Air fryer chicken nuggets are so simple to make from scratch and so much better for you! Made with chicken breasts, breadcrumbs and just a few spices. They're perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Perfect for dinner, snack or as an appetizer. Both kids and adults love these!
Healthy air fryer chicken nuggets.
Homemade chicken nuggets are so easy to make and require just a small amount of oil, making them so much healthier than the frozen, deep-fried chicken nuggets you can pick up at the store.
With the help of a few simple spices, the breading is flavorful and gets nice and crispy without deep frying, thanks to the air fryer! The chicken nuggets only need 10 minutes to cook, and they come out golden brown and perfectly tender.
Even better, you can make these chicken nuggets ahead of time then store in the fridge or freezer! When you're ready to serve, simply reheat in the air fryer. This is a great kid friendly option!
What I love about chicken nuggets is that the serving options are seriously endless! Toss the chicken nuggets with buffalo sauce to make your very own boneless buffalo wings, wrap inside of tortilla shell with your favorite fresh toppings, serve over a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy or macaroni and cheese, add to a salad, or simply serve as an appetizer with your favorite sauces for dipping!
How do you cook chicken nuggets in an air fryer?
Cooking chicken nuggets in an air fryer is really easy. Add the chicken nuggets to the air fryer basket in a single layer, and cook at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken nuggets halfway through the cooking time.
- Chicken. I like to use chicken breasts, but chicken tenderloins or thighs would also work.
- Panko breadcrumbs. I recommend panko breadcrumbs versus regular breadcrumbs. Panko creates a thicker, crispier breading. But, if you're in a pinch, you can use regular breadcrumbs.
- Spices. Homemade blend of salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. These all add much needed flavor to the panko.
- Eggs. Dipping the chicken in an egg and milk mixture helps the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
- Milk. You can substitute water, pickle juice or a milk alternative, if needed.
- Olive oil cooking spray. Spraying the breaded chicken with olive oil spray is key to achieving a crispy breading! If you don't have the spray, you can gently brush or drizzle the chicken with olive oil.
How to make Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets.
Cooking chicken nuggets in the air fryer is my favorite because they cook so fast and always come out crispy! Here's step by step instructions.
- Toss chicken in egg and milk mixture. Tossing the chicken pieces in the egg and milk mixture prior to dredging in breadcrumbs really helps the breading stick to the chicken.
- Roll chicken in breadcrumbs. Working with one at a time, transfer the chicken pieces to the breading mixture to fully cook the chicken. For maximum breading, transfer the chicken piece back to the egg mixture, coating all sides, then roll again in the breading. This creates the thickest layer of breading.
- Air fry chicken nuggets. As you bread each piece of chicken, place it in the air fryer. Cook at 400ºF for about 10 minutes.
- Serve! Enjoy the chicken nuggets with your favorite dipping sauce!
The full recipe is in the recipe card below.
How to bake homemade chicken nuggets.
If you prefer, you can bake the chicken nuggets instead of using the air fryer.
Prepare the chicken nuggets per the instructions, then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 400ºF for 10 minutes, then flip and bake another 5-10 minutes until cooked through and crispy.
If you're looking to mix things up a bit, try one of these variations!
- Parmesan chicken nuggets. Add ½ cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese to the dry breadcrumb mixture, adding extra flavor!
- Crispy chicken strips. Try using chicken breast tenderloins to create homemade chicken strips!
- Use Italian breadcrumbs. Mix things up and add a little Italian flare by using Italian panic breadcrumbs instead.
- Add coconut. Mix things up by adding ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes to the dry breadcrumb mixture. I love to serve these with honey mustard!
Frequently Asked Questions.
What temperature do you cook air fryer nuggets?
Air fry chicken nuggets at 400ºF.
How long to cook chicken nuggets in the air fryer at 400ºF ?
Air fry chicken nuggets in a single layer at 400ºF for 8-10 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time.
Do you flip chicken nuggets in the air fryer?
When air frying chicken nuggets, I recommend flipping the chicken nuggets halfway through the cooking time, as the top of the chicken nuggets will get crispy faster than the bottom.
How long do you cook chicken nuggets in the air fryer?
Add the chicken nuggets to an air fryer in a single layer and air fry at 400ºF for about 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
How long do you cook frozen chicken nuggets in the air fryer?
If the chicken nuggets are fully cooked and frozen, air fry the chicken nuggets at 400ºF for about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time.
Do I need to use oil olive cooking spray?
If you don't have cooking spray, you can gently brush or drizzle the chicken nuggets with olive oil instead.
Can I use gluten free breadcrumbs and gluten free flour?
Yes, gluten free breadcrumbs and flour will work just as great! Using a ratio of 1:1 when substituting regular breadcrumbs and flour for gluten free breadcrumbs and flour.
Tips & tricks for the best air fryer chicken nuggets.
- Double-dredge the chicken nuggets. For thicker breading, dip the chicken pieces into the egg mixture then into the breadcrumb mixture, and repeat this process a second time.
- Don't crowd the air fryer. Don't overlap your chicken nuggets. The chicken nuggets should be barely touching each other. If you pack too many chicken nuggets into the air fryer, the breading will fall off, they won't get crispy on the outside, and they'll take longer to cook through.
- Flip the chicken nuggets. When air frying chicken nuggets, I like to flip them halfway through the cooking time. The tops of the chicken nuggets will get crispy faster than the bottom, so flipping the chicken nuggets helps to get both sides crispy.
This is a great make-ahead recipe! Prepare and cook the chicken nuggets per the instructions. Cool completely then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freezer for up to 3 months.
When you're ready to serve, reheat the refrigerated chicken nuggets in the air fryer at 400ºF for about 6-8 minutes and reheat the frozen chicken nuggets for 10-12 minutes, or until fully heated through.
Storage & Reheating.
- Storing in the refrigerator. Fully cooked homemade chicken nuggets can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Freezing chicken nuggets. Once the chicken nuggets have cooled, place in a ziplock bag or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months.
- Reheating chicken nuggets. To reheat fully cooked refrigerated chicken nuggets, preheat the air fryer to 400ºF, then cook for about 6-8 minutes, or until heated through. To reheat fully cooked frozen chicken nuggets, preheat the air fryer to 400ºF, then cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until heated through.
More Easy Chicken Recipes You'll Love!
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Homemade Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- olive oil cooking spray
- In a small bowl, mix together the panko, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside.
- Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip a piece of chicken in the egg mixture until coated. Use a fork to transfer to the breadcrumb mixture and toss until coated, pressing to adhere. For thicker breading, dip the piece of chicken back into the egg mixture, then toss again in the breadcrumb mixture.
- Spray the air fryer tray with olive oil, and as you bread each piece of chicken, place into the air fryer. Don't overcrowd the air fryer or overlap the chicken pieces. They should be barely touching. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you'll likely need to cook the chicken in two batches. Once the air fryer is full, spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil.
- Air fry at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, or until fully cooked through. Flip the chicken halfway through the cook time.