6 Unexpected Chick-fil-A Grilled Nugget Twists You Must Try

Last update:

From Burger King’s Chicken Fries and Sonic Jumbo’s Popcorn Chicken to McDonald’s classic Chicken McNuggets, everyone seems to have their own opinion on which nuggets are the best. 

I’ve had my fair share of chicken nuggets, and I have to say — among everything I’ve tried, I think that Chick-fil-A’s grilled nuggets are supreme. And I’ll tell you why. 

For one, they’re grilled, so they’re much healthier than their fried counterparts.

For another (and more important) reason, these nuggets don’t rely on pretenses or fluff. They’re raw and real, which is exactly what I want in my chicken nuggets. 

As much as I’d like to eat Chick-fil-A’s grilled nuggets every day of the week, it’s just not practical. So, I’ll settle for the next best thing: I’ll make them at home.

Not only will I recreate this classic side dish, but I will also try to put my own spin on things.

1. Copycat Chick-fil-A Grilled Nuggets

Before we head into some of my quirkier renditions of these nuggets, let’s first take a look at the original version. 

Some fast-food chains are protective of their recipes. Fortunately, Chick-fil-A’s grilled nuggets are the complete opposite.

They lay everything on the table when it comes to flavor, making it easy for loyal customers like me to make it at home. 

While I can’t guarantee that this is actually what they use, the taste is pretty darn close, so I’ll consider this recipe a success.

If you want to recreate this too, here’s what you’ll need:

Four boneless chicken breasts, a three-fourths cup of pickle juice, a third cup of milk, two teaspoons of powdered sugar, salt, and black pepper, a tablespoon of garlic powder, and two tablespoons of olive oil. 

Once you’ve assembled your ingredients, cut your chicken breasts into 1” cubes. Then, place them in a large ziplock bag and set them aside.

While your chicken cubes are resting, make your marinade. For this step, all you have to do is whisk the ingredients (minus the olive oil) and pour the mixture into the same ziplock bag.

Seal it up nice and tight before shaking it lightly. You’ll want to make sure that every piece is coated before putting it in the fridge to chill.

Although the best-case scenario is to let the flavors marinate overnight, you can take the bag out of the fridge in as little as 20 minutes. Do this only if you don’t have enough time to spare or are too hungry to wait.

After that, take out your chicken cubes and let the excess juices drip. Place them on the hot grill and cook them for about three to five minutes. Flip them around and do the same to the other side. 

You’ll know the nuggets are ready when you see the grill lines start to form. 

When that happens, take them off the heat and serve them with the iconic Chick-fil-A sauce — which is essentially a blend of honey mustard, BBQ, and ranch.

So, any time you’re craving a box of nuggets, don’t order in or drive to the nearest restaurant. Instead, go to your kitchen and make it yourself. As you can see, it’s really not that hard.

2. Spicy Grilled Nuggets

Now, what if you’re craving the flavors of the classic Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets, but you want it spicy? What do you do?

You have a couple of options here: (1) you can recreate the Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets and just pair them with a spicy dipping sauce. Or (2), make spicy grilled nuggets from scratch. 

If you’re feeling lazy, go with Option #1… But if you want something to really give you the heat that you’re looking for, go for Option #2. And I’ve got just the recipe for you. 

Start by grabbing your ingredients. These include two pounds of chicken breast (cut into 1” pieces), a cup of buttermilk, two tablespoons of hot sauce, and a tablespoon of paprika.

But that’s not all. You’ll also need a teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder, and some salt and pepper to taste. 

Once you have everything you need, add your chicken nuggets to a bowl with your buttermilk and hot sauce mixture. Leave them in for at least an hour.

One hour later, take your chicken pieces out and pat them dry using a paper towel. Set them aside for a bit as you prepare the spice rub. 

For this step, simply mix your spices (garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika) in a bowl. Then, sprinkle in some salt and pepper for added flavor. 

Grab your marinated chicken again and toss them in your spice blend. Make sure every inch is coated because you want that spice in every bite.

Once you’re satisfied with the flavoring, place your seasoned chicken nuggets on the grill and cook them for four to five minutes per side. 

After they’re finished, you can give it a taste. If you find that the spice level is not up to par, drizzle more cayenne pepper on top or get yourself a spicy sauce.

Tabasco and Sriracha are the typical players for this recipe, but if you want to try other sauces, I highly recommend Tapatio, Louisiana Hot Sauce, and Cholula.

3. Garlic Parmesan Grilled Nuggets

Besides the spicy version, I also want to experiment with the garlic Parmesan and grilled nuggets pairing. 

I figure that since there are garlic parmesan flavored chicken wings and tenders, and garlic Parmesan sauces and dips, why not make garlic Parmesan grilled nuggets? 

Which brings us to this recipe.

To make this, get two pounds of chicken breast (cut into 1” pieces), half a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of grated Parmesan cheese, four minced garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of chopped parsley.

The process is pretty straightforward. Just marinate your chicken with the mixture of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and garlic for an hour minimum.

After that, take the chicken cubes out of the liquid and grill them for about four to five minutes. Drizzle some salt and pepper on top before turning them around to do the same on the other side.

Finish them off with a sprinkle of more Parmesan cheese and garlic powder, and you’ve got straight-out-of-the-grill Garlic Parmesan nuggets. 

