This Chick-fil-A Knockoff is the best healthy chicken nugget recipe you’ve ever tasted, and the secret is in the pickle juice!
This is one of my most popular recipes of all time. Keep reading to see why!
Why Do You Marinate With Pickle Juice?
It basically brines the chicken, making it super moist and tender.
In this Paleo Chick-fil-A knock off, you’ll marinate the chicken in the pickle juice so it gets super tender. Don’t have pickle juice or like the flavor? Check the Notes section in the recipe for an easy brine alternative.
Gluten-Free Breading For Fried Chicken
Then, you’ll dredge the brined chicken in a mixture of gluten-free arrowroot flour and spices. Arrowroot is a silky smooth starch that won’t burn as easily as an almond-based flour. For this recipe, if you can’t find arrowroot flour – sometimes called arrowroot powder – then you can easily substitute tapioca starch.
What Oil is Best for Frying?
Finally, you’ll pan-fry the Paleo Chick-fil-A in a healthy oil for a crispy finish. I used coconut oil which has a relatively high smoke point, but you could also use avocado oil. When you pan-fry, you add less oil than if you are deep frying and submerging the chicken nuggets.
When researching this recipe (because, you know, it’s got to be somewhat true to the original), I came across loads of different versions and tried to best tweak it to be grain- and dairy-free. A few that really inspired me were recipes from The Domestic Man and Chocolate, Chocolate and More.
How Long Do You Bake Chicken Nuggets?
You can also bake the seasoned chicken in the oven instead of pan-frying. Start with 375°F for 12 minutes and go up from there. It’ll vary depending on how big your chicken pieces are.
Watch my cooking show episode for Paleo Chick-fil-A:
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What Can You Serve These Healthy Chicken Nuggets With?
Serve this Paleo Chick-fil-A with your favorite dipping sauce.
Here’s a few recipes to inspire you:
- Paleo Ranch Dressing
- Chimichurri Sauce
- Chipotle Lime Mayo
- …or just create a quick mixture of brown or whole-grain mustard with raw local honey like I did for these photos.
As for sides, Paleo Chick-fil-A goes perfectly with a nice green side salad, steamed greens, sweet potato fries (check out Paleo Sweet Potato Fries), or simple roasted veggies.
Paleo Chick-fil-A (Gluten-Free)
Make this Paleo Chick-fil-A at home for healthier chicken nuggets and a take on the fast food favorite! The secret is in the pickle juice! It's grain-free, gluten-free, paleo and totally kid approved.
- 1 lb chicken breasts cut into large chunks
- 1/3 cup dill pickle juice
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 tbsp coconut flour
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
- 1/2 tbsp paprika sweet or smoked
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup coconut oil or avocado oil for frying
Prep and marinate the chicken. Cut the chicken breast into large chunks, and put it in a ziptop plastic bag. Pour the pickle juice into the bag. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. (I kept it in overnight). After it’s done marinating, pour the pickle juice out of the bag.
Add the wet ingredients. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and coconut milk. Pour that into the bag and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you prepare the spice mix.
Prep the dry ingredients. In another small bowl, mix the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, onion power and garlic powder.
Drain the wet ingredients. Open the bag and drain out as much egg / coconut milk as you can. It doesn’t have to be completely dry because you want something for the spice mix to stick to.
Coat the chicken. Pour the spice mix into the bag, close the top, and really massage it into the chicken. This may take a minute or two but you want all the pieces to be evenly coated.
Fry it up. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat a few tablespoons of coconut oil until the oil is very hot. Add a single layer of chicken (being careful not to crowd it) to the pan and fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until it’s completely cooked through. It took me two batches to cook one pound of chicken.
Use a basic salt water brine solution instead of pickle juice: 1 teaspoon salt to 1/3 cup water.