Ditch the deep-fryer and whip up poultry perfection with the best recipe for Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets, plus tips on how to freeze and store them for quick-fix meals.
As a mom of three little ones, chicken nuggets are a food group in our house… and not just a food group, but the food group of choice! My love of air fryer cooking runs deep, so it was about time I shared my ultimate guide for Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets, which includes anything and everything you need to know about freezing these beauties for a homemade, hot and crispy meal or snack in seconds.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Temperature
The most important part of making chicken nuggets in an air fryer is choosing the right temperature. We want a juicy interior and a shatteringly crispy exterior. The solution? Air fry chicken nuggets at 400°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
The size of the nuggets will dictate the specific time, however I like to aim for about 1-inch nuggets because they cook quickly, are easy for kids to pick up and dunk and also freeze like a breeze!
Should You Freeze Nuggets Before or After Cooking?
Ah, the age-old question! There really isn’t a wrong answer on this one, as it comes down to preference. As per usual, I have a pretty strong preference – hah! If I’m making chicken nuggets to cook in an air fryer (or even to bake or deep-fry), I always freeze them before cooking.
I find that the breading will remain much crispier if it’s only cooked once and it will also adhere better to the chicken. So bread those nuggets, freeze them and then get ready for DIY dunk-able deliciousness any day of the week.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Nuggets In an Air Fryer
I’ve included tips in the recipe below for the best way to freeze chicken nuggets (ie. so they stay as individual nuggets and not one giant clump!). Once you’re ready to cook your nuggets from the frozen stage, you’ll want to drop your air fryer temperature down to 360°F. The slightly lower temperature allows the interior to cook without the outside burning.
All that’s left to do is decide on dipping sauces! Will you keep it classic with ketchup? Will you bust out the barbecue? Or will you go big with the ultimate Homemade Ranch Dressing?Craving more? Subscribe to Just a Taste to get new recipes and a newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
- Air fryer
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- Cooking spray
- Dice the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes.
- Add the flour and salt to a sealable plastic bag. Whisk together the eggs in a shallow pan. Add the breadcrumbs to a second shallow pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the chicken nuggets to the bag with the flour. Seal the bag shut then shake it until the nuggets are well-coated. Shake off the excess flour from each nugget then dip it in the eggs and then into the breadcrumbs, coating it on all sides. Place the coated chicken nugget on the baking sheet and repeat the breading process with the remaining nuggets.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Coat the basket with cooking spray.
- Arrange a portion of the chicken nuggets in a single layer in the basket so that they aren't touching. Coat the chicken nuggets with cooking spray, then air-fry them until crispy and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, flipping them once halfway through.
- Remove the chicken nuggets from the air fryer then repeat the air-frying process with the remaining nuggets.
To freeze the chicken nuggets:
- After breading the nuggets, arrange them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover them securely with plastic wrap. Freeze the nuggets until frozen solid, a minimum of 3 hours. Transfer the frozen nuggets to a sealable plastic bag for easy access.
To air-fry frozen chicken nuggets:
- Preheat the air-fryer to 360°F. Coat the basket with cooking spray. Arrange a portion of the chicken nuggets in a single layer in the basket so that they aren't touching. Coat the chicken nuggets with cooking spray, then air-fry them until crispy and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes, flipping them once halfway through.
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Can these be baked in the oven?
Absolutely, Ena! To bake the chicken nuggets, preheat the oven to 450°F, line a baking sheet with foil and grease it with cooking spray. Bake the chicken pieces for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping them once halfway through, until they are golden brown and fully cooked.
My grandkids loved these as an after-school snack and asked for them again tomorrow! My husband really enjoyed them too!
I’m thrilled to read this, Cindy!