Paleo Chicken Nuggets (think Chick-fil-A)

Easy Weeknight Meals, Paleo, Recipes

Last week one of my besties alerted me to paleo Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets. I promptly made them that evening. And then again on the weekend. Many thanks to The Domestic Man for his recipe.

There is nothing like popping a grain free, paleo chicken nugget into your mouth. One after the other. After the other…

When I made them the second time I made a few adjustments. One including bacon fat (and all the paleo people said, Amen!).

Paleo Chicken Nuggets

First things first, word on the foodie street is that Chick-fil-A nuggets are marinated in pickle juice. I had no idea. But it’s sheer brilliance. Keeps the chicken juicy AND finally…a use for that pickle juice.

To start, cube up two pounds of chicken breasts. Throw them into a large plastic bag and add 1/2 cup pickle juice. Seal and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.


Take them out of the refrigerator and pour out the excess pickle juice (they do not have to be perfectly drained).

In a separate bowl, whisk together one egg and and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.

Add the mixture to the bag. Shake it to coat the chicken and let it sit for five minutes.

While it is sitting, prep the spices. Mix together 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper. We also added 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to kick it up a notch. I could not taste a real difference so next time I will add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (but it is optional).

Then add 1/4 cup tapioca starch or 1/4 cup arrowroot to the spices. This is what makes these paleo. No flour 🙂

Mix well. Set aside.

Open the bag and pour out any remaining juice (no need to thoroughly drain).

Add the spice mixture to the bag. We want these nuggets coated with this spice mixture so spend a few minutes shaking and massaging the bag. Don’t be hasty. You’ve come too far to cut corners now!

Heat a fry pan or a heavy bottom cast iron pan on medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat. Oh yes. This bacon fat is going to add a nice flavor 🙂 And we all know you need to use up that bacon fat sitting in your refrigerator!!

While you are waiting for the oil to heat, prep your station. Have a plate with paper towels on it near you and a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.

Once the oil is hot (if you slightly tip the pan you should see small ripples/waves form, then you will know the oil is heated) then you can add your first batch of nuggets. It took me about 4 batches to get all these nuggets cooked.

Also, frying results in oil splattering. Be careful. If you have a splatter guard, use it! If not, just be careful as you add each little nugget.

Fry for about two minutes per side. It should be a golden brown color.

After each side is golden brown remove to the plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. Add your next batch of nuggets to the pan.

While those are frying add the nuggets that are on the paper towel to the baking sheet and pop them in the oven to keep them warm.

Four to five batches later – and possibly a few missing nuggets 🙂 We have yummy, crunchy, juicy PALEO chicken nuggets. We served them with our sweet potato fries. And a pickle spear, what else?

BUT, what do we dip them in? The best homemade honey mustard dressing I have ever tried. Seriously, this recipe comes from none other than Alton Brown. I listed it below.

If I had little ones I would be making these like it was my job (actually, if I understand correctly, it would be my job to feed my children!) because they are delicious and a healthy alternative to fried chicken nuggets. And plus, they would probably tell everyone in the world what an awesome mother I am. Or something like that… 🙂

Copycat paleo chick-fil-a chicken nuggets recipe!

Paleo Chicken Nuggets (think Chick-fil-A)Homemade Honey Mustard

  • Author: Bri McKoy
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 1x


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbs heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch (or arrowroot)
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/41/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 tbs bacon fat (if you do not have bacon fat, use 1/4 cup coconut oil)

Honey Mustard Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons medium body honey
  • 3 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)


  1. Cube up the chicken.
  2. Place it into a plastic bag and add the pickle juice; marinate in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
  3. After marinating, open the bag and pour out any excess pickle juice.
  4. In a separate bowl mix together the egg and the heavy cream and add the mixture to the bag. Let sit for five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
  6. Again, open the bag and pour out the excess liquid. No need to fully drain, just discard any extra liquid.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the bag. Seal the bag and shake, massage, move around the nuggets to coat each one in the spice mixture.
  8. Heat your fry pan and add the oil and fat.
  9. Fry your chicken pieces in batches. About two minutes per side until golden brown.
  10. Remove each batch to a paper towel to remove excess oil and then place on a baking sheet in the oven set at 170 degrees to keep them warm.
  11. To make the honey mustard sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

  1. Glad you like the nuggets! I wholly approve your recipe adjustments 🙂

  2. Trisha says:

    These looks SO good! I’m going to try them. I think they’ll make my kiddos happy. Thank you very much for sharing them on my link up 🙂 Hope to see MORE of your recipes in the future!

