Spicy Chicken Nuggets

Spicy Chicken Nuggets! A specialty of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, these chicken nuggets are marinated in lime juice, rum, and soy sauce, dredged in flour and paprika and fried.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Vegetable oil (canola oil, rice bran oil, peanut oil)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (hot or sweet)
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce


1 Make the marinade: Whisk together the lime juice, rum, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl until sugar has dissolved.

2 Marinate the chicken: Add the chicken to the marinade and let marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature (can marinate longer chilled, but allow to come to room temp for 30 minutes before cooking).

3 Heat the oil for frying: Pour enough oil in a skillet so that it comes up the sides at least a half an inch. Heat oil on medium high until it is shimmering, and a little pinch of flour sizzles when you drop it in the pan.

4 Dredge the chicken: While the oil is heating, whisk together the flour, paprika, and salt in a bowl. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture and move to a plate.

5 Fry the chicken in batches (about 3), about 3 minutes on each side, until deep golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. (If the chicken is browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit).

Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

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  • El Chicharrón

    I’m making this now with a side pot of arroz con gandules (pigeon peas and rice). To the beans and rice I added onion, jalapeño, green olives and diced tomato plus homemade “sazon” seasoning. Google it. A knockoff of the Goya stuff.

    I used WAY more paprika for the chicken coating…we’ll see how that goes.

  • joe

    Awesome blog, great recipes and instructions!
    Can the chicken be fried in batches in a deep fryer? If so, at what temperature? Thank you!

    I don’t see why not. I would guess a 350°F for the oil in the deep fryer, isn’t that typical? ~Elise

  • Myrna

    Dominican people (my family is Dominican) make chicharrones de pollo and is much more simple than this. Cut the chicken in very small parts, and marinate them overnight with lots of lime juice, salt and pepper. Coat them with flour and in a big skillet deep fry them. They are very very good…

  • AL

    The recipe is nice, for “heat” and enhanced flavor I generally spread a thin layer of tobasco a night before and leave the chicken overnight in a sandwich baggy. The morning of is when I pour into the baggies the marinade for the day. Marinade time makes a big difference, although 30 minutes is better than nothing. Also, for presentation I’d skewer these shish kabob style with fried peppers, slices of pineapple and cherry tomatoes. Cucumber dip. A Case of Beer and a dozen friends would also be good to go with these. they go fast, make a few pounds for your parties.

  • Rossella

    Wow, these were so good I had to prevent my boyfriend + 1 guest from eating the whole before I even reached the table (they were cutting me out of the enjoyment session…ME, THE COOK!!)! The delicate aroma the chicken flesh got after it was marinated, wonderfully blended with the “picante” twist of the paprika (even tho I cut the amount of that a bit because we are not into really spicy foods). Next time I think I will let the pollo marinate a little longer in the fridge…can’t wait to make the scents of soy, rum and lime a little more persistent in these awesome nuggets. grazie Elise! :)

  • Edward De Bruin

    We had tried this soon as we saw it, must say, it had been the most delicious chicken nuggets we ever tasted! Well done and thank you! I sent it to my friends in South Africa and Australia, waiting to hear their response!

  • Jennifer

    These came out exactly like the Dominican restaraunt in NYC makes them. Now I can make them at home instead of driving to the city to have them…Thanks Elise

  • Ricardo Fernandez

    I’m a little tardy on the chicharrones, but again I have to point to Cuban restaurants in Miami…
    It is true, chicharrones are traditionally made with pork or pork rind, in Cuba as well as in Mexico.
    But in Miami, where even the traditional fried foods are being re-thought for healthier living, chicken chicharrones are served in most Cuban restaurants. They are, of course, delicious…and the method of preparation makes them virtually as flavorful as pork chicharrones. They are usually served smothered with a mound of sauteed till translucent, but not browned, onions (in Spanish, “reahogadas”).

    The traditionalist can still ask for pork chicharrones or “masitas de puerco.”

    Another good re-think is “filete de pollo a la plancha,” a chicken fillet that has been pounded thin and prepared like a “bistec de palomilla” or thin steak. This is a grilled chicken fillet seasoned with garlic, served with translucent onions and garnished with parsley. Mmmmm….


  • Drea

    These looked so good, I made them for my fiance and a friend the other night. Big hit! The marinade is really yummy too, I’ll probably try it on some grilled meats this summer! Thank you :)

  • Matt

    I made a batch of these superbowl night. I’d have to agree with John G though, without the extra lime and hot sauce (I used tabasco) drizzled across the top, the flavour would have been fairly subtle. I think next time I would add a bit more lime for marinating and I would “toss” the chicken with hot sauce and extra lime after cooking,rather than just drizzling. All in all though, as an Australian doing my bit on superbowl night, this still went down very well with everyone and within minutes of putting these out, they were gone.

