Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets

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Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets by

I’m sitting here, staring at my screen, trying to figure out how to tell you that these little bites are the closest I’ve come to finding a replica of Chick-fil-A’s chicken nuggets.  These are very close and I am extremely excited to know that leftovers are still in my freezer, ready to be enjoyed at a moment’s notice.

Our life is full of irony, and one of the major examples involves Chick-fil-A.  Ben and I both, equally, love the Christian-based fast food restaurant; for its principles and its food.  Unfortunately, while we lived in the Chicago area, the closest one was a little over an hour away.  Finally, after five years, they announced they were going to expand to the Chicago area starting in our western suburb!  The irony stumbles in here:  We moved to Southern California a month before the restaurant opened!

Now, the closest Chick-fil-A to us is about 45 minutes.  So, you can see why it’s so exciting for me to find somewhat of a copycat recipe to cook up in the convenience of our home.  And, it’s definitely a money saver!

Chikfila Nuggets2Some people might try to tell you that you need to soak the chicken in pickle juice, first.  While that may be true regarding Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, it is not true of their nuggets.  The real secret here is the powdered sugar in the coating.  Yum, yum!

This recipe makes a large amount since I doubled it from the original source.  In my world, I don’t fry things often.  So, if I’m going to make such a mess, then I plan to fry up extras to store in the freezer for future, quick weeknight meals or lunches.  Just don’t plan on eating with your family the night that you make these, because while you are standing at the stove frying up the entire batch, they will be picking off the finished product, licking their fingers and filling themselves up without you.  So, you might as well just pick at them right then, too!  If you do not desire to have leftovers, then halve the recipe below and get ready to regret your decision.  😉

Chicken Nuggets

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Serving Size: 6 nuggets

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 6 breasts), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper
  • Peanut oil (is best) or canola oil, for frying

Combine the eggs and milk in a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken bites and stir briefly to coat in the milk mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours, or up to overnight.

Using a gallon size storage bag, combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven (or another deep stockpot) over medium high heat until the temperature reaches 375F.

Using tongs, transfer half of the marinated chicken from the milk mixture into the storage bag with the flour. Seal and shake to coat the chicken pieces. Fry 6 to 8 nuggets at a time until cooked through and golden brown, turning once halfway. The timing will depend on the size of your nuggets, but I found that I needed to fry each batch a total of 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining nuggets. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

To freeze: Allow nuggets to cool completely, then transfer to a labeled freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Bake frozen nuggets lined on a baking sheet with a wire rack at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Source: Adapted from My Name is Snickerdoodle

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  1. Wow!! This is awesome!! We are transplanted Southerners, too, and miss Chick-fil-a!! My little girl has a peanut allergy, so I can use the canola oil for her!! Yay!!

  2. I’ve been waiting for this post!! Very excited to overcome my fear of frying and try these!!

  3. Going to make a batch of these for me and my preschooler to have for lunches. They look great!

  4. I can’t wait to try these!

  5. Oh yum! Can’t wait to have an afternoon free so I can try this!

  6. Mmmm cannot wait to try these. Chick-Fil-A is probably one of the best things about living in the South.

  7. I love Chick-fil-a’s chicken. This looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  8. Can not wait to try these… my family lives and Singapore but whenever we are back in the south this is our fast food of choice…. my kids are going to be so excited to have a little bit of CFA on this side of the world. Thanks!!

  9. I just made this last night and it was a HUGE hit! My 2.5 year old son asked this morning if he could have the leftovers for breakfast. Thanks for another awesome recipe!

  10. This was fantastic! We made a batch and finished every last one (family of 6) – they were super yummy and worth the “frying”


  11. Made these tonight! I am a novice when it comes to frying, so had to work with the temp setting a bit. They were really good-there is something about the milk & egg marinade that made them soooo tender! They resembled Chick-Fil-A, not a perfect match-still delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  12. These look great! I know my kids will love them.

  13. Hi,
    Just wondering if the chicken needs to be submerged in oil (deep fried) or will lightly pan frying work?

  14. Do they really need to marinade for that long? Just wondering.. Because its 10pm right now and I want those suckers NOW. 😀

    • haha! Yes, they need to marinate that long. Helps with the tenderness of the cooked chicken. It will be worth the wait! 😉

  15. these look so good. thanks for sharing

  16. We love our Chick-fil-a too but my son has multiple food allergies so it’s a no-go now. He is allergic to eggs, any ideas on a good substitute for the marinade? I was thinking greek yogurt or rice milk? Any suggestions would be great, can’t wait to try them out!
    Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Oh! I’m sorry about the allergies! I really don’t know if greek yogurt or rice milk will work, but it’s worth a try. Maybe start with rice (or coconut) milk and butter? The key to these is the powdered sugar that sweetens it, so the marinade can probably be flexible. Maybe even white vinegar? I wish I had more helpful information for you!

    • You can substitute flax seed for eggs. 1 T flax seed + 3T water = 1 egg. It changes the flavor a bit, but not much.

  17. I made these again *gasp* tonight:) I knew the guys would love them while watching football games:)

  18. I made these recently and they’re great! I live in Germany, where there’s definitely no Chick-fil-a or any good fried chicken, so this is just fantastic. Thanks a bunch for the recipe! It’ll go into the regular rotation. 🙂

  19. These look awesome and I want to try them ASAP!!! Someone once told me the secret to Chick-Fil-A’s breading was ginger, so I’m going to try and sneak a little dried ground ginger in there too. 🙂 Thanks again!

