Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

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If you’re a fan of chicken then you might just want to know how to cook air fryer chicken nuggets. It’s quick and easy and a healthier option than popping to the local drive-through.

Cooking chicken nuggets in the air fryer will ensure you end up with a crispy and crunchy outer skin and tender and succulent meat on the inside without the need to deep fry.

Whether cooking homemade chicken nuggets or air frying ready-made frozen chicken nuggets, we have the recipe and instructions for you!

air fryer chicken nuggets

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Who Invented Chicken Nuggets?

Chicken nuggets were invented by Robert C. Baker, a food science professor at Cornell University in the 1950s. He proposed the idea of breaded and fried chicken pieces to promote poultry consumption in the US. Since then, it has grown into one of America’s favorite fast foods!

How Are Chicken Nuggets Made?

Chicken nuggets are usually made from breast meat which is cut into small chunks and then breaded. The chicken pieces are coated with a batter or breading composed of wheat flour, salt, spices, and seasonings like garlic powder and onion powder.

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that uses rapid hot air circulation to fry, grill and roast your food. The Air Fryer is like a supercharged convection oven circulating hot air but with many more features.

You can use an air fryer to cook just about anything from chips, biscuits and gravy to a whole chicken, meatballs and even apple pies!

The list of meals you can prepare is endless and it’s super easy to use.

Air fryers are a great alternative to deep frying and we’d even go as far as saying that once you’ve tried air-fried chicken nuggets, you’ll never want to cook them any other way!

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Why Are Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets The Best?

There are many reasons why you should consider cooking air fryer chicken nuggets instead of deep frying;

  • The obvious one is that they will taste the same, but the oil is in the air fryer basket and not all over your stove or kitchen floor.
  • You can cook frozen chicken nuggets in an air fryer.
  • It is healthier.
  • You can cook a huge amount of chicken fingers all at once – no more cooking in batches.
  • There’s no need for oven-baked chicken nuggets which heat up the home on a hot summer’s day.

You don’t need to be limited by recipe or ingredient choices either. You are free to use any spices, marinades or toppings you wish with your air fryer chicken nuggets, so let your imagination run wild!

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How To Make Chicken Nuggets In The Air Fryer

This is a guide to making chicken nuggets in an air fryer. Whether you are cooking homemade or frozen chicken nuggets, this will work for both. I’ll share the instructions for both methods.

How To Make Frozen Chicken Nuggets In Air Fryer

If you have frozen nuggets in the freezer then you can air fry them in straight away. No need to wait around!

You can simply buy chicken nuggets from the store on your way home from work and pop them straight into the air fryer or freezer for later!

Do I Need To Defrost Chicken Nuggets Before Frying?

As mentioned above, you can air fryer chicken nuggets that can be cooked directly from frozen, so there is no need to defrost them in advance.

This means you can whip a bag of nuggets out of the freezer and have a tasty treat on the table in no time! Perfect on a busy weeknight and something the kids will surely love!

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets

Regular chicken nuggets take around 11-13 minutes to cook in the air fryer. For best results fry at 400°F/205°C.

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What About Olive Oil Spray? Do I Need To Spray Frozen Chicken Nuggets?

The answer is no. Frozen chicken nuggets have already been prepped so you don’t need to use cooking spray. You’ll still get crispy chicken nuggets without using extra oil.

Do I Need To Preheat my Air Fryer?

No! You don’t need to preheat your air fryer when cooking air fryer chicken nuggets from frozen. I do recommend preheating for homemade chicken nuggets.

Homemade Chicken Nuggets Air Fryer Recipe

If you’re wanting to go one step further and make your own homemade chicken nuggets then you’ll need chicken breast, bread crumbs and a few more ingredients to get your perfectly crispy nuggets.

If you or a family member are gluten-free then be sure to use gluten-free breadcrumbs so everyone can enjoy the air fryer chicken nuggets.

Ingredients for Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

  • 1 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Butter Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese (grated)

Prepping Your Chicken Nuggets

  1. Preheat for your air fryer at 400°F/205°C for 3 minutes.
  2. Slice your chicken breast into nugget size slices.
  3. Season your chicken nuggets with seasoned salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Combine melted butter with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. (Add the parmesan cheese if you opt to use this).
  5. Dip your chicken strips into the breadcrumbs.
  6. Place in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
  7. Set the timer for 9 minutes.
  8. Once cooked, place chicken nuggets on a plate to cool.

How Long Do You Cook Chicken Nuggets In The Air Fryer?

