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If your kids are obsessed with chicken nuggets, learn how to make chicken nuggets in the air fryer! With a few simple ingredients, you can make your own ground chicken nuggets that cook in just a few minutes in the air fryer! They’re perfect for those busy weeknights, and you can even make them in advance for a quick, healthy meal any night of the week!

A hand dipping one of the air fryer chicken nuggets in a bowl of ketchup.

Easy air fryer chicken nuggets

It can be so hard when your kids get hyper-focused on one or two meals! Many kids get stuck in the mac and cheese, chicken nugget, and grilled cheese routine, so it can be easy to resort to these options in the form of more processed convenience foods.

Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own healthy chicken nuggets free from the preservatives and other additives you’ll find in store-bought chicken nuggets. Once you know how to air fry chicken nuggets, you’ll want to make them all the time!

If you prefer veggie-loaded nuggets, try these cauliflower chicken nuggets!

Crispy chicken nuggets in the air fryer.

air fryer chicken nuggets

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Why We Love This Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipe

  • Nutritious: Instead of eating boxed frozen chicken nuggets from the grocery store, these ground chicken nuggets are high in protein, have more fibre than normal thanks to whole wheat bread bread crumbs, and are still totally delicious!
  • Homemade: These DIY chicken nuggets are completely made from scratch! They’re made with just a handful of simple ingredients and have a delicious crispy coating your kids will love dipping into their favorite sauce!
  • Yummy:  My kids think these easy homemade chicken nuggets are the best! They’re crispy on the outside with tender, flavorful meat on the inside. Make a double batch and freeze the rest!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients for air fryer chicken nuggets.
  • Ground chicken: These delicious air fryer chicken nuggets all start with a base of real ground chicken, which is easy to form in any shape you’d like!
  • Bread: Like making meatballs, you’ll want to add some bread as a filler to get the perfect texture. We typically use whole wheat bread since that’s what we have on hand.
  • Milk: The milk softens the bread, making these crispy chicken nuggets tender on the inside. You can use any fat percentage.
  • Parmesan cheese: I’m a big fan of sneaking parmesan cheese into my breadings because it adds lots of flavor, and a great cheesy texture! You can also use nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.
  • Spices: You’ll need garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper to season these homemade air fryer chicken nuggets.
  • Egg: Use a little scrambled egg to help the bread crumbs adhere for the perfect crispy texture.
  • Bread crumbs: You have lots of options for the breadcrumbs, including regular, whole wheat, or panko bread crumbs. You can even make your own bread crumbs from leftover bread!

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Make Ground Chicken Nuggets

  1. In a large bowl, add the bread and pour the milk on top. Let it absorb for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika and combine with your hands. This is called a panade and helps keep the chicken nuggets juicy.
  3. Next, add the ground chicken and parmesan cheese to the bowl. Knead the bread, spices and parmesan into the ground chicken. Mix until just combined; don’t overmix.
  4. Form mixture into small nuggets (about a tablespoon each) and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet.
  5. Combine the breading mix in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  6. Brush each side of the nuggets with the whisked egg. Transfer them to the breading mixture and generously coat each one until completely covered. Place back on the baking sheet or plate.

How to Cook Chicken Nuggets in Air Fryer

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place raw chicken nuggets in air fryer, leaving space between each one for the hot air to circulate. For a crunchier texture, lightly spray the nuggets with olive oil or cooking spray.
  3. Cook for 8-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.
Keep scrolling to the recipe card below for the full printable recipe!

RECIPE TIPS

  • This recipe was tested in the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the type of air fryer you use.
  • If you don’t have ground chicken on hand, you can also make your own ground chicken by grinding up cubed chicken breasts in a food processor. You’ll need about 2 small chicken breasts for a pound of ground chicken.
  • If making these chicken nuggets for babies, it’s recommended that you leave out the salt for baby’s portion to minimize sodium intake.
An air fryer chicken nugget dipped into a bowl of ketchup.

Recipe FAQs

Can I cook frozen chicken nuggets in air fryer?

Absolutely! That’s the beauty of the air fryer – you can cook anything quickly, even when it’s fully frozen. For best results, be sure to preheat your air fryer and let it run for at least 5-10 minutes before adding your chicken nuggets. Set the timer for the amount of time on the package for best results.

If you’re cooking frozen homemade chicken nuggets, you’ll want to let them cook for at least 10 minutes at 400 degrees, but likely closer to 15 minutes since the chicken is raw. Be sure to check the internal temperature of the nuggets and make sure they reach 165 degrees F before removing them from the air fryer basket.

