This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy.

These air fryer chicken nuggets are simply the best! Made Chick-Fil-A style, they’re quickly marinated in pickle juice for extra juicy nuggets, then cooked in the air fryer for nuggets that are easy to make and not fried in oil. Served with a copycat Chick-Fil-A sauce, these are my kids’ favorite nuggets!

An air fryer chicken nugget dipped into copycat Chick-fil-a sauce

Interested in other Chick-Fil-A Copycat recipes? Try our Chick-fil-A Tofu Nuggets with Vegan “Honey” Mustard Sauce or our Whole30 Chicken Nuggets Recipe (Paleo, Chick-Fil-A Method), and don’t forget the healthy Frozen Lemonade!

What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • These babies taste JUST LIKE those delicious chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A, but they’re healthier, cheaper, and always available on Sundays.
  • Since they’re cooked in the air fryer, these chicken nuggets are tender and crispy like their deep-fried counterparts, but without the actual deep-frying! These won’t turn out as golden as if you deep-fried them, but they’re SO good you won’t even mind.
  • I kept things simple with kosher salt and fresh pepper, but you can add your favorite spices to the breading mixture! Try paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or even cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning for a spicy take.
  • Why stop at air fryer chicken nuggets? This cooking method and breading recipe will work for chicken strips and whole chicken breasts, too! Use our Air Fryer Frozen French Fries method to fry up some tasty waffle fries and you’ll never need to visit Chick-Fil-A again!

Key Ingredients

Chicken Breasts – No ground-meat chicken nuggets here! Use whole chicken breasts cut into nuggets for the best taste and texture.

Pickle Juice – Controversial, maybe, but a MUST for these air fryer chicken nuggets. There’s some debate about whether Chick-Fil-A’s nuggets are marinated/brined in pickle juice, but I’ve heard reports from a few employees that they don’t actually do that. It’s no secret, though, that they do include pickles on their sandwiches, so this lightly mimics that flavor. Whether the juice is part of their official brine or not, we’re using it because the pickle juice helps to tenderize the chicken meat, making it moist and juicy inside the crisp breading.

Powdered Sugar – Just a hint, to recreate that slight sweetness you find in Chick-Fil-A nuggets. Of course, you can always lower the sugar content (but keep the flavor) by using Swerve Confectioners’ instead. And if all if you have is granulated (sugar or Swerve) just run it through a food processor to get that powdery-smooth consistency.

Chef’s Tips

  • Don’t overcook your chicken nuggets! When you cut them into chunks, do your best to make sure they’re all roughly the same size. If they’re different sizes, they’ll cook at different rates. Since they’re small, though, they won’t take long to cook at all, and if you overcook them, they’ll be tough and dry.
  • As always, work in as many batches as you need to avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. The air has to be able to circulate in order to cook the food evenly. If the chicken nuggets overlap or touch, the air won’t reach those spots, and they won’t be cooked well.
  • Use a cooking spray that’s safe for your air fryer! Aerosol cooking sprays contain ingredients that can damage the non-stick coating on your air fryer basket. Instead, use an oil sprayer with your favorite neutral oil (I like olive oil for this one, though Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil) and spritz the basket and nuggets as needed.
  • 30 minutes is the minimum amount of time you should marinate the air fryer chicken nuggets, but you can totally leave them in the pickle-milk mixture for longer. I just don’t recommend going longer than 8 hours max, or the flavor and texture of the meat will be way off.
Air fryer chicken nuggets next to a bowl of Chick-fil-a sauce

Be Sure to Try These Air Fryer Recipes, Too!

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets (Chick-Fil-A Style)


Prep 15 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total 55 minutes
These air fryer chicken nuggets are simply the best! Made Chick-Fil-A style, they're quickly marinated in pickle juice for extra juicy nuggets, then cooked in the air fryer for nuggets that are easy to make and not fried in oil. Served with a copycat Chick-Fil-A sauce, these are my kids' favorite nuggets!
6

Equipment

  • Small bowl
  • whisks
  • Large bowls (2)
  • Gallon-size Ziploc bag (or another large bowl)
  • air fryer
  • Air-fryer-safe cooking spray

Ingredients

For the "Chick-Fil-A Sauce"

For the Chicken Nuggets

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 ½ cups milk divided, see Notes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar or Swerve Confectioners'
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

For the "Chick-Fil-A Sauce"

  • In small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until combined. Let sauce chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
    Copycat Chick-Fil-A sauce in a bowl with a whisk

For the Chicken Nuggets

  • In one large bowl, combine chicken breast pieces, pickle juice, and ½ cup milk. Let chicken marinate in pickle juice mixture for at least 30 minutes. After marinating time is up, drain chicken well.
    Chicken in milk and pickle juice marinade
  • In separate large bowl, whisk together remaining 1 cup milk and 1 large egg to create egg wash. Add marinated chicken pieces to egg wash and stir to combine, then drain excess milk mixture from bowl.
    Chicken in egg wash
  • Preheat air fryer to 400° Fahrenheit. In gallon-sized Ziploc bag (or third large bowl), combine flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, and pepper. Add chicken to bag and seal well. Toss and shake bag to thoroughly coat chicken pieces in flour mixture.
    Flour-coated chicken pieces on a plate
  • Spray air fryer basket with appropriate cooking spray. Place chicken nuggets in basket in one even layer, being careful not to overcrowd basket. Work in batches as needed. Lightly spray nuggets with cooking spray.
  • Place basket in air fryer and cook chicken nuggets 7 to 8 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit. Transfer cooked chicken nuggets to separate container and repeat steps 4 and 5 until all chicken nuggets have been air fried. Serve warm with sauce.
  • Milk: Any type of milk will work.
  • Make it Gluten Free: Use a gluten-free all-purpose flour.
  • Make it Dairy Free: Use an unsweetened, non-dairy milk.
 
Recipe yields approximately 6 servings. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using ingredients listed, including “Chick-Fil-A Sauce”. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by 6. Result will be the weight of one serving.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1serving of nuggets with sauceCalories: 464calProtein: 23gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 1016mgPotassium: 451mgTotal Carbs: 49gFiber: 1gSugar: 22gNet Carbs: 48gVitamin A: 209IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @40aprons on Instagram and be sure to leave a review on the blog post!

Leave A Review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar Rosemary Kemp says:

    The nuggets tasted okay but they were floury and not beautifully brown and crisp on the outside.

    1. Megan | 40 Aprons Team Megan | 40 Aprons Team says:

      I’m sorry, Rosemary! Having not been there with you I can’t say for sure, but I would guess that the flour breading was too thick. The amount of breading may have been too much just depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts you used. Did you by chance shake off as much excess breading as possible before air frying the chicken?

Where To Next?