Are you looking for a healthier way to make at home the air fryer chicken nuggets from 4 ingredients only? They are always crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and have a nice golden color. Serve them near your favorite dip sauce for absolute perfection. You will love them!
This recipe comes great if you plan to make your favorite recipe healthier. By making the chicken nuggets in the air fryer, we will use a lot less oil, and also we will get a nicer crunchy texture and a rich golden color on the exterior.
Also, this recipe is great because you can even consider making the chicken nuggets in the air fryer even with your kids.
All you will need is a chicken breast, cut into small pieces, seasoned with salt, and pepper, and breaded in panko or bread crumbs. Then you will need to bake for about 10-15 minutes, and you have a delicious snack to serve on your plate.
Sure, you can stop there and eat them as is near your favorite dipping sauce, or you can go further and serve them with a salad, or some roasted potatoes.
Easy huh? I’m pretty sure that after you try this recipe once, you will stop buying frozen chicken nuggets from the stores.
What You Will Find in This Post?
- How can the spices help better their aroma?
- How to make the chicken nuggets crispier than usual.
- How to keep your hands clean when you will bread the chicken meat.
👩🍳How to Make Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer?
- Cut the chicken breast into similar size cubes.
- Marinate the meat with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Cover evenly the chicken nuggets with breadcrumbs on all sides.
- Cook at 380°F (190°C) for 15 minutes.
🥰 Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- It is a very simple recipe that you can prepare quickly.
- It is a recipe that children will always eat. As we will do the chicken nuggets from scratch, you can be sure of the used ingredients and adjust the taste to your family’s needs.
- Because we are making the chicken nuggets in the air fryer, it will contain less oil and will be healthier than the regular fried recipe.
🥘 Ingredients and Substitutes
I love these chicken nuggets because we need only a few simple ingredients for them. And there is a high chance that you have these ingredients already in your kitchen.
- Chicken Meat. I used chicken breasts, but you could substitute it also with turkey breasts.
- Panko. I used panko, but you could replace it with bread crumbs. Or, if you want an even crispier texture, you could also use unsweetened crushed corn flakes.
- Seasonings. I used only a mix of salt and pepper, but you can consider using chili pepper, different spice mixes, and aromatic herbs when you marinate the meat.
🍽️ Serving Suggestions
For a well-balanced dish and nutrients, I recommend serving the chicken nuggets next to some fresh vegetables. But of course, you could serve them next to the classic French fries or why not, next to some cooked vegetables for a healthier alternative.
Here are some alternatives to consider:
👩🍳 Step-by-step Directions
Cut the meat into equal cubes of about 1.5″. Put the meat pieces in a deep bowl where it will be convenient for you to mix them.
Pour over the meat pieces the spices you decided to use. I marinated the meat with only salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Mix all the meat pieces well and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes. If you have time, leave the meat to marinate for longer. If you are in a total time crisis, you can move on to the next step. Of course, the meat will taste better and will be juicier after you marinate it, but it will not drastically change the final results.
Pro Tip: Add a teaspoon of olive oil into the marinade because most spices are liposoluble (soluble in fats). Thus, by adding oil, you will help the spices to open their tastes easier and better.
After the meat is marinated, pour the cream and a beaten egg over it. This will make the panko or breadcrumbs stick better to the chicken meat.
Mix all the pieces of the chicken until the chicken nuggets are evenly covered on all sides.
After that, put the panko (or breadcrumbs) in a bag (if you don’t have a plastic bag, you can use a deep plate). Pour the panko into this plastic bag and put 4-5 pieces of meat on top of the panko. Then close the bag tightly and shake it for a few seconds until the breadcrumbs will stick evenly to the meat.
Quick Note: The advantage of using a plastic bag vs using a deep plate is that in the first variant, your hands will remain clean.
After the pieces of the meat are evenly covered on all sides with the panko crust, sprinkle the air fryer basket with cooking spray or just a little bit of olive oil and place the chicken meat pieces on the air fryer basket.
Cover the rest of the meat pieces with panko and arrange them in a single layer on the air fryer basket.
