Paleo Knock Off Chick-Fil-A Nuggets are the answer to the age-old frustration for those who crave Chick-Fil-A nuggets but who want to eat a primarily paleo diet, too. They are flavorful, tender, freeze and reheat like a dream, and are kid-approved from two of the pickiest eaters I know!
Alright alright alright, WHO is excited about a great nugget recipe?! (waves hands frantically in the air)
I had zero intention of ever sharing this recipe, y’all, but it turned out SO WELL that I just figured it was my civic duty to do so. Whether you are regular chicken nugget-ers or not, these bad boys will get you and your kiddos a lower carb, gluten/dairy/grain-free option that you’ll love.
A few things that are not meant to scare you, but that I think you need to know going into this:
- This recipe is not a quick one. The steps are all super easy, but it’s not something that will be done in 30 minutes. If you’re going to make this make sure you have plenty of time!
- This recipe is not what I would call “skinny” in that it’s not necessarily low calorie. I’m fine with that, and the fact that I’ve used whole foods and pretty much serve these with salad make it good in my opinion.
- I sort of smidged the truth in the title – these are not EXACTLY like Chick-Fil-A nuggets, but they DO taste just as great! I don’t brine in pickle juice (haven’t found one I love), and paleo-friendly flours just don’t fry up the same. That’s OK by me because these taste AH-mazing, but I need you to know that going into this!
OK, now that I’ve gotten those things off my chest let’s answer this burning question: WHY chicken nuggets?
Well, dear friends, it’s because I have about the pickiest eaters on the planet and yes, I could torture us all and force-feed or starve my children until they submit to my will. But I’ve decided that I want them to have a really healthy relationship with food, so I feed them things that they like…but that have been healthified to my own standards. That may not be in a parenting book, but I figure I’m the expert on my own children so I’m going with it! That being said, nuggets are a favorite around our house, and while you can find every version of gluten-free nuggets under the sun at just about any store, none of them met my high quality standards or their high taste expectations.
And when you see a problem? You solve it!
These nuggets are a bit of a process, although one with all easy steps, and if you make the entire batch (I would recommend you do) you can always freeze them and reheat later. I have done this many times and it makes a healthy dinner in a snap! So while the initial cooking process might not be the easiest thing you do all day, it will serve you a LOT down the road!
Enough talking – let’s get started!
PALEO KNOCK OFF CHICK-FIL-A NUGGETS
Serves…as many as you want to serve?
- 2-1/2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 cups + 2 tablespoons water
- 1-1/2 cups ice
- 4 cups finely ground almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill and this is not sponsored)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 eggs
- avocado oil for frying
- In a large pot fitted with a lid, combine the 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, and crushed garlic with 2 cups of water.
- Bring to a simmer until the salt is dissolved.
- Add the ice to cool it down.
- While the brine is cooling, cut the chicken tenders into nugget-sized pieces.
- Add the chicken to the cooled brine, place the lid on top, and refrigerate for 24 hours. YES 24 HOURS. Have a little faith y’all!
- When you’re ready to cook the nuggets, you’ll want to make sure you have a few things set up: a couple of large sheet pans lined with paper towels, a large sheet pan lined with parchment or foil (this is for if you are freezing your batch), in addition to your dredging station.
- Fill a cast iron skillet with olive oil, about 1 inch, and start to heat over medium low heat.
- While the oil is heating, drain the brine off of the chicken.
- Whisk together the egg and remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
- Whisk together the almond flour, remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and black pepper. Set aside.
- To test whether the oil is hot enough I simply stick a wooden spoon in the oil. If it bubbles up immediately, it’s ready!
- I fry these about 9-10 at a time in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Adjust according to your skillet size – you don’t want to crowd the pan!
- Working about 10 at a time, dredge the nuggets in the following order: place them in the egg wash, then drop them into the almond flour. DO NOT USE the same hand to do both or you’ll end up wasting the almond flour mixture!
- Dredge them in the almond flour mixture until just coated, then carefully place them in the hot oil.
- Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and done.
- Remove with a slotted spoon to the sheet pans you’ve lined with paper towels.
- Repeat until done!
- Serve hot and enjoy!
TO FREEZE AND REHEAT:
- I like to take all uneaten nuggets and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. DO NOT LET THE NUGGETS TOUCH.
- Place them in your freezer for about 4 hours until frozen.
- Place the frozen nuggets (gently please!) into a gallon freezer bag and store in your freezer.
- When you’re ready to reheat, preheat an oven to 425. Place the desired number of nuggets on a sheet pan (if you can line it with parchment that’s always a help).
- Bake for about 14 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
***NO, I have not tried to bake these or do them in an air fryer. If you choose to attempt it then a) I wish you luck! and b) let me know how it turns out!***