Does Chick Fil A Soak Their Chicken In Pickle Juice?

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What You Need To Make Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • Dill pickle juice
  • Milk
  • Powdered Sugar (yes, really!)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder or Garlic Salt
  • Paprika
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Stovetop Pan
  • Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil

Chick-fil-A nuggets taste so good because they use high-quality chicken

Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed

There’s a reason that Chick-fil-A chicken tastes so much better than their competitors: They’re focused on sourcing really good chicken. They hold themselves to rigorous standards, only choosing chickens that are raised cage-free no fillers, steroids, or hormones. By the end of 2019, they also promise to source chickens that are free of antibiotics

It’s not just about how the chicken was raised, either. Chick-fil-A makes a point to use whole chicken breasts instead of ones that have been ground or separated. That means that, when you bit into a Chick-fil-A chicken nugget, you’ll be able to see real meat instead of ground product. According to Eat This, Not That!, they also choose smaller birds because they “like the texture that comes from the smaller bird.” Smaller chickens tend to have more tender meat, which leads to a juicier, more flavorful chicken nugget.

Pickles play a big part

Every Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is made with two dill pickle chips—an essential ingredient! To make the chips, cucumber slices are marinated for three days before ripening into crisp and delicious pickles. Obsessed with pickles? You've gotta try these recipes.

That tidbit about soaking pickles has led to speculation about how Chick-fil-A chicken gets so juicy. Many bloggers and Chick-fil-A regulars believe that the chicken breast in the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is brined in pickle juice before it's breaded and fried. This theory makes sense because pickle juice contains salt. This key ingredient helps carry moisture and flavor deep into the chicken in the same way it would help flavor a cucumber.

A soak in a salty liquid would also cause some proteins in chicken breast to break down, so you're left with less stringy chicken and more juicy breast meat. The bright salty flavor and extra tender meat that result from brining are consistent with what we expect from this chicken-focused fast food chain! We also expect excellent service! It's no wonder that Chick-fil-A has the best customer service in America.

How to Make Chick-fil-a Nuggets

The basic steps for making chicken nuggets are simple to follow. Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

Cut the Chicken

Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. You want to try for about 1-inch squares.

It is important that they are all a similar size so they cook up evenly.

Brine in Pickle Juice

In a large bowl combine pickle juice, milk, and eggs with a whisk. Add in the chicken and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

You can also marinate it for a few hours or even up to overnight. But do note, the longer the chicken sits in the juice, the more salt it will absorb. Be sure to adjust the amount of salt you use in the breadcrumb coating if you marinate on the longer side.

Coat chicken in breadcrumbs.
Coat chicken in breadcrumbs.

Toss in Crumbs

Whisk together flour, breadcrumbs, powdered sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika in a separate large bowl.

Pick up a few pieces of chicken with tongs and allow any excess marinade to drain off. Place the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture and toss them around until all of the pieces are well coated. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated. You may have more breadcrumbs than you need.

It is important to only do a few pieces of chicken at a time so you don’t end up with an eggy mess in the breadcrumb coating. Another way to avoid this is to divide the bowl of breadcrumb coating into two separate bowls so you can have some clean crumbs towards the end of coating.

Coat chicken in breadcrumbs.
Coat chicken in breadcrumbs.
Remove with tongs.
Remove with tongs.

Pan-Fry in Skillet

Cooking these nuggets in the skillet will give you the most authentic Chick-fil-a flavor. While it is a bit healthier since we’re not using as much oil, it is not the healthiest option. If you’d like that, please see below for the Air Fryer Instructions.

Pour the peanut oil into a large skillet over medium heat. You want just enough so that it coats the bottom of the skillet. Once the oil is sizzling-hot, shake off any excess coating from each nugget and place half of them in a single layer in the pan.

Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and crispy. Halfway through, flip the chicken using a spatula, and not tongs, so the coating doesn’t rub off.

Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and let it drain on a paper towel lined plate. Drizzle in an additional tablespoon or two of oil and repeat the process using the remaining chicken nuggets.

