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Paleo Chick-fil-a Chicken - These Whole30, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free strips or nuggets are a family favorite! They freeze great, can be cooked in the airfryer or oven, and include nut-free and egg-free options.

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.

5 from 29 votes
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Paleo Chick-fil-a Chicken

Author Autumn @wholefoodfor7

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. Once marinated, remove from fridge. Drain and discard the pickle juice by putting the chicken in a strainer.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until crispy golden brown. Repeat until all pieces are cooked through, with no pink inside.

  7. AIRFRYER: Cook chicken at 350 for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  8. 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.

Recipe Notes

*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).

69 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe is a huge favorite and my husband has said it’s ruined all other chicken recipes for him, haha. It’s hard not to make this more than once a week! Love how simple it is to make once you get the hang of it. Goes great with salads!

    Reply
    • Lol, I love it! Thrilled this is a family favorite, thank you!

      Reply
  2. 5 stars
    THIS CHICKEN IS SOO GOOD. A staple on my Whole30 and Food Freedom! So crispy and flavorful, with none of Chic-fil-a’s problematic politics. Highly recommend!

    Reply
    • Happy this was a winner for you! It’s definitely a staple in our home as well!

      Reply
  3. This is my FAVORITE chicken recipe! I would eat this every day if my family would allow it! I was making paleo “fried” chicken with a different recipe, but I saw your son demo this recipe on instagram and I thought i would give it a try. I loved it, and only use this recipe now. Whenever any of my friends ask if I have any recipe ideas, I immediately share this link with them. I have sent this link from my phone so many times that my phone’s browser automatically goes to wholefoodfor7.com Love it, great recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    This was so good! I loved the subtle pickle flavor. The kids devoured it, too!

    Reply
  5. 5 stars
    These chicken nuggets are one of my favorite recipes! I even made them for my family when I was home over the summer and they loved them!!

    So simple and so delicious. Totally worth making!

    Reply
  6. These nuggets are easy to make and very good.
    The whole family loved them.

    Reply
    • 5 stars
      I have made this recipe numerous times and my family loves it….great eaten hot or cold…even better with the date sauce!!!
      My daughter likes it so much she has submitted an informative essay for her commincations class using this recipe as her topic!!!!

      Reply
    • 5 stars
      I made this on my 1st Whole 30. I tried to find recipes that would please the whole family and this was a hit! My husband and 9 year old agree! It’s become a regular on the menu in our home along with the date mustard sauce, its a perfect combination! Delish!!!

      Reply
      • I’m so happy this has been a family favorite and regular – thank you!

        Reply
  7. 5 stars
    My family and I loved this recipe! I love crunch and was craving something crunchy so this was the perfect healthy alternative, while not sacrificing flavor or crunch!! I marinated the chicken for 30 minutes in the pickle juice – it was just right for my daughter and husband who don’t love pickles.

    Reply
    • I agree – 30 minutes is just right for me, as a non-pickle lover, but the longer you marinate, the more you will taste the pickle juice!

      Reply
  8. 5 stars
    I have This recipe memorized that is how much I make this. It’s a staple for my weekly menu. Super easy to make. Thank you!!

    Reply
  9. These turned out so good! I love your kid friendly recipes and big family, budget friendly options while doing a whole 30! These were easy to make and even my pickle hating husband liked them.

    Reply
  10. 5 stars
    KID FRIENDLY! and approved! Not only is this recipe delicious but easy enough for my teenage kids to make on their own. I find that when my kids have a hand in preparing their food they are more willing to eat it, even if it’s mom’s “healthy” food. So family friendly! Would definitely recommend

    Reply
    • I love that your teenagers have made these – that’s so wonderful! Hooray for this one being a family win!

      Reply
  11. These are THE BEST at home chicken nuggets out there. The pickle juice really makes the recipe! I have tried many at home chicken tender or nugget recipes and after trying this one, I stopped looking!

    We don’t have an air fryer (yet) so I have made them in a pan with oil. The only trick I have found is that the chicken needs to be sliced small enough or thin enough to ensure that the inside cooks through before the outside cooks.

