Veggies aren’t always a kid-favorite food, but nuggets are! If you’re looking for a great way to get the kiddos to eat more veggies, you’re at the right place!
This recipe for veggie nuggets is easy to make and today I’m going to show you how you can save time and make them ahead!
Since first sharing this recipe with my community back in 2012, these veggie nuggets continue to be a hit with many families.
Nuggets have become a staple for many families so incorporating veggies into them can be a great way to get kids to get more nutrition into their meals.
Nowadays, you can find veggies hidden in many foods; from muffins, quiches, and smoothies. And even in nugget-shaped bites in the freezer aisle. The problem? Not enough veggies per serving.
With today’s recipe for veggie nuggets, you’ll feel good about your kiddo’s nutrition and having them ready to go in the freezer for when you need them!
What Veggies to Use for Veggie Nuggets
To make veggie nuggets, you can use a variety of veggies like: cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, squash, beets, peppers, green beans, and any solid veggie you can steam and blend.
In today’s recipe, I am using a cauliflower and broccoli combination. You can keep the recipe as is or, substitute either for another vegetable; just make sure you keep the measurements the same.
Veggie Nuggets Ingredients
While you can make veggie nuggets from a variety of veggies, this recipe’s main ingredients are:
- Bread crumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Italian seasoning or your favorite all-purpose seasoning
- Salt and pepper
I should note that the veggies you use to make these nuggets will determine the final color of the nugget itself. Because I’m using cauliflower and broccoli, these nuggets will turn out green.
For the measurements, check the printable recipe below.
Are these Veggie Nuggets Healthy?
By baking or air-frying these nuggets, you can make them much healthier than by pan-frying them. They are also made primarily of veggies which is what matters!
How to Make Veggie Nuggets
Making veggie nuggets is simple. You’ll need to cook the veggies first and then mix them with some seasoning and a couple of binding ingredients, give them a shape, and cook them.
Here are the step-by-steps:
- Cook the veggies
Either boil, steam, or microwave your veggies until they are tender but have a slightly crisp texture.
Once cooked, run cold water over the veggies to blanch them and stop the cooking process.
- Make the Mixture
In a food processor, combine the cooked veggies and pulse to lightly chop. Then process for a minute until they are combined and smooth.
To the smooth veggies, add the eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning. Process a few times to combine the ingredients.
- Form Nuggets
Using a cookie scoop or with your hands, imagine you’re making meatballs, and make rounded patties. Place them on a lined baking sheet as you go.
Bake in the preheated oven, pan-fry or air-fry the nuggets. See details in the recipe card below.
How to Cook Veggies for Nuggets
You’ll need to lightly boil or steam the veggies in the microwave or steamer basket until they are soft.
Roasted veggies tend to dry out so I do not recommend using roasted vegetables for this recipe.
Can you Bake these Veggie Nuggets?
I recommend baking veggie nuggets on a lined baking sheet at 375F for approximately 15 minutes until the tops are golden and the patties are fully cooked through.
Thicker nuggets might need additional cooking time. You’ll know they need more time in the oven by opening them in half and the middle of the nugget feels “wet.”
Can you Air-Fry these Veggie Nuggets?
To air-fry veggie nuggets, simply place them inside your air fryer basket on top of the rack (if you have one). Cook at 400F for approximately 8 minutes.
If you do not have a tray or rack, simply flip the nuggets halfway through cooking.
How to Pan Fry Veggie Nuggets
Heat up a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place about 2 tablespoons of oil at the bottom of the pan and heat it for about a minute. Distribute hot oil around the pan. You can also use cooking spray.
Place nuggets in the hot pan with enough room so they do not touch. Cook nuggets, about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove from pan and cook the rest of the nuggets.
Can You Make Veggie Nuggets Gluten Free
These veggie nuggets can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs or substituting the breadcrumbs with quick cooking (instant) oats 1:1.
Can you Freeze Veggie Nuggets?
Veggie nuggets freeze very well and can stay frozen, in an airtight bag or container, for up to 3 months.
To freeze, place uncooked nugget scoops or patties onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and place it in the freezer.
Once they are frozen, transfer them inside a gallon zip bag, label it with cooking instructions, and store them in the freezer.
How to Cook Frozen Veggie Nuggets
Remove the number of veggie nuggets you want to cook and follow the cooking directions in the recipe below. Depending on the cooking method, you will need to add approximately 2 minutes to the cooking time.
Veggie nuggets thaw out quickly on the counter. Usually, they are nearly ready to be cooked while you preheat the oven. If you’re cooking them in a pan, wait 5 to 10 minutes for them to thaw out.
How to Pack Veggie Nuggets in a Lunchbox
These veggie nuggets are great to send in your child’s lunch because once cooked, they can be enjoyed at room temperature. They do not need to be reheated.
Cook the veggie nuggets according to the directions and place them in a lunchbox. Alternatively, if you have leftovers from dinner, heat them up in the microwave, about 45-seconds, and pack.
Some parents place them from the fridge into the lunchbox and the nuggets will come to room temperature by lunch.
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These veggie nuggets are the easiest way to get kids to eat more vegetables!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 24 1x
- Cuisine: Lunch
- 4 cups chopped veggies: cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, etc
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup bread crumbs*
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Nuggets:
- Cook chopped veggies in a steamer basket, microwave (with some liquid), or boil them in a pot filled with water until fork tender.
- Run cold water over the cooked veggies to stop the cooking process (blanch).
- Place cooked veggies inside a food processor and pulse a few times to coarsely chop. Run the food processor continuously for about a minute, until the veggies are smooth.
- Add eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning to the veggie mixture. Process the mixture with a few pulses until all the ingredients are even. If the veggie paste is too sticky, add additional bread crumbs.
- Form the nuggets with a cookie scoop or with your hands and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Bake veggie nuggets for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Air Fryer Method:
- Preheat air fryer for 5minutes at 400.
- Cook veggie nuggets at 400F for about 8 minutes until golden brown. Flip them halfway through if your air fryer basket does not have a tray/rack.
Pan Frying Method:
- Heat up a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Place about 2 tablespoons of oil at the bottom of the pan and heat it for about a minute. Distribute hot oil around the pan.
- Place veggie nuggets in the hot oil, making sure to not crowd the pan, and cook them for about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove from pan onto a plate and cook the next batch.
If you overcook your veggies, your nuggets will feel “wet.” It’s best to undercook veggies to a crisp texture. They will finish cooking in the oven/pan/air fryer.
Gluten-Free: Make these veggies gluten-free by using gluten-free bread crumbs or substituting the bread crumbs with instant/quick-cooking oats, the same amount.
- Serving Size: 4 nuggets
- Calories: 80
- Sugar: 1
- Sodium: 110
- Fat: 2
- Saturated Fat: 0.8
- Carbohydrates: 10
- Fiber: 2
- Protein: 5
- Cholesterol: 66