Quick Note: Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. Arrange the meat only in a single layer to ensure that all of the chicken nuggets will cook evenly. Personally, I used a 5.8QT air fryer and I cooked all the chicken nuggets at once. If your air fryer has a smaller capacity or you’re cooking a larger number of people, consider cooking the chicken nuggets in a few batches.
Pro Tip: If you prefer them even crispier, I will recommend sprinkling them with a little oil or cooking spray on top of the chicken nuggets.
Cook them for 15 minutes at 380°F (190°C). In the end, you will get a rich golden color and a crispy crust.
Quick Note: The cooking time may vary because of the size of your air fryer model, the amount of meat you will cook, and how big you will cut the meat. Because of that, the cooking time is for reference only. After 10-12 minutes, please check your air fryer basket and adjust the timing if needed.
Our chicken nuggets are ready to be enjoyed as is or near your favorite dip sauce.
Just take a look at how juicy they are inside:
🏆 Expert Tips. What to Pay Attention To?
- Serve the chicken nuggets when they are still hot. Immediately after you have cooked them the crust does not remain crispy for a long time. Thus, I will recommend preparing only as many as you plan to eat in a single meal.
- To cook all the pieces evenly, cut the chicken breast into similar sizes.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices because you can combine easily chicken with almost any taste.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket because the chicken nuggets will get stuck to each other, you will deteriorate the crust.
♻️ Make Ahead, Storage and Heating:
Can I Prepare the Chicken Nuggets Ahead?
You can bread them in advance and freeze them on a plate or in a casserole. It is important to arrange them in a single layer without sticking to each other. In that way, the crust will remain intact on all sides.
How Long Does the Chicken Nuggets Last in the Fridge?
When cooked, you can keep the nuggets for up to 2-3 days in a tightly closed container. If your meat is raw and only marinating, then you can keep it in the fridge for up to 12 hours.
Can You Freeze the Chicken Nuggets?
For the best results, I will recommend freezing them raw, but in case of need, you could freeze them and cook them.
How to Reheat Chicken Nuggets in an Air Fryer?
If the rust is important to you, then the best way to heat the chicken nuggets is to use an air fryer. Reheat the air fryer then reheat the chicken nuggets for about 4-5 minutes at 380°F (190°C). In case you reheat them in the microwave, the crust will soften.
📋 Recipe Card:
4 Ingredient Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Cut the meat into similar sized cubes.1 lb Chicken Breast
- Season the meat and let it marinate for a few minutes.½ teaspoon Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Add the cream and an egg over the meat. Mix all the ingredients well.2 tablespoons Cream, 1 Piece Egg
- Pour the panko in a bag. Add 4-5 pieces of meat over the panko. Close well the bag and shake the bag until the meat will be well covered on all the sides with the panko. Repeat the procedure until you have breaded all the meat pieces.1 cup Panko
- Sprinkle the air fryer basket with oil or cooking spray and arrange the pieces of meat in a single layer.1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Cook the chicken nuggets at 380°F (190°C) for about 15 minutes.
I highly recommend reading the entire recipe to find more tips and notes about this recipe. Read Full Recipe ⇑
- Equal-Sized Cubes: It’s essential to cut the meat into similar-sized cubes as this ensures even cooking, resulting in perfectly tender chicken nuggets.
- Preventing Overcrowding: To achieve the ideal texture, avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. If you’re making a larger quantity, consider cooking the nuggets in batches.
- Enhance Crispiness: For an even crispier crust, consider sprinkling a touch of olive oil over the chicken nuggets before cooking.
- Marinating Time: While marinating is optional, allowing the meat to marinate for a bit longer can enhance the flavor and juiciness. However, if you’re in a rush, you can proceed without marinating.
- Oil in Marinade: Adding a teaspoon of olive oil to the marinade is a pro tip. It helps the spices to release their flavors more effectively since many spices are soluble in fats.
- Spice Experimentation: Don’t hesitate to get creative with spices. Chicken pairs well with various flavors, so feel free to experiment with different seasonings and aromatic herbs.
- Freezing Raw Nuggets: For optimal results, freeze the nuggets raw before cooking. However, you can also freeze them after cooking if needed.