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This Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe is inspired by the method used at Chick-Fil-A for super tender and flavorful nuggets with a creamy, smoky, lightly sweet dipping sauce that takes this all over the edge. These paleo chicken nuggets are crispy and tender and just perfect. A favorite Whole30 chicken recipe!

Paleo Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe Chick-Fil-A style on a plate with dipping sauce sauce and sweet potato fries

We’re chicken nugget lovers. Except not the little pressed and breaded pellets from fast food places: real chicken cut into little pieces, tossed in some sort of coating, fried up quickly in the cast-iron skillet, and dipped in my favorite Whole30 dump ranch dressing.

Hand dipping paleo Whole30 chicken nuggets into dipping sauce sauce with sweet potato fries in background

Naw, girl. For a truly awesome Whole30 chicken recipe, I had to upgrade.

I was inspired by the bizarre but super effective process Chick-Fil-A follows to produce super tender and flavorful chicken nuggets. Pickle juice, toss in sugar (Pass), and then fry in a pressure cooker (Also pass). So, OK, really, I just marinated the chicken in pickle juice and tossed it all in a coconut flour-spiked mixture, then pan-fried the nuggets really quickly so keep things tender and delish. The result?

Hea-ven.

They were just what I wanted: tender and flavorful and just the teeny tiniest bit sweet from the coconut flour. I whipped up a Chick-Fil-A sauce inspired dip from my Whole30 ketchup recipe, my Whole30 immersion blender mayo, and a touch of liquid smoke for some smoky BBQ sauce depth, and dipped to my little heart’s content.

Paleo Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe on a plate with dipping sauce sauce and sweet potato fries

Why this recipe is so good:

  • They’re super easy to make, just make sure you give them plenty of time to marinate in that pickle juice. 
  • This Whole30 chicken recipe produces the most tender and flavorful chicken with just the slightest sweetness from the coconut flour.
  • The dipping sauce is so epic: slightly sweet, creamy, and smoky, hitting all the flavor home runs!

Tips

  • To make the dipping sauce, make sure you have Whole30 ketchup and Whole30 mayonnaise on hand, but I have recipes on my site that make those super easy to keep around. 
  • Don’t skip marinating the chicken in pickle juice! This process is what tenderizes and flavors the chicken so beautifully.
  • Clean out the skillet in between batches so that the flours don’t burn.

How to make it

The most important part: marinate your chunks of chicken in pickle juice! This is what produces such tender and flavorful little nuggets. Don’t skip it when you’re making this Whole30 chicken recipe, sister!

Put your beaten egg in a wide, shallow bowl. In another wide, shallow bowl, whisk together your flours and spices.

Remove your chicken from the pickle juice and discard juice. Dip your chicken pieces in the beaten egg, shaking off excess, then toss in the flour mixture. Repeat the process until all nuggets are coated.

Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe breaded on a baking sheet

Fry those little nugs up! Heat a layer of oil – refined coconut oil and avocado oil work great – in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium to medium-high heat. Fry your chicken in batches, making sure to not crowd, until golden brown on all sides and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes total. Don’t overcook! Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel- or brown-paper-bag-lined plate.

To make your sauce, simply whisk all ingredients together!

Where do I get pickle juice?

From a bottle of pickles, you crazy. Seriously, though, buy a compliant jar of pickles (the shelf-stable kind are best for this recipe) and use the juice you need. The pickles will be fine after! Or simply save jars of juice once you’ve eaten through a container of spears.

Alternately, you can do what my pregnant ass did and buy this one-gallon behemoth of pure pickle juice. The crazy thing is I think this stuff is actually Whole30 compliant… I’m just saying.

Do I have to marinate the chicken in pickle juice?

Nah, you don’t have to. But if you don’t, the nuggets won’t be as tender or flavorful. I’m bad about planning ahead, too, but even one hour in the marinade will make a big difference!

Can I use _________ flour?

You can substitute arrowroot for the tapioca starch, but I urge you to use the almond flour + coconut flour combination to give these nuggets the right flavor and consistency. They’ll still be good if you use all almond flour, just not as Chick-Fil-A inspired. And if you use all coconut flour, the coating will be quite dry. Flour combo for the win!

Paleo Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe on a plate with dipping sauce sauce and sweet potato fries

What’s the deal with the Whole30 vs. paleo dipping sauce differences?

If you’re on a Whole30, you’ll combine these ingredients for your dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Whole30 mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole30 ketchup
  • 3/4 tsp. liquid smoke
  • pinch salt

If you’re not on a Whole30, try this instead:

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Whole30 mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Whole30 ketchup
  • 3/4 tsp. liquid smoke
  • pinch salt

Other recipes you’ll love:

Did you make and love this Whole30 chicken recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe by tagging me on Instagram!

