These crispy air fryer chicken nuggets are made with simple ingredients and deliver big flavor! Kid-friendly, freezer-friendly, and easy to cook ahead and reheat.
The air fryer is a great way to cook chicken: from breaded air fryer chicken to air fryer chicken wings or crispy air fryer chicken thighs, your chicken will be perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Chicken nuggets are another favorite air fryer option- with this simple breading you get the perfect blend of crispy and flavorful. This recipe comes out perfectly every time, and is a family favorite!
Reasons you’ll ♡ air fryer chicken nuggets
- they are crispy without the need for oil or frying
- they are made with simple pantry staples
- kids and adults alike love them!
Wondering exactly how to this recipe? Watch this 1-minute video for step by step instructions! You can find more recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
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- chicken– this recipe uses boneless skinless chicken breasts; you may swap for chicken thighs but may need to adjust the cook time
- breadcrumbs– this recipe uses a mix of both Panko (seasoned Japanese breadcrumbs) and regular breadcrumbs. See below for more details
- eggs + flour– the best way to get the breading to stick is to use a combination of flour and eggs; however you can swap for simply brushing with olive oil (see my air fryer chicken tenders for an example of how to do this). The breading will be harder to get to stick and may require a few rounds of dredging. It also may not get quite as crisp.
- parmesan– adds great flavor to these chicken nuggets; you can swap for a hard cheese like asiago or pecorino romano, or simply leave it out (you may want to up the other seasonings to compensate if you leave the cheese out).
Step by step directions
Scroll to the recipe card for exact measurements.
- Start by dredging chicken breast chunks in flour, shaking off excess.
- Next, dredge in beaten eggs.
- Finally, dredge in a mixture of breadcrumbs, Panko, parmesan cheese, salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Turn until fully coated.
- Cook in a single layer in your air fryer for 4 minutes.
- Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, or until chicken is 165°F measured with an instant read thermometer.
- Serve with dipping sauce and enjoy!
Cut chicken as evenly as possible
Chicken breasts are notoriously prone to overcooking, and it can happen quickly in the air fryer! To ensure that your chicken nuggets are cooked through in approximately the same amount of time, I advise cutting them into equal-sized pieces (1 1/2 inches or so).
Use a blend of breadcrumbs
This recipe calls for a mix of Panko and regular breadcrumbs: the Panko really helps add the crispy texture to these chicken nuggets, while the regular breadcrumbs help the spices mix in and stick to the chicken evenly. In a pinch, you can use 100% Panko or 100% regular breadcrumbs, but the chicken nuggets won’t be quite the same.
The key to getting crispy chicken nuggets is to allow space between the chicken pieces for air flow. If you place too many chicken nuggets in the air fryer at a time, they may stick together, causing the breading to fall off, or they can cook unevenly. If you have a basket-style air fryer, you will need to work in batches.
Gluten-free and keto breading
Keto- Some readers have had success with my other air fryer chicken recipes by swapping the breadcrumbs for pork rinds! I have not personally tried.
Gluten-free- I feel confident that you could swap the breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free Panko, but again, I have not personally tried this. Leave us a comment if you try it!
My thoughts on air fryer models
I’ve been using a Phillips air fryer (similar to this one) for several years and it is still working great. However, if I could do it over again, I would buy the XL model, which fits more food. We also recently purchased the Instant Pot Vortex air fryer oven, and so far we really like it! You can fit the whole batch of chicken nuggets into the Vortex.
Nuggets can be stored and reheated; but you should expect them to be a bit drier after reheating.
- store in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 4 days
- reheat in the air fryer at 400°F until crispy and warmed through
Chicken nuggets may be frozen before or after cooking them. For freshest taste, freeze before cooking.
- freezing uncooked chicken nuggets- after breading the chicken, arrange on a baking sheet. Freeze for 2-3 hours, until frozen solid. Transfer to a meal prep container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- freezing cooked chicken nuggets– place in a meal prep container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- reheat from frozen– while I haven’t tested this with these chicken nuggets, I have successfully baked frozen homemade chicken strips. Start with the cook time of 7 minutes and keep an eye on them; flip as needed to cook through evenly.
Serve it with
- Healthy Homemade Ranch Dressing
- Healthier Caesar Dressing
- Tzatziki Sauce
- Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic Butter
- Instant Pot Carrots with Honey Glaze
More air fryer recipes
- Ultra Crispy Air Fryer Bacon
- Perfect Air Fryer Salmon
- Seriously Crispy Air Fryer Gnocchi
- Crispy Air Fryer Broccoli
- Crispy Air Fryer Cauliflower
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Cut chicken into 1.5 to 2 inch 'nugget-shaped' pieces.
- Grab three bowls. In the first bowl, add the eggs.
- Add the flour to the second bowl.
- Add the panko, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, onion powder and garlic powder to the third bowl and mix to combine.
- Using tongs or a fork, toss chicken pieces to coat in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a clean plate and repeat until all chicken bites are coated.
- Heat your air fryer to 200°C/390°F. Working in batches, add the chicken nuggets to the air fryer basket and cook for 4 minutes.
- Flip, and cook for 3 more minutes, or until cooked through and 165°F or no longer pink in the middle.
- Repeat with all chicken nuggets until they are all cooked through.
- Serve with ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce.
- uncooked chicken nuggets- after breading the chicken, arrange on a baking sheet. Freeze for 2-3 hours, until frozen solid. Transfer to a meal prep container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- cooked chicken nuggets– place in a meal prep container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.