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Cheetos Chicken Nuggets

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Here's an easy and fun kid-friendly chicken recipe: Cheetos Crusted Chicken Nuggets. These nuggets are made from chicken tenders and have just 4 main ingredients, one of them being Cheetos! This recipe has baking and air fryer instructions and turn out so crispy, so you can make them for your kids when you feel like they need a fun treat for dinner.

These chicken nuggets freeze well and reheat well too!

Hand dipping Cheetos nugget into dip.
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Chicken nuggets for picky eaters

I'm not claiming that these chicken nuggets are the healthiest chicken recipe for kids, but they're definitely fun to make and even more fun to eat. They're a once-in-a-while treat in our house because we don't always keep junk food like Cheetos on hand.... but they're a great way to use up Cheetos that have been open for a few days and are starting to get stale.

Besides, on this blog about helping toddlers overcome picky eating, I have a whole article devoted to why I let my picky eater eat French fries... so why not eat some Cheetos crusted chicken once in a while??

These chicken nuggets are made by chopping whole chicken tenders into nugget-sized pieces (that's lean protein without any additives, unlike many store-bought chicken nuggets with a weird spongy texture). They come out SOO crispy and tasty on the outside, and so tender and juicy on the inside.

Absolutely perfect for toddlers, kids, and picky eaters.

We dip these into  a mixture of mayo + ketchup, which my son calls "pink ketchup."

Cheetos chicken nuggets on a plate with dip.

Related recipe: Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets (with lean ground chicken)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders, chopped into ~1.5 inch nugget-sized pieces
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 rounded cups Cheetos

See recipe notes at the bottom for other optional ingredients to give these nuggets even more flavor!

You'll also need:

Ingredients for Cheetos crusted chicken tenders

Related recipe: Tuna Nuggets

Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil, or line with parchment paper or with a silicone baking mat.

Step 2: Add the Cheetos to a food processor and pulse for about 20-30 seconds, or until you get Cheetos breadcrumbs. You can have a few pieces bigger than breadcrumbs, but most of it should be as small as breadcrumbs.

2 pictures of Cheetos in a food processor to make Cheetos breadcrumbs

Step 3: Prepare 3 bowls: one bowl with flour, salt, and pepper mixed together, another bowl with the egg and milk whisked together, and a third bowl with the Cheetos crumbs.

Step 4: Add the chopped chicken tenders to the flour bowl (you might have to do this in a few batches) and use tongs (or your fingers) to completely coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.

Step 5: One by one, dip the flour-coated chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then press them into the Cheetos crumbs, taking care to coat the chicken pieces on all sides. The pictures below show a whole chicken tender, but it's the same process for nuggets.

4 pictures showing how to coat chicken nuggets in cheetos

Step 6: Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes, or until fully cooked and a meat thermometer reads 165F in the thickest part. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with your favorite dip.

Baking sheet with Cheetos chicken nuggets

Related recipe: Mashed Potato Nuggets

Air fryer Cheetos nuggets

To air fry Cheetos nuggets, follow steps 2-5 to dredge the chicken tender pieces in Cheetos crumbs. Place the chicken nuggets on an air fryer tray and spray with olive oil. The oil part is important for air frying because the Cheetos burn a little and turn dark brown without the oil.

Preheat your air fryer to 350F (if you air fryer requires preheating), and air fry at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until fully cooked and a meat thermometer measures 165F in the thickest part of a nugget.

Fork holding Cheetos crusted chicken nugget bit in half to show texture inside.

RELATED: Kid-friendly Air Fryer Recipes

Ingredient notes and recipe tips

You can also make this recipe with the full chicken tenders instead of nuggets. Increase the baking time/air frying time for 1-2 minutes, or until the tenders are fully cooked in the thickest part in the center.

Add some more flavor: I usually make these without any added ingredients, but you can stir in ½ teaspoon of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and/or Italian seasoning to the flour mixture, or stir in 2-3 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan cheese into the Cheetos crumbs.

Freeze chicken nuggets: Freeze these individually on a tray/plate, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container once frozen solid. 

Reheat chicken nuggets: Reheat these in an oven, air fryer, or by quickly-pan frying to keep the crisp. Just like other chicken nuggets, microwaving them loses some of the crisp.

I hope you give this homemade kid-friendly nugget recipe a try!! And if this is not your thing and you're looking for healthier kid-friendly recipes, try these hidden-vegetable recipes for picky eaters.

Make these Cheetos nuggets gluten-free

Did you know Cheetos are certified gluten-free? Simply use gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose flour and your chicken nuggets will be gluten-free!

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Yield: 25 nuggets

Cheetos Chicken Nuggets

Hand dipping Cheetos nugget into dip.

These Cheetos crusted nuggets are made from chicken tenders and are fun to make and super fun for kids and adults to eat.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders, chopped into ~1.5 inch nugget-sized pieces
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 rounded cups Cheetos

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil, or line with parchment paper or with a silicone baking mat.
    2. Add the Cheetos to a food processor and pulse for about 20-30 seconds, or until you get Cheetos breadcrumbs. You can have a few pieces bigger than breadcrumbs, but most of it should be as small as breadcrumbs.
    3. Prepare 3 bowls: one bowl with flour, salt, and pepper mixed together, another bowl with the egg and milk whisked together, and a third bowl with the Cheetos crumbs.
    4. Add the chopped chicken tenders to the flour bowl (you might have to do this in a few batches) and use tongs (or your fingers) to completely coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.
    5. One by one, dip the flour-coated chicken pieces in the egg mixture, then press them into the Cheetos crumbs, taking care to coat the chicken pieces on all sides.


    Baking instructions

    1. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes, or until fully cooked and a meat thermometer reads 165F in the thickest part. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with your favorite dip.


    Air fryer instructions

    1. Preheat air fryer to 350F, if your air fryer requires preheating.
    2. Arrange Cheetos crusted chicken pieces on an air fryer tray. Spray with olive oil or vegetable oil (this is important to prevent burning!).
    3. Air fry at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until fully cooked and a meat thermometer measures 165F in the thickest part of a nugget.

    Notes

    • You can make these as whole chicken tenders instead of nuggets, just add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time to ensure the chicken tenders cook to 165F.
    • You can add more flavor by mixing in ½ teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning and/or paprika to the flour mixture. You can make these more cheesy by adding ~2-3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan to the Cheetos breadcrumbs mixture.
    • The nutritional facts are an estimate assuming 1 lb of chicken tenders is 7 pieces and each chicken tender is chopped into 4 nuggets. Actual nutrition will also vary based on the amount of coating your nuggets have and whether you used oil spray.

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    7

    Serving Size:

    4 nuggets

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 573mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 18g

    The nutritional information provided is just an estimate and will vary based on the actual ingredients you use. If you are tracking nutrition for yourself or your child, check with a nutritionist, dietitian, or pediatrician about whether this recipe is right for you or your child.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment below and share your photo on Instagram - please tag @highchairchronicles , I love seeing your creations!

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