Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

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5 from 21 votes
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Learn how to make air fryer chicken nuggets that are crispy on the outside, juicy, and tender on the inside, and make for the ultimate quick and easy snack or lunch for adults and kiddos alike!

air fryer chicken nuggets.

It’s no secret I love my air fryer. Chicken is one of our favorite proteins to cook in this gadget, including air fryer chicken tenderloins and air fryer chicken wings. When we want something fun yet wholesome, nothing beats using it to make chicken nuggets!

Compared to the fast foodstuff, it’s far healthier and quicker, and clean-up is a breeze. 

Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make air fryer chicken nuggets
  4. Can I bake them instead?
  5. Recipe tips and variations
  6. What to serve with chicken nuggets
  7. Storage instructions
  8. More ways to enjoy chicken in the air fryer
  9. Frequently asked questions
  10. Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets (Recipe Card)

Why this recipe works

  • Healthier. Like air fryer orange chicken, no deep frying is needed, so you already cut a ton of calories and fat compared to traditional nuggets. We also use breast meat instead of off-cuts too!
  • Less clean up. Similar to air fryer chicken cutlets, you’ll only need a few bowls to coat the chicken in batter and your air fryer basket. No messy deep fryer is needed.
  • Perfectly crisp and juicy. The air fryer creates a perfect balance of crispy coating without drying out the chicken. The texture is extra juicy in the middle, which is what we all want!
  • Works with frozen chicken. Like with air fryer chicken patties and air fryer hash browns, you can store breaded nuggets in the freezer and pop them straight into your air fryer. 

What I love most about this recipe is how kid-friendly it is! With minimal prep work needed, you can whip up these nuggets at a moment’s notice. I like to pair them with some air fryer French fries or air fryer bagel bites for the ultimate takeout fakeout meal.

chicken nuggets air fryer.

Ingredients needed

You need just a handful of pantry staple ingredients to air fry chicken nuggets. Here is everything you will need:

  • Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best. Cut them into nugget shapes. If you can’t find chicken breasts, use tenderloins or tenders.
  • Panko breadcrumbs. For the crispy coating. You can swap it for gluten-free bread crumbs if desired. 
  • Parmesan cheese. Freshly grated for added flavor and also enhances the crispiness.
  • Salt. To taste.
  • Oil. A small amount of oil is needed to mix into the breading to help them stick to the chicken pieces and also crisp up beautifully. Any neutral oil works, like olive oil or vegetable oil.
  • Flour. For dredging the nuggets. Similarly to bread crumbs, the flour can be swapped for gluten-free flour.
  • Eggs. To bind the breading to the nuggets.

How to make air fryer chicken nuggets

Preheat the air fryer: First, preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F. 

Make the coating: Grab a mixing bowl and add the panko, parmesan cheese, salt, and oil. Mix with a fork until combined. In a second bowl, add the flour, and in a third bowl, add the beaten eggs. 

chicken nugget breading.

Dredge the nuggets: Dip the chicken nuggets in the flour, shake off the excess, and dip it in the egg, then coat it in the panko mix. Press firmly to make sure the panko sticks to the nuggets. Repeat this process until all of the chicken nuggets have been coated.

breading chicken nuggets.

Air fry the nuggets: Generously grease the air fryer basket with oil. In a single layer, add the chicken nuggets, working in batches if needed. 

chicken nuggets in air fryer.

Spray the tops of the chicken nuggets and air fry them for 12-15 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy. Repeat this as necessary until all of the nuggets are cooked. 

air fry chicken nuggets.

Rest and serve: Let your nuggets cool briefly before serving them with ketchup and any dipping sauce you prefer. 

airfryer chicken nuggets.

Can I bake them instead?

Yes! If you’d prefer to make baked chicken nuggets, you can do so with one simple swap.

First, prepare the chicken nuggets as instructed, then transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Next, bake them in a preheated oven set to 200°C/400°F for 12-15 minutes, checking halfway through for doneness. 

