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All of the secrets to copycat Chick Fil A nuggets that you can make at home! Even the kids agree that these taste exactly like the restaurant’s. Skip the drive-thru and serve the fried chicken nuggets with waffle fries, mac and cheese, or fresh fruit. Don’t forget the Chick-Fil-A sauce, Polynesian sauce, ketchup, or honey mustard for dipping, too!

Side shot of chick fil a chicken nuggets on a table

Chick Fil A Chicken Nuggets

If my kids get a vote, they will almost always request Chick-Fil-A when I offer a restaurant meal. The only problem is that we live in the middle of nowhere, without a convenient Chick-Fil-A nearby. That’s why I set my mind to recreating their favorite chicken nuggets at home for a special treat whenever the craving strikes. When we finally landed on the perfect recipe, the boys approved and promised that this homemade version is indiscernible from its restaurant counterpart!

Square overhead image of homemade chick fil a nuggets recipe on a dinner table

What make Chick-fil-A nuggets so good?

Chick-Fil-A’s nuggets are a little bit different from other fast food chicken nuggets. In general, they’re smaller than most, they have a slightly sweet flavor that you don’t get with other nuggets, and the meat stays very tender and juicy. Rumor has it that the restaurant’s nuggets start in a pickle juice brine, which tenderizes the meat, keeps it juicy, and infuses the chicken with tangy, acidic flavor. There’s also a great savory note (perhaps from garlic powder and/or onion powder) that nicely balances the sweetness in the breading.

Soaking chicken in dill pickle juice brine

What are Chick-fil-A’s chicken nuggets made out of?

The restaurant’s nuggets are bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken breast, brined, seasoned, breaded, and cooked in 100% peanut oil. In order to achieve the same taste at home, we’ll start with the same basic ingredients and technique.

Stirring together breading

Ingredients for Copycat Chick Fil A Nuggets Recipe

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a homemade Chick Fil A nuggets recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins: cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • Milk and dill pickle juice: for the brine.
  • Eggs: help the breading adhere to the chicken.
  • Peanut oil: for frying the chicken.
  • All-purpose flour and plain breadcrumbs: form the base of the breading. I don’t recommend using panko breadcrumbs for this recipe, because the panko is more coarse and crunchy than a typical Chick-Fil-A recipe.
  • Powdered sugar: for just a hint of sweetness in the breading. This secret ingredient is key for that authentic restaurant taste, so don’t skip it.
  • Kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and black pepper: seasoning that adds great flavor to the breading.
  • Baking powder: a leavening agent that raises the pH level of the chicken, breaking down the peptide bonds and jumpstarting the browning process so that the nuggets get even crispier.
Breaded chicken nuggets on a wire rack

The Best Oil for Fried Chicken Nuggets

I use peanut oil (just like the restaurant), but another neutral oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, or vegetable shortening will all work well for fried chicken. I like peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat.

So long as you don’t smoke the oil or use it to fry fish, it’s fine to strain the oil and reuse it. Just refrigerate the strained oil and reuse it up to 3 times.

Pouring peanut oil into deep fryer

How to Make Chick Fil A Nuggets

This easy fried chicken nuggets recipe only requires a few minutes of prep and a few minutes in the skillet or deep fryer. I use a deep fryer because it’s easy — no need to adjust the heat to maintain the oil temperature, and no need to flip the nuggets as they cook. That said, a Dutch oven or a deep skillet also works well!

  1. Brine the chicken in the pickle juice and milk for at least 15-20 minutes, or up to 24 hours. You can do this in a large gallon-size Ziploc bag, or in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg to the chicken and brine, then stir to combine.
  3. Combine the breading ingredients in a shallow dish.
  4. Remove the chicken from the egg and brine mixture, shaking off any excess. Dredge in the flour mixture.
  5. Place the breaded chicken pieces on a wire rack to dry for at least 5-10 minutes.
  6. Working in batches, fry the chicken nuggets in at least 1 ½ inches of peanut oil that’s heated to 360°F. The nuggets are done when they’re a deep golden brown, about 3 – 3 ½ minutes total.
  7. Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a baking sheet to drain and season with a little bit more salt while it’s still warm.
  8. Repeat frying the remaining chicken nuggets.
Close up side shot of a plate of homemade chick fil a chicken nuggets

When to Season Copycat Chick Fil A Chicken Nuggets

You’ll add flavor and seasoning to the chicken in layers — with the seasoning in the breading, and then again at the end while it’s still warm.

How to Keep the Chicken Warm While Frying in Batches

Once the cooked chicken nuggets come out of the fryer, place them on a baking sheet and season them with a little bit more salt. Place the baking sheet in a 200°F oven to keep them warm while you continue frying the remaining batches.

