Learn how to make these air fryer chicken nuggets. They’re 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!
It’s no secret I love coming up with air fryer recipes. Air frying anything is a guaranteed winner in my book, but air fried chicken nuggets? That’s the best of both worlds.
If you’ve tried our air fryer chicken tenderloins or these chicken wings, you’ll love this chicken nuggets recipe. Compared to the fast food stuff, it’s far healthier, and quicker, and clean-up is a breeze.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Healthier. Just a spritz of oil in the air fryer and on the chicken nuggets is all you need for tasty, flavorful nuggets.
- Less clean up. You’ll only need a few bowls to coat the chicken in batter and your air fryer basket. No messy deep fryer needed!
- Perfectly crisp. The air fryer creates a perfect balance of crispy coating without drying out the chicken.
- Works with frozen chicken. Just like 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. Pair them with zucchini fries or tofu, and kids will think they’re eating fast food, but it’s so much healthier!
If you’ve tried air fryer chicken strips, then you already have most of the ingredients you’ll need to make these nuggets. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are best. Cut them into nugget shapes.
- Panko bread crumbs. For the crispy coating. You can swap it for gluten-free bread crumbs if desired.
- Parmesan cheese. Freshly grated for added flavor.
- Salt. Can be added to taste.
- Oil. Preferably olive oil since it’s a healthier choice, but any cooking oil will work.
- Flour. For dredging the nuggets. Similarly to bread crumbs, the flour can be swapped for gluten-free flour.
- Eggs. Three large eggs, lightly beaten. This will be the sticky coat that the panko attaches to.
How to make air fryer chicken nuggets
Besides the preparation of the chicken, the rest of the time spent making these nuggets is pretty minimal.
Here’s how to make perfect air fryer chicken nuggets:
Step 1- Preheat the air fryer
First, preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F.
Step 2- Make the nuggets 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.
Step 3- Dredge the nuggets
Dip the chicken nuggets in the flour, then 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.
Step 4- 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.
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.
Step 5- Rest and serve
Let your nuggets cool briefly before serving them with ketchup and any dipping sauce you prefer.
Can I bake them instead?
Yes! If you’d prefer to bake your chicken nuggets, you can do so with one simple swap (we often do this with our chicken parmigiana, too).
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.
Like grilled tenders or baked chicken breast, these nuggets are super easy to customize and continue to yield perfect results each time.
Here are the best tips to ensure you get the crispiest and juiciest chicken nuggets each time.
- Switch up the spice mix. Cayenne, oregano, paprika, and garlic powder are all great options for adding more flavor to your nuggets.
- Use frozen chicken. If using frozen breaded nuggets, just let them cook for a few minutes longer than fresh. No thawing is needed.
- Make the nuggets the same size. So they cook evenly.
- Use a meat thermometer. Look for an internal temperature of 74°C/165°F.
What to serve with chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets are really just a vessel for dipping sauce. I like to serve my nuggets with honey mustard, BBQ sauce, or spicy mayo. If you really want to impress, try making your own ketchup.
As for sides, I usually serve my nuggets with french fries or fried pickles if I’m feeling funky. Luckily there are no wrong answers when it comes to enjoying your chicken nuggets.
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 177°C/350°F for 5-6 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.
More air fryer chicken recipes to try
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Air Fryer Chicken Breast
Air Fryer Whole Chicken
Air Fryer Fried Chicken
Frequently asked questions
The ideal cooking time for air frying chicken nuggets will depend on their size and how big your air fryer is. Ideally, 12 minutes should do the trick. If your nuggets are on the smaller side, check them after 10 minutes and pull them when they reach an internal temperature of 74°C/165°F.
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.
When made with gluten free flour and bread crumbs, these nuggets are suitable for celiacs.
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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