    Reply
  12. This is literally the most delicious chicken ever! Loved by all in our household and on regular rotation 💙

    Reply
  13. I’m a big fan of these. We tried this version with the coconut flour and really enjoyed them. Then my husband tried a non-paleo version and we liked yours better. I want to try them with almond flour and your dipping sauce. We did two different chick-fil-a sauce knock offs.

    Reply
  14. 5 stars
    So easy to whip up & super delicious. The pickle juice adds great flavor. My whole family gobbled them up!

    Reply
  15. For real – these are a Chick-fil-a lovers dream! I set my 11 year old out to make these (since I always see pictures of your boys making them!). When we got to taste the final product, both of us were impressed. They were really good! I actually stocked up on pickles just to be able to make these. Now what to do with all the pickles…ha ha!

    Reply
    • Lol, if only we could buy just pickle juice?! ; ) So happy your family enjoyed these!

      Reply
  16. 5 stars
    I first tried this recipe when me and my husband did our first round ofWhole30. We love it. We are a family of 6 and we make these all the time now, taste just like chick fil a nuggets!

    Reply
    • Woot! Hooray they are a family favorite, thank you!

      Reply
  17. 5 stars
    This recipe is a favorite in my house – we make it at least once a week. The kids call it ‘pickle chicken’ and ask for it often. It’s easy and the chicken is so tender and juicy. 5 stars all the way!

    Reply
    • Aw, it makes me so happy your kids love and ask for this one. Thank you!

      Reply
  18. 5 stars
    My kids are obsessed with Chick Fil a and Canes, so I had to give this recipe a try. It was a bit labor intensive, but in the end sooooo worth it!! Whole family raved and happily ate it all up. Definitely a keeper recipe for swapping in some healthier options at home.Thank you!

    Reply
    • So happy it was a family win! Agreed it’s more steps than like my 5-ingredient chicken but worth it when you have the time. Thank you!

      Reply
  19. 5 stars
    This recipe was so great! I made your recipe for 5 ingredient Chicken which the family loved so I decided to go a step farther and try these Chick-fil-a strips, they were a hit especially the night of. My husband took the leftovers to work the next day too 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you Deb! They are a little more work than the 5-ingredient chicken, but always a huge hit in our home too. Wahoo!

      Reply
  20. 5 stars
    These are insane. Made a triple batch and froze the leftovers for reheating in the AirFryer. They come out fantastically! Amazing alternative when craving something less healthy

    Reply
    • “Insane” – I love it! Thank you!

      Reply
  21. This is awesome! I made some for my family & they wondered how I got Chick-Fil-A because we love 45 miles from the closest one!!! They couldn’t believe that I made it all from scratch!!

    Reply
    • WAHOO! That’s pretty great that these felt like the real deal to your family, I love that!

      Reply
      • 5 stars
        THE BEST!!! This is the best chicken nugget recipe- maybe even BETTER than Chick-fil-A!? Everyone loves them.

        Reply
  22. 5 stars
    I love pickles! So this is my favorite. However, I used Bubbies Pickle juice so the taste was strong. My non pickle loving family, liked the nuggets but preferred your other chicken tender recipe.

    Reply
    • Lol, we definitely have some on both team pickle and non-pickle in our home too! Happy these are a favorite for you!

      Reply
      • 5 stars
        These are delicious! And the date mustard is to die for. Can’t wait for my kitchen remodel to be complete so I can try making them in the air fryer and try your other recipes. Thank you Autumn!

        Reply
  23. 5 stars
    These were such a crowd pleaser!! I was amazed at how good they were’ my kids loved them which is a win!!

    Reply
    • Kid wins are my favorite! So happy this was a crowd pleaser for your family. Thank you!

      Reply
      • There isn’t a chicken nugget out there that compares to how delicious these are. My 6 year old would rather have these than go to CFA. They’re so easy to make. They really do freeze beautifully and from frozen, heat in the air fryer in just minutes. I usually don’t like reheated chicken, but this is the exception to the rule. I dip them in a spicy mayo for a super tasty meal.

        Reply
        • Hooray! I’m thrilled these are such a win for your family and that kid win just makes my mama heart so happy!

