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Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets – Crispy and Tender

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are perfectly seasoned, deliciously tender and juicy inside – Easy healthier Kid friendly homemade nuggets.

Don’t miss other popular air fryer recipes like Air fryer Hot Wings, Crispy Tilapia, Air Fryer Cake or Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan Recipe.

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air fryer basket with crispy chicken nuggets

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

These are crispy, tender, well seasoned, made with real ingredients and so much healthier than the deep fried or store bought ones.

A good chicken nugget is hard to find, which is why these made from scratch so incredible- Can’t beat a homemade recipe. Dip them in your favorite sauce and you will find yourself enjoying them much more than kids. Bonus points for healthy!

I have been late hopping onto the air fryer train, but glad I did!

Air fryer comes in handy when you want to make them in a hurry or don’t want to turn on the oven. Air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air around, like a convection oven. It is faster and a great option for folks who do not have access to an oven. Few of our favorites include Crispy Air Fryer Asparagus, Air Fryer Cauliflower Bites, Stuffed Mushrooms with Cream Cheese, Baked Apples, Apple Fritters or Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Frozen chicken nuggets was one of my children’s go to meal when they were younger and occasionally it was ours as well on a busy day. Eventually, I began baking them at home and soon became an adult favorite.

Why this recipe works?

Cooking them in air fryer is the perfect way to make a homemade chicken bite. Air fryer crisps them perfectly on the outside without over cooking. I tried these and we could not believe the perfect texture! It is absolutely the best way to make them instead of the deep or shallow frying.

Can I bake them instead?

Prepare as per instructions, and place on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Reader feedbacks

Fidget writes “These were so easy and tasty. Only took 8 minutes to cook. Thanks for the recipe”.

Bridget writes “I ran out of Panko after 1 cup so I used plain bread crumbs for the rest. These were so good! We had them with CFA sauce, they tasted similar to CFA nuggets”

Becky writes “it turned out great! make sure to read the instructions on your specific air fryer as some of them cook a little longer. I did mine for 13 minutes at 390 degrees and they came out perfect”.

Expert Tips

Dredge well – Using hands or tongs, make sure to press bread crumb mixture well on all sides of the chicken nuggets to help it adhere well and give a thicker coating.

Do not over crowd the air fryer basket – Place airfryer chicken nuggets in a single layer, and leave a little space around for the air to circulate, which helps in crisping the nugget. OVER CROWDING will NOT make a crispy chicken nugget.

Make it gluten free – Use gluten free flour and gluten free Panko bread crumbs.

Pre heat –  Pre heating the air fryer before cooking them, will guarantee a perfectly crispy yet juicy chicken bites.

Don’t overlap: This is a general rule with air fryer cooking. Placing the food in a single layer without over lapping will allow even cooking. If you stack your food then it might stick together or the top ones will be over cooked by the time the bottom ones are cooked through.

Panko breadcrumbs – If you don’t have panko, then regular regular bread crumbs may be used (but, the nuggets won’t get as crispy).

ParmesanFinely shredded parmesan cheese is highly recommended. If you are using pre shredded cheese (that is very coarse), then process for a few seconds in a small food processor or dry grinder.

Key ingredients

Chicken – We used boneless skinless chicken thighs, but boneless skinless breasts can be substituted. Cut one pound chicken breast into 1/2 inch strips and then cut each into 2 to 3 nuggets.

Egg – Helps in binding the crust

All purpose flour – Just one tablespoon for binding

Panko breadcrumbs – Gives a light, airy crispy coating (the secret to a crispy air fryer chicken nuggets)

Parmesan – Parmesan gives a wonderful salty, nutty flavor to the chicken

Seasonings – A combination of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and dried parsley.

Air fryer chicken nuggets served on a rectangular platter with small bowls of ketchup and ranch for dipping

How do you cook chicken nuggets in the air fryer?

These nuggets are made up with a bunch of pantry ingredients – Mix them up and then you’ll be ready to start! 

Cut Chicken Trim any fat from boneless, skinless chicken thighs and then cut them into 1 inch pieces.

Wet batter – Toss cubed chicken thighs with lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper. Stir in a tablespoon of flour.

Panko breadcrumb coating – Dredge each chicken nugget with a mixture of panko, parmesan, red pepper flakes and dried parsley.

Air Fry – Place in a greased air fryer basket, cook at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, until cooked through.

Variations

Make it spicy – Stir in some cayenne pepper along with salt and pepper.

Use Chicken strips – Use boneless skinless chicken tenders instead.

Add an Italian twist – Toss in some dried oregano to the bread crumb mixture.

Mexican twist – Toss in some chicken taco seasoning along with salt, pepper and egg.

More chicken recipes for dinner: Chicken Parmesan Pasta, Chicken Burrito Bowl, Cashew Chicken, Mexican Chicken, Baked Chicken Burger, Baked Chicken Meatballs, Chicken and Green Beans Stir Fry, Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma, Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Pesto Pasta, Rotisserie Chicken Salad Sandwich, Barbecue Chicken Meatballs, Sriracha Chicken, Instant pot BBQ Chicken or Hunan Chicken.

How to serve?

Serve them with ranch dressing, marinara sauce, Chick-fil-A Sauce, ketchup or your favorite barbecue sauce for snack, lunch or dinner.

