Before going gluten free, my go-to fast food meal was usually chicken strips or nuggets. My favorite place to go was Chick-Fil-A, but I gave that up a while before going gluten free due to their owner’s anti-gay statements. However, there’s nothing like those nuggets, and I still crave them. I wanted to come up with a way to make gluten free chicken strips or nuggets that would satisfy that craving.
I came across a post on Reddit where the author said someone took a gluteny fried chicken recipe and used gluten free flour, resulting in a chicken sandwich very close to Chick-Fil-A’s. I shared the recipe with my mom (Grandma T) and she came up with a gluten free flour blend to try out. The process is pretty much the same as the inspiration recipe, but I’ve included a shorter version of the instructions here.
Gluten free chicken strips or nuggets
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips or nuggets
1 ½ cups pickle juice (the juice from a 24-ounce jar of pickles)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup *gluten free oat flour
½ tsp *xanthan gum
1 tsp *baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
Oil for deep frying (we used peanut)
Step one: marinate
Salt and pepper your chicken strips or nuggets. Put them in a zippered bag and add the pickle juice. Seal the bag, pushing out the air as best you can as you close it. Allow to sit for at least one hour, up to overnight. (We used Klaussen pickle juice and marinated for five hours)
Step two: dredge
Mix the ATK flour blend, oat flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt in a shallow dish. Put the buttermilk in a separate shallow dish. Drain the pickle juice out of the bag of chicken. (The original recipe suggests you “aggressively” season the chicken with fresh ground pepper at this step; we forgot and it worked out fine.)
Coat each piece of chicken in buttermilk, then roll it in the flour blend to coat thoroughly. Work your way through every piece of chicken, laying them on a baking rack (over something to catch drippy flour) to rest. After you’ve finished this first round, add a little bit of the buttermilk directly into your flour blend and mix by hand. You’re trying to create little bits of batter so they’ll stick to your chicken in the next round. Now take all your chicken and re-roll it in the flour, trying to get a good, thick coating and some little nubs of batter to stick to each piece. Again, rest each piece on the rack until you’ve finished all the pieces. Add a little more buttermilk to the flour and repeat the process one more time.
Step three: fry
Heat oil over medium-high heat (the original recipe suggests 425F; we didn’t measure.) Once the oil is hot, test fry a couple pieces. The original recipe says the oil temperature will drop to 325F when chicken is added; we had to reduce the oil to medium heat for our best results. Fry the chicken until the breading is golden brown. Make sure you give it a little while to brown up on the bottom before you flip it so you don’t lose your breading!
If your breading is separating from the chicken, your oil may be a little too hot. When it worked perfectly, the breading was stuck nicely to the chicken with a texture very similar to Chick-Fil-A’s.
We served our chicken strips with crinkle cut potatoes and roasted vegetables, along with a selection of dipping sauces that included honey mustard, barbecue, buffalo and ranch.
It wasn’t exactly the same as Chick-Fil-A, but the pickle marinade made it a close substitute. It was definitely better than the store-bought gluten free chicken strips I was getting at Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom, and those were actually pretty good.
What was your go-to meal before going gluten free? Any fast food favorites you miss? I’m still trying to re-create the Big Mac, myself! Tell me what you’re craving in the comments!
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