Are Boneless Wings Chicken Nuggets: What’s the Difference?

by | Sep 13, 2023 | Barbecue, Grilling | 0 comments

Are Boneless Wings Chicken Nuggets: What’s the Difference?

The Internet is constantly debating the similarities between boneless wings and chicken nuggets. Some people believe they’re practically the same whereas some think they’ve their variations.

A few years ago even I was confused between boneless wings and chicken nuggets. Then, after reading and trying out their recipes, I found the answer to my confusion. 

Boneless wings aren’t chicken nuggets as they contain full chicken breast meat, unlike nuggets which have ground meat. Moreover, wings require extra sauces, whereas nuggets only need a few seasonings. 

If you want to know more about the differences between these two in detail, read on! 

What Are Boneless Wings?

You may already know what chicken wings are! They are taken from the middle part of the birds’ wings known as “flat” and “Wingettes”. Here, you’ll find two bones running parallel to each other and consisting of tender meat. 

However, if you believe boneless wings are the same, just with the bones removed, you’re a little mistaken. 

Unlike actual chicken wings that are taken from the wing area, boneless chicken wings are made from the meat present in the chicken breast. 

Therefore, boneless wings aren’t actually chicken wings. They’re just shaped like chicken wings to give a similar feel and appearance. 

What Are Chicken Nuggets? 

Let’s be honest – we all are familiar with chicken nuggets!

Chicken nuggets are made using meat obtained from chicken breasts or other pectoral muscles. However, when you bite on it, you might find the texture to be a bit different from that of other chicken items. Well, the reason behind the varying texture is the method of preparation. 

In chicken nuggets, the whole part of the chicken breast isn’t breaded and fried. 

Instead, the meat is ground and shaped into tiny rectangular pieces (or something different, depending on the chef’s preference). This gives the nuggets an extremely tender texture, which isn’t found in other pieces. 

Quick Comparison Table: Boneless Wings Vs Chicken Nuggets

I’ve listed below the primary differences between boneless wings and chicken nuggets.  

Category Boneless WingsChicken Nuggets
Method of PreparationUses whole chicken breastUses ground chicken breast meat
HistoryInvented in the 2000sInvented in the 1950s
Texture Slightly firm and stringyTender and soft
Shape Comes in one wing-like shapeComes in four shapes 
Ingredients Requires hot sauce and buttermilkDoesn’t require wet ingredients 
Serving MannerMay be served with or without extra dipsServed with extra dips

Difference Between Boneless Wings and Chicken Nuggets

Now, the question is if both chicken nuggets and boneless wings are made from chicken breast, aren’t they the same? 

Trust me, you’ll find various differences if you look closely. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones. 

  1. Method of Preparation 

Let’s start with the biggest difference between boneless wings and chicken nuggets. 

As I mentioned earlier, chicken nuggets are made from ground chicken. Therefore, if you want to prepare nuggets, you need to grind the breast of a chicken first, and then shape it into tiny pieces. 

On the other hand, boneless wings don’t require you to grind the meat. They consist of the whole breast piece, which is coated with breadcrumbs, and fried to perfection!

This variation in the preparation method leads to many other differences. 

  1. History 

This isn’t a culinary difference between boneless wings and chicken nuggets. However, the origin and history of both chicken items are different. 

Robert C. Baker, a food science professor, from Cornell University invented chicken nuggets in the 1950s. 

The story is quite interesting, as he discovered a way to keep ground meat intact without any skin. He also found a way to keep any mixes or batter on it without causing it to disintegrate while frying at high heat. 

This led to the invention of mankind’s greatest contribution (joking) to society – crispy chicken nuggets! Here’s another fun fact, Robert Baker and his colleagues termed chicken nuggets as “Chicken Crispie”. 

On the contrary, boneless wings are actually a much more recent invention. 

According to the New York Times, Buffalo Wild Wings, an American restaurant, is responsible for starting boneless wings in the 2000s. It’s believed that they came around 2009, but according to some claims, the restaurant might’ve started them around 2003 itself! 

