7 Easy Salad Dinners Made Better With Chicken Nuggets

Nugget Niçoise is an elegant meal, really.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Drew Aichele

Nugget Niçoise

While the nuggets cook on one sheet pan, roast tiny potatoes and green beans on another one. Serve all three over a bed of mixed greens, with Kalamata olives and diced, fresh tomatoes. Finish it off with a lemony vinaigrette, plus capers for a touch of sophistication. Yes, we’re calling a chicken nugget salad sophisticated and we stand by it!

Sorta Kinda Nashville Hot Chicken Salad

This version really shines on super crisp, roughly chopped romaine hearts. Right after the nuggets come out of the oven, drizzle them with your favorite hot sauce (we like Frank’s Red Hot) and toss them on the pan to coat well. Finish the salad with a lot of finely chopped celery, blue cheese, and the creamy dressing of your choice. We always go with ranch.

Nugget Nacho Salad

That’s right, it’s a nacho-nugget night mashup and we will! note! apologize! for! it! Pile your salad greens high with black beans, avocado, corn, and pico de gallo. Top with chicken nuggets, crushed tortillas chips, and crumbled queso fresco. We love this with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, but have been tempted to try substituting the vinaigrette with queso and lime juice. Too much? Perhaps, but we think chicken nugget salad can handle it.

The Big Italian Chop

After crisping up your nuggets, chop them up along with jarred marinated artichokes, roasted red peppers, and tangy, spicy peperoncini. Toss your salad greens with a garlicky, creamy red wine vinaigrette (we like adding a little mayo to a basic vinaigrette to thicken it) and top with thinly sliced ​​red onion, olives, and grated Parmesan.

Chicken Panzanella

Pairing crispy chicken and hunks of toasted bread pretty much guarantees satisfaction. Toss both with tomato wedges, red onion, cucumber, and a handful of fresh basil for a super (dare we say?) seasonal summer meal.

Chicken and Waffles Cobb

While your nuggets cook, crisp some bacon (in the oven is easiest). Toast some freezer waffles, too, and cut them into bite-size pieces. Shake up a maple-mustard dressing and build a salad of red leaf lettuce, crumbled bacon, canned or steamed-from-frozen corn kernels, and Colby Jack cheese. Top with chicken nuggets and waffles “croutons.”

One last tip for any weeknight dinner salad

To keep weeknight cleanup easy, avoid serving toppings in individual serving bowls. We know that kids (and adults) especially love a make-your-own moment, but we’re talking chicken nugget salad here! If you’re committed to having everyone toss their own combination of ingredients, place each topping in a separate pile on one parchment-lined baking sheet. Everyone gets exactly what they want on their plate and you’re not stuck with washing eight smaller bowls at the end of dinner.

Keeping a box of your favorite frozen chicken nuggets at the ready means that those greens you buy every week will never wither in the back of the crisper drawer again. Consider this your permission slip to make salads more free-wheeling and free-spirited. Because if all else fails, you still get to eat chicken nuggets for dinner.

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