This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated with new tips, new copy, and an in depth video.
Miss the fried chicken that Chick Fil A is famous for? This Gluten Free Chick Fil A Copycat Recipe is so much like the real deal, it'll fool everyone!
When I first found out I had celiac disease, one of the first foods I mourned (believe it or not) was Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches and nuggets. Sure, they have grilled chicken sandwiches (now with a gluten free bun even, which isn't too bad I have to admit).
But Chick-fil-A isn't one of the most (or THE most) successful fast food joints because of their grilled chicken. Besides their mad drive thru skills that could rule the world, they excel at FRIED chicken, plain and simple. Theirs is such a unique recipe that every Chick-fil-A always has a line wrapped around the building and sometimes overlapping for the drive thru. They are just so popular around here. And for good reason.
What's Different About Chick Fil A Chicken?
I think the biggest difference in their chicken from all the other fast food joints is that their nuggets and chicken sandwiches aren't super crispy. They're just crispy enough (not soggy), but otherwise the coating is tender and light. And the flavor is very unique.
Of course the taste, and not just the texture, far outweighs all other chicken, in my opinion. That, combined with superior customer service ("my pleasure") and they've got a loyal following that will come back on Monday when they're closed on Sunday.
what you'll need to make chick fil a Copycat
So what's in their chicken that makes it so addicting? I went to Chick-fil-A's website and looked at the ingredients and, mostly, the ingredients are pretty similar to any other breaded chicken, with the exception of a few. Then I tried a copycat recipe (modifying to be gluten free) by a well-known chef (J. Kenji Lopez-Alt) that used all those same ingredients listed on Chick-fil-A's website and was so spot on, I never looked back.
- Kim's gluten free all purpose flour blend -- a store bought blend may be substituted, but hasn't been tested.
- Dry milk powder -- the dry milk powder is added to the breading because Chick Fil A has it listed on their website as part of the breading.
- MSG -- this is optional, but it is also listed on their website as part of the breading. If you think MSG is bad for you, I urge you to please read this article about how MSG got a bad rap.
- Sugar -- while not traditional in breaded chicken, sugar is listed as an ingredient on Chick Fil A's own website so it's in this recipe.
how to make the famous fried chicken Copycat
- Brine the chicken. Whether making sandwiches or nuggets, they'll need to be brined. Mix together the kosher salt and sugar in a quart of water until dissolved. Add the chicken and cover; refrigerate up to six hours.
- Make spice mixture. Combine spices in a small box and set aside.
- Prepare wet mixture. Whisk together milk and eggs in shallow bowl.
- Prepare dry breading. Whisk together flour, nonfat dry milk powder, baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in a large shallow bowl to combine. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the wet mixture into the dry breading and rub with your fingertips until the flour is like wet sand.
- Dredge the chicken. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry. Toss it with the remaining spice mixture. Dip chicken in the wet mixture and allow excess to drip off. Transfer to the dry mixture and press down firmly to adhere as much as possible. Shake off any excess and place on baking sheet in single layer.
- Fry. Heat oil in a Dutch oven to 330 degrees F. Fry chicken for 2-3 minutes for nuggets and 4-5 minutes for cutlets. Remove from oil to a wire rack to keep crisp while you finish frying all the chicken.
Gluten Free Chick Fil A Copycat Recipe FAQs
The fast food chain uses peanut oil, so peanut is best. But canola or vegetable oil will also work just fine.
That is a myth that's been going on for quite a long time. If you check the website, nowhere does it state pickle juice in the ingredients listed in their fried chicken.
No. While that is what Chick Fil A uses, it's not necessary to obtain the same results at home. A simple Dutch oven filled with oil works perfectly.
more gluten free Copycat recipes
- Gluten Free Copycat Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce
- Gluten Free Crescent Roll Dough (A Pillsbury Copycat Recipe)
- Curry Chicken Salad (A Whole Foods Copycat Recipe)
- Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa
- Gluten Free Maple Walnut Blondies (Applebee's Copycat)
- Gluten Free Samoas (A Girl Scout Cookie Copycat Recipe)
- Gluten Free 'Ohana Pineapple Bread (A Disney Copycat Recipe)
make ahead options
I love, love, love this recipe so much that I quite often will buy a large package of chicken and stock my freezer with ready-to-fry Chick-Fil-A nuggets and cutlets. When we want something for lunch or dinner that's quick and easy, we just break out a package and fry them up! Here's how I do it:
- Bread all the chicken and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the sheet tray in the freezer until the chicken is solid, which will take anywhere from one hour to three, depending on the temperature of your freezer and the size of your chicken pieces.
- Store the frozen chicken in ziptop bags or an airtight container.
