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A fool-proof family favorite, these air fryer chicken nuggets are light, tender, crispy, and juicy! Whether you’re looking for a quick dinner or potluck appetizer, this recipe has you covered.
Making homemade chicken nuggets in the air fryer is so easy — even easier than going to the grocery store or going through the drive-through at your favorite fast food restaurant.
I use a mixture of garlic, Italian seasonings, and Italian breadcrumbs for homestyle, classic flavor and for addicting crunch.
Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these bite-sized morsels are perfect for a shareable appetizer or for a dippable, delectable dinner!
Depending on the size of the chicken breasts you use, this recipe will make about 20 to 25 pieces in just 15 minutes. Make just a few for an after school snack, or a whole bunch for your next get-together. I promise these won’t disappoint!
Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post:
- How to cook chicken nuggets in the air fryer, and some great tips on how to get perfect results every time!
- Some keto-friendly and flavor variations to try, and some of the best sauces for dipping
- Other common questions about how to prepare and reheat homemade chicken nuggets in the air fryer
This recipe is so easy and comes together in no time! And with my delicious combination of spices and seasonings, you’ll never want to buy frozen grocery store nuggets again.
I made this recipe using the 5.8 QT Cosori Air Fryer. Its square basket makes it the perfect size for our family of 4.
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.
STEP ONE: Prepare each chicken breast by trimming off the fat and slicing into strips. Cut into ½-inch strips first, and then chop down to your desired size.
STEP TWO: Mix together the breadcrumbs and seasonings and set aside. Microwave the butter and stir to break down any remaining chunks.
STEP THREE: Dip each nugget into the butter, and then into the seasoning.
STEP FOUR: Preheat to 390 degrees F. In your basket, space the chunks evenly apart. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes and flip halfway through. Serve your air fryer nuggets hot and fresh, with a variety of dipping sauces, and enjoy!
Tips to Make the Best Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Bring the meat to room temperature before preparing. Otherwise, the butter coating will solidify and the breadcrumbs won’t stick.
- For extra crispiness, you can dredge the meat in flour before coating with the butter and seasonings.
- Keep the size of your chunks consistent and don’t let them touch. This will help each bite to cook evenly and crisp up on all sides.
- Don’t spray your basket. Because we coat each piece with butter, there’s no need!
Variations to Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
This is an incredibly versatile recipe! You can easily switch things up to enjoy some different flavors and seasonings. Here are just a few ideas:
- To make this recipe keto-friendly you can make it with almond flour or pork rinds for your breading. Check out my air fryer chicken tenders with no breading recipe for ideas for flavor without breading!
- Use panko breadcrumbs for a low-carb option that’s just as crunchy.
- Skip the breading altogether! Simply coat the meat in all of the seasonings minus the breadcrumbs.
- Use cayenne pepper and paprika for a spicy Cajun flavor.
- Mix the melted butter with your favorite hot sauce for some zesty buffalo bites!
How Long Do Chicken Nuggets Take in an Air Fryer?
Each machine is different, so it depends. For me, it takes 5 minutes to preheat and between 10 and 12 minutes for the meat to cook fully. Overall, it takes me approximately 15 minutes to prepare air fryer chicken nuggets.
Be sure to check the meat in the final few minutes to make sure they don’t over or undercook.
What is the Best Way to Reheat Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer?
Reheating leftover chicken in the air fryer is the best way to maintain that crispy texture and tender center.
Start at a lower temperature of 350 degrees F and space each nugget evenly in a single layer. Cook for just 3 to 5 minutes, until the meat is warmed through to the center.
Can I Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer?
That’s a great idea, and you totally can! It’s great to prep a bunch of these morsels ahead of time, freeze them, and then cook them throughout the week for a quick and easy meal. Or you can cook the store-bought frozen chicken nuggets in the air fryer using these directions.
It will take longer to prepare these frozen. Unlike pre-cooked, bagged tenders, these are raw. Use a meat thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat — it needs to reach 165 degrees F to be safe to eat.
Sauces to Serve with Air Fryer Nuggets
Serve these tasty bites with all of your favorite dipping sauces! I’m partial to homemade buffalo sauce and homemade BBQ sauce myself, but you can never go wrong with your classic ketchup and mustard. Honey sriracha sauce has become a very popular choice as well.
Other Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love:
- Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Wings
- Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
- Frozen Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
- Boneless Wings in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Turkey Wings
- 40+ Air Fryer Chicken Recipes to Try
- 1 large chicken breast, cut into chunks
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ cup melted butter
- Trim any visible fat off of the edges of your chicken breast. Then cut it into ½-inch strips and then cut those into desired size chunks. (I would cut it in half if it was a smaller strip and into thirds for the larger ones.)
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Allow your chicken to come to room temperature so that when you dip it in the butter, the butter doesn’t solidify.
- Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning and set aside.
- Melt your butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Dip your chicken nuggets in the butter first and then in your breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F. Place your nuggets in the basket. There is no need to spray your basket since you have used butter to coat your chicken.
- Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway through and checking on it the last few minutes since timing will vary on different fryers.
How to Reheat Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer:
1. Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees.
2. Place the leftover chicken nuggets in the air fryer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until warm and crispy.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 579mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g
This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.