Pickle-Brined Chicken Nuggets

August 26, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Don’t throw out that pickle juice put it to good use! The salty solution adds another layer of flavor and helps retain moisture for a juicier result. Corn flake crumbs are the secret to a super crunchy nugget. If you can’t find the crumbs at your local grocery store, you can blitz your own corn flakes in a blender.

Reprinted with permission from Hardcore Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It by Jess Pryles, Agate Surrey, 2018. —Jess Pryles

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Crunchy Cornflake Chicken Nuggets With a Secret Ingredient That Keeps Them Juicy. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Brine
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • Nuggets
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups corn flake crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  1. To make the brine, combine the pickle juice and brown sugar in a bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. To make the nuggets, cut the chicken into 1 1/2–inch cubes, place in a bowl and cover with the brine solution. Put the bowl in the fridge for 2–4 hours. Remove the chicken pieces from the brine and roughly dry with paper towels.
  3. Prepare your ‘crumbing’ station with three bowls. In the first bowl, put the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, pepper and salt. In the second, put the two eggs and whisk to combine. In the third, put the corn flake crumbs and paprika.
  4. Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-sided skillet and place over medium–high heat. Allow the oil to reach 365º F.
  5. While the oil is heating, take the chicken pieces and roll them first in the flour mixture, then in the egg wash, and finally coat well in the crumb mixture. Place on a large plate. Repeat until all the pieces have been coated.
  6. Add the chicken to the oil in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side, then remove and place on paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature between each batch. Let the nuggets cool slightly before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mizerychik
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • SuperWittySmitty
  • ana
Jess Pryles

Recipe by: Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

9 Reviews

ana March 23, 2022
Ducky December 8, 2021
This was a big hit in my house tonight! Followed the recipe, but cut chicken 1/4" thick and as fingers rather than thicker cubes. Rather than deep-frying, I borrowed the cooking method from Judy Hesser's Oven-fried Chicken recipe also on Food 52, pre-heating the pan at 400 & rubbing it quickly with a stick of salted butter before topping it with the chicken pieces. Cooked 7 minutes per side and results were wonderful! No splatters, or oil to clean up afterward. Will definitely make again!
Karen September 29, 2019
I wonder if these can be done in an airfryer...they sound so good
Keith S. March 10, 2019
Wow! Don't fry much--I still fear the spatter, the health risks, the cleanup, the tedious batter process--but I was intrigued by this one. The tenders (and boy, are they!) came out feathery-light, crispyontheoutside/chewyontheinside, lightly tangy. Perfect w/ ATK BBQ sauce. Had to stop and put them in the freezer, or I'd keep eating in wonderment at a newfound miracle. Now just waiting for the peanut oil to cool so I can do the Kenji gelatin-recycle trick...
mizerychik September 2, 2018
I've found that whatever leftover brine I have makes meat taste better. Last night I took the remainder from my fermented ketchup jar- - and used it to brine a flank steak. Grilled the steak today and it came out insanely perfect.
Eric K. September 4, 2018
Pickle-brined steak is a great idea.
SuperWittySmitty January 9, 2019
Fermented ketchup?
Carolyn P. August 27, 2018
What kind of pickle brine, sweet, dill, sour - what ?
Mort August 29, 2018
Chick-Fil-A uses dill. I made a mistake once and used bread and butter pickle was still good..a little sweet.