These Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are incredibly crispy, healthier because they are made in the Air Fryer and really juicy because of one secret ingredient that you definitely have in your pantry!
I recently caved in and bought an Air Fryer. I wasn't convinced at first because it seemed small, and I wasn't sure how well it worked. But it's definitely a step closer to making our favourites (aka junk food) healthier. These Chicken Nuggets were the first thing that I made in them because we LOVE nuggets.
Quick Walk Through: Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Reasons to make these air fryer chicken nuggets
- Its FAST. Not as fast as deep frying them, but faster than the oven. Chicken Nuggets take 6 minutes to cook in the Air Fryer, and you don't even need to preheat like the oven.
- There was very little mess. Deep Frying means you have an oily dish to wash, and there'll be definitely oil splatter and basically oil in a lot of places. With the Air Fryer, there was almost no mess. Once I was done cooking, I let the basket soak for 10 minutes in water and all the bits and bobs just came off.
- Healthier because so little oil/butter went into making these Chicken Nuggets and they tastes exactly the same.
- Same taste. Crunchy outside, and really juicy inside. No overcooking or checking the temperature etc.
Let's talk about these nuggets now. It's really simple to make them. I marinated them for 20 minutes to get some flavour in. And then breaded them with panko breadcrumbs. A few minutes in the Air Fryer and they were ready!
Marinating to keep chicken nuggets juicy
This is a simple marinade with some Italian seasoning, paprika, salt and my secret ingredient - mayonnaise. Mayonnaise works really well in a marinade and add moisture to chicken. A lot of recipes using egg while breading, but mayonnaise does the same job without any of the mess, and adds flavour and tenderises. The marinade creates a coating around which is just right for the bread crumbs to stick on.
I prefer using Panko Breadcrumbs as compared to regular breadcrumbs because they are crisper. They are available easily on Amazon and speciality stores.
Richa's top tips to make the best air fryer chicken nuggets:
- You can easily customise the seasoning of these nuggets based on your personal preference. Add a little cayenne pepper for extra heat or mixed herbs for a delicious earthy flavours.
- Avoid overcrowding the air fryer and make sure to leave enough space between two nuggets to help bake evenly and prevent them from becoming a soggy mess.
For 1 inch chicken pieces, I recommend cooking them for a total of 6 minutes, with 3 minutes on each side at 190C. Any longer and they start drying out a bit, especially if you are using Chicken Breasts.
This is why I loved making nuggets in the air fryer - 6 minutes means I can have these on the table in 15 minutes if you ignore the marinating time
I recommend freezing chicken nuggets before cooking them. To freeze nuggets, line them on a baking tray after breading them, cover with cling wrap and stick them in the freezer for an hour or two. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a ziplock bag or a freezer friendly container. When you are ready to eat them, either deep fry them directly from the freezer (no thawing required) or cook them in the Air Fryer for 8 minutes (slightly longer because they are frozen). I always have frozen chicken nuggets on hand because they make for such a quick and easy snack.
Watch the Video
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- 350 grams Chicken Breasts skinless, boneless, at room temperature
- 1.5 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1.5 tablespoon Mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Lime Juice
- ½ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons melted Butter
- Trim off any fat from the breasts. Slice the chicken into ½ inch slices and cut each slice into 1 inch cubes.
- Marinate the chicken pieces in italian seasoning, paprika, salt, mayonnaise and lime juice. Mix well and set aside for 20-30 minutes.
- In a bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and parmesan. Place the chicken pieces one at a time in the mixture and coat them well with the breadcrumbs, pressing down to ensure the breadcrumbs coat each piece properly. Keep them aside in a plate.
- Place the coated chicken nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure to leave some gaps and not over crowd the basket. Air fry for 3 minutes at 190C. Brush with melted butter on both sides, flip the bottom side up and air fry again for 3 minutes till crispy. Serve them hot!
- Butter: You can replace the butter with an oil spray or oil
- Dipping Sauce: I served these chicken nuggets with my mango mustard dipping sauce. You can find the recipe here.
- Don't overcrowd: Always make sure to keep the nuggets in a single layer and don't overcrowd the basket or they won't become crisp.