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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 5 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!

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We love these with my date mustard sauce (pictured).

14 Comments

  1. 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
  2. 5 stars
    These were very yummy and super easy!

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

      Reply
  3. 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
  4. 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. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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

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