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About This Recipe
You guys! This has to be one of the most fun and useful meal ideas to date! Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Nuggets. Yes, grilled nuggets made in the AIR FRYER. In a pickle brine! Say what?!
These pickle nuggets are absolutely delicious and way better (and cheaper) than fast food. This is 100% about to be your new favorite air fryer chicken recipe!
Have you heard of people using pickle juice as a brine before? The acid in pickle juice acts as a brine to keep your chicken’s moisture locked inside. And the slight tanginess from the pickle juice itself brings the perfect amount of flavor. It’s truly not overpowering, just a slight tang!
And this recipe is so easy. It’s made with just a few simple ingredients and is truly fool proof. The key is to not overcook the chicken. Otherwise, these are very straightforward and simple to make!
You can even dip in one of my favorite things, my Chick-fil-A Honey BBQ Sauce. Either way you choose, these nuggets are going to make for a delicious meal!
Why You’ll Love These Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Nuggets
- They’re the most tender, moist and delicious chicken nuggets you’ve ever had!
- One of my all time favorite air fryer recipes! A total Chick-fil-A copycat recipe!
- Super easy to prep. Just dice the chicken and place in pickle juice!
- Two easy cooking methods: toss them on the grill or pop in the air fryer.
- You can pair them with almost anything! PERFECT for meal prep!
- Kid AND adult friendly. The whole family LOVES these.
- Chicken – I used boneless skinless chicken breast. You could use chicken thighs as well if you prefer. We’ll cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Pickle juice
- Seasonings: salt, smoked paprika (can sub for chili powder for more kick), and brown sugar. You can also add black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, or other seasonings of choice for additional flavor.
How To Make
The full printable recipe is below, but let me walk you through the process so you know what to expect when you’re making it!
1. Add your chicken cubes to your large ziplock bag (or bowl) along with the pickle juice and seasonings. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours. Remove chicken from the brine and lightly pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all over with salt and smoked paprika.
2. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Add the chicken in a single layer and spray the top with cooking spray. Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing halfway through.
For this recipe, I have tested an air fryer and grill, but you should be able to cook in a pan or in the oven just fine!
- Air fryer / 375°F / 8-10 minutes – This is probably the easiest method and the one we do most often.
- Grill / 450°F / 3 minutes each side – Just as easy as using the air fryer. I also love getting those grill marks!
- Oven / 400°F / 16-18 minutes – Place your chicken pickle nuggets on a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the preheated oven. I would flip halfway through.
- Stovetop / Medium-heat / 4-5 minutes each side – Add to a heated pan and cook for 4-5 minutes untouched. Then, flip and cook another 4-5 minutes.
It’s important to note that cooking times will vary based on the size of the chicken you use. Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. I like to remove the chicken from the heat when it reaches 155°F. Carryover cooking will ensure chicken reaches 165°F.
You can also always slice a nugget in half, and as long as chicken is no longer pink, it’s good!
How long does the chicken need to marinate in the pickle brine?
At least 30 minutes is best, but even if did 5, they’ll still be good.
Do you taste the pickle?
To me, you really don’t! The pickle juice gives them a slight tang, but it’s really not overpowering at all. I definitely still think you would love these even if you hate pickles.
What do these chicken nuggets taste like?
They taste similar to Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets and air fryer naked chicken tenders.
What’s the best way to cook these chicken pickle nuggets?
I love to use the air fryer, but there is definitely a way to fit how your kitchen works! I share options for the oven, grill, air fryer, and stove top in the post above.
How do I prevent my pickle chicken nuggets from becoming dry?
As with any cooked chicken, the key to this recipe is to not overcook the chicken. For best results, take chicken out when internal temperature reaches 155 F. Carryover cooking will ensure chicken reaches 165°F.
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup pickle juice (120g)
- 1 tsp brown sugar optional
- 1/2 tsp black pepper optional
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
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- Add your chicken cubes to your large ziplock bag (or bowl) along with the pickle juice. Add the brown sugar and black pepper now too if using (I don't taste a huge difference either way!) Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Remove chicken from the brine and lightly pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle all over with the salt and smoked paprika.
Air Fryer Method:
- Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Add the chicken in a single layer and spray the top with cooking spray. Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing halfway through.
- Set grill to medium heat (~450°F). Spray grill with cooking spray. Add the chicken in a single layer and spray the top with cooking spray. Cook chicken for 3 minutes, then flip, and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through (155°F internal temperature).
Nutrition is hand-calculated and accurate. No autocalulations! However, note that values can vary based on the brands you use and if you substitute ingredients.