Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

If I could name a food for which my loyalty has never wavered, it'd be chicken nuggets! Even as I move towards a majority plant and fish based diet, chicken nuggets stay in my heart! I can't remember when I had my first chicken nugget, but I remember when I realized how much I loved them: I was about 11 years old and my aunt used to keep us over the summer. I honestly hated staying over there. She had 2 kids of her own, my cousins, and when my mom would send us there, we'd either have packed lunches or money so we could buy something. No matter what we brought over or purchased, she made us share with her kids. It was SO annoying and I couldn't stand it. Well one day, my mom gave us money and we went to Wendy's. I got chicken nuggets and don't really remember the rest of the order. All I remember is my Aunt demanding I give up two of my nuggets for each of her children and directed my brother and sister to do the same. Well...enough was enough. I took all 5 nuggets and stuffed them in my mouth. I didn't care that I could choke and die, I didn't care that I wouldn't get to enjoy them fully. I was not giving them up! She could've taken my fries, my drink or my frosty...but I she crossed the line at the nuggets! 


Fast forward *mumbles* years and I am now more conscious about what I eat, as well as what I serve my niece. What I love about this recipe is that it's very, VERY easy to make and clean up afterward. Using a gallon zip lock bag, you do all of the seasoning and coating in one place. After you have fried all of your pieces, you simply throw the bag away and clean off the knife and cutting board you used to make the chicken. Simple! I also love that by making these at home, you not only save 50% of calories per serving, you also can control exactly what is put into your nuggets from seasonings, to preservatives and beyond. I have a gluten sensitivity and eat little dairy, so I can make these easily gluten and dairy free without sacrificing on flavor or paying more for them in the frozen section.

How many of these beautiful, brown nuggets did I eat? I'll never tell!

How many of these beautiful, brown nuggets did I eat? I'll never tell!

Some quick tips for the most successful air fryer nuggets to ensure you'll be making these over and over again:

  • Pat your chicken breast dry before cutting to make sure the nuggets cook up extra crispy and you don't have a soggy crust.

  • Flip the nuggets over half way through cooking as the nuggets cook faster on the bottom than the top

  • This is my basic nugget seasoning blend, but try switching it up with different spices and herbs, like a hot paprika-mint-cumin-garlic-mint for a Turkish twist, or oregano-cilantro-chili powder blend for a Mexican punch. The possibilities are endless!

  • Homemade Sweet Honey Mustard make these extra delicious and it's simple with 1 part dijon mustard to 1.5 parts honey! I like to use good clover honey to in my recipe.

If you don't have an air fryer, you can make these in the oven by increasing the temperature to 450 degrees and cooking for 12 minutes on a baking rack fitted over a baking sheet. Still flipping half way through to ensure maximum crispiness!

The crunchy exterior of these nuggets make it perfect for dunking in sweet honey mustard sauce!

The crunchy exterior of these nuggets make it perfect for dunking in sweet honey mustard sauce!

If you'd like to see an accompanying cooking video for this recipe on my channel, be sure to let me know in the comments below. While you're there, give it a like and subscribe (and a share) please!! I've already posted a few other videos there as well, so get comfortable and watch them all!!

Do you have a childhood recipe you love but make or want to see made healthier? Tell me about it!

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Crispy Air Fryer Nuggets
Crunchy, delicious and SUPER easy homemade chicken nugget recipe that is done in about 20 minutes from start to finish! Panko bread crumbs give these nuggets a crispy exterior and by using the air fryer to make them, you save 50% calories a serving!! 

Nutrition Per Serving (~6 nuggets): 228 calories, 5.3g fat, 2.4g net carbs, 39.4g protein
  • 8 oz Chicken Breast
  • 1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs (I use gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons Grated Parmesan/Vegan Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Parika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1. Preheat air fryer on 400 degrees for 10 minutes to make sure it gets really hot.2. On a cutting board, pat dry chicken on both sides. Cut into 1" cubes.3. Add chicken and all spices into a gallon size zip top bag and zip until almost fully closed. Squeeze out remaining air and close fully. Toss chicken in bag to coat all pieces with seasoning.4. Add in bread crumbs and parmesan and toss again to coat pieces with coating.Using tongs, add chicken pieces in an even layer in air fryer. Be sure not to over crowd your basket and work in batches if necessary to ensure maximum crispiness!6. Cook for 8-10 mins, flipping halfway through cooking as bottom tends to brown more than the top. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt when they come out and serve with your favorite sauce. Enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 30 Nuggets