- When ready to fry, remove as much chicken from freezer as needed and deep fry as recipe instructs, adding 2 minutes to the fry time.
how to make a gluten free chick fil a sandwich
With my Gluten Free Hamburger Buns, you can replicate a Chick Fil A sandwich pretty remarkably. In fact, I served it to my husband and he couldn't tell the difference! And he eats gluten all the time. To me, that's the ultimate compliment.
To serve a gluten free chicken sandwich, make the bun and cut it in half. Spread it with softened butter on both sides and place on a griddle or in a skillet over medium heat to "toast." If you like pickles on your sandwich, place two dill pickle slices on the bottom bun, top with the fried chicken piece, and place the bun on top. Or add mayonnaise to the top bun.
what about gluten free chick fil a for breakfast?
You didn't think I'd forget about breakfast, did you? Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and to say this chicken is outstanding on a gluten free biscuit is a complete understatement. Have you tried any of my gluten free biscuit recipes yet? They're definitely superior to any gluten-filled biscuit you'd find at a fast food restaurant and any of them will make a great breakfast sandwich!
For a quick and easy, but delicious option, choose my gluten free cream biscuits or even my gluten free basil cream biscuits. But if you want a more traditional buttermilk biscuit, try my gluten free buttermilk biscuits, which will take a little longer to make, but are still quite easy to make and are probably better than any biscuit you've ever had.
reheating already fried chicken
While I doubt you'll have many leftovers when making this chicken, there are those times when are eyes are bigger than our stomach, right?!?! Never fear because you can re-fry leftover fried chicken, in oil or in an air fryer.
Bring the leftover chicken to room temperature and heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil and fry for just 1-2 minutes. It might turn out a little darker than it normally is when first fried, but that's okay because it will still be so good that no one will care.
To reheat using an air fryer, start the same way by making sure the chicken is at room temp. Preheat the air fryer to 425 degrees F and air fry for 2-3 minutes, or until just heated through.
but wait, there's more!
I knew I'd get this question once I posted this recipe, so I tested it beforehand just to make sure it worked. The answer to the question is a resounding...YES! The question is...Can I air fry instead?
I get it. No one wants to lug out a big huge pot and fill it with tons of oil, which can get messy, not to mention wasteful. And where do you store it or dispose of it when you're done?
While I always recommend deep frying when making any copycat recipe that is originally deep fried (to get the most authentic copycat possible), there is an alternative. If you own an air fryer, you can easily make this Chick-Fil-A copycat recipe with hardly any oil at all!
Simply preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F. When it's ready, place chicken nuggets in one layer into fryer basket and spray liberally with cooking oil spray. "Fry" for 4 minutes, flip over and spray again with cooking oil spray, and fry for another 4 minutes. For larger pieces (filets for sandwiches), if they have the same thickness, it should be the same, but if they're thicker, you'll need to adjust your cooking time.
My family loves this Gluten Free Chick-fil-A Style Chicken and yours will, too! Now we all can enjoy Chick-fil-A whenever we want (even on Sunday!).
Gluten Free Chick fil A Copycat Recipe
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 quart cold water
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half vertically and each piece pounded thin, if making sandwiches (or cut into small 1-inch sized pieces for nuggets)
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon MSG (optional) (see link in blog post for more info on this)
- 1 cup (240ml) milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (280g) Kim's all purpose gluten free flour blend
- 2 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoon spice mixture (above)
- 3 tablespoon milk/egg wash (above)
Fry and Assemble
- 2 quarts peanut oil, for frying
- 4 gluten free hamburger buns
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- dill pickle chips for serving, if desired
- mayonnaise for serving, if desired
For the Brining
- Dissolve the kosher salt and granulated sugar in one quart of cold water. Place chicken in a ziptop bag and pour cold water over. Seal bag and place in refrigerator overnight to brine.
For the Dredging
- Combine ingredients for spice blend and set aside.
- Whisk together milk/egg wash in a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Whisk together flour, nonfat dry milk powder, baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in a large shallow bowl to combine. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the milk/egg wash into the seasoned coating and rub with your fingertips or a fork until the flour is like wet sand.
Frying and Assembling
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the peanut oil to 330° F.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with the remaining spice mixture. Transfer the chicken to the milk/egg wash and coat fully. Allow excess wash to drip off and then transfer to the flour mixture, Press down firmly to adhere as much of the flour mixture to the chicken as possible. Shake off the excess flour and place the chicken back on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the nuggets or cutlets until all have been coated.
- Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides (about 4 minutes for whole pieces and 2 minutes for nuggets). Remove from the oil and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- If making sandwiches, cut gluten free hamburger buns in half horizontally and spread each side with butter. Toast in pan or on griddle until lightly browned. Place chicken cutlets on toasted buns and add pickle slices and mayonnaise, if desired. Serve warm.
Adapted from Serious Eats' Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches Recipe