Perfectly cooked and extra crispy on the outside while tender and juicy on the inside. These air fryer chicken nuggets are so much better than the freezer bag and the variations are endless!
You seem to never forget your childhood favorites and for me growing up, I loved chicken nuggets. Even now, when I go to a restaurant, if I see chicken tenders on the menu with a side of french fries, you best believe I will be ordering it. There is just something about the crispy, bite-sized chicken that is so addicting!
Air fryer chicken nuggets are cubed chicken breasts that are perfectly seasoned and coated in a crunchy, golden crust, then cooked to perfection in the air fryer. It’s like the best of both worlds—crispy like deep-fried nuggets, but without the excess oil. And the best part? They’re ready in a snap! Honestly, we can ditch the takeout and whip out the air fryer instead. These chicken nuggets will be on your table in no time!
Why You’ll Love This
- Satisfyingly crunchy. Cubed chicken breast are coated in a crunchy crust of panko breadcrumbs and flour that crisp up beautifully in an air fryer to give it the most crispy texture. The “crunch” of the chicken nuggets is so satisfying. It’s like popping popcorn in your mouth, one after another!
- Healthier option. By using the air fryer, you can enjoy the same crunchy texture and delicious flavor without the excess grease. It’s a guilt-free way to indulge in a classic comfort food.
- Versatile and fully customizable. These chicken nuggets offer endless possibilities for customization. Feel free to experiment with different seasonings, spices, or even breadcrumb coatings to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a classic herb-infused flavor or want to spice things up with some zesty seasoning, these nuggets are incredibly versatile and can be tailored to your liking. Not to mention, the dipping sauce options are endless as well!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Got your air fryer ready? Here is a list of ingredients you will need to make air fryer chicken nuggets. Make sure to scroll down to view the full recipe for exact measurements.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Panko breadcrumbs
- All-purpose flour
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Italian seasoning
- Dried parsley
- Salt and pepper
How To Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Here is a general overview of the steps involved to make homemade chicken nuggets in the air fryer. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for the full recipe.
Coat the chicken in the egg. Whisk the egg in a bowl then add the diced chicken to the egg mixture and toss together until all the chicken is coated.
Bread the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture. Whisk together the ingredients for the coating then add the chicken to the mixture. The best way to do this is in a plastic container with a lid. Close the lid and shake until all the chicken has been coated evenly.
Air fry the chicken. Add the chicken to the air fryer basket and make sure to arrange in a single layer. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking spray then air fry at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, shaking halfway through.
Recipe Tips, Substitutions, and Variations
- Use chicken thighs for even more flavor. If you prefer dark meat then using boneless skinless chicken thighs will give this even more flavor because it’s dark meat and fattier.
- Preheat the air fryer (if possible). To achieve maximum crispiness, I like preheating my air fryer before adding the nuggets. Some air fryers have this preheat option, if yours does not, that’s okay too. I think that the preheat helps because it makes the air fryer already hot so right from the start the chicken nuggets are being put into a hot environment to start their crisping process.
- Arrange chicken in a single layer. Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket and cook in batches if you need to. Arranging the chicken nuggets in a single layer allows for proper air circulation in the air fryer. This ensures even cooking and helps maintain the desired crispy texture.
- Cool chicken nuggets on a wire baking rack. If you’re cooking the chicken nuggets in batches, you’ll want to cool the cooked chicken nuggets on a wire baking rack. Doing so allows air to continue to circulate instead of putting the hot chicken nuggets into a bowl where it’ll create steam and make your crispy coating (that you worked so hard for!) all soggy.
- Shake the chicken halfway through cooking. To ensure even cooking and crisping, make sure to shake the air fryer basket of the chicken halfway through cooking.
- Don’t have panko breadcrumbs? No problem! Regular breadcrumbs (plain or Italian seasoned) work great in this as well. I like the texture that panko breadcrumbs give. You can also use crushed up corn flakes to bread these to give even more texture and crunch!
- Meatless? You know I’ve got you. Tofu nuggets are totally a thing and you can easily make them in the air fryer as well!
- Spicy kick. If you’re a fan of heat, add some cayenne pepper or chipotle powder to the breadcrumb mixture for a spicy twist. It will give your chicken nuggets a fiery kick that will leave your taste buds tingling.
- Cheesy goodness. For a cheesy flavor explosion, mix extra grated parmesan or cheddar cheese into the breadcrumb coating. The melted cheese adds a deliciously gooey element to your chicken nuggets, elevating them to a whole new level of yumminess.
- Herb infused. Experiment with different herbs and spices to infuse your nuggets with unique flavors. Try adding dried herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary to the breadcrumb mixture. The aromatic herbs will add a delightful freshness to your chicken nuggets.
- Ranch lovers. Mix in a packet of ranch seasoning in the breadcrumb mixture to give your chicken nuggets the classic creamy flavor we all love.
- Dill pickle tanginess. Dill pickle seasoning is all the rage right now and they sell dill pickle seasoning at Trader Joe’s in the spice aisle. I’ve been putting it in the most unexpected things and it gives the dish that tangy hit.
- Smokey BBQ. Grab your favorite BBQ dry rub and mix it into the breadcrumb mixture for a smokey BBQ infused flavor for your chicken nuggets!
- Greek freak. Use my favorite Greek seasoning (Greek Freak) and make these a Greek-inspired flavored chicken nugget!
Storage and Reheating Instructions
After your chicken nuggets have cooled, you may store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. To reheat, pop back into the air fryer and reheat for 5 minutes at 350 degrees just until it’s warmed through. You can also do this in the toaster oven. Do not microwave!
What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets and french fries are a classic pairing and so are dipping sauces. Here are some ideas to pair with your chicken nuggets:
Other air fryer recipes to try!
- Air Fryer Pita Chips
- Air Fryer Smashed Brussels Sprouts
- Air Fryer Blackened Chicken
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon
- Crispy Air Fryer Ravioli
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- 1 ½ pounds (680 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1" cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 cup (60 g) panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup (31 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (25 g) grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat air fryer (if possible) for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Whisk together egg in a medium bowl then add the cubed chicken. Stir to coat all the chicken in the egg mixture.
- In a large plastic container (with a lid), add panko, parmesan cheese, flour, and all the seasonings. Whisk together.
- Add the egg covered chicken to the plastic container then close the lid and shake until breading has coated the chicken evenly.
- Arrange the chicken in an even layer in the air fryer basket then air fry at 400 °F (204 °C) for 8-10 minutes, shaking halfway through. You will likely have to do this in two batches.
- Repeat until all chicken nuggets have been cooked.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauces like ketchup, BBQ sauce, or hot sauce.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.