Chick-fil-a was our favorite fast food place. I grew up in Texas and half my friends worked there as their first job, so my CFA love runs deep, which I passed on to the next generation. Though it’s on the rare occasion still worth it, my kids have been bugging me to make our own version at home.
SO, I took my most popular 5-ingredient chicken recipe and added 5 more ingredients to give it an amazing breading and a Chick-fil-a twist that is Paleo, Whole30, gluten-free, and dairy-free. All the family concurs – it’s seriously straight out of a restaurant good!
It freezes fantastically, replacing those so-many-ingredient store bought nuggets. It includes egg-free and nut-free options for those that need them. We love them with my date mustard, chopped up in salads, or rolled up in a wrap. My kiddos even like them cold?!
I give directions for how to cook it in the airfryer, if pan frying isn’t your scene, though the airfryer results in more of a “dry fry” and the pan fry is juicier.
It’s our new fave, I hope it’s a hit in your home too!
NOTE: If you are on a Whole30, please keep in mind these are compliant. BUT, if KFC was your thing before the Whole30, this might be too close to old habits and SWYPO for you, so please use some personal responsibility in deciding if these are right for your Whole30.
Paleo Chick-fil-a Chicken
- 1/2 cup pickle juice*
- 2 chicken breast, cut into strips or nugget-sized
- 1 egg*
- 1/3 cup almond flour*
- 1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- coconut or avocado oil to cook in
Combine pickle juice and cut chicken breast in a bowl. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. The longer you marinate, the stronger the pickle flavor will be.
Once marinated, remove from fridge. Drain and discard the pickle juice by putting the chicken in a strainer. Blot the chicken dry by dabbing with a paper towel or other reusable rag. **This drying step is crucial in helping breading stick to chicken - don't skip it!
Crack and scramble egg into a small bowl. Combine egg and chicken pieces in a medium bowl, stirring until all pieces are covered with egg. Drain excess egg off of chicken, again using a strainer. Shake the strainer a few times up and down to get off excess. The more excess you get off, the better the breading will stick to the chicken.
Combine all dry ingredients (almond flour through pepper) in a small bowl and then sprinkle on top of drained chicken in a medium bowl. Stir gently until all pieces are covered with breading.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. I use about a 1/4" deep of oil. Once oil is heated, place pieces coated chicken in the oil. Don't crowd the pan, there should be space in between pieces.
Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until crispy golden brown. Repeat until all pieces are cooked through, with no pink inside.
AIRFRYER: Cook chicken at 350 for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
TO FREEZE: These make great substitutes for frozen chicken nuggets. Make and cook as instructed above, then lay in a single layer in your freezer until frozen on a cooling rack. Once frozen, then store in a sealed container for 3+ months. To reheat, can warm up in the microwave, in the oven at 400 for 10 minutes, or in the airfryer at 350 for 5-7 minutes.
Want them cooked fresh? You could also prep and freese these raw (following instructions up until the cooking to marinate and bread) and then cook on the stove or airfryer straight from the freezer with the above recipe cooking instructions, adding a few minutes cooking time.
*Pickle juice - if on Whole30, make sure the pickles you are using are compliant. Yes, I literally just drain the juice from the pickles to use for marinade. You can leave the pickle juice marinade step out, it just adds a great flavor and makes the chicken extra tender. I don't like pickles and I still love this subtle flavor!
SUBSTITUTIONS - Can't do egg? You can use 1/4 cup dairy-free milk instead (I like the thickness of canned coconut milk). Can't do almond flour? You can do just the tapioca/arrowroot flour OR use 2 tablespoons coconut flour instead of the almond flour. The breading won't turn out as thick, but it's still tasty!
We love these with my date mustard sauce (pictured).