  • amy

    Ok, I know this is probably veering too far from the way these are intended to taste but I didn’t have any rum on hand so I used beer instead and they were very flavorful and delicious. Thanks for the recipe! I even like them leftover and cold.

  • john G

    My mother and I made these at her house the other day. They were pretty good I suppose. My friends devoured them, but the flavor was nothing too spectacular… Pretty much just a fried chicken nugget. I liked the taste of the squeezed lime on the finished product though. And the hot sauce, for me, was a no brainer. Not quite as wonderful as most of the other recipes I’ve tried from this site, but still, very edible. Keep em coming Elise.

  • Loren

    Good recipe! This is popular in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Its not served as an appetizer but as a main entree with spanish beans and rice.

    Many of us use a marinade called Mojo Criollo as an alternative. Its pretty much the same thing sans the rum. You can find this at goya.com


  • Cait

    My favorite cuban restaurant serves these alongside onions pickled in some kind of mojo marinade. The combination is unbelievably delicious.

  • Erica

    What a fabulous recipe, and so easy to make! A few modifications I will make: honey in place of sugar (or I may try maple syrup), maybe sea salt instead of soy sauce since we don’t eat soy, and another type of flour – maybe splelt or almond flour. Thanks, Elise!

  • Mercè

    Una muy buena receta,como todas las tuyas!!!

  • j

    These sound delicious! Any suggestion on a dip to go with them? I’m sure they’re great plain, but I love dip! I think I’m going to make these tomorrow instead of wings.

  • arcey

    This sounds good! Should the skin stay on the chicken?

    By the way, there’s a Jewish version of chicharones — the pork rind type, that is. It’s chicken fat and skin cut up and rendered slowly with some onion slices and a little bit of water. You get rendered chicken fat to use for frying or sauteing (keeps well in refrigerator for a long time), and delicious, crispy-fried pieces of chicken skin and fried onions. Sprinkle the “gribines” with kosher salt and enjoy! (That’s what it’s called — pronounced gri-bin-ess, accent on first syllable.) Not good for the heart or the waistline, if eaten regularly. ;-)

  • jane

    If you used pork belly instead of chicken, would the recipe be the same?

    Try this recipe from Nikas Culinaria for deep fried pork belly. ~Elise

  • Deb

    I did some sleuthing to find a rum substitute and came across this link on Gourmet Sleuth.


    I’m going to try this for sure!

  • Veronica

    This sounds great! Can I do away with the rum and the soy sauce? Or is there a substitute I can use? I’m not too keen on using rum for the kids (is it okay though? won’t taste too ‘rummy’?) and one of them is allergic to soy.

    Otherwise, I’ll make it for myself! :o)

    It won’t taste rummy. The rum is needed to help the marinade penetrate. It is totally okay for the kids as there is practically no alcohol left at the end of the cooking process. As for the soy sauce, you could substitute Worcestershire sauce. ~Elise

  • Kris

    This recipe looks great!

    Can you post a link to the original recipe from Gourmet Magazine? I’m just curious as to what tweaks you made.

    I’ve looked throughout epicurious and gourmet.com for the recipe and I’m afraid it’s not there or I would link to it. Very few tweaks, just more explanation and specificity in the instructions, and I’m allowing breasts as well as thighs, I’m frying in less oil, and I’m not shaking off excess flour. ~Elise

  • janice

    This recipe sounds great! Could you bake the chicken rather than fry it? At what temperature in the oven?

    Then you would have baked chicken and not fried chicken. There is a difference in taste and it would be a completely different recipe. But of course you can do it. You still need the fat though, so I would dip the chicken pieces in oil (after patting them dry), then dredge in flour, then broil for a few minutes on each side. ~Elise

  • Deb

    I like the sound of this recipe. I checked out the Appetite for China link, too, and think the mention of adding cilantro as a topping is a good one. I’m wondering what I could substitute for the rum in the marinade that would still give the recipe flavor? Thanks for another unique recipe, Elise!

  • JH

    I’m just curious as to why you wouldn’t just go ahead and deep fry them if you are going to use 1/2 inch of oil anyway.

    You don’t have to throw away as much oil at the end of the cooking, so it’s less expensive this way. Also, hot oil is dangerous. The less of it you have in your kitchen (outside of a deep fryer which we don’t have) the better. ~Elise