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Copycat Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets in the Air Fryer

It’s my pleasure to bring you a Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets copycat recipe with 27 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, and 1 gram of fat per serving. Now you can skip the long lines and dig into juicy little chicken nuggets from the comfort of your own home. I’ve also included a 2-ingredient honey BBQ sauce that gets you even closer to the real deal! 

Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets copycat on a black plate with honey bbq dipping sauce

How to Make Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets in an Air Fryer

This is a super easy recipe, despite a 30-60 minute stint in a marinade. It’s a spin on Simplistically Living’s Chick Fil A grilled nuggets which calls for pan frying and a slightly different seasoning blend. All you’ll need for this version is:

  • diced chicken breast
  • pickle juice and a milk of your choice 
  • powdered sugar
  • garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper

And that’s it! I’ll walk you through the recipe below and go over a few ingredient modifications and air frying tips along the way. You’ll find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post as always.

Step 1: Soak diced chicken breast in pickle juice and milk for 30-60 minutes.

diced chicken breast in pickle juice and milk

The beauty of diced chicken (or any meat) is that you get so much more surface area for seasoning to latch onto. That means more flavor in every bite, making a marinade a little less vital for flavor. Still, I’d encourage you not to skip the pickle juice and milk bath. 

I went with skim milk, but you could use any type of milk here. I like the idea of buttermilk like in my spicy baked chicken tenderloins or crispy buttermilk pan fried chicken breast recipes. 

If you don’t have pickle juice on hand, you could swap it for a little vinegar and broth or something else pickled like jalapeño peppers. You could also add some fresh citrus juice like in my air fryer Greek chicken and potatoes, though that will alter the flavor profile a bit. 

Step 2: Drain the chicken and season with powdered sugar, black pepper, smoked paprika, salt, and garlic powder.

diced chicken breast drained before adding the seasoning

You want to drain the chicken well, but you don’t need to pat it dry like instructed for my recently published air fryer chicken tenders. A little moisture is okay here since you won’t be adding any oil. 

seasoned chicken breast nuggets before air frying

You shouldn’t have any clumping or loose seasoning in the bowl. If you do, you probably didn’t drain the diced chicken well enough. You could drain any remaining liquid and add a bit more seasoning if you run into that scenario. 

As far as the seasoning blend goes, your guess is as good as mine as to what Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets are really seasoned with. They supposedly use powdered sugar for their classic chicken nuggets so it doesn’t seem far fetched that could extend to the grilled chicken nuggets as well.

Whether it’s 100% accurate or not, the seasoning blend gets darn close and the powdered sugar really works. Just trust me on this one! 

Side note: For 6 other flavors, check out my full air fryer chicken nuggets recipe guide.

Step 3: Air fry the nuggets at 400ºF for 10-12 minutes.

copycat Chick Fil A grilled nuggets in the Instant Pot Air Fryer basket

I tested this recipe in the Instant Pot Air Fryer combo and 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi. Different models/sizes of air fryers may have different cook times, but I doubt it’s that far off.

One note I’ve added to the recipe card below is that you can broil your nuggets for a few minutes at the end of cooking if you’d like them a bit crispier around the edges. The broil function is one of my favorite things about the Instant Pot and Foodi. It allows you to add some crispy edges to proteins like my pork tenderloin carnitas or spicy bbq pulled pork without drying them out.

And there you have it, Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets ready to be dipped and enjoyed! 

air fried nuggets on a plate with a small cup of honey bbq dipping sauce

How to Make These Nuggets without an Air Fryer

You could pan fry the nuggets over medium heat for 6-8 minutes with a splash of olive oil or cooking spray like my pan fried buffalo chicken bites. Or if you’d rather bake them, I’d start with 400ºF for 15-18 minutes directly on a baking sheet. The baked chicken tenderloins I mentioned above use this time and temperature, as an example. 

Serving Your Grilled Chick-Fil-A Nuggets

Speaking of dip, I like to mix honey mustard and BBQ sauce for these Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets and chicken of all kinds. I think it tastes just like their honey roasted barbecue sauce. If you’re looking for the classic sauce, check out this copycat Chick Fil A sauce from Build Your Bite. 

You could also swap the brown sugar in this spicy mustard for Swerve brown or another zero-calorie sweetener for an awesome sauce.

And while I don’t have a copycat Chick-Fil-A fries recipe, I think you’d really dig my copycat Five Guys cajun fries and spicy air fryer sweet potato fries recipes.

Okay, that should be everything you need to know. If you have a recipe question I forgot to cover, drop a comment at the bottom of the post. And once you try and love these grilled Chick-Fil-A nuggets, I always appreciate a good recipe review. Enjoy! 

air fried nuggets on a plate with a small cup of honey bbq dipping sauce

Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets Copycat

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Tender pieces of chicken breast air fried with a copycat Chick-Fil-A seasoning blend.


  • 1 lb Chicken Breast, diced
  • 1/2 C (120mL) Pickle Juice
  • 1/4 C (60mL) Skim Milk
  • 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika


  1. Mix the pickle juice and milk together before adding the diced chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes (or overnight).
  2. Drain the chicken before adding a mixture of the remaining ingredients. Once evenly coated, transfer to an air fryer basket.
  3. Air fry for 10-12 minutes at 400ºF until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165ºF. If you'd like your nuggets a bit crispier, you can use the broil function for a few minutes to add crisp them up without drying out the chicken.


*I used the Instant Pot Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker Combo. Different air fryers may require slight modifications to cook time.

For the Honey BBQ Sauce, mix 1-2 Tbsp honey mustard with 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce.

Nutrition Information Notes

  • Each serving of chicken nuggets has 0 WW SmartPoints. The entire recipe has 1 SmartPoint (blue).
  • The nutrition facts include the pickle juice and milk marinade.
  • Nutrition facts do not include the Honey BBQ Sauce.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Servings Serving Size: 1 Serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135Total Fat: 1gCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 27g

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Sunday 12th of February 2023

Make these weekly for meal prep with veggies and potatoes or rice. They. Are. So. Good. The copycat chickfila sauce is the perfection!


Wednesday 13th of April 2022

Your copycat recipe has milk - I have a son with severe milk allergies - the Chic-Fil-A website says there are no milk allergens and I can confirm that because my son can eat them and has no problems. I don't think your recipe needs milk.

Mason Woodruff

Friday 15th of April 2022

Wouldn't recommend making these chicken nuggets then.


Monday 29th of November 2021

I haven't made these in a while and forgot how good and easy they are to make!! Perfect for meal prep! I use the chick FIL a Polynesian sauce as a dipper though cause it's the goat.

Taylor Lutz

Saturday 27th of November 2021

LOVE these nuggets. Such a healthy and delicious snack to make for football games, parties, events, etc. so easy to make too!! Definitely will continue making these for a longggg time :P


Friday 8th of October 2021

What and how much can you substitute for pickle juice

Mason Woodruff

Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Something salty and acidic (vinegar). Brine from any other pickled pepper or vegetable would probably work well without changing the flavor too much. Lemon juice with a little salt would change the flavor profile, but the Chick-Fil-A egg white grill has the lemon flavor that people seem to enjoy.

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