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik
4.98 from 38 votes

Whole30 Chicken Nuggets Recipe (Paleo, Chick-Fil-A Method)


Prep 1 hour
Cook 5 minutes
Total 1 hour 5 minutes
This Whole30 chicken nuggets recipe is inspired by the method used at Chick-Fil-A for super tender and flavorful nuggets with a creamy, smoky, lightly sweet dipping sauce. This Whole30 chicken recipe produces paleo chicken nuggets that are crispy and tender and just perfect.
4

Ingredients

For the Whole30 Chicken Nuggets

  • 2 large chicken breasts about 1.5 pounds, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • ½ cup dill pickle juice
  • 1 egg beaten
  • cup almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • refined coconut oil or avocado oil for frying

For the Chick-Fil-A-Sauce

  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons Whole30 mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos if ON Whole30
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup if NOT on Whole30
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos if NOT on Whole30
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Whole30 ketchup
  • ¾ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

For the Whole30 Chicken Nuggets

  • Combine chicken breast chunks and pickle juice in an air-tight container or large plastic bag. Refrigerate at least one hour, preferably overnight, tossing every so often.
  • Pour beaten egg in a shallow bowl. Whisk together flours, tapioca starch, and spices in another shallow bowl. 
  • Drain chicken from pickle juice. Dip chicken pieces in egg then coat in flour mixture. Repeat until all nuggets are coated.
  • Heat a thin layer of refined coconut oil or avocado oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken nuggets in batches until golden brown and cooked through. This will take about 5-6 minutes total. Do not overcook! Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

For the Chick-Fil-A Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together all ingredients.
    If you are on a Whole30, use only 3 tablespoons coconut aminos. Skip the 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut aminos in the ingredients list.
    If you are NOT on a Whole30, skip the 3 tablespoons coconut aminos. Use 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut aminos.
  • Chill sauce mixture until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.
Recipe yields approximately 4 servings of nuggets and 4 servings of sauce. Actual number of nuggets yielded will vary based on the size of the chicken breasts and the size of the chunks you cut them into.
Nutritional values shown reflect information for one serving of nuggets with the Whole30 version of the Chick-Fil-A sauce. Macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands of ingredients used.
If you’re tracking your macros or following a certain diet, be sure to use the information for your specific ingredients. The nutritional values shown here are simply a guideline and may not be accurate for what you actually consume.
To determine the size of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed, then weigh the entire recipe when finished. Divide the total weight (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by 4. Result will be the weight of one serving.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1servingCalories: 510calProtein: 32gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 1561mgPotassium: 485mgTotal Carbs: 23gFiber: 8gSugar: 3gNet Carbs: 15gVitamin A: 382IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 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.

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77 Comments

  1. Avatar Rhaye Harris says:

    I haven’t made these yet, but plan to this week. Would y’all have any tips on how to store leftovers? Wondering if I could double/triple the recipe and freeze for quicker dinners for the littles!

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

      Hey, Rhaye! You can absolutely do that!

      Prepare the recipe as it’s written through step 3 – after that, whether or not you cook them first is up to you.

      If you don’t cook them first, lay them out on a baking sheet in a single layer and pop them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Once they’ve set up, you can move them from the baking sheet to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze them until you’re ready to cook them.

      If you cook them first, you’ll do the same thing – but let them cool completely before you freeze them!

      You can defrost them in the fridge overnight then air fry, pan fry, or bake them, or you can air fry or pan fry them straight out of the freezer.

  2. These are delish! Followed the recipe exactly as written.5 stars

    1. Avatar Jessica | 40 Aprons Team says:

      So glad you loved the nuggets! Thanks for sharing, Staci! 😊

  3. Hello, do you also have a recipe or the way you fixed the sweet potato fries? They look delish! Thank you 😊5 stars

  4. I’m not going to leave a rating because I’m sure I did something wrong. Ours did not turn out great. In fact, I threw them away. Pretty sure the toddler under foot and baby crying helped with that! I want to try again when I can have focus because they sound so good!

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

      Oh, no! I’m so sorry this one didn’t work out for you this time, Wendy. Please let us know if you get a chance to try again!

  5. Avatar Tammy Mathis says:

    Is there a substitution option for Tapioca starch?

    1. Anna Claire | 40 Aprons Team Anna Claire | 40 Aprons Team says:

      You can use any Whole30-compliant starch or thickening agent. Arrowroot starch would work well here!5 stars

  6. Avatar Michael W Fox says:

    Still wondering if there is a suggested serving amount? Serving size 4 nuggets? 6? Just trying to provide accurate nutritional value from the great recipe. Thanks!5 stars

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

      Hi, Michael! Great question!

      The nutritional information shown on the recipe card reflects the general information for 1 serving of chicken nuggets and Whole30 sauce, or 1/4th of the total yield, assuming you get 4 servings out of a batch. The exact number of chicken nuggets you get can vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts you start out with and the number of nuggets you cut them into, which is why we don’t indicate a specific number.

      This recipe was intended to produce 4 servings, so the easiest way to figure out a serving size would be to weigh the finished nuggets and prepared sauce, then divide those weights (not including the weight of the containers) by 4. That’ll give you the weight of one serving! If you like larger or smaller portions, you can always adjust the amount of total servings, too.

      The nutritional values shown on our posts are a general guideline, so if you’re counting things closely, be sure to calculate your specific nutritional information using the nutritional values for your exact ingredients. Macros of ingredients tend to vary from one brand to another, so our numbers may not be exactly the same as what you actually consume!

      I hope this helps, and I’m so glad you and your wife love these chicken nuggets! Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  7. Avatar Michael W Fox says:

    I do not see a serving size amount. I love making them but my wife is very technical needing to know the suggested serving size/amount. Thanks!

  8. Avatar Stephanie says:

    Can you fry them in an air fryer?

    1. Avatar Savannah | 40 Aprons Team says:

      Yes! Preheat air fryer to 400°F for 5 mins. Place an even layer of nuggets in oiled air fryer basket and fry at 400ºF for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through. Give them a shake about half way through cooking time.5 stars

  9. I don’t typically comment on recipes but these absolutely blew our minds! I had to triple check it was a Whole30 recipe! WOW! The best part about Whole30 and recipes like this is it is a reminder that you don’t have to sacrifice taste and after a good meal like this you feel satisfied not sluggish!5 stars

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