What is the best air fryer to cook ground chicken nuggets?

I’m partial to my Ninja air fryer, the Foodi. It has a great capacity, making it easy to make enough food for my whole family at one time. It’s perfect for cooking these raw chicken nuggets in the air fryer, creating the perfect crispy coating on the outside. That being said, any air fryer works well for making these nuggets!

How to make chicken nuggets in air fryer from scratch?

If you’re tired of paying for overpriced and over-processed chicken nuggets at the grocery store, you can easily make your own! You can make your own by basically modifying a simple meatball recipe.

You’ll mix ground chicken with bread, milk, and some spices, form them into the perfect shape, then bread them using flour, egg wash, and panko breadcrumbs. Then, you’ll pop them into the air fryer and bake them at 400 degrees F until fully crispy. It’s that easy!

Storage & Reheating Guidelines

Be sure to store your leftover chicken nuggets in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

To reheat chicken nuggets in the air fryer, add the cooked nuggets in a single layer in your air fryer basket and bake them at 400 for 5-6 minutes or until fully warmed through. You can also microwave the leftover nuggets, but the crust will soften instead of crisping up.

You can also freeze the leftover air fryer chicken nuggets and then reheat the frozen cooked nuggets by baking them in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until fully heated. 

A divided plate with chicken nuggets, noodles, raspberries and cucumbers.

Serving Suggestions

Once you know how to cook chicken nuggets in the air fryer, you’ll find yourself making this recipe all the time. Since the leftovers store so well, it’s a fun way to ditch fast food for a healthier option without compromising flavor.

My kids love dipping these crispy nuggets in their favorite sauces, like BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, honey mustard sauce, or even buffalo sauce for the big kids or grown-ups.

They can be eaten as a high protein healthy snack or served with some veggies and grains or starch for a kid-friendly meal.

Try serving these nuggets with any of the following:

Recipe Variations

  • Baked chicken nuggets: Instead of an air fryer, you can use your oven on the convection setting. Just be sure to flip the nuggets halfway through the cook time to get the right texture.
  • Chicken strips: When you’re forming the nuggets, you can choose the size of the chicken nuggets. You can easily roll them into long strips to make your own chicken strips.
  • Use pickle juice: Instead of milk, use pickle juice to tenderize the chicken, soften the breadcrumbs, and season the nuggets. It sounds strange, but it’s a fun twist on this easy snack! 
A child's hand dipping a chicken nugget into a bowl of ketchup.

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A child's hand dipping a crispy ground chicken nugget into a bowl of ketchup.
Recipe
5 from 1 vote

How to Make Chicken Nuggets in Air Fryer

Created by Elysia Cartlidge
Servings: 20 chicken nuggets
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
If your kids are obsessed with chicken nuggets, learn how to make chicken nuggets in the air fryer! With a few simple ingredients, you can make your own ground chicken nuggets that cook in just a few minutes in the air fryer! They’re perfect for those busy weeknights, and you can even make them in advance for a quick, healthy meal any night of the week!

Ingredients
 

For chicken nuggets

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 slice of bread (I used whole wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg whisked

For breading mixture

  • 3/4 cup regular or panko bread crumbs (I used whole-wheat)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, add the bread and pour the milk on top. Let it absorb for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika and combine with your hands. This is called a panade and helps to keep the chicken nuggets juicy.
  • Next, add the ground chicken and parmesan cheese to the bowl. Knead the bread, spices and parmesan into the ground chicken. Mix until just combined; don't overmix.
  • Form mixture into small nuggets (about a tablespoon each) and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet.
  • Combine the breading mix in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  • Brush each side of the nuggets with the whisked egg. Transfer them to the breading mixture and generously coat each one until completely covered. Place back on the baking sheet or plate.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F.
  • Place chicken nuggets in air fryer, leaving space between each one for the hot air to circulate. For a crunchier texture, lightly spray the nuggets with olive oil or cooking spray.
  • Cook for 8-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

  • This recipe was tested in the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on the type of air fryer you use.
  • If you don’t have ground chicken on hand, you can also make your own ground chicken by grinding up cubed chicken breasts in a food processor. You’ll need about 2 small chicken breasts for a pound of ground chicken.
  • If making these chicken nuggets for babies, it’s recommended that you leave out the salt for baby’s portion to minimize sodium intake.

Nutrition

Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 134mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 62IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg
A child's hand dipping a crispy ground chicken nugget into a bowl of ketchup.

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