I honestly don’t know why fast-food chains don’t offer this yet. It seems like an obvious flavor combo seeing as garlic Parmesan is such a common theme in many casual dining restaurants.

Perhaps now’s our chance to start a trend of offering nuggets in more flavors than just regular and spicy.

4. Truffle Parmesan Grilled Nuggets

Garlic Parmesan is just the beginning. There are a lot more unusual (yet delicious) combos we can try when making grilled nuggets at home. And this truffle Parmesan recipe is coming up next.

if you have expensive taste, this recipe is one of the easiest ways to upgrade your chicken nuggets to the status of fancy and sophisticated without breaking the bank.

Do you know why? Because this recipe only calls for five ingredients: two pounds of chicken breast, a quarter cup of truffle oil and Parmesan, two minced garlic cloves, and your usual seasoning (salt and pepper).

Remember, fancy doesn’t always equal more. It typically signifies quality. That said, try to get top-of-the-line ingredients to enhance the authenticity of the experience.

Once you have everything you need, lay them out on your table, and follow the same steps you’ve been doing for the past three recipes.

Firstly, mix your truffle oil, Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic in a bowl.

Secondly, coat your chicken cubes in this mixture for as long as you can. But if you’re pressed for time, 30 minutes to an hour will do. 

Finally, grill your chicken nuggets for no more than five minutes on each side. The last thing you want is to burn your delicious creation. As such, don’t overcook your nuggets. 

Given truffle’s potent taste and aroma, it will be the most prominent flavor in this dish. So, are you ready to taste the richness of this recipe?

5. Grilled Nuggets With Orange Glaze

Of course, we can’t just experiment with Western flavors. We should also look for inspiration from Asian cuisine to reimagine Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets, and this is one of the recipes I think we should try.

Although orange glaze has Chinese origins, this flavor has become quite popular in the States, all thanks to Panda Express. And now, we get to recreate it at home!

To start, grab four boneless chicken breasts, a cup of orange marmalade, half a cup of BBQ sauce, three tablespoons of soy sauce, and some salt and pepper. 

Afterward, cut your chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season both sides with salt and pepper before grilling for three to five minutes per side. 

Now, let your grilled nuggets rest as you prepare the glaze. 

For this part, you can do it one of two ways. 

Either you mix your orange marmalade, BBQ sauce, and soy sauce in a pan on medium heat until it’s smooth and even, or heat them in the microwave for 45 seconds. It’s up to you.

In any case, toss your grilled nuggets in the warmed sauce, and they’re ready to enjoy!

I can never get enough of this recipe, because it’s super quick to make and it doesn’t require a lot of effort, making it perfect for lazy days and Sundays.

Also, depending on my mood (and appetite), I can munch on it as a snack or put it over a cup of steamed rice to make it a full-blown meal.

6. Salted Egg Grilled Nuggets

Every recipe thus far has been easy peasy, right? Well, for this last recipe, put your chef hat on, because it’s going to get a lot more complicated. 

But I promise you, it’s a challenge you’d want to take. Even if these salted egg grilled nuggets take a lot of time and effort, it’ll all be worth it in the end. You’ll see.

If you’re ready, let’s hop to it!

The main ingredients you’ll need are a pound of chicken thigh or breast fillet (cut into nugget sizes) and 12 pieces of fried Thai basil leaves.

Then, for the marinade, get half a cup of salted egg powder, two tablespoons of any oil, and some spices like two teaspoons of smoked paprika, and a teaspoon of garlic powder.

Wait, there’s more. This recipe also calls for a salted egg sauce, which means you’ll need:

Two tablespoons of any oil of your choice, half a cup of melted butter, one to two red onions, and half a cup of salted egg (either powdered or in yolks). 

Plus, if you like it spicy, you can add four to five chopped red chili peppers to your sauce. If not, feel free to skip this ingredient.

First things first, combine your marinade ingredients to make a salted egg mixture. Then, transfer it to a food-safe container and toss in your chicken pieces.

Shake the container lightly to coat every piece and let it chill for at least an hour, or overnight for the best results.

Once the timer’s up, turn up your grill and start grilling. Place your seasoned chicken nuggets on top and cook them per usual. Take them off the heat when there are grill marks all around and set them aside.

Meanwhile, make your sauce by sautéing your onions and red chilis in oil and melted butter until they become aromatic.

After that, put in your salted egg powder or mashed salted egg yolks and stir until mixed. When it’s all combined, get your grilled chicken nuggets and gently roll them in the sauce. 

To finish, sprinkle your fried basil leaves on top, and you’ve got yourself salted egg grilled nuggets that are to die for!

To me, any salted egg-flavored food can be a hit or miss. While some nail it on the head, others miss it completely. 

This recipe is a win for me because there’s salted egg in every step. So, you’re sure to taste it in every bite. 

Which Grilled Nugget Recipe Are You Most Excited To Try?

Recreating the well-loved grilled nuggets from Chick-fil-A has been a blast. I learned so much along the way and discovered new ways to enjoy this side dish. 

And hopefully, you will, too!

Whether you’re going for the simple garlic Parmesan twist or something more extreme like the salted egg interpretation, you’re sure to have so much fun in the kitchen. 

Let me know in the comments which one’s your favorite.

Sofia Exconde Avatar


Leave a Comment