Did you know that Buffalo Wild Wings also had a lawsuit against them for marketing boneless wings as “wings” instead of saying that boneless chicken wings are just chicken nuggets but fancier? 

  1. Texture 

As you know, the preparation method for both boneless wings and chicken nuggets isn’t the same. Because of this reason, there are prominent texture differences between the two. 

Since chicken nuggets are ground meat, they have a soft texture. For instance, when ordering McDonald’s chicken nuggets, they tend to melt in the mouth. This is quite different from the stringy texture of chicken meat.

Coming to boneless chicken wings, the entire chicken breast is used here. So, the texture is more authentic. When you bite into boneless wings, you’ll feel the slightly firm and chewy texture of the meat. 

  1. Size and Shape 

You can differentiate between boneless wings and chicken nuggets by looking at their size. 

Generally, chicken nuggets are widely known to be smaller and come in four different shapes – bell, bow-tie, boot, and ball. Its length is around one to two inches. 

Boneless wings don’t have many shapes, as they’re meant to look like wings. Therefore, they’re shaped accordingly. They’re slightly bigger than chicken nuggets in size. 

You’ll find that kids often like chicken nuggets due to their tiny size, whereas adults are more into boneless wings. If you ask me, I love them both – even though boneless wings are healthier!

  1. Ingredients and Seasonings 

This is also one of the important differences between boneless wings and chicken nuggets. 

Although both dishes are prepared from chicken breast, certain ingredients used are dissimilar. 

Boneless wings, just like traditional wings, require sauces. For instance, a combination of butter and hot sauce is the most popular one. 

You need to add the wings to the buttermilk-egg mixture, and flour and then fry them. Then, coat them with a hot sauce-butter sauce.  

Unlike wings, you don’t need a separate buttermilk and sauce mixture for chicken nuggets. You can add dried herbs, parmesan cheese, and other seasonings in the flour, and coat the nugget pieces with it. 

  1. Serving Manner 

Many restaurants and fast food chains serve chicken nuggets with a variety of sauces, like barbecue, ranch, ketchup, mustard, or more tasty sauces – just like bone-in wings. 

However, boneless wings already contain sauces, so dips are optional. Restaurants may serve them with blue cheese dip or garlic-parmesan dip. 

How to Prepare Boneless Wings?

If you’re planning to cook scrumptious boneless wings for your family, this is my-to recipe for it. It’ll also help you dispute the argument that boneless wings are chicken nuggets easily. 


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • ¼ cup hot sauce 
  • 1 egg
  • 3 boneless pieces of chicken breasts (cut into strips)
  • Oil for frying 

Steps to Follow: 

  1. Preheat oil in a cooking pot till it reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Combine buttermilk and egg in one bowl. 
  3. Combine flour, garlic powder, paprika powder, and black pepper in another bowl. 
  4. Dip the chicken breasts into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture. You can repeat it two times for extra crunch. 
  5. Let the coated pieces rest for 10 minutes. 
  6. Then, fry the pieces for 5 to 7 minutes, till they’re golden brown. 
  7. In a saucepan, heat hot sauce with butter and whisk them together. Let the sauce simmer. 
  8. Coat the fried boneless wings with the hot sauce. 

Additionally, you can serve the boneless wings with blue cheese dressing!

Final Thoughts 

So, to answer your question, boneless wings aren’t chicken nuggets. Despite originating from the same part of the chicken, they’ve significant differences. Right from the way you prepare them to the way you serve them, nothing is similar. 

Yet, no matter the variations, they both taste equally delicious, once you prepare them using the right method!

Related Questions

Are boneless wings just chicken tenders?

Boneless wings aren’t chicken tenders as they come from any part of the chicken breast. But, a chicken tender is specifically made from a tenderloin, which is the breast area connected to the bones.

Can you use chicken nuggets for boneless wings?

You can turn chicken nuggets into boneless wings by tossing them in hot sauce or buffalo sauce. The texture can get different as nuggets contain ground meat. 




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *