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Skip the line and save some cash with this easy copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets recipe. With a perfectly golden exterior and a tender, juicy center, this is THE chicken nuggets recipe you need in your life. Best of all, they are made with fewer than 10 ingredients and will be ready for munching in just 40 minutes!
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Why We Love This Recipe
As much as I love Chick-fil-A, I have to admit: I’m not one for waiting in line. No matter when I drive by our fast food haven, there seems to be a line around the block!
When I discovered how to make these copycat chicken nuggets, my life became immeasurably better. These Chick-fil-A nuggets are:
- Quick & Easy. It turns out, you can have your very own pickle-brined bits of chicken goodness ready in less time than it’d take you to get some from the take-out line. The whole recipe takes just 40 minutes, start to finish!
- Wholesome & Nutritious. Made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and all-natural ingredients, you can feel good about feeding these tasty little bites to the whole family!
- Budget-Friendly. Making your own copycat nuggets means you have 25-30 perfectly golden bites of goodness for about the same price as an 8-piece order from the restaurant.
Ingredients For Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets
I have a feeling you already have most of the ingredients you need to make these tender, juicy copycat chicken nuggets. Here’s what you’ll need to gather:
- Chicken Breasts – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are essential to creating a perfect dupe for Chick-fil-A’s famed nuggets, but there’s no law against using dark meat if you prefer!
- Pickle Juice – Chick-fil-A’s chicken has a slightly sweet undertone, which I think comes from using bread and butter pickle juice. Feel free to swap in tangier dill pickle juice if you prefer.
- Smoked Paprika – Paprika comes in sweet, hot, and smoked varieties. While you can feel free to use any, I love the smoky undertones of the smoked kind.
- Black Pepper – Freshly cracked pepper is so much tastier than the pre-ground powder. Do yourself a favor and invest in a pepper grinder.
- Coarse Sea Salt – I almost always use kosher salt in my recipes, but coarse sea salt gives a wonderful, crunchy texture to the breading here.
- White Flour – I use regular all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you can easily swap in a cup-for-cup gluten-free flour mixture if needed.
- Whole Milk – Whole milk has a denser viscosity than 2% or skim, which helps with adhesion. If all you have on hand is a lower fat milk option, it’ll be fine. If you are dairy-free, try swapping in a creamy plant-based alternative like full-fat coconut milk or oat milk instead.
- Egg – If you can’t use egg, swap in a few tablespoons heavy cream.
- Oil – Choose a neutral oil with a high smoke point whenever you plan on frying. I suggest vegetable oil, corn oil, or peanut oil.
How To Make Copycat Chick-fil-A Nuggets
Be sure to check the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions.
Making a batch of Chick-fil-A nuggets is actually pretty straightforward. Here’s how it’s done:
- Brine Chicken. Pour the pickle juice over the chicken and allow the chicken to marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Set Up Your Breading Station. Remove the chicken from the fridge and combine the spices and flour together in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the milk and egg until homogenous.
- Dredge & Repeat. Dip each piece of chicken in the milk mixture and toss in the flour mixture. Complete this dredging process twice for each chicken nugget.
- Fry. Heat a pan with ½ inch of oil. Once the oil is hot, gently drop in the chicken nuggets and allow them to cook for about five minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the nuggets and cook for an additional five minutes, or until golden brown.
Don’t fret! So long as you have either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar plus a few spices on hand, you can make a quick pickle brine. Pro Tip: Have some leftovers after making the brine? Use it to make a pickle ranch dipping sauce. YUM!
Absolutely! That’s one of the bonuses of making your own food at home. Simply swap in a cup-for-cup gluten-free all-purpose flour substitute.
Yep! They’ll keep for up to 2 months. Simply reheat them in the air fryer at 390°F, oven at 375°F, or microwave until they are heated through.
How To Serve
Once I make a batch of these Chick-fil-A-style chicken nuggets, I have a hard time not finishing them before guests arrive. They’re so dang good! That said, here are my favorite ways to serve them:
- With dipping sauces. There’s a reason Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and all the fast food giants offer dipping sauces with their nuggets: it’s a match made in heaven! Tangy ketchup, smoky barbecue sauce, creamy ranch (or homemade creamy herb dip), honey mustard… the options are nearly endless. Chick-fil-A has also started selling bottles of their famed dipping sauces at major retailers like Target and Kroger if you want to be super authentic.
- Atop mashed potatoes. A big bowl of mashed potatoes topped with crispy chicken nuggets, some crunchy sweet corn, and a drizzle of sauce? That’s comfort in a bowl.
- In salads. Want to spruce up that boring plate of greens? Add some fried chicken to the mix!
- In wraps. Chicken nuggets, crispy lettuce, melty cheese, & some kind of sauce wrapped up in a tortilla? That’s my kind of lunch.
As I’m sure you already know, Chick-fil-A nuggets are pretty perfect. However, there’s always room for customization in my kitchen. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
- Make them spicy. Add a little bit of spice by adding one-half teaspoon of chili powder.
- Make them bigger. Turn them into chicken tenders by cutting your breasts into strips instead of cubes.
- Or turn them into a chicken sandwich! Pound out your chicken breast until it is an even thickness, then follow the recipe as written. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, slap it on a toasted bun with a swoosh of mayo, a crispy piece of lettuce, and a slice of American cheese. YUM!
- To freeze, let the nuggets cool completely, then lay them out on a baking sheet and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re solid, transfer to a freezer where you can store them for up to two months.
- Refrigerate leftovers, stored in an airtight container, for about 3 days after being cooked.
- Simply reheat them in the microwave, air fryer at 390°F, or oven at 375°F until heated through.
- Don’t overdo the pickle brine. It is important not to over-marinate the chicken in the pickle juice. The acidity will tenderize the chicken up to a point, and then it’ll start to give the nuggets a bit of a funky, mushy texture.
- Have a dry hand and a wet hand for the dredging process. You want the breading to stick to the nuggets, not your hands! Check out this video to see what I mean.
- Buy frozen chicken breasts to save cash. I often find that frozen chicken breasts are cheaper by the pound than fresh. Check prices at your grocery store to be sure, but don’t write off the frozen aisle!
- Save your fry oil. Speaking of saving money, there’s nothing more wasteful than using a bottle of oil to fry a batch of nuggets only to toss it out! You can easily strain and reuse your fry oil several times to save resources.
More Delicious Finger Foods
- Oven Baked Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
- Baked Chicken Empanadas
- Air Fryer Chicken Pesto Flatbread Pizza
- Honey Garlic Chicken Drumettes
Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets
- 3 large chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup pickle juice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 cup white flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg
- Oil for frying
- Pour the pickle juice over the chicken and allow the chicken to marinate for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and combine the spices and flour together in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the milk and egg until homogenous.
- Dip each piece of chicken in the milk mixture and toss in the flour mixture. Complete this dredging process twice for each chicken nugget.
- Heat a pan with ½ inch of oil. Once the oil is hot, gently drop in the chicken nuggets and allow them to cook for about five minutes, or until golden brown. Flip the nuggets and cook for an additional five minutes, or until golden brown.
- Serve and enjoy!