You will never go back to buying store-bought chicken nuggets after making these delicious air fryer chicken nuggets! You only need about 25 minutes to make them, and they freeze well for later!
I have a 5 and 3 year old, so chicken nuggets are pretty much a staple in my house. I've tried making homemade nuggets before, but my kids have always preferred the store-bought (dino shaped!) kind. But, when I made these air fryer chicken nuggets for the first time, they gobbled them up without a second glance, so I knew they were a hit. They didn't even seem to mind the lack of dino shape!
I hope these air fryer chicken nuggets are a hit with your family too. They are easy to make, with only a few basic ingredients (most of them being spices and other pantry ingredients). And, you can make them in only about 25 minutes. They also freeze well for later so you will always have some on hand for a nugget emergency!
Serve these air fryer chicken nuggets alongside my recipe for microwave butternut squash and you've got a super easy homemade meal in no time.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you make a purchase through the link, it won’t cost you more but I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products that I personally use and love!
- Bread crumbs: all you need are the basic, plain dried bread crumbs. If you prefer the seasoned kind, you can use that instead.
- Oil: any neutral oil will do. I used avocado oil, but canola oil, vegetable oil, or safflower oil will also work.
- Flour: you just need regular, all-purpose flour here.
- Chicken breast: you will need boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can also substitute chicken breast tenderloins if you like.
Step by step photos
1. The first step is to prepare the 3-part breading. First comes the flour; add the flour and seasonings into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Then crack the eggs into another medium bowl. Add a splash of water (about 2 tablespoons), and whisk to combine.
3. The third part of the breading is - the breadcrumbs, of course! All you need to do here is add the breadcrumbs to a third medium bowl and mix in a little salt. Set the three bowls aside for now.
4. Next you can prepare the chicken. Just cut the chicken breasts into cubes - about 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm) in size.
5. Add some of the chicken to the flour mixture. You can do this about ⅓ of the chicken at a time. Since I'm lazy, I did only 2 batches. The amount you can add at a time depends on how wide your bowl is!
Toss the chicken pieces around in the flour, making sure they are evenly coated all around.
6. Then, remove the chicken from the flour and shake off the excess. Add the chicken pieces to the egg mixture and toss them around so they are evenly coated in egg.
7. Again, remove the chicken from the egg and let the excess drip off back into the bowl. Place the chicken pieces in the breadcrumbs next. Toss the chicken pieces around so they are fully coated with the breadcrumbs.
8. Remove the coated chicken pieces from the breadcrumbs and place them on a clean plate. Continue with the 3 part breading procedure until all the chicken pieces are breaded.
9. At some point mid-way through the breading process, take a little break and prep the air fryer.
Brush the surface where the food sits with some of the oil, then replace the basket and pre-heat the air fryer at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 3 - 5 minutes (or just go by how long the air fryer decides if your model has an automatic preheat function).
10. Once all the chicken is breaded and the air fryer is preheated, add all the chicken pieces to the air fryer in a single layer. Be careful when adding since the unit will be hot.
11. Using the brush, carefully dab oil on the tops and sides of the chicken nuggets. I say "dab" rather than "brush" because you don't want to rub off all the breading, just be gentle!
12. Set the air fryer to cook for 8 minutes. Half-way through the cook time, use tongs to flip the nuggets, and then dab the tops again with more oil.
13. When the nuggets are done, they should be golden brown and cooked through, reaching a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
If they aren't cooked through after 8 minutes, you can continue to cook the nuggets in 2 minute increments, checking the temperature in between each interval to make sure they don't get overcooked.
Tips and tricks
- I used Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for this recipe, which is lighter and flakier than Morton Kosher salt. To substitute Morton Kosher salt or regular, fine-grained table salt, use ½ teaspoon in the flour mixture, and ¼ teaspoon in the breadcrumb mixture.
- When choosing bowls for the breading, go for wide, shallow bowls if you have them (as opposed to tall and narrow). This will give you more space to toss the pieces around in the coatings.
- Here's how you can avoid breading your fingers right along with the chicken: use one hand to toss the chicken in the dry ingredients (flour and breadcrumbs), and the other to dip the chicken in the egg mixture.
- I tested this recipe with my Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 6 Quart Air Fryer (affiliate link). Depending on your air fryer, cook times may vary.
If you like, you can use cooking spray instead of brushing the oil on the cooking surface and the nuggets. But, just be aware that cooking sprays containing soy lecithin can cause a sticky buildup that may degrade nonstick surfaces over time. Here is an article with more info on how soy lecithin reacts with nonstick surfaces.