Recipe tips and variations

  • Switch up the spice mix. Cayenne, oregano, paprika, and garlic powder are all great options for adding more flavor to your nuggets.
  • Make the nuggets the same size. This ensures they cook evenly and completely.
  • Use a meat thermometer. I find this a surefire way to guarantee fully cooked nuggets. Look for an internal temperature of 74°C/165°F. 
  • Air fryer frozen chicken nuggets. If using frozen breaded nuggets, just let them cook for a few minutes longer than fresh. No thawing is needed.

What to serve with chicken nuggets

Chicken nuggets are really just a vessel for dipping sauce. I like to serve my nuggets with hot honey sauce or spicy mayo. If you really want to impress, try making your own big mac sauce.

As for sides, you can make this a meal by pairing them with some salad, steamed vegetables, or even some baked potatoes.

Storage instructions

To store: Leftover chicken nuggets can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 

To reheat: Either put them back in the air fryer at 180°C/350°F for 2-3 minutes or pop them in a preheated oven. Avoid the microwave, as the chicken will lose its crispiness.

To freeze: Let the nuggets cool before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

air fry chicken nuggets.

More ways to enjoy chicken in the air fryer

Frequently asked questions

Should I flip nuggets in the air fryer?

If your nuggets are in an even layer in the air fryer basket, you shouldn’t need to flip them. If there is some overlapping between the chicken, then you can try flipping them at the 5-minute mark, so all sides get properly crisp.

Are these gluten free?

When made with gluten free flour and bread crumbs, these nuggets are suitable for celiacs.

Can I use frozen chicken nuggets?

To air fry frozen chicken nuggets, simply add them to the preheated air fryer and air fry at 200C/400F for 8 minutes, shaking once halfway through.

air fryer chicken nuggets recipe.

Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

5 from 21 votes
These air fryer chicken nuggets are a healthier and easier way to enjoy this classic dish. Extra crispy and ready in no time, it tastes better than fast food.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 13 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 2 large chicken breasts cut into nuggets
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten

Instructions 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 200C/400F. 
  • In a mixing bowl, add the panko, parmesan cheese and salt, and oil, and mix until combined. In another bowl add the flour and in a third, add the beaten eggs.
  • Dip the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess, dip it in the egg, then coat with the panko mix, pressing firmly for it to stick on. Repeat the process until all the chicken is coated.
  • Generously grease the air fryer basket. In a single layer, add the chicken nuggets.
  • Spray the tops of the chicken nuggets and air fry for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and crispy. 

Notes

TO STORE. Leftover chicken nuggets can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 
TO REHEAT. Either put them back in the air fryer at 180°C/350°F for 2-3 minutes or pop them in a preheated oven. Avoid the microwave, as the chicken will lose its crispiness.
TO FREEZE. Let the nuggets cool before transferring them to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag, and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 21gFat: 11gSodium: 543mgPotassium: 285mgFiber: 0.4gVitamin A: 285IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 125mgIron: 2mgNET CARBS: 12g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’m trying to have more healthier food options so…
    I just made these chicken nuggets for lunch.
    Well worth it 10000000/100.

  2. 5 stars
    Perfect! Grandson is at the “dip it” age. If he can dip it in something, he will eat it. I love giving him “real” food. Thank You

  3. Hello
    On this Air Fryer chicken nuggets recipe:
    1 – How many nuggets equal a serving, please? I ask because if it’s 1 nugget, that’s a little high in net carbs. (And who can eat just one? LOL)
    2 – Are any low carb Panko type coatings or a low carb alternative?
    3 – Is the flour a necessity?

    I’m sorry for all those questions, but it sounds so good and I know that chicken breasts are the least fat part of the chicken. (Although, thighs are my favorite.)

    I noticed in your pictures here, that you put the nuggets directly on the basket at the bottom of the fryer. I use the silicone baskets you can lift out and not have to clean the fryer. I’m disabled and it’s rather hard for me to stand to wash the fryer basket and bottom of the fryer.

    One more question. Have you ever made scones in the fryer?
    Thank you for all the work you do with these recipes.

    1. Hi there! It depends on how big or small you cut the nuggets. Just divide yours by 4 and that is a serving. You can try keto bread crumbs or almond flour.