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Live Well. Eat Well.

Recipe Rescue: Tots and Nuggets

The kids are back in school, so what better time to make over everyone's favorite cafeteria classics? Fried finger foods like chicken nuggets and "tater tots" are high-fat and not the best choice for growing brains and bodies. (Not to mention for adults watching their weight.) Our faux-fried versions find a happy medium between good nutrition and kid-friendly fun! (Scroll to the bottom of the post for a printable PDF version of the recipe!)

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Typical Chicken Nugget Ingredients:
  • Chicken (cuts may vary - could be a combination of breast, rib, thigh, etc.)
  • Breading
  • Seasoning
  • Fried in oil
Typical "Tater Tot" Ingredients
  • Potatoes
  • Seasoning
  • Fried in oil
**Both foods absorb oil during frying, which makes them high in fat and calories**

Changes Made:

    • Used fresh boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces and tossed in seasoned coarse breadcrumbs (panko)
    • Boiled and then grated potatoes and formed into cylindrical shapes
    • Sprayed tops of nuggets and tots to help crisping
    • Baked both chicken nuggets and tots in hot oven until browned

        Nutrition Facts Face-Off!

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        Crispy Oven-Roasted Potato Tots (Printable PDF Version)

        Makes 4 servings


          • 1 ½ pounds golden potatoes
          • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
          • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, to taste
          • Nonstick spray


            1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
            2. Boil potatoes in salted water about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked. Drain potatoes and let cool until they can be handled comfortably.
            3. Shred potatoes using a box grater, blender, or food processor. Transfer to a bowl.
            4. Carefully mix salt and pepper into potatoes. Form the mixture into small cylinders and place on the prepared sheet pan. Spray potato bites with nonstick spray.
            5. Bake potato bites for about 15 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp.


            Baked Chicken Nuggets (Printable PDF Version)

            Makes 8 servings


              • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
              • ¾ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs
              • Nonstick spray


                1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
                2. Measure bread crumbs into gallon-sized plastic bag.
                3. Add chicken pieces to the plastic bag and seal shut; toss chicken in breadcrumbs until coated.
                4. Spread coated chicken pieces onto cookie sheet in one layer.
                5. Bake until chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
                6. Serve with dipping sauces like barbecue sauce or ketchup if desired.

                Today's post was written by Leia Kedem. Leia Kedem, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator covering Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion Counties. She appears weekly on WCIA-3/WCIX-49 and is a biweekly contributor to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. She also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts where she regularly posts health tips and answers nutrition questions for free.