Homemade Veggie Nuggets: These are the perfect vegetarian alternative to the chicken nugget. Made with mashed carrots, broccoli, and golden beets. They are slightly sweet and perfectly crispy! | macheesmo.com
Project Delicious

Real Veggie Nuggets

Occasionally, I make promises to people and it’s not that I intend to break them, it just takes me a while to get around to it.

When Love Your Leftovers was published in April, my good friend Benton asked if he could come over so I could show him how to actually make the homemade chicken nuggets in the book.

I responded, “Well Sir. You could just follow the directions in the book.” But he wasn’t too confident of his abilities to do that so I was totally up for showing him the chicken nugget tricks. It also gives me an excuse to make them.

That was six months ago. I blamed the delay on baby prep and Food Fighters prep.

But, finally we made the cooking date happen a few weeks ago.

One problem: Benton’s wife is a vegetarian. Rather than spend $10 on silly fake chicken nuggets, I thought I would try my hand at making some homemade veggie nuggets  with some fresh colorful veggies!

40 nuggets
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...


Crispy Homemade Veggie Nuggets

This is the best way to turn vegetables into tiny kid-friendly nuggets. Making homemade veggie nuggets isn’t hard and beat the store-bought versions!


2-3 medium carrots
1 parsnip
2 small new potatoes
1 golden beet
1 stalk broccoli
1 Serrano pepper, seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


2 cups Italian Bread crumbs
3 large eggs
1 quart oil for frying

Helpful Equipment

Food ProcessorFryer
Print Recipe  


1) Chop carrots, parsnip, new potatoes, golden beet, and broccoli into one-inch chunks. Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer and blanch all the veggies until tender. I recommend blanching the broccoli separately from the others. The sturdier veggies will take about 10 minutes to soften, while the broccoli will take 2-3 minutes.

2) Drain the veggies and add them to a food process along with the Serrano pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture until it’s mostly smooth.

3) Transfer the pulsed veggie mixture to a baking sheet and spread it out into about a 1/2 inch thick layer. Transfer baking sheet to freezer and let freeze for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is hard, but not completely frozen.

4) Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the cooled veggie mixture.

5) In two small bowls, whisk together the eggs in one and measure out the bread crumbs in a second one. After you cut out the shapes, dip them in the eggs and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

At this point you can either add the breaded nuggets to a baking sheet and freeze them and then transfer them to a freezer safe bag. They will keep great for months.

Or you can fry the nuggets immediately by heating oil to 350 degrees F. Once the oil is hot, fry the nuggets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Then transfer the nuggets to a paper towel to drain.

Serve the nuggets while warm with ketchup and a sprinkle of salt.

Homemade Veggie Nuggets

All The Colors

I had never made these before, but I figured the method could probably be similar to the chicken nuggets. I knew I wanted to start with lots of colorful, fresh vegetables.

Good Veg! - Homemade Veggie Nuggets

Good Veg!

I just roughly chopped up all these things.

For my chicken nuggets, I add in an egg and some flour as binder for the nuggets, but for the homemade veggie nuggets version, I added in a few potatoes which I thought would be enough binder to keep it all together.

A rough chop - Homemade Veggie Nuggets

A rough chop.

Blanch these vegetables in salted, boiling water. They will need different times so don’t just toss them all in together. The broccoli will cook quickly, maybe 2-3 minutes, while the other vegetables will need closer to ten minutes.

The finished blanched vegetables should be fork tender.

A quick boil - Homemade Veggie Nuggets

A quick boil.

The Process

At this point, these homemade veggie nuggets are pretty easy IF you have a food processor.

If you don’t have a processor and want to try them out, your best bet is to mash the veggies together with a potato masher. Or you could try grating them on a box grater.

A food processor makes quick work of it though. Just pulse everything together including the Serrano pepper and salt and pepper.

You probably need a processor for these Homemade Veggie Nuggets

You probably need a processor for these.

This was my finished, very colorful mixture!