Frozen nuggets take 11-13 minutes. Homemade chicken nuggets baked in the air fryer takes around 9 minutes.

What To Serve With Chicken Nuggets

  • French Fries – Who doesn’t love the combination of chicken nuggets with fries? It’s certainly a favorite in my household.
  • Side Salad – A fresh and healthy side salad is always a great option.
  • Coleslaw – A quick and easy coleslaw will work perfectly as a side for your nuggets.
  • Baked Beans – If you’re looking for something a little bit different then baked beans will go perfectly with your chicken nuggets.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Delicious air-fried chicken nuggets go great with mashed potatoes – Get our Instant pot mashed potato recipe here!
  • Milkshakes – Make the ultimate indulgent dessert with some delicious ice cream milkshake recipes.

Best Dipping Sauces For Air Fryer Nuggets

So which dipping sauce will go best with air-fried chicken nuggets? I guess that depends on your personal preference, however, these tend to be the most popular.

  • Sweet And Sour Sauce – A sweet and sour sauce is the perfect choice for chicken nuggets.
  • Ketchup – Ketchup with chicken nuggets is always a good option, particularly if you’re making homemade chicken nuggets.
  • BBQ Sauce – Perfect for any time of year, barbecue sauce is great with nuggets, even when it’s a little too cold to barbecue.
  • Hot Sauce – A spicy sauce will work perfectly with chicken nuggets, especially if you’re cooking a spicier homemade recipe.
  • Sweet Chili Sauce – Sweet chilli sauce goes perfectly with any chicken recipe!
  • Aioli – A small dollop of garlic aioli will work perfectly with your nuggets.
  • Honey Mustard Sauce – This classic taste is perfect for homemade chicken nuggets.
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How To Store Homemade Chicken Nuggets

If you’re making your nuggets in advance then you will want to store them in the fridge in an airtight container ready for cooking later on. Homemade nuggets will be healthier than deep-fried nuggets and will have less saturated fat.

Are Frozen Chicken Nuggets Healthy?

As far as frozen chicken nuggets go, they are no less healthy than the ones you would buy in a store. The only difference is they will be fresh and homemade nuggets tend to have more ingredients.

What Is The Best Air Fryer For Chicken Nuggets? 

When making chicken nuggets, you’ll want to use an air fryer which can cook at a temperature of at least 400°F/200°C.

There are plenty of air fryers to choose from, however, as an Instant Pot enthusiast, I like the Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air fryer.

We also enjoy using the Air Fryer Lid on our Instant Pot Duo Crisp. This is a machine we love and we get delicious crispy chicken nuggets every time!

So what are you waiting for? Get that crispy coating on your chicken breast and make the most delicious snack cuisine in the comfort of your own home!

Have You Tried Avocado Nuggets?

Simply switch out your chicken breasts for avocado and you can make crispy avocado nuggets in the air fryer. Now that’s an idea!

More Questions About Chicken Nuggets

Here are a few Q and A about Chicken Nuggets:

What Are McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets Made Of?

McDonald’s chicken nuggets are made from 100% white meat chicken, such as breast and rib meat. They are seasoned with salt and pepper and coated in a light crispy batter.

How Many Calories In Macdonalds Chicken Nuggets?

A 6-piece portion of McDonald’s chicken nuggets contains 270 calories.

Are Chicken Nuggets Gluten Free?

This will depend on the recipe you use and whether or not gluten-free breadcrumbs are used. Many restaurant versions of chicken nuggets may contain wheat flour, so it’s best to check the ingredients list

Are Chicken Nuggets Healthy?

It depends on the recipe but generally speaking, homemade chicken nuggets are much healthier than store-bought.

Can Dogs Eat Chicken Nuggets?

No, dogs should not eat chicken nuggets as they contain too much salt and other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs.

Can Cats Eat Chicken Nuggets?

No. Chicken nuggets are not good for cats. They contain ingredients that can be harmful to cats, such as salt and spices. They also contain too many calories for cats.

Can You Reheat Chicken Nuggets?

Yes, you can reheat chicken nuggets in an oven or a microwave. However, for best results we recommend using an air fryer, as this will give the chicken nugget a crispy coating.

Are Chicken Nuggets Keto Friendly?

It depends on the ingredients used but generally speaking, yes chicken nuggets can be keto-friendly. Just make sure to check the ingredients list and use low-carb breadcrumbs or almond flour as a coating.

More Air Fryer Recipes

Here are some more air fryer recipes you may love:

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