Chick-Fil-A Chicken Nuggets: What To Know Before Ordering

For the first 15 years that Chick-fil-A was in business, there were no chicken nuggets. Customers chowed down on chicken sandwiches while oblivious to the meaty innovations to come, like shareable nuggets trays for parties and TikTok-viral "nugget salads." Finally, bite-size bits of Chick-fil-A's famous chicken were born — not thanks to an employee, but to customer requests, according to the company's website.

In the early 1980s, Chick-fil-A customers were so smitten with the chain's chicken sandwiches that they began to ask restaurants for smaller versions of the dish to serve at parties, the Chick-fil-A blog post says. By 1982, Chick-fil-A delivered, unveiling the same six-count nugget entrée you see on the menu today. While the chain has added new sizes and grilled variations to its offerings over the last four decades, it's still using the same recipe from 1982, executives say. Here's everything you need to know about one of fast food's crispiest bites of chicken.

Chick-fil-A nuggets inspired other iconic menu items

The customer response to Chick-fil-A's first round of nuggets was positive, Chick-fil-A's website says, but chicken lovers were still eager for "a flavor boost." So, in 1984, the company rolled out three mainstay sauces — Honey Mustard, Barbecue, and Polynesian — for customers to enjoy with their nuggets. They wouldn't know the tangy sweetness of Chick-fil-A Sauce, released in 2006, for another 20 years.

Nuggets also gave rise to two other Chick-fil-A classics: Chick-n-Minis for breakfast and grilled nuggets for a more health-conscious lunch or dinner. The former, nuggets served on miniature yeast rolls brushed with honey butter, joined menus in 2004, while the latter came on the scene in 2014 "for a lighter version of the classic protein." Want to see another nugget variation in the future? Perhaps nuggets and vegetables on skewers or a nugget-filled wrap? Tell an employee or visit the online customer feedback form; after all, that's how the original nuggets were born.

Are Chick-fil-A nuggets bad for you?

Let's start with the chicken. Chick-fil-A uses "100% real, whole, boneless" chicken breast "that has never been ground or separated" and "contains no fillers or added steroids or hormones," according to its website. The chain also specifies that the chickens are raised in barns, not cages, and never receive antibiotics. Chicken arrives to restaurants frozen but is then thawed, breaded, and fried onsite. You'll see this confirmed in one employee's TikTok on In the Know, which shows how thawed pieces of chicken turn into nuggets.

Besides chicken, Chick-fil-A's nuggets are made with a "milk wash" of nonfat milk and egg, peanut oil for frying, and a seasoned breading that includes flour, sugar, salt, MSG, and a signature spice blend. While not as lauded for its health benefits as fats like olive oil, peanut oil is known by nutritionists for its high content of healthy monounsaturated fats and its ability to help block the absorption of cholesterol (via NBC). However, it also contains lots of omega-6 fatty acids, which can be healthy in moderation but cause inflammation when eaten in excess.

You can be confident that you're not eating any "suspicious" ingredients when digging into Chick-fil-A nuggets. Just keep in mind that the peanut oil in which they're cooked does contain saturated fat in addition to healthy fats, and consider the amount of sugar in whichever sauce you enjoy on the side (via Healthline).

Do nuggets have less meat than strips?

There's a storied debate between those on Team Strips and those on Team Nuggets: Does one option contain more meat, and does the other have more crispy breading? Chick-fil-A confirms that there are indeed differences between the two entrees. Nuggets have less meat overall since they're cut into small pieces, the company says, adding that they still don't skimp on flavor and they have the unique benefit of being ordered grilled "for those cutting carbs."

Employees at an Atlanta Chick-fil-A weighed in on the debate for the Chick-fil-a website. Some prefer the ratio of breading to meat in the nuggets, while others prefer the strips since they're more filling. What's more, the strips are made with a different, more tender part of the chicken breast, and "they are marinated differently and have less breading," one employee said. The verdict: If crispy bits of savoriness are what you're after, go for the nuggets. But if you're really craving juicy chicken, order the strips.

How to make these nuggets at home

Have time to kill on a Sunday? When Chick-fil-A is closed, make your own nuggets using Mashed's copycat recipe. If you've ever dredged and fried anything — like eggplant for eggplant parmesan or catfish for seafood night — the method will seem easy and familiar. The most important elements of the recipe are the ingredients: High-quality chicken breast, MSG for umami and added flavor, and — an ingredient that Chick-fil-A has never confirmed nor denied as being part of the recipe — pickle juice for the chicken brine, which adds acidity and tenderizes the meat.

The shopping is the hardest part. To put the dish together, you'll start by brining the chicken in milk, egg, and pickle juice. Then you'll make a seasoned breading mixture with flour, spices, confectioners' sugar (which adds sweetness and texture), and a touch of milk, which creates pockets of wetness that crisp up into slightly larger chunks of breading in the hot oil. Remove the chicken from the brine, coat generously in the breading, and fry until golden. Serve them hot and with your favorite dipping sauce.

Chick-Fil-A nugget hacks you need to know

Now that you're equipped with all the Chick-fil-A nugget trivia you could need, you should be prepared to customize your order to your liking. Whether you like your chicken extra saucy or combined with other menu items, the internet has no shortage of nugget hacks. Chick-fil-A itself developed a hack for spicy nuggets: Pour as much Zesty Buffalo hot sauce into your box of nuggets as you like, close it, shake it thoroughly, and enjoy a delightfully sticky serving of chicken.

On TikTok, it's all about nugget salad, a vegetable-less concoction involving nuggets, waffle fries, and an empty salad container, which you can request from the restaurant. Plate the fries and chicken in the container and complete with your choice of toppings. Some fans like a combination of sauces, like buffalo and Ranch, while others make the meal even heartier with scoops of mac and cheese. To stay up to date in the evolving world of Chick-fil-A hacks, make sure you follow the #chickfila hashtag on TikTok or the Chick-fil-A Subreddit.