All mixed up! - Homemade Veggie Nuggets

All mixed up!

Making the Nuggets

The mixture will stick together at this point, but it’s fragile. I wouldn’t recommend shaping the nuggets right away.

Instead, spread the mixture out on a baking sheet in an even thickness.

Ready to freeze a bit.

Ready to freeze a bit.

Stick the baking sheet in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. You don’t want it to be frozen solid, but you want it pretty cold and solid.

Then use a small cookie cutter to cut out your nuggets!

Other shapes encouraged!

Other shapes encouraged!

Once the nuggets are cut out, dip them in egg followed by Italian bread crumbs.

These were my finished little nuggets.

Homemade Veggie Nuggets - breaded and ready.

Breaded and ready.

At this point you have two options:

Freeze them! Just place all the breaded nuggets on a clean baking sheet and let them freeze completely. Then transfer them to a freezer safe bag and they will store fine for months.

Fry them! If you want to cook them immediately though, just dunk them in a fryer with 350 degree F. oil. They will cook quickly and only need 3-4 minutes to get golden brown.

Beautiful things - Homemade Veggie Nuggets

Beautiful things.

Can you bake them?

I didn’t actually try to bake them but I don’t see why you couldn’t bake them. After you bread them, lay them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. They will probably need to bake at 350-400 degrees F. for 15-20 minutes to get nice and crispy.

Frying them is the way to go though if you can.

When they come out, don’t forget to season them with some salt right away.

Serve them with a sauce of your choice!

These homemade veggie nuggets are super-crispy on the outside and slightly sweet when you bite into them (probably because of the beet).

I have to say, these gave my normal chicken nuggets a run for their money.

They were seriously awesome. I think the fact that they are completely veggie packed makes up for the fact that they are fried. You could do worse than eat these for dinner with a side salad or something!

Make a big batch of these, freeze them, and then skip the freezer fake nuggets the next shopping trip!

Homemade Veggie Nuggets: These are the perfect vegetarian alternative to the chicken nugget. Made with mashed carrots, broccoli, and golden beets. They are slightly sweet and perfectly crispy! | macheesmo.com

Homemade Veggie Nuggets: These are the perfect vegetarian alternative to the chicken nugget. Made with mashed carrots, broccoli, and golden beets. They are slightly sweet and perfectly crispy! | macheesmo.com

You might like these other Vegetarian recipes!

Butternut Squash Ziti

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti: This is such a great fall twist on classic baked ziti. Butternut Squash, Gruyere cheese, and a few spices to tie it all together. Easy to make and will feed a crowd! Baked ziti is the BEST! | macheesmo.com

Thai Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

Thai Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce: This roasted spaghetti squash is amped up with a veggie stir-fry topper, eggs, and a spicy homemade peanut sauce. EASY to make and perfect for fall! | macheesmo.com

Super Protein Chopped Salad

Lentil and Quinoa Chopped Salad: A delicious and hearty chopped salad loaded with lentils, quinoa, a white wine dressing, and spiced candied cashews. Great for a hearty lunch or dinner!

84 comments on “Real Veggie Nuggets

  1. This is awesome! My bf LOVES frozen vegetarian corn dogs, but spending so much money for fake meat kinda grosses me out. I’ll definitely have to give these a shot!

      1. I bet if you made the same recipe for these nuggets but shaped them into a roll and then froze them so they would hold their shape, then dropped them in a simple batter instead of the breading you could just turn these into “corn dogs”

  2. I’m going to try this. One of the grand kids (age 6) is a picky carnivore who has gotten away from veggies and the other is a vegetarian (age 3) who eats meatballs, try cooking for them everyday. what a challenge. The saving grace is that they both like PBJ toast.

  3. Looks like I’m going to need to break out the dinosaur cookie cutters!!!
    But first. Is there a reasonable substitution for the egg during the dredging? What about Dijon mustard or veganaise, or would that be too thick?

    1. Hey Travis, I think those sauces might be a bit thick for a breading. But, I think you could thin Veganaise with veggie stock or something and then I think it would work. You really just want something so the breadcrumbs stick well.