Horizontal shot of chik fil a nuggets

What to Serve with this Chick Fil A Nugget Recipe

Serve the chicken nuggets with a dipping sauce, such as honey mustard sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or ranch dressing (even yellow mustard and mayo are delicious). If you want to be really authentic, serve them with Polynesian sauce or Chick-Fil-A sauce (here’s our homemade recipe)! The chicken nuggets go well with freshly-squeezed lemonade and any of your favorite sides, too. Here are a few easy ideas:

Child's hand dipping chicken nugget in chik fil a sauce

Storage

Fried chicken nuggets are best when they’re warm, fresh, and crispy. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days; however, they will not be quite as crispy when reheated. The cooked chicken nuggets can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Let the chicken cool completely before packaging in an airtight container and storing in the freezer. You do not need to defrost them before reheating.

Overhead shot of homemade chick fil a chicken nuggets recipe on a table with waffle fries and lemonade

How to Reheat

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, place the nuggets on a baking sheet. Next, reheat the chicken nuggets until the breading feels hot and very crispy, about 7-10 minutes for room temperature chicken nuggets or 15-20 minutes for frozen chicken nuggets (flip halfway through).

Nutrition

It’s difficult to calculate the exact nutrition facts for homemade fried chicken nuggets because the amount of oil absorbed in each piece will vary, and the amount of breading that adheres to each piece will vary. The nutrition provided below is merely an estimate; the numbers assume that about ½ cup of oil is absorbed by the chicken in the cooking process and about half of the breading adheres to the meat.

Square overhead image of a plate of chick fil a nuggets

Recipe Variations

  • Baked Chicken Nuggets: Place the breaded chicken nuggets on a rimmed baking sheet. Spritz the nuggets with oil or cooking spray (to help them brown). Bake at 400°F for about 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Spicy Chicken Nuggets: Add hot sauce to the pickle brine and a dash (or more) of cayenne to the seasoned flour.
  • Deep fry: If you have a deep fryer, heat the oil to 360°F and deep fry the chicken nuggets for a total of about 3 – 3 ½ minutes, or until they’re golden brown. You don’t have to flip them halfway through if you’re using the deep fryer.
  • Chicken Strips: Instead of cutting the chicken into nugget shapes, use whole chicken tenderloins or cut the chicken breast into long thin strips. Follow the same preparation, but cook the tenders for about 3-4 minutes per side.
Square side shot of chik fil a chicken nuggets on a table

Tips for the Best Chick Fil A Nuggets Recipe

  • Give the breaded chicken time to rest (dry) for a few minutes while the oil heats. This will help the breading adhere to the meat when it cooks.
  • Use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350°F – 360°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan with too many pieces at once (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken nuggets, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350°F – 360°F. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil and have a soggy texture when done.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken nuggets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make the nuggets soggy. Instead, place them directly onto a baking sheet (not a wire rack) and leave them uncovered. Keep them warm in a 200°F oven (uncovered) while you finish frying the remaining batches.
Overhead shot of fried chicken nuggets on a dinner table

More Fried Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of chik fil a chicken nuggets on a table

Chick Fil A Nuggets

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 6 people
Calories 381 kcal
You won't believe it! These homemade chick fil a nuggets taste just like the restaurant version!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup dill pickle juice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • For serving: ketchup, honey mustard, Chick-Fil-A sauce, Polynesian sauce

Instructions

  • In a large Ziploc bag or in a large bowl, combine the chicken, milk, and pickle juice. Toss to combine, and then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • Add the eggs to the chicken mixture. Stir to combine.
  • Place the flour, breadcrumbs, powdered sugar, salt, garlic powder, paprika, baking powder, onion powder, and black pepper in a dish.
  • Pour oil to a depth of at least 1 ½ inches in a Dutch oven or deep fryer. Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 360°F.
  • Remove the chicken from the egg mixture, shaking off any excess. Dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Let the chicken pieces dry on wire racks for 5-10 minutes.
  • Working in batches, fry the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown, about 3 – 3 ½ minutes total (flipping halfway through if it’s not in a deep fryer). Adjust the heat to maintain an oil temperature of 350°F – 360°F. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and sprinkle with a little more salt.

Notes

  • Give the breaded chicken time to rest (dry) for a few minutes while the oil heats. This will help the breading adhere to the meat when it cooks.
  • Use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350°F – 360°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan with too many pieces at once (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken nuggets, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350°F – 360°F. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil and have a soggy texture when done.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken nuggets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make the nuggets soggy. Instead, place them directly onto a baking sheet (not a wire rack) and leave them uncovered. Keep them warm in a 200°F oven (uncovered) while you finish frying the remaining batches.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 381kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 33gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 758mgPotassium: 655mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 210IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: chick fil a chicken nuggets, chick fil a nugget recipe, chick fil a nuggets, chick fil a nuggets recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Renee says:

    The recipe says to put them on a baking sheet to stay warm, not a wire rack. Won’t the bottoms get soft on a baking sheet? And are you lining the baking sheet with parchment paper?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      No, actually the bottoms don’t get soft on the baking sheet. You can certainly move them to wire racks if you prefer; just don’t put them on paper towels to drain. I’ve found that the paper towels actually create more steam and soften the nuggets. 🙂

  2. Grace says:

    5 stars
    I can always depend on The Seasoned Mom for ideas and recipes that truly are wonderful! A family favorite!!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you so much, Grace!