  3. Rachael says:

    These aren’t paleo if they have heavy cream. I think there is a possibility arrowroot isn’t paleo, also. Paleo is more than flour free. 🙂

    • Bri McKoy says:

      Hey Rachel, Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream is considered Paleo. It has no additives and is not ultra-pasteurized. I have done a few “Paleo challenges” with different CrossFit gyms and they all allow this kind of heavy whipping cream 🙂 And I have seen it used on many of my favorite Paleo food blogs. This is a lifesaver for me!! But, I understand if some people do not want to include it in their diet! Also, arrowroot and tapioca starch seem to be split down the middle. Some people consider it Paleo and others do not. But, as long as you know what works for you, go for it!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Jill says:

    These are awesome. Can’t wait to give them to my Non-Paleo husband. May make a believer out of him yet!

  5. Asia says:

    do you think these could be baked? I understand they wouldn’t be exactly the same, but I have 3 boys under 5 and I don’t like to fry things in oil, I’m too nervous about them being under foot while I do it..

    • Bri McKoy says:

      Hi Asia, I have not tried to bake them before but they are assembled like normal breaded chicken nuggets so I believe they can bake in the oven. If I was trying this I would preheat my oven to 425. Place the nuggets on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil and slightly greased. Bake them for about 10 minutes and then flip them and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let me know if this works! Again, this is how you would bake normal breaded chicken nuggets so it might not work with the tapioca starch.

  6. Katie says:

    Do you think you would have to use the heavy cream? My son has a dairy allergy..

    • Bri McKoy says:

      Hi Katie! Seeing as it is only 2 TBS I don’t think that would be an issue. If you try it can you report back with how it went? Full fat coconut milk (canned) might work great!

  7. I’ve heard coconut milk works fine with this recipe.

  8. I love these recipes, but I have a ouestion what is paleo?

  9. Alishia says:

    What is medium body mustard?

  10. Danielle Greenway says:

    Do you happen to know the calories, fat, etc??? This would help me so much. My trainer this morning said these may not be too good for me to eat and I eat them 5 days a week for lunch… I would greatly appreciate it so I can input it into my fitness pal app

    • Bri McKoy says:

      Hi Danielle! I am actually just a home cook with a full time job. I do not calculate all the calories/fat…I apologize! I agree with your trainer – these are not meant to be eaten every day. Have you checked out my turkey burgers? Those are extremely healthy and I know they have less fat. Or even my hydrating orange and green smoothies? These are also great things to switch in and out!

  11. Krisa says:

    Could you use coconut flour instead of tapioca starch?

  12. Krisa says:

    Sorry. I meant to say almond flour

    • Bri McKoy says:

      Hi Krisa, I have never tried almond flour in this recipe as a replacement for the tapioca starch. I do not think almond flour has the same consistency but if you try it please let us know how it turns out!

  13. Helen Greene Bell says:

    Sounds delicious,also try

  14. Nikki Kocian says:

    Turned out great! I made mine extra spicy.

  15. Abbey Boone says:

    I just made these!! They are absolutely DELICIOUS! I didn’t have any cream, so I left it out, but they still taste fantastic! Thanks so much for the recipe!! ❤️❤️

  16. Amanda Molly Anne Walker-Waggoner says:

    Oh yum, these were so good! When I ate the first one, I wondered if I had cooked them all the way through, they were so juicy. Wow. I didn’t have pickle juice, so I soaked them in h.m. sauerkraut juice. Brilliant. I will be pouring over your blog. Thank you. Blessings!

  17. Lauren says:

    What could we use as an alternative to heavy cream? Would coconut milk work?

  18. Lauren Webb says:

    Can you replace heavy whipping cream with something else? Maybe coconut milk?

  19. Donna Gunn says:

    I thought dairy was not paleo…whipping cream?

  20. Fam Cruz III says:

    These. Are. AWESOME!

  21. Chrissie Fly says:

    Hi, thanks for the great recipe. My husband and I moved to Bolivia this summer and we are craving some Chick-fil-A nuggets! I was wondering if I can substitute yucca flour for the tapioca starch? Or if there are other flours/starches that can be used instead? Thanks!

  22. Chrissie Fly says:

    Hi, thanks for the great recipe. My husband and I moved to Bolivia this summer and we are craving some Chick-fil-A nuggets! I was wondering if I can substitute yucca flour for the tapioca starch? Or if there are other flours/starches that can be used instead? Thanks!

  23. Alli Romano says:

    Ahhhhhhhh-mazing! As a first year paleo I’m overjoyed to find delicious recipes and meals where I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a thing! Thank you thank you!

  24. Kim Cascardo says:

    these really were amazing!!

Copyright © 2023 Bri McKoy. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy. Affiliate Notice.