Pan fry the chicken nuggets.
Pan fry the chicken nuggets.
Remove and place on a paper towel.
Remove and place on a paper towel.

-OR- Cook in Air Fryer

Preheat a 6-quart air fryer to 380°F. Prepare the grate by greasing it with peanut oil.

Arrange the nuggets in a single layer in the basket. Brush the nuggets with more peanut oil and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over, coat with more peanut oil, and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

You can also spray the nuggets with non-stick cooking spray instead of peanut oil for even less fat.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long do these nuggets last? 

If they are stored properly in an airtight container they can last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. 

Can I use vegetable oil instead? 

Yes, you can use any high-heat flavorless oil for frying. 

Any suggestions on reheating these?

Place the nuggets in a warm oven for a few minutes to reheat. About 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

Can you be more specific about barbecue sauce as there are many variations?

Of course! Go with a sweet tomato-based “southern style” barbecue sauce like Stubbs.

How long does Chick Fil A brine their chicken

Answered By: Steven Robinson Date: created: Jan 29 2021

two hoursMy normal brine for chicken breasts lasts for anywhere from half an hour to two hours. In this case, however, a much, much longer brining time was necessary in order to match the saltiness level of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich along with that uniquely smooth, juicy texture.

Asked By: Francis Jackson Date: created: Jan 20 2021


Okay… Seriously? SERIOUSLY!? Are we really having this conversation right now? Alright… If we must.

So in truth, several times lately I have seen people asking the question “what is Chick-fil-a and where can I find one?”

To quickly bring everyone up to speed… Chick-fil-a is a fast food company headquartered in the state of Georgia. They’ve been in business since 1964 and specialize in anything and everything chicken.

The cornerstone of their business is their fried chicken sandwich, topped with two dill pickle slices, and waffle fries.

If you’ve never eat at one (or heard of one, for that matter) their food is very good but pricey, in my opinion. The bad news is, you won’t find much on their menu that is low-carb, much less keto.

And last, but not least, don’t forget… Whatever you may ask of a Chick-fil-a employee, it’s their pleasure.

Dont forget to prepare Chick-fil-As signature honey mustard dipping sauce

Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed Lindsay D. Mattison/Mashed

You can whip up this copycat Chick-fil-A honey mustard dipping sauce while the chicken is frying, or you can make it in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat. Either way, a trip to Chick-fil-A is never complete without a side of dipping sauce, and honey mustard is the perfect accompaniment to these crispy nuggets

There is definitely a surprise ingredient in this honey mustard. You would think that a sauce with two words in its title would have two ingredients, but it also contains mayonnaise. Yes, mayo is what gives the sauce its creamy consistency. Add in regular yellow mustard for some zesty flavor, and honey to sweeten things out. A splash of rice vinegar (or, lemon juice if you prefer) adds a touch of tang to really bring the sauce together.

Psst: Want to upgrade this dipping sauce and make Chick-fil-A sauce? Take 1/2 cup of the honey mustard sauce and add 1-1/2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce to it. Swirl in 1/8 teaspoon buffalo hot sauce and a splash of lemon juice, and voila! 


Yes, it’s true. The dill pickle juice imparts a delicious flavor to the nuggets. The salt in the juice is able to “dig down” into the meat, bringing out the flavor of the chicken during cooking.

In fact, dill pickle juice makes a great chicken marinade in general, not just for these nuggets. And, if you’ve had Chick-fil-a chicken in the past, know that they brine all of their chicken in dill pickle juice before cooking.

Fun fact!

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Similar in size. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook at the same rate.
  • Give it an hour. If you have the time, let the chicken marinate in pickle juice for at least an hour for the most authentic Chick-fil-a flavor.
  • Use tongs. This allows the excess marinade to drain from the chicken and makes it easier to shake off the extra coating before cooking.
  • Go nuts. Frying the chicken in peanut oil results in the best taste.
  • Serve with sauce. Make sure to pair these nuggets with the classic dip for the full experience!

