Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

5 from 2 votes

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Skip take-out and make your own perfectly crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets at home! Made with real ingredients (and no canned chicken to be found) these tender, juicy, and crispy nuggets are easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. Everyone will love dipping and dunking these crispy nuggets in barbecue or honey mustard sauce.

A plate of air fryer chicken nuggets with a cup of barbecue sauce on a white plate.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are a big hit in my house, and I love that they start with lean chicken breast. They’re not deep-fat fried in oil so there’s less fat and calories to worry about, too. (Not to mention less mess!)

I buy chicken breast when it’s on sale and freeze it in smaller portions. It’s easy to defrost a package and I can have this fun and tasty dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Pair your meal of air fryer nuggets with this Summer Zucchini Salad or your favorite vegetable.

The best part about this recipe is how fast they cook. Air fryers have revolutionized cooking by cutting the time it takes to get a tasty, wholesome, and fabulous meal on the table. Use your favorite basket or oven-style air fryer to make these tasty and easy chicken nuggets today. This is one of those amazing air fryer recipes that’s sure to become a favorite!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • There are no artificial ingredients in this air-fried chicken nuggets recipe!
  • Quick to cook – on the table in under 30!
  • Light and crispy with no added oil!
  • They’re lower in saturated fat making them a healthier pick.
Overhead image of ingredients needed to make chicken nuggets in the air fryer, including chicken breasts, butter, panko bread crumbs, and seasonings.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Ingredients

Chicken breast. Boneless and skinless chicken breast makes this recipe a breeze! Simply cut them into bite-sized pieces (you want about 20 chicken pieces) and season them generously with salt and pepper. Prefer dark meat? No problem – you can definitely make this recipe with chicken thighs, too. Use about 4 meaty skinless and boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts.

Unsalted butter. I like using unsalted butter because I can control the sodium. If all you have is salted butter, reduce the salt in the rest of the recipe by about half.

Panko breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are coarse Japanese breadcrumbs that have been lightly baked. This gives them incredible crunch and they brown so nicely in the air fryer.

All-purpose flour. This helps to lock the moisture in the nuggets, and it will help all the spices and seasonings stick to them.

Seasoning. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne – if you like a touch of spice – are all you need to transform these nuggets into flavorful bites!

How To Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Cut the chicken breast into bite-size pieces and season them well with salt and pepper. If you’re using breasts on the bone, be sure to cut the meat away from the bone first. Save those bones in a zipper-top freezer bag to make chicken stock! 

Coat the nuggets in the melted butter. They need this bit of fat to help the coating brown, and the butter adds another layer of flavor.

Mix the Panko, flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne (optional) in a medium-sized bowl. Press the nuggets into this mixture to coat them evenly.

Preheat your air fryer and spray or brush the tray with non-stick or olive oil spray. Cook the nuggets in a single layer in the air fryer basket in batches at 400 degrees until they’re golden brown and delicious. Flip them once during the cooking time. 

Be sure the nuggets are in a single layer with some room for air circulation around them to cook and brown evenly. You can cook them in batches and keep the finished nuggets warm in a 200-degree oven while cooking the second batch.

Handy tip!

Want even more flavor in your nuggets? Use seasoned breadcrumbs or add 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumb mixture. You can also jazz them up with a ¼ teaspoon of chipotle powder.

Super crispy air fryer chicken nuggets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of dipping sauces go well with homemade chicken nuggets in the air fryer?

I love serving a variety of sauces with these light and crispy chicken nuggets. Some of my favorites include homemade barbecue sauce, honey mustard, homemade ranch dressing, and spicy ketchup that I make by adding a dash of Sriracha to ¼-cup of ketchup.

Are air fryer chicken nuggets healthy?

They are a much healthier alternative compared to prepared store-bought nuggets or even fast-food picks. Not only do these air fryer nuggets have less fat, but they’re made with wholesome ingredients and are cut from unprocessed chicken.

Are chicken nuggets in the air fryer easy to make?

Yes! There are really only 3 steps to making chicken nuggets: cut the chicken, bread the chicken in the flour mixture, and place the chicken nuggets into the air-fryer and cook! As long as you don’t over-crowd the cooking basket, they’ll cook up into perfectly crispy nuggets!

How many air fryer chicken breast pieces should I cut?

Aim for about 20 nugget-sized pieces from the two chicken breasts. You may get more or less depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Just be sure to cut them about the same size so they cook evenly.

Can I make gluten-free chicken nuggets?

As written, the recipe is not gluten-free. However, you can make it a gluten-free air fryer chicken nuggets recipe by swapping the flour with your favorite gluten-free flour, and by using gluten-free Panko or pork panko instead of the regular version.

How long does it take to air fry chicken nuggets?

These air fryer chicken nuggets will air fry in about 4 minutes per side. Always cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees since air fryers can vary based on brand and model.

Do these chicken nuggets reheat well?

These nuggets are best immediately after they are made but can be reheated if desired. You can reheat them in the air fryer at 375º for 4 minutes or pop them in the toaster oven.

More Healthy and Delicious Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

Air fryer chicken nuggets are delicious dipped in your favorite sauces.
Air fryer chicken nuggets on a plate.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

These Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are crunchy on the outside and juicy on theinside! They are perfect for dunking in your favorite sauces and are healthierthan take-out! Perfect for busy weeknights, they cook in 8 minutes!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Chicken Recipes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer chicken nuggets, homemade chicken nuggets, how to make chicken nuggets
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 175kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper optional
  • olive oil spray
  • barbeque sauce and honey mustard for serving

Instructions

  • Preheat Air Fryer to 400°F.
  • Using a sharp knife cut the chicken breasts into about 20 nuggets.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the chicken pieces and melted butter. Mix to evenly coat and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a second bowl, mix the panko, flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  • Add 3 to 4 nuggets to the bowl with the panko mixture. Pess the nuggets into the coating on all sides until they're evenly covered. Transfer nuggets to a large plate or baking sheet and continue until the nuggets are the remaining chicken pieces.
  • Spray the nuggets on both sides with olive oil spray.
  • Spray or brush the air fryer basket with non-stick spray or olive oil.
  • Place the nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook in batches if necessary.
  • Cook for 8 minutes, flipping the nuggets halfway through.
  • Serve immediately with barbeque sauce and honey mustard for dipping.

Notes

All air fryers are different. I used the Cosori Air fryer for this recipe. You may have to adjust time and temperature if you have a different model.
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Amount Per Serving (5 nuggets)
Calories 175 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 51mg17%
Sodium 440mg19%
Potassium 245mg7%
Carbohydrates 11g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 193IU4%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
By on January 4th, 2022

About Lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren! I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie.

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