Baked Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Nuggets



For an embarrassing amount of time, I used to pronounce this grain kwin-oh-ah.


I can’t remember who finally corrected me, but they must have done it tactfully, otherwise it probably would have left an emotional scar.


This recipe was of the fly by the seat of my pants variety. My daughters and I were spending a day at our new house (aka them watching SpongeBob and me cleaning), when my eldest cried out for food. Alas, I had virtually nothing kid-friendly in the fridge, but I did have some chicken tenders a-thawing.

Desperate to get something other than carbs in her mouth, I recalled myself playing with the idea of making a gluten-free McNugget. No time like the present!

Baked Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Nuggets
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3
  • 5 chicken tenders (about 1 pound), cut into nugget size pieces
  • ⅔ c. quinoa, rinsed well and patted dry with paper towels (gets a tad messy)
  • 2 T. oil (olive or grapeseed work well), divided
  • ¾ t. sea salt
  • ¼ t. black pepper (or cayenne if you're feeling spicy!)
  • ½ t. dried basil
  • ½ t. dried oregano
  • ¼ t. dried thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the rinsed and dried quinoa onto a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake the quinoa for eight minutes.
  4. In the meantime, mix one tablespoon of the oil with the salt and pepper.
  5. Toss the chicken in the seasoned oil.
  6. Once the quinoa has cooled, mix it in a pie plate with the spices.
  7. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
  8. Coat the chicken nuggets with the quinoa mix. This works well if you have a set of prongs, as you can flip the pieces over without getting your fingers messy.
  9. Place the coated pieces of chicken onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  10. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the tops of the nuggets.
  11. Bake the nuggets for 15 minutes.
  12. Flip the nuggets over, and bake for 9 more minutes.
  13. Remove the nuggets from the oven, and sprinkle them with a bit more salt and pepper while they're still hot.
  14. Allow them time to cool and serve with marinara or sauce of your choice!
Nutrition facts are based on using olive oil. Weight Watchers points (new system): 13
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 3 Calories: 500 Fat: 22.7 g Saturated fat: 4.7 g Unsaturated fat: 18 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 23.2 g Sugar: 0 g Sodium: 600 mg Fiber: 2.7 g Protein: 48.8 g Cholesterol: 135 mg


These were delicious!


I love the crunchy coating from the quinoa, and I thought the herbs were tasty without overpowering the chicken.

I whipped up a batch of My Favorite Marinara Sauce for dipping, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. If you’ve ever wondered about my surroundings when taking pictures, here are a few candid shots you might enjoy (or at least their grandmothers will)…


…a wild-haired Natalie…


…Jadie waiting to dig in…


Me: Jadie, eat the chicken like you love it!

Jadie: (see above)



After that, I had to provide photographic evidence that she did in fact like it!

Someone else who’s always behind the scenes with me…


I hope you enjoyed this rare and (I’m sure) thrilling peek behind the scenes! 😀

What’s your favorite way to enjoy quinoa?

I really love it plain with some salt and good olive oil. I have yet to try a sweet version, but it’s on my list!

Shared with: Allergy-Friendly Friday


  1. says

    Natalie’s hair reminds me of Abigail’s when she was little! Just too short to “style” (ha!). I liked seeing behind the scenes- your lighting was beautiful. And through your pics I can see the crunchy costing it has – I’m impressed!

    • Lauren says

      Thanks Mary Frances! Haha! Isn’t she hilarious? Sometimes I’ll give her a mohawk just for fun. :-)

  2. says

    Don’t feel bad, I think we’ve all mispronounced quinoa! 😉 This recipe is so interesting! I love quinoa, but I’ve never thought about using it as a breading. I can’t wait to give this a try!

  3. says

    Pictures of Jadie are hilarious. Too cute. Love the idea of using quinoa for a crunchy coating. Nice!

    Thanks for the tip to check out Thug Kitchen. I had no idea about this website!! Whoa–hilarious! I cannot wait to make the dehydrated sweet potato treats myself–within the next few weeks, I WILL be trying it. Thank you1

    • Lauren says

      I don’t know for sure….I think the quinoa might get mushy that way. I’m bad about freezing recipes, but I should start trying because a lot of people ask me about it. If you try it, please let me know if it works. :-)

  4. Katie says

    I used to pronounce quinoa the same way! One of my health-nut friends showed me the light quickly on how to correctly pronounce it :)

    Like you, I really enjoy my quinoa in savory dishes, and many times alongside fish. I love adding a little almond milk and nutritional yeast to give it that creamy, cheesy flavor. You should give a sweetened version a try sometime if you haven’t! I like eating it like oatmeal… add some milk, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract maybe some raisins or dried cranberries… it takes like pumpkin pie!


I love to read your comments!