      1. I did a little research and I think I’m going to try and use “flax egg”, a mixture of ground flax seeds and warm water. I has a nice goopy consistency that should work similar to an egg. I’ve actually used this in veggie patty and veggie meatball recipes to help in binding.

        1. Another thing that works well as egg replacer is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. Try it, you’ll like it!

          1. I do 1 tablespoon flax meal with 2-3 tablespoons water… Mix and let sit for a few minutes.

    2. I just use unsweetened soy milk when frying something with breading, usually works out fine, and I like double dipping to make a thick crispy crust! I use Zatarains southern style chicken coating, tastes like KFC!

    1. Yea. I think that would work fine. Don’t see why that wouldn’t work. I would still bread them though to make sure they get really crispy.

  4. Looks good. Also cooking for a vegetarian, so this caught my eye. Reminds me a bit of falafel balls, so I wonder if one could throw in some chickpeas. I made black bean burgers for dinner, and it’s always a challenge to flip the very crumbly patties, even with two eggs mixed in. I find if I dry the canned black beans out thoroughly in the microwave, the whole mixture is more apt to hold together during pan frying. Also cooking much of the liquid out of the aromatic vegs I mix in. And adding some dry meal of some kind. Have to try the freezing technique, as these seem to have a whole different texture than what I’m babbling about.

  5. I made these this morning after I got the E-mail update! AMAZING! Half the batch is done & in the freezer waiting for a future date when I shall need them desperately. I also used various cookie cutters so they all have different shapes. I used Halloween cookie cutters- bats, ghost, vampire & devil oh my :-) Thank you Nick for going to all this trouble for us vegetarians :-)

  6. I’m going to try this on my wife, who absolutely hates broccoli, beets, and peppers. but LOVES chicken. I may try to cut the heat a little by substituting yellow bell peppers. I love the heat, but she doesn’t.

  7. These look amazing! I love it when things like veggie burgers, nuggets, and sausages are made from a bunch of actual veggies, rather than ingredients I wouldn’t normally use at home. The best veggie sausages I ever had was at this random hotel in Scotland. I asked the chef if he’d make me something (there was nothing vego on the breakfast menu), and he made these amazing vegge sausages (I think they were potato-based). He even came out to ask me how they were, and I urged him to put them on the menu. You could tell he was very proud of himself – I suspect it was one of the few times he’d tried his hand at a vegetarian dish like that!

  8. This is great! I make big batches of baked veggie nuggets for my toddler to take something easy to eat for lunch at preschool. I use potato, frozen mixed organic veggies, potato, oatmeal, egg, smoked paprika/garlic powder and roll in wheat germ. I don’t think I would serve them to adult guests, but babies/toddlers love them and they are a great easy to eat lunch option. I’d be happy to share the method. Also rotate in a nugget version of TFIMB quinoa/hummus patties and a couple others.

  9. I have a feeling that this is going to be my new favorite snack. :) And it’s healthy, too! I’m really glad I’ve found this recipe. If you know any snack ideas like this, please let me know. Thanks!

    1. Is there a way to make this recipe more healthy? Cooking them twice cooks out a lot of the vitamins. The deep frying- well also not stellar. Can you somehow put the veggies in a food processor, mold them and bake them?

      1. Hey Dee, it’s pretty tough to shape them while they are raw so you do need to cook them first. You can shape them and bake them though. That works okay! They don’t get quite as crispy obviously, but still pretty tasty!

  10. I am vegan and would love to try these. They sounds delicious, but they use egg. Do you have any suggestion of what I can use instead? I have some ideas, but I would love to know what you think.

    1. Hey Heather! I just used an egg for the breading and you could easily substitute a lot of stuff. I think I would dunk them in a little coconut milk and then bread them and fry them! It would be totally delicious. If you give it a shot, report back!

