Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipe

Most kids clamor for chicken nuggets. The ones you can pick up at fast food joints aren't always the healthiest. Even the chicken nuggets bought at the grocery store may be full of artificial ingredients. While a sizeable dollop of ketchup, ranch, or barbecue dipping sauce may mask the bland taste of these types of chicken nuggets, why would you want your kiddos or yourself to eat something so unhealthy? 

Now you can have healthier chicken nuggets that are crispy, crunchy, and delicious straight out of the air fryer in no time at all. Carlos Leo, aspiring chef and blogger from Spoonabilities, loves food and developing recipes like this one for air fryer chicken nuggets. The spices he incorporates into the breading really make its flavor pop! When you're short on time, give these air fryer chicken nuggets a try. Your kiddos won't want store-bought or fast food chicken nuggets again.

Gather the ingredients

This air fryer chicken nuggets recipe is exceptionally easy to follow and requires a little more than a dozen ingredients, many of which you might already have on hand. For four servings, you'll need two large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, an egg, milk, panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley flakes, cooking oil spray, and of course your favorite dipping sauce. If you'd rather not use all purpose flour, you can swap this ingredient out for a gluten-free version, Leo confirms. 

Cut up the chicken

Air fryers are a fantastic tool to have in your kitchen, and you're about to find out why with this recipe. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it get warm while you prep the nuggets. 

Take two large boneless and skinless chicken breasts and trim any fat away. Cut the chicken breasts into half-inch-thick slices, then cut each of the half-inch-thick slices into 1-inch wide, bite-sized nuggets.

There's no need to break out a ruler for this step. "Don't worry if you cut them a bit larger," Leo says.

Get the seasonings ready

Take out three medium-sized, shallow bowls and set up your breading station. In the first bowl, add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and  black pepper. 

In the second bowl, add one large egg and beat it lightly, then mix in the milk. 

In the third bowl, blend together the panko breadcrumbs with the Parmesan cheese and dried parsley flakes. Be sure to break apart any large chunks of Parmesan cheese.

Dredge the chicken

It's now time to coat each small piece of chicken using the three prepped bowls. 

Star by coating the chicken thoroughly in the flour-based seasoning mixture, then dip the flour-coated piece into the egg mixture, and finish with the breadcrumb mixture. Push the breadcrumb mixture gently onto the bite-sized chicken nugget pieces to help the coating stick better. You may be tempted to start with the egg mixture first, but don't. The flour mixture will stick to the chicken on it's own, and the egg coating is designed to make the final breading layer stick. 

When dredging the chicken bites in the dry ingredients, roll them around until completely coated. You may need to use your fingers to press the coating in to make sure it sticks — especially with the final coat.

Air fry those chicken nuggets

Use a spray cooking oil to grease your air fryer basket before you load it up. It would be a shame for all that tasty breading you created to stick to the tray instead of the chicken! 

Carefully place the chicken nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, then spray the nuggets directly with the cooking oil spray, which helps them turn golden brown and crispy. Note that you probably won't be able to cook all of the nuggets at one time (depending on the size of your air fryer), so cook each batch for 8 to 11 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Be sure not to overcook your nuggets. Leo advises that if the pieces are cut smaller, you should reduce the cooking time by a bit, cooking just until the chicken nuggets register an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may find yourself unable to sneak a few bites while waiting for the next batch to cook — and we don't blame you for that.

Serve your air fryer chicken nuggets with dips

You'll marvel at how amazing these homemade chicken nuggets taste straight out of the air fryer. "They're well seasoned, perfectly cooked, tender, and flavorful," Leo says. "Using the air fryer gives you the same taste, but they're healthier and not oily, yet still crispy."

When the chicken nuggets are ready, serve in a basket or on a serving plate with your preferred dipping sauce, such as marinara or pizza sauce, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or ranch dressing. Or of course, you can fall back on the old standard, ketchup.

If you'd like a little more kick to your meal, consider whipping up a spicier dip by mixing together mayo, horseradish, and smoked paprika to make a horseradish-mayo dip, or infuse your ketchup with Worcestershire sauce and sriracha for a flavorful boost. Mayo mixed with grated garlic cloves and a squirt of lemon juice tastes great for dipping, too.

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
With this recipe, you can have healthier chicken nuggets that are crispy, crunchy, and delicious straight out of the air fryer in no time at all.
Prep Time
Cook Time
metal basket filled with air fryer chicken nuggets and a container of dipping sauce
Total time: 18 minutes
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 ⅓ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • Cooking oil spray
  1. Preheat the air fryer at 400 F.
  2. Trim any fat from chicken breasts. Cut into ½-inch-thick slices, and then cut each slice into two 1-inch bite-sized nuggets.
  3. Prepare three medium shallow bowls. In the first bowl, add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika salt, and pepper; mix to combine. In the second bowl, add the egg and beat lightly. In the third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and parsley flakes. Mix to combine, breaking apart any large bits.
  4. Transfer chicken from one bowl to the others: Coat the chicken pieces in the flour seasoning mixture, then dip into the egg, and then coat with the breadcrumb mixture, pressing it on to the chicken to help the coating stick.
  5. Spray your air fryer basket with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Place the chicken nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Spray the nuggets with the cooking oil spray (this helps them get golden brown and crispy). Do not overcrowd the air fryer.
  7. Cook each batch of chicken nuggets for 8-11 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F. Do not overcook.
  8. Remove the nuggets from the basket and serve in a basket or serving plate with your preferred dipping sauces.
Calories per Serving 759
Total Fat 50.5 g
Saturated Fat 8.4 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 188.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.2 g
Total Sugars 1.6 g
Sodium 663.5 mg
Protein 52.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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