Say goodbye to bland boxed chicken nuggets! Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are a family-friendly recipe that everybody loves. The secret is the brine, which delivers tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken that is so good that you may never buy nuggets again. Make this once, and the family will beg you to make it again and again.
Are you looking for a healthier alternative to fast food chicken nuggets and a tastier alternative to boxed nuggets?
Look no further than air-fried chicken nuggets! This quick and easy recipe is perfect for busy families who want to enjoy homemade meals without a lot of hassle.
Even the most novice cook can tackle this recipe with confidence. Since air fryers cook food quickly and evenly, your nuggets will be perfectly cooked every time.
Ingredients for Making Homemade Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer
- Sugar: Omit the sugar if you are sugar-free.
- Salt: I used sea salt, but kosher salt or table salad will also work.
- Chicken: Chicken breasts are traditionally used for nuggets, but boneless skinless chicken thighs will also work.
- Oil: Olive oil gives a nice flavor to the breadcrumbs. I used regular olive oil, not extra-virgin.
- Breadcrumbs: I recommend plain panko crumbs for crispy nuggets. You could use regular breadcrumbs, but the nuggets will not be as crispy. You can use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this gluten-free.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour.
- Seasonings: Garlic powder, salt, and pepper make these crispy chicken nuggets so flavorful. Reduce to one teaspoon garlic powder if you are serving kids that are sensitive to garlic. On the other hand, if you would like a kick of heat, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper is excellent here. Other spices that work well here are smoked paprika and onion powder.
- Eggs: I used large eggs, but whatever you have on hand will work.
- Cooking Spray: An oil mister with your favorite oil works excellent here.
Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets work with a wide variety of side dishes. Some great options include Broccoli Slaw Salad, Caprese Pasta Salad, Grilled Zucchini, Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumbs, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, and Air Fryer Asparagus.
Dipping Sauces for Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- Honey Mustard (Sugar-Free? Try this Keto Honey Mustard)
- Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- Jalapeno Ranch Dip
- Barbecue Sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
While store-bought chicken nuggets can be high in calories, fat, and sodium, homemade air fryer chicken nuggets can be a healthier option.
If you use lean chicken breast and a light coating of oil,l such as in this air fryer chicken nuggets recipe, your nuggets will be lower in fat and calories than their fried counterparts.
You can also control the amount of salt and seasoning that you add, making it easy to customize the flavor to your liking.
Absolutely! You can use homemade or store-bought gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free free flour.
That is going to depend on the size that you have cut the nuggets and your air fryer, but in general, you should expect it to take between 8 and 10 minutes for chicken nuggets to cook in the air fryer.
Yes! These nuggets reheat beautifully and are perfect for meal prep.
I recommend reheating them in your air fryer for about 5 minutes.
Yes. I recommend baking them at 350° F for about 20 minutes.
Tools Needed to Make Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
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Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days.
To freeze them, place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover. Freeze until solid, about four hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag and freeze for up to three months.
How to Make Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer
Start by making the chicken brine. To do this, heat a cup of water until it is warm but not boiling.
Add the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve.
Pour the remaining water into a larger bowl and add the sugar and salt water mixture.
Stir well. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces, (about 1-inch pieces) and then add to the cooled brine.
Refrigerate for an hour.
Line a plate with paper towels and transfer the chicken to it. Pat dry.
While the chicken is brineing, toast the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium and add the breadcrumbs,
Cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the toasted panko bread crumbs to a shallow dish or small bowl.
In another shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Beat the eggs together in another shallow dish.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and then dip it into the egg mixture to coat.
Dip into the breadcrumbs and press the breadcrumbs into the chicken.
Transfer to a wire rack set on top of the baking sheet and continue with the remaining chicken.
Preheat your air fryer to 400° F.
Mist the chicken with oil and place in your air fryer basket. (Depending on your air fryer, will likely need to cook in batches.)
Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, using an air fryer liner if desired.
Remove from the air fryer when the chicken is golden brown, and the internal temperature registers 160° F. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
(The internal temperature will continue to rise to the recommended 165° F.)
Garnish with parsley and serve with ketchup for the kids and your favorite dipping sauce for the adults.
More Air Fryer Recipes to Try
- This air fryer tuna steak is the perfect, healthy weeknight meal. It's simple to make and so full of flavor. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce or over a bed of greens for a delicious dinner.
- Easy family meals don’t get any better than these air fryer chicken thighs. With the air fryer, we can get perfectly cooked chicken thighs with crispy skin every time.
- Looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal? These air fryer pizza pockets are the perfect solution! They're made with store-bought pie crust, shredded mozzarella cheese, and your favorite pizza toppings.
- For a deliciously easy side, this air fryer asparagus is sure to please. With lemon juice, garlic, and goat cheese, this is a side you will turn to again and again.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer
- 4 cups water divided
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- Cooking Spray
Make the Brine
- Heat 1 cup of water until it is warm, but not boiling. Add the sugar and salt and stir until they dissolve.
- Place the remaining 3 cups of water in a larger bowl. Add the sugar and salt water mixture and stir.
- Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Cut the Chicken
- While the brine is cooling cut the chicken breast into three equal piece and cut the pieces into roughly equal sized chunks.
- Add the chicken to the brine and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and transfer it to a paper towel lined plate.
- Pat dry.
Toast the Breadcrumbs
- While the chicken is brining, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the breadcrumbs, and cook, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Coat the Chicken
- Transfer the breadcrumbs to a shallow dish.
- In a separate shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- In a third dish, beat the eggs to combine.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and then dip it in the egg mixture.
- Dip into the breadcrumbs, using your hands to press the breadcrumbs into the chicken.
- Transfer to a rack set on top of a baking sheet and continue with the remaining chicken.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400° F.
- Spray the chicken well with cooking spray.
- Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until crispy and golden brown and the center reaches 165° F.