  20. WOW!! These are great! We made them a few days ago and we don’t plan on waiting long before we do it again! The grown-ups loved it, the kids loved it–I’m actually going to make a big batch to have as a “finger food” for my son’s birthday party. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe! We don’t have Chik-fil-a here either, and I miss it! These are pretty darn close, though!

  21. Not even close. Very disappointed. I have a deep fryer which takes care of temperature, etc. for me. I even sprung for peanut oil (which is very expensive) and it was not close at all.

  22. Now if only we could find a recipe for their delicious Chik Fil A sauce!!!!! 🙂

  23. I just don’t get some people. These were delicious!

    I wanted to say thanks again. I made a post about these just now and of course listed you as the source . 🙂

  24. Wish I knew how to make chic fla sauce love the chicken

    • I just found this chick fil a sauce on the web
      I have not tried it yet let me know if it’s like chick fil a sauce

      • — Sauce Ingredients–
      •1/2 cup mayonnaise
      •2 tsp. mustard
      •2 tbsp. honey
      •1 tsp. lemon juice
      •1 tbsp. BBQ sauce
      Mix all ingredients and begin dipping your nuggets,

  25. Yay, thanks for this recipe! I’ve always heard Chick-fil-A marinates their fried chicken in Coca Cola first. We’ll try this. 🙂

    • They don’t marinate their chicken in anything actually! (Shocker, I know!) it comes pre-seasoned and then the store dips it in an egg/milk mixture then dips them in their (pre-mixed and measured) flour combo.

      My sister worked at the only two Chick-fil-a’s in Oregon (which closed down years ago and never returned 🙁

  26. Try adding 1 TBS of Old Bay Seasoning to the flour mix – see how close this recipe is then.

  27. I’ve been doing pretty much the identical thing for the same reason, transplanted Indiana family members and no Chik-Fil-As around in upstate NY. I didn’t know the taste well enough to mimic the coating so I used off the shelf baking mix instead of this flour/sugar combo. I can’t wait to try it out and see what the family says!

  28. Thanks for sharing! These are awesome! I had buttermilk so I added that in place of some of the milk! Definitely worth the frying!

  29. Another transplanted southerner in Cali…We have ONE “Christian Chicken” as we call it, and thankfully it is right next to my school I attend once a week…it was also very close to the hospital/dr’s office for my pre-natal check ups so it became my once a month treat while pregnant.
    You are close here, but missing one KEY ingredient/step…Pickle juice. The nuggets and patties are marinated in pickle juice- the strips are not. Try again doing this and see if it taste any closer. 😉

    • Hi Sheila! I’m cracking up that you call it “Christian Chicken”. lol!

      It’s funny how I’ve heard from different people (all claiming to have worked for Chickfila) that the nuggets are marinated in pickle juice, and that they are not marinated in pickle juice. 🙂 Guess we may never really know for sure!

  30. I made these tonight and they were delicious!! I can’t believe how tender the chicken stays after frying. I’ve been a fan of Chick-fil-A since I spent a few years in Houston as a kid. I introduced my Irish husband to it when we were in Orlando on vacation. He has been hooked since, but we live in Ireland now. The nearest Chick-fil-A is 3000 miles away!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I’m sure I’ll be making these very often.

    • Wow! 3,000 miles away! I now have Chick-fil-a around the corner from our house, but I’ll remember to never complain if we end up only 45 minutes away from one again! 😉 Glad you can get your “fix” with this recipe now. 🙂

  31. The kids like them & so do I. Thanks!

  32. tenneshia says:

    Made this today and it was great! Definitley a must have recipe thanks for sharing !!

  33. Lori Clapper says:

    For those folks wondering about the Chick-Fil-A recipe – I worked at Chick-Fil-A along with 5 other members of my family (we helped open a new store); they do not marinate in Cola, they do not add ginger, there are no weird or unusual ingredients. The actual mix comes pre-bagged to the store, so even the workers don’t know what makes up the actual coating. We are trying this recipe tonight! Always looking for a new chicken recipe for the kiddos!!!

  34. awesome recipe the only thing my son in law eats is chick fil a and Pizza dipped in ketchup I know yuk , but I made this recipe and it was so close he thought I was trying to trick him he thought I went to chick fil a and was just telling him I cooked them … lol if you can fool this boy it’s gotta be a very close replica awesome recipe Nikki keep up with awesome recipes and thanks so much for allowing me to get one over my son in law … Love it !!

  35. thanks! now i can have chic-fil-a without supporting bigots!

  36. Wow, kinda surprised you didn’t delete the “bigots” comment above. Oh, well.

    My family loves this one, too. My hubby (a recovering junk food junkie!) especially. I make a bunch once a month and freeze 3 meal’s worth and eat one. A family favorite, all around! (My hubby and I sometimes eat ours on salad, too.)

  37. I am so disappointed! I thought for sure that these nuggets would resemble Chick-fil-a in taste with all of the raving reviews. Don’t get me wrong, the nuggets taste awesome, but they are not even close to Chick-fil-a at all. They might taste close to someone who does not eat Chick-fil-a regularly, but sadly they miss the mark in my book. I am not sure how anyone could even pretend they are close to be honest.

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