  11. This recipe looks good but my mixture is too watery and i couldn’t find aby parnish in my local market so i did not use it.What can i do to fix my mixture

    1. Hey Katia! I would mix in some breadcrumbs straight to the mix until they hold their shape. You might need 1/2-1 cup of breadcrumbs but that should firm up the mix if it’s too loose. Good luck!

  12. I was really excited to make these for my toddler (and myself), but they turned out to be way too much work. 15-20 minutes in the freezer didn’t even get the filling close to being solid enough to cut into shapes that were stable enough to dip in the eggs and breadcrumbs. And then once I cut the filling into nuggets there was a lot of wasted filling. I suppose I could have let it thaw, spread it out again, and then cut more pieces, but after an hour of working on these I was fed up. Maybe if I dare attempt these again I could try rolling them into balls with my hands and then rolling in breadcrumbs. The parsnip flavor also overwhelmed the other vegetables so I would leave those out.

    1. Hey Melissa! Sorry they didn’t work out as you thought they would. That’s always a bummer to hear. Depending on the consistency of the mix, you might need to add a little flour to the filling to get it to firm up more. Mine worked out okay, but you might need some thickener if it’s too runny. Also, on the shape… you can just cut the nuggets into squares also which reduces the waste or you could just shape with your hands like you suggest. Thanks for reporting back though!

  13. I love this recipe! I tried to make it using an oven, but the inside was really soggy, and didn’t cook very well. But when I fried them, Oh My Goodness… it was amazing~! I can’t wait to make them again. :)

    1. Sure Sarah! I would freeze them on a baking sheet so they don’t stick and then store them in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F. until hot and crispy!

  14. Hi! Really want to try these tonight but I have no idea what a golden beet is or where to find it! I have regular beets…???? Any suggestions? I will keep looking for the golden beet though because it looks fun

    1. Hey Veronica! You can use regular beets. The nuggets will just be bright red and you’ll have a red-stained kitchen by the time you are done. :) Golden beets are almost always right next to the regular beets. They are yellow instead of red so cut down on some of the staining. Good luck!

  15. Can i ask the copy of your recipe becuse i have a research paper and i want to present this recipe thanks in advance

  16. I thought these were great! I used a turnip because I couldn’t find a golden beet, and an Anaheim pepper to make milder. I cut into squares and got them up with a spatula. I made them vegan:
    Dipped in flour
    Dipped in soymilk curdled with a bit of lemon juice
    Rolled in panko breadcrumbs.
    Then I pan fried them on both sides with about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet, draining on paper towels.
    I only made half of them because they started thawing and getting messy and hard to bread. The rest are in the freezer and will be made later.

    Unfortunately, the kids and one adult didn’t like them, but two of us thought they were wonderful. My husband said they reminded him of potato croquettes. I had them with a kiwifruit hot sauce–yum!!

    Really cool idea; thanks for coming up with it. I wish more of my family had liked; I would have put it on regular rotation.

  17. These are great – awesome way for my non-veggie-loving husband to get more green foods in his belly. I would love to share some of these images, with your permission, on my website for a recipe roundup!

    1. Hey Kalyn, go for it! Just link back to this original post please for the recipe and attribution. Glad you liked them!

  18. Oh my, oh my, oh my….I made these today whilst the kids were at nursery and they have just eaten them, actually, they didn’t eat them, they SCOFFED them.

    I make them bubble and squeak patties normally, but they NEVER turn out like these bad boys, thank you for sharing. These are our new freezer favourites from now on I think, they were a hit with my boys and I even dipped one in some ketchup…then another…oops, I think they have all gone now, I will just HAVE to make some more. Thank you

    1. Oh Kelly, that totally made my day! Thanks for reporting back! I’m making a batch of these this weekend for my little guy also actually. :)

  19. I’m excited to make these for my family this week, they love stuff like this! Other than ketchup, I’m not sure what kind of sauce to try. Any suggestions? I make honey mustard a lot, but that doesn’t sound right with these. What do people usually try? Ranch? Something else? Thank you!