If you want to avoid using soy lecithin on your air fryer but still like the convenience of a spray, look for a cooking spray without soy lecithin, or, use an oil mister.
Leftover air fryer chicken nuggets will last 3 - 4 days in the fridge; just store them in a covered container. You can use the microwave to reheat the nuggets, or, reheat them in the air fryer! I have found that heating them at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 3 - 4 minutes does the trick.
Yes, you can definitely freeze any leftover nuggets. If the nuggets are still hot, let them cool down before placing them in an airtight container or gallon zip top bag to freeze. The chicken nuggets will keep well in the freezer for 2 - 3 months.
I found the nuggets did stick a little if they were piled together, but were easy enough to separate when I took them out of the freezer. If you're worried about the nuggets sticking together, you can separate the layers with a piece of parchment paper.
You can reheat the frozen nuggets in the microwave, or, reheat them in the air fryer at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for about 8 minutes, flipping the nuggets halfway through the cook time.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
You can make delicious, flavorful and perfectly breaded from-scratch chicken nuggets in under 25 minutes by using the air fryer. These chicken nuggets have a flavorful breading that rivals any store-bought nugget!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 minutes
- Total Time: 23 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main course, entree
- Method: air fry
- Cuisine: American
- 16 ounces (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breast (about 2 medium-sized chicken breasts)
- ½ cup (65 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided (see note 1)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup (95 g) plain dry breadcrumbs
- 2 - 2 ½ tablespoons neutral oil (avocado oil, vegetable oil, etc.) (see note 2)
- In a medium (preferably shallow) bowl, add the all-purpose flour, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix together and set aside.
- Crack the two eggs into another medium bowl. Add a splash of water (about 2 tablespoons) and whisk together until the egg mixture is evenly combined and smooth. Set aside.
- In a third medium (preferably shallow) bowl, add the breadcrumbs and remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix together and set aside.
- Cut the chicken into about 1 ½ inch (3.8 cm) -sized pieces.
- Working in 2 - 3 batches, add some of the chicken pieces to the bowl of flour. Toss the pieces around until they are evenly coated all around in the flour.
- Gently shake off the excess flour and add the chicken pieces to the bowl of egg. Toss the pieces around in the egg mixture until they are fully coated in the egg.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the egg mixture and allow the excess egg to drip off, then add the chicken pieces to the bowl of breadcrumbs. Toss the chicken in the breadcrumbs until they are evenly coated with breadcrumbs. Remove the chicken from the bowl of breadcrumbs and place them in a single layer on a clean plate.
- Continue the three step breading process until all the chicken pieces are coated.
- With a basting or pastry brush, brush the bottom cooking surface of the air fryer with oil, then pre-heat the air fryer at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 3 - 5 minutes, depending on the size of the air fryer (larger units may need the full 5 minutes, smaller units need less time). To save time, this step can be done about half-way through the process of breading the chicken.
- When the air fryer is pre-heated, carefully add the breaded chicken pieces to the air fryer in a single layer, spread evenly apart. Using a basting or pastry brush, gently dab the top and sides of each piece of chicken with oil.
- Air fry for 8 minutes. Half way through the 8 minute cook time, flip the chicken nuggets over with tongs, then gently dab the tops of the nuggets with oil. The nuggets are done when they are golden brown, with an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. If the nuggets are not cooked after 8 minutes, cook for an additional 2 minutes at a time, until the target internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached.
I used Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for this recipe, which is lighter and flakier than Morton Kosher salt. To substitute Morton Kosher salt or regular table salt, use ½ teaspoon in the flour mixture, and ¼ teaspoon in the breadcrumb mixture.
If you prefer, you can use cooking spray in place of brushing the oil on the cooking surface and the nuggets. Please be aware that cooking sprays that have soy lecithin can cause a sticky buildup that may degrade nonstick surfaces over time. If you're concerned about this, look for a cooking spray without soy lecithin, or use an oil mister.
To avoid breading your fingers along with the chicken, use one hand to toss the chicken in the dry ingredients (flour and breadcrumbs), and the other to dip the chicken in the egg mixture.
This recipe was tested using the Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 6 Quart Air Fryer. Depending on the air fryer you are using, cook times may vary.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brand and exact amounts of ingredients used. This nutrition estimate should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 445
- Sugar: 1.7 g
- Sodium: 377 mg
- Fat: 18.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.6 g
- Fiber: 1.7 g
- Protein: 39.7 g
- Cholesterol: 171 mg
Keywords: air fryer chicken nuggets, air fryer chicken, chicken nuggets