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Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets in a basket with red and white paper napkin
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5 from 4 votes

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Tender, juicy and crunchy homemade chicken nuggets that are cooked in the air fryer!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 433kcal
Author: Julie Evink


  • 2 ½ lb boneless chicken thighs or breasts cut into nugget size pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c. buttermilk
  • 4 egg whites whisked till slightly frothy
  • 3 c. panko or breadcrumbs herb or other
  • Cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer optional


  • Trim chicken of any fat and cut into nugget size pieces.
  • In a small bowl or ziplock bag combine the spices, cornstarch and flour.
  • In a separate bowl or bag combine buttermilk and egg whites and whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl or bag add the panko or breadcrumbs.
  • Add a few chicken pieces to the flour mixture and coat.
  • Remove chicken and place in the milk, making sure to cover well.
  • Remove and place in the panko.
  • Place in the air fryer basket, making sure not to touch the pieces.
  • Place the breaded chicken pieces in the basket making sure to leave room between pieces. SPray the top of the chicken with nonstick spray or olive oil.
  • Place the basket in the air fryer and set for 325° and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Turn the pieces over after 5 minutes and respray with oil. Return the basket and cook for an addition 5 minutes.
  • Check for doneness in the fattest nugget. If the internal temperature is not 165 degrees F, cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.


Don’t skip the cornstarch in the breading! It absorbs a lot of moisture which helps make the breading really crispy.
For the breadcrumbs, you can use plain ones or amp up the flavor with seasoned breadcrumbs.
To make the breading process go faster, you can place the flour mixture into a large ziplock back, the milk mixture in another, and the panko in another bag. Place enough pieces for one air fryer basket into the flour mixture. Close the bag shake, then remove and place in the milk mixture, using a slotted spoon, remove from the milk mixture and place in the panko. This is faster than hand-dipping them.
Don’t pile the nuggets in the basket – always cook them in an even layer so they get crispy all over.
Make sure the meat is cooked through! The easiest way to know if it’s done is to check the biggest piece with a thermometer – it should be 165°F. Or, just slice it in half – it should be cooked through with clear juices.
Leftovers will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. Or, you can freeze them for up to two months.


Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 622mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1181IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 4mg