Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets – Chick fil-A copycat recipe – juicy chicken nuggets pickle-brined and breaded, air fried to golden and ready for dipping.
When you’re craving the deliciousness of these Chick fil-A nuggets and it’s Sunday you’re gonna want this recipe — and your air fryer.
Pickle-brined (for that signature flavor), perfectly seasoned breaded lean white meat chicken air fried to golden.
Homemade chicken nuggets – at a fraction of the cost of eating out, no waiting in line and a copycat recipe that’s the real deal.
This is an easy recipe for copycat air fryer Chick-fil-A nuggets that yields big results.
Instead of deep frying, air frying circulates hot air around the food and way less oil is used with this method.
WHAT MAKES CHICK FIL A NUGGETS SO IRRESISTIBLE?
There’s no one answer why Chick-fil-A nuggets are so good people drive for miles to satisfy a craving.
Maybe it’s the light crispy breading. Or the juicy pickle-brined, perfectly seasoned chicken under that breading and friends, let’s not forget about the sauce.
The only thing I know for sure is that they’re loved by kids and adults alike and with these copycat nuggets, you won’t miss the ‘real deal’ at all.
HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK:
You can buy buttermilk from the grocery store or make it quickly and easily at home.
To make your own buttermilk, whisk 1/4 cup milk (any fat level) with 1/2 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.
Let it sit for 5 minutes then give it a stir. That’s it!
WHAT’S IN AIR FRYER CHICKEN NUGGETS?
Here’s what you’ll need to make these air fryer nuggets:
- boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in 1 1/2″ pieces
- dill pickle juice from the jar
- buttermilk (see below how to easily make buttermilk)
- large zip top bag
- salt and black pepper
- garlic powder
- all purpose flour
- powdered sugar
- cooking spray
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER CHICKEN NUGGETS:
Prepping the chicken:
Cut each boneless chicken breast into about 1 1/2″ pieces for nuggets then transfer to a zip top bag.
Pour the pickle juice over the top. Seal then gently smoosh to move the pickle juice around the chicken.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
Breading the chicken:
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper for easy cleanup then set up a dredging station (shallow bowl works best):
Bowl #1: whisk the egg and buttermilk together
Bowl #2: combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cornstarch and powdered sugar.
Drain chicken then discard the pickle juice.
Dredge the chicken first in the flour shaking off any excess. Next dip in the egg mixture letting it drip off, then back into the flour pressing to coat.
Transfer the breaded pieces to the baking sheet.
NOTE: the breading will seem moist – that’s okay. It’ll be lightly crisp when you air fry it.
Pre-heat air fryer to 360 degrees then spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Season lightly with salt then spray the top of each nugget with cooking spray.
Air fry 5 minutes then flip the nuggets over. Spray any exposed flour spots and continue cooking 5 minutes or to an internal temp of 165° on a meat thermometer and golden brown.
NOTE: cook times vary wtih air fryer models so adjust as needed.
Increase the temp on the air fryer to 400° then cook 2 more minutes.
COPYCAT CHICK FIL-A SAUCE:
Do you need homemade chick-fil-A sauce? Absolutely 1000% YES. The chicken is delicious on its own but the sauce takes these nuggets to the next level.
There are other dipping sauces you can use – ranch or honey mustard, but this is my all time favorite dipping sauce.
Add the following to a small bowl then whisk until combined and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon yellow (ballpark style) mustard
- 1 tablespoon bbq sauce any kind you have on hand
- 1 tablespoon honey
- small pinch salt
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS:
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to three days.
WHAT GOES WITH CHICK FIL-A CHICKEN NUGGETS?
I mean for one, that amazing Chick fil-A sauce that is so incredibly good you’re going to want to schmear it on everything!
Below are a few other ideas:
Creamy Parmesan Rice
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
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Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets (Chick-fil-A copycat recipe)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in 1 1/2" pieces
- 3/4 cup dill pickle juice brine from the jar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup buttermilk see body of post/How to Easily Make Buttermilk
- 1 large ziptop bag
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- cooking spray
PREPPING THE CHICKEN:
- Cut chicken Into about 1 1/2″ pieces then transfer to a zip top bag.
- Pour pickle juice over the top. Seal and gently smoosh to move the pickle juice around the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
BREADING THE CHICKEN:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper for easy cleanup then set up a dredging station:Bowl #1: whisk the egg and buttermilk together.Bowl #2: combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cornstarch and powdered sugar.
- Drain pickle juice from chicken and discard.
- Dredge the chicken first in the flour shaking off any excess. Next dip in the egg letting it drip off, then back into the flour pressing to coat (flour, egg, flour)
- Transfer breaded pieces to the baking sheet. NOTE: the breading will seem moist – that’s okay. It’ll be lightly crisp when you air fry!
AIR FRYING THE CHICKEN:
- Pre-heat air fryer to 360 degrees then spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket in a single layer (work in batches if necessary - chicken can be kept warm on a baking sheet in 200 degree oven). Season lightly with salt then spray the top of each nugget with cooking spray.
- Air fry 5 minutes then flip the nuggets over. Spray any exposed flour spots and continue cooking 5 minutes or to an internal temp of 165°.
- Increase the temp to 400° and cook 2 more minutes.
CHICK-FIL-A SIGNATURE SAUCE:
- Whisk 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon yellow (ballpark style) mustard, 1 tablesoon your favorite bbq sauce, 1 tablespoon honey and a small pinch salt.