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This air fryer version of Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets will be a huge hit with the whole family, kids and adults alike. Made with real chicken breasts, a blend of spices, and a secret ingredient, I think you’ll agree these nuggets even taste better than the real thing!
Homemade Chick-fil-a Nuggets
Chick-fil-a definitely cornered the fast-food market when it comes to everyone’s favorite chicken nuggets. Afterall, what’s not to love about them? They are so tender and juicy with the most unique flavor that truly sets them apart from other fast food chicken nuggets.
But I have great news! With this recipe, you can have those same wonderful flavors, without having to leave home.
This recipe starts with real chicken breasts that are cut into bite sized nuggets. They are marinated in pickle juice to give them that wonderful signature flavor! Next, they get dredged in an egg wash and dusted with flour, before they are cooked to golden brown perfection.
And the thing you’ll love the most about this recipe is they are cooked right in the air fryer. That means there’s a whole lot less mess in the kitchen and costs than frying in expensive cooking oils.
Serve them with a side of that amazing copycat Chick-fil-a sauce or any other favorite dipping sauce recipe you prefer! If you really want to impress everyone with your Chick-fil-a skills, for dessert, make them a copycat Chick-fil-a Frosted Sunrise or Frosted Lemonade!
Why We Love this Copycat Recipe
- Real chicken: These homemade chicken nuggets are made using real boneless chicken breasts and simple ingredients you already have in your pantry. No fillers or added preservatives.
- Crowd pleaser: This is such a great recipe for the entire family. You can serve them for dinner with a side, or as appetizer at your next party.
- Taste just like the real deal: This recipe will fool everyone into thinking you stopped for take out on the way home. They are just that good!
- Less mess: Frying anything always leaves the kitchen a mess. And have you checked out the price of canola oil and peanut oil lately? These air fryer nuggets are the way to go.
What You Need to Make Copycat Chick-fil-a Nuggets
Chicken: Boneless skinless chicken breasts are perfect for this recipe. You can also use chicken tenders cut into nuggets, but they tend to be more costly. Thighs are not recommended for this recipe.
Dill pickle juice: This is the secret ingredient that gives the chicken that unique Chick-fil-a tastes. The acid in the brine also helps to tenderize the nuggets.
Powdered sugar: This gives the breading mixture on those delicious chicken nuggets that ever so subtle sweetness without overpowering them. Don’t skip this ingredient, it really is key to great flavor.
Large Egg: Helps the coating stick to the chicken.
Flour: We use all-purpose flour for this recipe to make the coating.
Milk: Whisked with the eggs to help create the egg wash needed to make the breading.
Seasonings: This recipe calls for perfect blend of paprika, salt, and pepper.
How to Make this Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipe
- First step is to cube your chicken breast into similar sized pieces. Try to cut them in about 1-inch chunks
- Place cubed chicken into gallon size ziploc bag and pour in pickle juice. Shake and place back in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
- Mix egg and milk until completely combined. Combine flour, powdered sugar and spices in a separate large bowl.
- Drain nuggets and place in dry ingredients. Then place in egg milk wash. Then place back into flour mixture.
- Remove them from the flour dredge and place the battered nuggets in air fryer basket and spray with cooking oil.
- Cook on 370 degrees f for 8-10 minutes, stirring and respraying halfway through.
- Let nuggets cook for 5 minutes before eating.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets?
The actual cook time for these nuggets depends on a couple factors. The first is what model air fryer you are using.
Most air fryers cook nuggets in under 15 minutes on a temperature between 370°F- 400°F. It is always better to start them out on a little lower temp if you aren’t sure how your air fryer cooks.
Another factor is how large your chicken pieces are. For this recipe, 2 chicken breasts should make between 35-40 nuggets. Aim for about 1-inch cubes.
Will these Copycat Nuggets Taste Like Pickle?
Dill pickle juice is the secret ingredient that gives them that authentic flavor everyone loves, but it doesn’t give the nuggets an overwhelming pickle flavor. Keep in mind, the longer you let the chicken soak, the more pickle flavor it will pick up.
Can I Fry These Chick-fil-a Nuggets?
You can! In a large skillet, heat a high smoke point oil, like peanut oil, over medium high heat. You’ll want just enough oil to coat the bottom. Once the oil is sizzling-hot, add the dredged nuggets into the hot oil in a single layer in small batches.
Cook for about 3-5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the nuggets are golden brown and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and drain them on paper towels for a few minutes before serving.
Can I Make this Chicken Nugget Recipe in Advance?
Looking for a short cut to save some time? You can make these delicious nuggets the day before. Once you have cooked them, allow them to cool to room temperature and store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
When you are ready to serve them just reheat them in the oven at 300°F for 8 minutes or until heated through. Or if you are reheating a small batch, you can just put them back in the 300°F air fryer until warmed. You can also freeze them if you need them more than a day in advance. Just be sure the container is freezer safe. They will freeze well for up to 3 months.
Tips Variations of Copycat Chick fil a Nuggets
- Serving size suggestion: If you’re wondering how many nuggets you’re going to need, a good rule of thumb is to plan on about 6-8 per child and 10-12 per adult, especially if you are serving this as a main dish with a side or two, like french fries,
- Seasoning: The original recipe doesn’t have a lot of different spices, but you can definitely add your own special touch. If you like them spicy, add a little cayenne pepper. If you want them to be extra savory, you can add a little black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder to the flour mixture. Experiment with any of your favorite seasonings.
- Copycat strips: If you have an older kid that is just too cool for nuggets, they will probably appreciate that this recipe can easily make chicken strips. Adjust the cooking time but everything else will be the same.
- Italian Nuggets: These nuggets make awesome party appetizers and game day snacks. Give them an Italian twist by seasoning the flour with Italian herbs. Top the hot nuggets with finely grated parmesan cheese and serve with marinara sauce.
- Sauces: You can serve these nuggets with the copycat sauce, or change it up with homemade honey mustard sauce, BBQ sauce or just a big ole squirt of ketchup.
Want More Delicious Chicken Recipes?
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Easy Chicken Pot Pie
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Crescent Ring
- 2 chicken breasts cubed
- 1/2 cup pickle juice
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 Tbsp pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Place cubed chicken into gallon-size zip-top bag and pour in pickle juice. Shake and place in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes to marinate.
- In medium-sized mixing bowl, mix egg, and milk until completely combined. Mix powdered sugar, flour and spices in a separate bowl.
- Drain the pickle juice from the chicken pieces and dredge each piece in the flour. Then place in egg milk mixture. Place back into flour mixture for one more coat of flour.
- Place the battered nuggets in air fryer basket and spray with cooking oil.
- Cook on 370 for 8-10 minutes, stirring, and respraying halfway through.
- Let nuggets cool for 5 minutes before eating.
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