Make it a meal – Serve these marinara sauce, sweet potato fries, roasted or steamed broccoli, pasta or rice for a healthy weeknight meal or lunch that kids and adults will enjoy.

Storage and Re heating

Make it ahead of time

Leftover nuggets can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

From the refrigerator – Simple microwave them for couple of minutes to quickly re heat (the breading will be soft). However, to revive the crispy coating, re heat them in the air fryer for 5 minutes or bake at 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

How to make ahead?

This healthier Air Fryer Chicken Nugget option is great to make ahead too! Simply make a batch and freeze after completely cooled —-> Homemade frozen chicken nuggets!

From the freezer – Placed in zip lock bag, tightly sealed and frozen for up to a month. Simple microwave them for few minutes to quickly re heat (the breading will be soft). However, to revive the crispy coating, Re heat them in the air fryer for 10 to 15 minutes or bake at 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

More kid friendly recipes:

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to air fry chicken nuggets?

Chicken nuggets takes about 8 minutes in a 400 degree air fryer.

What is an air fryer?

As the name indicates, an air fryer fries food by circulating hot air around, more like a convection oven. It is a counter top appliance that cooks food faster, browns evenly and with almost no oil when compared to the traditional deep frying methods.

How many calories in homemade nuggets?

One serving contains 317 calories with 35 grams protein.

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

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a rectangular platter with crispy breaded chicken nuggets along with small bowls of ketchup and ranch
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets – Crispy and Tender

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets – Crispy and Tender

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are perfectly seasoned and deliciously tender and juicy inside - Easy healthier Kid friendly homemade nuggets.

Ingredients

Group-1

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs  
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Group-2

Equipments used

Instructions

1. Trim excess fat from chicken and then cut into 1-inch pieces. Mix chicken along with lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl, until well combined.

2. Sprinkle all purpose flour on top and toss around to coat the chicken and keep aside.

3. In a shallow bowl, stir together panko, parmesan, red pepper flakes and pasrley (if using).

4. Working with one chicken piece at a time, dredge into the panko-parm mixture, turning and pressing on all sides to coat evenly and place on a plate (try to to pack the breadcrumbs well on the chicken).

5. Pre heat air fryer at 400°F for 8 minutes. Place half the chicken nuggets into the air fryer basket (spacing evenly), spray a generous coating of non-stick cooking spray.

6. Cook, flipping halfway, spray with non-stick cooking spray and finish cooking, until cooked through.

7. Transfer chicken nuggets and repeat process with the remaining batch.

8. Serve chicken nuggets hot with ranch dressing, ketchup, marinara or your favorite barbecue sauce.

Notes

To use boneless, skinless chicken breast - Cut one pound chicken breast into 1/2 inch strips and then cut each into 2 to 3 nuggets.

Dredge well – Using hands or tongs, make sure to press bread crumb mixture well on all sides of the chicken nuggets to help it adhere well and give a thicker coating.

Do not over crowd the air fryer basket – Place chicken nuggets in a single layer, and leave a little space around for the air to circulate, which helps in crisping the nugget. OVER CROWDING will NOT make a crispy chicken nugget.Make it gluten free – Use gluten free flour and gluten free Panko bread crumbs.

Panko breadcrumbs – If you don’t have panko, then regular regular bread crumbs may be used (but, the nuggets won’t get as crispy).

Parmesan – Finely shredded parmesan cheese is highly recommended. If you are using pre shredded cheese (that is very coarse), then process for a few seconds in a small food processor or dry grinder.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 317Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 675mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 35g

I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This information is provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com.. Although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact sources and algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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Jack

Monday 17th of January 2022

What setting on the air fryer would you use? Air crisp? Bake/roast?

Maria Doss

Tuesday 18th of January 2022

Hi Jack, I use the "Air Fry" setting, Maria

rick reed

Friday 14th of January 2022

Can the boneless chicken be marinated prior to coating with panko ? Any suggestions? Thanks

Maria Doss

Sunday 16th of January 2022

@rick reed, Chicken can be tossed in egg, salt, pepper and refrigerated for up to a day. Stir in flour and then bread crumb coating just before air frying. Hope it helps - Apologies for the late reply, Maria

Amy Burke

Monday 13th of September 2021

These came out really good. Thanks so much!

Maria Doss

Monday 13th of September 2021

Hi Amy, Happy to hear, Maria

Dan

Friday 20th of August 2021

Can you freeze and reheat these?

Maria Doss

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Hi Dan, Absolutely! Place cooked and cooled nuggets in a zip lock bag, seal and freeze for up to a month. To reheat - place frozen chicken nuggets (do not thaw) in a pre heated 400°F air fryer basket and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.Hope it helps - Apologies for a late reply, Maria

Penny Brooke

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

Can I just take store bought nuggets or tenders from the freezer & put them in the air fryer or do I have to thaw them or put them in the microwave first?

Maria Doss

Friday 23rd of July 2021

Hi Penny, You could absolutely use frozen nuggets. To reheat frozen chicken nuggets in the air fryer, place them in a single layer (do not thaw or microwave), in a pre heated 400°F air fryer and cook for 8 mins. Flip over and continue cooking for an additional 2 to 4 minutes (the time will depend on the quantity used), until heated through. Hope it helps, Maria

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