          Reply
  24. 5 stars
    This is my family’s go-to chicken recipe. We make it at least twice a month, it is that good! Do not skimp on the pickle juice- it makes the chicken so flavorful and tender!

    Reply
    • I so love that this has become a family go-to! Thank you!

      Reply
    • 5 stars
      These were so good! My kids weren’t big fans but my husband really loved them!

      Reply
  25. 5 stars
    These are amazing!!! Some of the best chicken I’ve ever had! Highly recommend!!!

    Reply
    • So happy to hear that! It’s definitely a favorite in our home!

      Reply
      • We finally remembered to save the pickle juice. Haha! We used your recommendation for canned cocunut milk and just arrowroot powder. We mixed in a little potato starch. Without an air fryer (gasp!) we shallowed fried them. Thank you for the gift of showing your son making this. My 12yo now makes it solo.

        Reply
        • Well that just makes my mama heart SO happy. Good for your 12 year old, that’s awesome!

          Reply
  26. Hello! I haven’t tried these yet, but wondering if you have tried in the oven rather than stove top? They look great!

    Reply
    • Hello! I haven’t tried them in the oven, but there’s no reason they wouldn’t work in the oven. If you have one, putting the chicken on a cooling rack inside of a cooking sheet in the oven can help the chicken get the most crispy on both sides in the oven. If not, then just be sure to flip halfway through. I would guess 10-12 minutes (depending on size of nuggets/strips) at 350 for these.

      Reply
  27. 5 stars
    These are amazing! I don’t have an air fryer, but pan frying worked great. Serving with some date mustard and already looking forward to leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

    Reply
    • So happy you loved this one – it’s a family favorite! Thank you.

      Reply
  28. 5 stars
    These were very yummy and super easy!

    Reply
    • Fabulous! So happy they were an easy win, thank you!

      Reply
  29. 5 stars
    I made these last night, the family loved it! Funny how when I did my first whole 30 a few years ago, none of them wanted to eat “that food” now they love to eat clean and whole 30 recipes! ?

    Reply
    • I love a family win and how awesome they love “that food” – way to go on all your hard work and persistence to get there!

      Reply
  30. 5 stars
    This was amazing!! We made the chick fix a tenders… and the honey date sauce… My family could not get enough! I am on day 24 of whole 30 and it was a wonderful treat!
    Thank you for your inspiration!!

    Reply
    • How wonderful, I love a family win! Hooray! And WAY TO GO on rocking to the end of your Whole30, that’s so great!

      Reply
    • 5 stars
      This recipe has been a huge help to me. I make it at least 2 or 3 times a month. I crave chick fil a and this fills that craving. I’ve tried a few different recipes and this one is top 2

      Reply
      • I’m so happy this one is on repeat in your home, thank you!

        Reply
  31. Yummy, We tried this tonight and it was a hit with the whole family. I used duck egg as there are food sensitivities in my family. p.s. I didn’t tell them with was whole30 ?

    Reply
    • WOOT that this was a family win! Love it when it’s just delicious and enjoyed by those on or off a Whole30!

      Reply
  32. 5 stars
    My kids love this recipe. They call it “pickle chicken”. It’s such an easy version and we like the crispiness of the air fryer. But love that it can be made other ways. It makes the meal plan rotation at least once a month.

    Reply
    • I’m so thrilled your kids love this one – I love a good kid win! Hooray for it being on the regular!

      Reply
  33. I’m brand new to the air fryer. If I use the air fryer method, I can skip the whole part with the oil on the stove, right?

    Reply
    • Hi! Yes, you are correct – no oil or stove needed for airfryer, wahoo! Just finish breading and then stick straight into airfryer. If you haven’t used your airfryer a lot, I’d spray the bottom of the airfryer basket with cooking oil spray, just so the breading won’t stick. Gently shake half way through the cooking if the chicken is stacked on top of each other at all. Enjoy!

      Reply
      • 5 stars
        These are amazing!!! We love chick fil a and couldn’t wait to try these! Used the air fryer method and they were perfect. Definitely going to be following your directions to freeze these so that my chicken nugget loving 4 year old has a healthier option 🙂

        Reply

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