It’s hard to tell these air fryer chicken nuggets aren’t deep fried! They get so crispy, and cook so quickly. Kids love them, and let’s be real…so do adults.

Image of air fryer chicken nuggets in a basket, shot from above. BBQ sauce also pictured.

I’ve had an air fryer for quite awhile now, and I’ll be honest…mostly it’s just made me eat more hashbrowns and tater tots (they get SO crispy!). I’m trying to stretch my legs a little, though, and branch out a bit. I’ve had some requests from some of you for air fryer recipes, so I’m going to sprinkle them in here and there, starting with these tasty air fryer chicken nuggets.

If you don’t have an air fryer, no problem!

Try these baked chicken nuggets

These chicken nuggets are always a total hit with my daughter (my son doesn’t like anything). The first time she tried them, she was obsessed! She kept saying that they were so tender and juicy. That’s the magic of the air fryer! 

PS: On occasion, I’ve made a few of these without breading because I had extra chicken…so if you want to go that route, you totally can! I like to throw those on a salad. That’s not so much a recipe, though, since it’s just chicken with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper. The cubes cook in the same amount of time without breading, as long as they are cut in roughly the same size. 

image of air fryer chicken nuggets

About these air fryer chicken nuggets:

These chicken nuggets are breaded in the traditional way. First they get dipped in flour, then egg, and then a seasoned bread crumb mixture.

My twist is that I used whole wheat flour and whole wheat Panko bread crumbs. I honestly can’t tell the difference, but it makes these nuggets more satisfying and nutritious.

I season the flour with salt and pepper so that the chicken gets seasoned properly on that first layer. The Panko gets mixed with some Parmesan and some dried parsley for more flavor. 

Top secret….Shh…

I use the Parmesan in the green can for these. Freshly grated tastes great, but looks a little….stringy on these nuggets. The fine grated Parmesan blends in better with the breadcrumbs, but you feel free to use whichever type of Parm you like best!

You’ll have to cook these in batches, because the air fryer works best with a single layer of food. The good news is, they’re done in 7 minutes so you won’t have to wait long for that second batch! 

It's hard to tell these air fryer chicken nuggets aren't deep fried! They get so crispy, and cook so quickly. Kids love them, and let's be real...so do adults.

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is a medium-sized kitchen appliance that circulates air around food (similar to a convection oven). It cooks food quickly and gives food a crispy brown outside. It also requires far less oil than many other cooking methods. Read more about the air fryer here

How to make these chicken nuggets your own:

Ranch (try this healthy homemade ranch!), bbq sauce (gotcha covered with a homemade bbq sauce, too!), ketchup, honey…

Kidding, kind of. They’re really great the way they are, you guys! But here are a few ideas:

  • To make gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs for breading.
  • Add an Italian twist: Mix in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano to the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Give them a little heat by adding 1/4 teaspoon cayenne to the flour. 
  • If you can’t get down with whole wheat, use purpose flour and white (original) Panko. 

What to serve with these nuggets:

So many options! Try them with:

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

It's hard to tell these air fryer chicken nuggets aren't deep fried! They get so crispy, and cook so quickly. Kids love them, and let's be real...so do adults.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Olive oil spray
  • Optional dipping sauce: marinara or pizza sauce, barbecue sauce, or ranch dressing

Instructions

  1. Preheat air fryer at 400ºF for 8-10 minutes. 
  2. Set out three small shallow bowls. In the first bowl, place flour, salt, and pepper; mix lightly. In the second bowl, add egg and beat lightly.
  3. In the third bowl, combine Panko, parmesan cheese,and parsley flakes. 
  4. One at a time, coat chicken pieces in the flour mixture, then dip into the beaten egg, and finally coat with the Panko mixture, pressing lightly to help the coating adhere.
  5. Place chicken nuggets in basket of air fryer, in a single layer. Spray the nuggets with olive oil spray (this helps them get golden brown and crispy). You will not be able to cook them all at once. Cook each batch of chicken nuggets for 7 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Do not overcook.

Notes

  • If your kids don’t like anything green in their food, leave out the parsley flakes, not a big deal. 
  • You could also change up the seasoning, maybe using seasoned salt, or garlic salt.
  • Please don’t try to cook the nuggets all at once. Cook them in batches so there will be plenty of air circulation, making your nuggets nice and crispy.
  • If you don't have olive oil spray, you can use non-stick baking spray, but I prefer using pure olive oil.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: about 5 nuggets
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 150mg Sodium: 434mg Carbohydrates: 34g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 1g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 46g
RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.
Verdict: So tasty! I love to dip them in barbecue sauce or honey. 
Husband’s take: He likes these, but let’s be honest, I make these for my daughter. She can’t get enough.
Changes I would make: None are necessary!
Difficulty: Easy!