Pesto Chicken Nuggets

by Meri on October 12, 2012









This last weekend I experienced one of those significant parent milestones…leaving my kids on an overnight trip. I went to Philladelphia for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo helping my friends over at FoodCalc promote their new App, EveryoneEat! I had loads of fun experiencing the big city, museums and amazing restaurants.

When I got home my kids couldn’t keep still. Jumping, screaming, laughing…such a great welcoming! I was only gone for 3 days and they looked SO different. It seemed like I’d been gone a month. Birdie was talking more, Mr. using his “ing” sounds at the end of his words, Poppie looking more grown up. Strange how that can happen.

I am certainly glad to be back at home but the memories of those amazing restaurants is lingering in my brain… the blood sausages with purple potato puree, lamb with corn succotash, and fettuccini with pistachio pesto…then my husband let’s me know he bought fixings for chicken nuggets with three little ones behind him jumping and yelling, “yeah, chicken nuggets!’ Sigh.

I just couldn’t bear to make the same old chicken nuggets and since I had pesto on the brain I decided pesto chicken nuggets served with Marinara sauce would be a slightly better option, at least for me. I’ve made these in the past with good success so we went with it again. I always make a large batch so I can freeze the rest for quick convenience foods later on. I’ve found a few store bought chicken nuggets without all the fillers but they are EXPENSIVE. I don’t mean a little costly but like a $1 per nugget. I have this vision of my kids when they are 18 as we explain to them, “Sorry guys, we can’t help out with your college expenses because we opted for the expensive chicken nuggets when you were 3.” So, I do try to make my own as often as I can.

Pesto Chicken Nuggets

Servings: 3 adult (around 6 kid servings)


3 chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces

Salt to taste

4 ounces Basil pesto (home made or store bought)

1 cup Bread crumbs (Italian seasoning bread crumbs works well)

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1 to 2 cups Marinara sauce (depending on how much sauce you like for dipping)


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick spray

2.  Mix bread crumbs and cheese in shallow bowl.

3. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt.  Brush pesto on both sides of chicken (pesto has a strong flavor so don’t dunk)

4.  Drudge through bread crumb/cheese mixture to coat both sides, shake off excess and place on the prepared cookie sheet

5.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through

6.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping (1/3rd to 1/2 cup per serving)

Not quite like the food I had in Philly but definitely a step up from traditional chicken nuggets with ketchup.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy (Easy as Pie Recipes) October 14, 2012 at 5:51 am

This looks yummy. I’ll have to try a gluten free version. Kid-friendly is good. I don’t have kids, but my husband eats like one. :)


Meri October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Definitely a good one for both little and big kids. :-) Coincidentally, Candice, my photography partner did this recipe gluten free for herself and it turned out great!


Liz - Meal Makeover Mom October 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

So easy! Love the idea. It’s all about flavor when you’re making over a recipe, and you nailed it. Can’t wait to try this …


Meri October 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Thanks Liz!


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