Recent Comments

How to Substitute Buttermilk

You can use 1 beaten egg along with 1/2 cup of milk instead of buttermilk in this recipe. That’s actually similar to what Chick-fil-A uses, but I find that buttermilk helps produce a thicker crust. Use what you prefer.

If you opt for this method, marinate and brine the chicken in pickle juice only. After 30 minutes, combine the beaten egg and milk. Dredge the chicken in the egg and milk mixture and then into the seasoned flour.

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Why is Pickle Juice Used?

Pickle juice has a lot of salt. It has often been used to brine chicken because salt will help carry moisture throughout the chicken to produce juicy chicken breasts. Have you ever wondered how the breast gets so juicy?!

Coupled with an air fried breast, you truly can’t go wrong.

Copycat Recipe Tips

Here are the tips I collected for making a perfect Homemade Chick Fil A Nuggets and Chick Fil A Sauce Recipe…

  1. Brine the chicken chunks in pickle juice. This helps give the chicken flavor, and it’s ultra-moist texture.
  2. Season the flour mixture heavily. Don’t worry about there being too much salt or seasoning in the flour. Most of it gets shaken off anyway.
  3. Double dip the chicken. Chicken needs two layers of flour, with egg wash in between, in order to properly crust the chicken and give it a crunchy coating. The first layer of flour should be very thin. Once wet, it acts as the glue that holds the second layer of flour to the chicken chunks.
  4. Let the chicken rest before frying. One former Chick-Fil-A cook said that the longer the chicken sits between coating and frying, the better. Allowing the breaded chicken some rest time helps the breading hold-tight to the chicken, not bubble, and fall off. By double-dipping all the pieces and placing them on a drying rack before heating the oil, you give the chicken and breading time to become one, so to speak.
  5. Create nooks and crannies. Another secret Chick-Fil-A trick is to add a little bit of the egg wash to the flour mixture before the second dredge. By mixing the egg wash into the flour with your fingers, you create tiny crumbs that will hold onto the chicken in the second dunk.
  6. Fry in peanut oil. Peanut oil helps give Chick-fil-A nuggets their special flavor and texture. If you have a nut allergy, feel free to use canola oil. However, Chick-Fil-A insists their peanut oil is specially refined to remove nut proteins and therefore is allergen-free.
  7. Dip in Chick-Fil-A Sauce! It’s not just the chicken, but the sauce as well, that makes Chick-Fil-A so great. Guess what, you can make your own at home!

Today’s Homemade Chick Fil A Nuggets and Sau

Today’s Homemade Chick Fil A Nuggets and Sauce Recipe is as close to the original as I could possibly make it. These little guys are crispy, juicy, and utterly irresistible.

You can save a bundle on party platters by making several batches of this Homemade Chick Fil A Nuggets and Chick Fil A Sauce Recipe for your events. Your guests will never know the difference… Unless you tell them!


  1. First, start by cutting up your boneless skinless chicken breasts. You want to make sure they are bite-sized. Also, this is a good time to remove any fat from the chicken and discard it.
  2. Next, take your chicken and place it into a large baggie or bowl along with the pickle juice and milk. Allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes although overnight is ideal.
  3. Next, remove your chicken from the mixture and lay onto paper towels. Pat dry. Drain the excess milk and pickle juice.
  4. Next, heat your saucepan to medium-high and drizzle in some olive oil or sunflower oil.
  5. Now, add your powdered sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and seasoned salt into a bowl with the chicken. Combine.
  6. Now, throw your chicken into the heated pan and cook about 8-10 minutes while constantly tossing to cook evenly. Depending on your stove, you may need more time to cook to ensure it’s cooked throughly.
  7. Once cooked, remove from heat and serve up with some homemade honey mustard sauce. You can of course, use up all those extra sauce packets you have lying around!

Does Chick Fil A use dill pickles

Answered By: John Richardson Date: created: Nov 22 2020

Every Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich is made with two dill pickle chips—an essential ingredient! To make the chips, cucumber slices are marinated for three days before ripening into crisp and delicious pickles.