Low Carb Cheetos Chicken Nuggets: 45-Calorie High Protein Nuggets
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You won’t find the words Cheetos and low carb in tandem very often. Cheetos, after all, are well known as carb loading royalty. So you might be surprised to find this recipe uses real Baked Cheetos for the crunchy nugget exterior. They’re cheesy, crunchy, and just as delicious as you’d expect a Cheeto-crusted chicken nugget to be.
If you size your nuggets as the recipe calls for, an 8-piece will run you 360 calories, 48 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of fat. As Biggie would say, it’s all good, baby baby.
There is, however, a surprising way to make these even lower carb. More on that below.
What You Need for Low Carb Cheetos Chicken Nuggets
You’ll only need three core ingredients for these low carb nuggets—chicken, Greek yogurt, and Baked Cheetos. Beyond that, the dry rub blend is a simple combo and can be tweaked based on your preferences.
I lurve Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in a major way, so the blend of seasoning is on the spicy side thanks to a bit of cayenne and black pepper. If you’d like classic Cheetos flavor without a kick, you can easily leave out the cayenne and pull back on the other ingredients.
There would be nothing wrong with just using the key dry rub ingredient, cheddar powder, on its own. If you’re unfamiliar with cheddar powder, it’s a magical ingredient that’s a result of dehydrating cheddar cheese. Similar to powdered peanut butter, you can mix with liquid ingredients to reconstitute the cheddar powder to a cheesy sauce with fewer calories than real cheddar cheese while keeping all the cheddar flavor.
You should totes try it out. There’s a chance you can find it in stores, but I order mine on Amazon from Hoosier Hill Farms. And be sure to check out my round-up of cheddar powder recipe ideas when you get some.
Okay, but how can you make these low carb nuggets without cheddar powder?
You’re only replacing two tablespoons, so you could simply add more dry seasonings to the mix. Since the cheddar powder makes the dry rub mix a bit thicker, swapping garlic salt for garlic powder and adding coarse sea salt should work well. Have fun with it!
You could also try using nutritional yeast like in my cheese-free cheesy air fryer potato chips.
The Surprising Way to Make Extra Low Carb Cheetos Chicken Nuggets
In the intro, I mentioned you could make these even lower carb with a surprising swap. Let’s take a look.
4 oz Baked Cheetos (current recipe): 520 Calories, 8 grams of protein, 80 grams of carbs, 20 grams of fat
4 oz Regular Cheetos: 600 Calories, 8 grams of protein, 52 grams of carbs, 40 grams of fat
If you made this swap, the same 8-piece above would run you 384 calories, 48 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of fat.
All right, I believe that’s about all ya need to know. Here’s a video walkthrough followed by full recipe (if you’re viewing on desktop, the video should be playing in your sidebar already):
Low Carb Cheetos Chicken Nuggets
A healthy take on Cheetos crusted chicken nuggets.
- 1 1/2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast cut into bite-sized nuggets
- 4 oz (112g) Baked Cheetos crushed or blended
- 3/4 C (171g) Fat-Free Greek Yogurt plain
- 2 Tbsp Cheddar Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt
Preheat an oven to 400F and spray a baking sheet or wire rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Start by cutting two large chicken breasts into bite-sized nuggets. Don't sweat size precision here. If you make more or less nuggets than the recipe's nutrition facts (32), simply multiply one serving by 32 and divide by your new number of nuggets.
Place the Cheetos in a food processor or large resealable bag to crush. You want a fine, flour-like Cheetos mixture.
In three bowls, mix the dry rub ingredients in one, add the Greek yogurt to another, and add the crushed Cheetos to the third.
Dip each nugget in the dry rub, Greek yogurt, and crushed Cheetos, in that order, before adding the nuggets to your baking sheet or rack. As you can see, I used a wire rack on top of a baking sheet in case there are any drippings. (Warning: this can be finger intensive. You can stick each piece of chicken with a toothpick or fork before dipping through the breading mixes to reduce the mess.)
Bake for 15 minutes or until the nuggets are crispy and the chicken is cooked through. (Juices run clear or internal temp is above 165F for at least a minute.)
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and refrigerate leftovers for 2-3 days. To reheat, pop in the oven for 5 minutes, or you can microwave for 45-60 seconds.
- Macros per nugget with real Cheetos instead of baked: 48 calories, 6 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and 1.6 grams of fat
Looking for more low carb recipes for foods you love like nuggets and pizza? I have a free cookbook for pizza lovers that might tickle your fancy. You can check it out here or just enter your info below and I’ll send a copy your way.