish and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

    baked spicy chicken nuggets


  • These nuggets can also be cooked in the air fryer. Set it to 375 F and cook for 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. 
  • You can easily double this recipe to make more chicken nuggets. After fully cooking and cooling, freeze them in one layer on a baking sheet, then place them in a plastic bag in the freezer. They will keep in the freezer for up to four months. The air fryer is a great way to reheat them.

Recipe Variations

  • You can replace the Greek yogurt with sour cream.