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.
Why you’ll love it: These have a crispy outside and tender inside, without the fat of deep-frying!
How long it takes: 22 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: air fryer, bowls, tongs
Servings: 4 but can be doubled
I’ve had an air fryer for quite awhile now, and I’ll be honest. At first, we just ate more French fries and tater tots (they get SO crispy!). Since then, I’ve come to use my air fryer nearly every day for everything from boiled eggs to roasted mushrooms. I’ve had lots of requests for air fryer recipes, too. Today, I’m featuring homemade air fryer chicken nuggets.
Air fryer chicken nuggets are always a total hit with my kids. The first time my daughter tried them, she was obsessed. She kept saying that they were so tender and juicy. That’s the magic of the air fryer! The air fryer also works great for breaded pork chops and kind of surprisingly, really perfect salmon.
About Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Crispy breading, but not deep fried. These chicken nuggets are breaded in the traditional way. First they get dipped in flour, then egg, and then a seasoned bread crumb mixture. I like to use whole wheat flour and whole wheat panko bread crumbs. Taste-wise, you can’t tell the difference but it makes these nuggets more satisfying and nutritious.
Perfectly seasoned. The flour is seasoned with salt and pepper so that the chicken gets seasoned properly on that first layer. The panko gets mixed with Parmesan and dried parsley for more flavor.
They cook quickly. You’ll have to cook these in batches (unless you have a large air fryer) 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!
I use finely grated Parmesan (yes, the kind in the green can!). Shredded 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!
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
- Jazz them up with dipping sauces. Ranch (try this healthy homemade ranch!), bbq sauce (gotcha covered with a homemade bbq sauce, too!), French fry dipping sauce, ketchup, honey, hot honey, whatever you like.
- Gluten-free or without breading: Use your favorite gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs for breading. You can also make the nuggets without breading. Season the 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. They’re perfect for adding to a salad.
- Change the seasoning: Add an Italian twist by mixing in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon dried oregano to the breadcrumb mixture. Give them a little heat by adding ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the flour.
- Don’t care for whole wheat? Substitute all-purpose flour and white (original) panko.
- Bake them in your oven. Try my healthy chicken nuggets with parmesan.
- Rather have chicken strips? Try air fryer chicken tenders, basically the same process but a different size.
- Looking for a vegetarian choice? Try making falafel or Buffalo cauliflower bites in your air fryer.
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs (or regular panko)
- ⅓ 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
- Preheat air fryer at 400ºF for 5 minutes.
- 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. In the third bowl, combine panko, parmesan cheese,and parsley flakes
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- To make gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs for breading. To make dairy-free, omit Parmesan cheese.
- Nutrition information does not include dipping sauces.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.