    1. Hey Debi, I actually love them with a quick honey mustard or slightly spicy ketchup (ketchup plus a little sriracha). Ranch or a good BBQ sauce is great with them also! Good luck!

      1. Thanks so much for getting back to me. I made these the other night and they were AWESOME! A big hit with the family. My daughter mostly wanted ketchup with them, but I also made ranch blended with an avocado and that’s what hubby and I liked best. Thanks for this- and for this site!

      2. So I ended up making these the other day- they were AWESOME! Will definitely make again. And my daughter mostly preferred just ketchup for dipping. But I also made ranch blended with an avocado and hubby and I liked that best. Thank you for this!

  20. I also need to use an egg substitute due to allergies,but also can not use coconut oil! Suggestions please?

    1. Oops,forgot to mention dairy allergies too
      Going to search for this Veganaise or maybe a tiny bit of soymilk.
      Bit hard to find anything like that in Germany!
      Will let you know how they turn out!
      (what’s TFIMB?&Lauren..may I have your recipes also,please?).

    1. Hey Claire, you could use a normal beet if you don’t mind the red color or just an extra carrot or two! GOod luck!

  21. Are you able to freeze these? I would like to make some in advance and have them on hand when I am hungry.

  22. These did not work out for me. I had to freeze them forever to be able to cut them into shapes. Then when I went to fry them they totally fell apart. Have you made this more than once? I’m wondering if it was a fluke that they worked out so well.

    1. Hey Vicki! I’m sorry to hear that! Yes… I’ve made them a bunch of times. Just did a batch last week actually and baked them instead of frying them. I wonder if there was just too much liquid in your mix? When my mix is done, before chilling it, it’s basically the consistency of cookie dough and will hold its shape. A few times when I’ve made them I’ve had to add extra flour or breadcrumbs to thicken the mixture a bit so maybe that’s the case? Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to try again! Happy to help!

      1. How did it work when you baked it? I wanted to try it that way and read comments to see if noone else baked it and only saw one comment that said it was soggy in the middle.

  23. These sound great and way better than anything frozen at the store. For those looking to replace the egg you can buy Egg Replacer or use 2 tbsp ground flaxseed with 6 Tbsp of water. Can’t wait for the kids to try these!

  24. Thank you for this recipe. My daughter has some pretty severe allergies that have pushed us to bring her food everywhere we go. (We have had several instances of cross contamination that have led to reactions.) It is really getting had to not repeat the same meals over and over again. She is a picky eater by nature so this looks like something that I can do with her that she may eat. Although I will probably use milk to dredge with instead of the egg (which she is allergic to).

  25. These look great! I plan on making (baking) them for my toddlers to get some good veggie finger foods in! Would love to make them grain-free though-thoughts on using almond meal instead of bread crumbs?

  26. This sounds really tasty! I want to give it a try but I follow gluten free diet and would love to know if there is any solution how to replace those bread crumbs?
    Thanks a lot and hugs from Europe

  27. I have a food science question – what purpose is there to blanching the veggies versus simply boiling them and then chopping them in the food processor? Just wondering if the ice water bath has some sort of benefits?

  28. What would be the best way to cook them If I were to take the freeze option after the breading process?

    1. I think you could substitute gluten-free coating for the breadcrumbs. That’s the only gluten thing in the recipe. I think they make gluten-free breadcrumbs!

  29. I was wondering if this might work with all the left over pulp from juicing – has anyone tried it? It would be wonderful to be able to use all the pulp for something delicious like these.

  30. Could I substitute sweet potato and kohlrabi for the golden beet and potato? I want to make these as carb friendly as possible, but still want them to maintain their shape.

  31. Made these with red beets instead of gold, just what I had on hand. Turned out sweet, but delicious! I used soft tofu blended with soy milk instead of eggs. I tried to add a picture, but there doesn’t seem to be an option. I also froze them, and just baked them from frozen at 450F for 25 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes. Super handy for lunches at home! Thanks for the recipe!

Leave a Comment