Fried Turkey Nuggets
April 15, 2019 | Updated June 15, 2020
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I know, I know, this is not a high-brow recipe, but turkey nuggets are damn good and I thought I’d share my recipe with you.
Chunks of fried awesomeness dipped in the sauce of your choice is never a bad idea, especially when the sauce is Mississippi comeback sauce, which, if you have never heard of it, is basically All The Condiments mixed together.
The inspiration for my rendition of turkey nuggets comes from another Southern recipe I make, snapper bites. Snapper bites are basically this, only with red snapper or some other firm white fish. Chunks of fish or turkey, breaded in Saltines, fried in something that makes dieticians shudder, and served with something irresistible.
I make turkey nuggets with the thinner portion of each side of the turkey breast, the triangular section closest to the bird’s tail. On a store-bought turkey this is not so pronounced, but on a wild turkey is is always very thin in comparison to the front portion. This section of turkey breast is excellent for cutlets, too.
It can help to brine the turkey first, which helps prevent it from drying out. My brine is super simple: 1/4 cup kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal) to 1 quart of water. Brine for only a few hours, I’d say between 2 and 6, tops.
You then cut the turkey breast into chunks, dredge in flour, then in a Louisiana-style egg wash — it has mustard in with the beaten eggs — then in either breadcrumbs or Saltines. I prefer Saltines.
Fry in something that makes you celebrate your wild turkey, like fresh rendered lard (the kind that’s refrigerated or in any Latin market), or peanut oil or, yes, I suppose regular vegetable oil.
The comeback sauce is right from my friend John Currence’s book Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey. It is, more or less, all the condiments: ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire, mustard, even something called Heinz chili sauce, which I’d never heard of.
All of this makes comeback sauce strangely dirty, in a good way. Dirty in the sense of eating three orders of Burger King onion rings, or a whole carton of Krispy Kremes.
You could use whatever sauce you want, however. I dunked cold, leftover turkey nuggets in hot sauce and it was fine. More than fine, really. This is also to say that cold turkey nuggets are almost as good as piping hot ones.
Fried Turkey Nuggets
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/4 cuo Heinz chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 2 pounds turkey breast, cut into chunks
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon spice mix of your choice (Cajun, Cavender's, Old Bay, etc.)
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk or regular milk
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 2 sleeves Saltines
- oil for frying
- To make the sauce, put everything in a food processor or blender and puree. Set it aside.
- Mix the flour with the spice mix; I use Cavender's mostly. Mix together the eggs, buttermilk and mustard. Mash the Saltines. I do this by putting them in a heavy freezer bag and crushing them with a rolling pin.
- Dredge about 1/4 of the turkey chunks in the flour, then the egg wash, then put them in the freezer bag with the crushed Saltines and shake well to coat. Before you take them out, press the crushed Saltines into the meat. Set the chunks on a baking sheet, and do the rest of the turkey, 1/4 of it at a time.
- In an ideal world, you would rest the breaded turkey nuggets in the fridge for 1 hour. Do this if you can, because it will make the coating stick to the turkey better. If you are rushed for time, you can skip this.
- When you are ready to fry, put enough oil in a large frying pan to come up about a finger's worth (about 1/2 inch) and bring it to somewhere between 325F and 350F. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and put that in your oven. Set the oven to "warm."
- Fry the turkey nuggets in batches so you don't crowd the pan. Set the finished turkey nuggets on the rack in the warm oven while you do the rest. Serve with the comeback sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
have you ever breaded the turkey nuggets the night before and kept them in the fridge for around 24 hours before frying?
Heidi: not that long, but yes, the fridge rest helps the breading stick.
So stinking good! Thanks for yet another winner Hank!
This was excellent with a wild turkey I harvested this spring. I used the bread crumbs and Old Bay in the flour.
This is my family’s new favorite way to eat wild turkey! The recipe is perfection, and I appreciate the tips for success, like chilling the coated chunks and the frying temperature of the oil. The sauce is delicious too. I didn’t have chili sauce so I used a T of sriracha. Thank you for yet another great recipe!
I came across a lonely bag of wild turkey breast tenders at the back of the freezer and used this recipe to surprise my husband. He was delighted. I will definitely make this again.
Made this with panko instead of bread crumbs (due to what’s on hand) and grilled on a pizza stone on the bbq (too hot to use stove or deep fryer inside this week)… Turned out sooo delicious – I use online recipes all the time but rarely comment on them, but this one is so good I had to!
Looking forward to actually frying them next time too:)
This is the only recipe I use for when we cook wild turkey. When we first harvested our turkey we cut the pieces of the breast up kind of too thick, so before cooking this recipe I lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter lay the breast pieces in a single layer add a sheet of plastic wrap on top then use a meat tenderizer to beat them suckers thin. Then I marinate. I also throw the flour mixture in a ziplock bag and shake the turkey to coat, then you don’t get gooey flour hands. Super yummy recipe, Thank you!
This turned out great for me! Family loved it! I brined the breast for 2 hours with brown sugar added. Will definitely use this recipe again.
My family loves this recipe! The kids will actually sit their butts down and eat what’s on their plate! The only thing I changed was I used panko instead of saltines. It’s great either way! The Comeback Sauce is also great on vegetables.
I tried this recipe in the cast iron skillet to avoid the mess of deep frying. Another one of Hank’s recipes, not surprisingly, fantastic.
I used this recipe with the “triangles” from the turkey breast like the recipe suggests and it turned out fantastic. The one thing I would do differently in the future is use a fresh sleeve of crackers and new bag on the second half of the turkey chunks. I just didn’t get as consistent breading on the second half as the cracker crumbs started to clump up. Entire family loved this meal. Great way to introduce wild game to someone.
Hi I was looking for recipes and then I found your Nuggets recipe for Turkey do you have one for deer meat ?
Made this recipe with tenders from a wild turkey (perfect since) and put them on a sandwich, and it was fantastic! I like the addition of mustard to the egg dip – it’s not something I’ve done in the past but will do again in the future. And they were ALMOST better as leftovers for breakfast.
Made these last night. Easy and fantastic. The boyfriend, a life long hunter, declared this his new favorite way to eat wild turkey breast. Well done, sir!
Heinz Chili sauce is amazing! It is like oniony, slightly spicy ketchup!
This recipe is basically how I treat my Morels as well, except they have to be fried in bacon grease. If I happen to have a tukey and shrooms, both into the bath!
I have the “Hunter, Gather, Cook” and the “Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail” cook books, so; I guess I’ll have to get the “Hunter, Angler, Gardener” cook book as well. This is gonna be great fun and for that, Mr. Hank Shaw; I Thank You…
I’m going to to this with the pheasant glut in my freezer. Sounds delicious.