Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets — These EASY air fryer nuggets are coated in a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, which makes them EXTRA flavorful and SO CRISPY!! Dip them in this 30-second homemade honey mustard sauce for a guaranteed family FAVORITE!!
Homemade Chicken Nuggets … in an Air Fryer!
Chicken nuggets are something that almost no kid (or adult!) can resist. They’re an easy impromptu dinner that everyone can agree on. And with sweet-and-tangy honey mustard sauce for dipping, you won’t have any leftovers!
I made these homemade chicken nuggets in my Cosori Air Fryer, but I’ve also made baked nuggets before.
Both versions get nice and crispy on the outside and the chicken stays tender and juicy on the inside.
However, in the crispiness department, I do give it to the air fryer for the win. They are just extra crispy and we love that. They are on par with oil-fried chicken nuggets in terms of crispiness.
In terms of work and babysitting, I give baked chicken nuggets the win because you can bake them all at the same time on a sheet pan, and if I’m feeling lazy, I don’t even flip them. Put them in the oven and they’re done in a half hour.
In my Cosori Air Fryer, which is considered extra-large with a 5.8-quart capacity, a pound and a half of chicken breasts diced into bite-sized pieces took three separate rounds of air frying, with each round cooking for 7-8 minutes, with a mandatory flip at the halfway point.
You cannot overload air fryer baskets, and even an ‘extra-large’ basket isn’t that big so you will need to do multiple rounds to air fry a pound and a half of chicken, but the crispiness is worth it!
What’s in the Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets?
For the homemade chicken nuggets in the air fryer, you’ll need:
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Unsalted butter
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
And for the homemade honey mustard dipping sauce, you’ll need:
- Yellow mustard
- Dijon mustard
How to Cook Chicken Nuggets in an Air Fryer
To a large, shallow bowl, add the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine, then set aside. Melt the butter in the microwave.
Dip the chicken in the butter, then in the crumb mixture, really patting the chicken into the mixture to help the coating adhere.
Place coated chicken in the air fryer basket and cook until done, flipping halfway through. (See my exact cook times in the recipe card below).
How Long to Cook Chicken Nuggets in an Air Fryer
In my air fryer, given the pieces of chicken I was working with, 7 to 8 minutes at 400F was perfect for lightly golden browned nuggets, flipping them over one time halfway through.
Can I Make Chicken Nuggets Without an Air Fryer?
Yes! I have a nearly identical recipe for Baked Chicken Nuggets in case the idea of homemade chicken nuggets has you craving them but you don’t have an air fryer.
Can the Panko Breadcrumbs Be Substituted?
Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-style breadcrumbs, are sold near regular breadcrumbs, and are coarser in texture than regular breadcrumbs. They help add texture and crunch to the nuggets without having to actually fry them.
Do not substitute regular breadcrumbs for the panko. There are no substitutions here.
How to Reheat Chicken Nuggets
Any leftover chicken will not be nearly as crispy compared to when it’s fresh and reheating in a microwave will likely remove all the crispy texture, but the flavor will still be good.
With that in mind, reheat the nuggets in your air fryer or in the oven. Or, reheat in the microwave knowing that they won’t be crispy anymore.
Tips for Making Chicken Nuggets in an Air Fryer
This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but thighs may be substituted if that’s what you have on hand. Just make sure the chicken is boneless and skinless, whatever cut you use.
After I have my chicken in the air fryer basket, I give it a spray with olive oil cooking spray. It helps it crisp up and brown up even more. It’s not truly essential because these nuggets were first dipped in butter, but it’s a touch I like to employ. If you have a misto-style spray bottle, even better.
When making the homemade honey mustard dipping sauce, feel free to use different types of mustards than what I used. A grainy or spicy mustard would taste delicious here as well, or you can use just one type of mustard.
The honey mustard will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. It tastes good with fries, on burgers, with chops — pretty much anything! Just keep the leftovers in an airtight container and it’ll stay fresh for a while.
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- 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (thighs can be substituted), cut into bite-sized pieces
- olive oil cooking spray or olive oil for misting, optional and as desired
Honey mustard sauce:
- 1/2 cup honey, or to taste
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- Preheat an extra-large 5.8-quart Cosori Air Fryer to 400F.
- To a large, shallow bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper, and stir to combine; set aside.
- To a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 30 seconds on high power.
- Working in batches (I did 3 separate rounds), dip the chicken in the butter, then in the crumb mixture, assertively patting to help the coating adhere.
- Place the coated chicken pieces in the air fryer basket. Do not allow them to touch, and don't crowd them.
- Optionally if desired, give them a quick and light mist with olive oil spray.
- Air fry them for about 7 to 8 minutes total, flipping once halfway through with a tongs. When you flip them, if desired, spray again with a light misting of olive oil spray. Exact cooking time will vary based on your air fryer, the size of your chicken pieces, and until you know how your air fryer behaves, I would start checking for doneness by 5 minutes in case it runs on the hot side. These small pieces of chicken really don't take very long to cook.
- Place chicken on a serving platter and repeat the process with the remaining chicken, likely two more rounds. Tip - While one batch is air frying, work ahead and start buttering and coating the next batch of chicken in the panko-parm mixture.
- While the last batch is air frying, to a medium bowl add the honey, mustards, whisk to combine, taste and check for flavor balance, adding more honey or mustard to taste if necessary; set aside until ready to serve with chicken.
Make the honey mustard dipping sauce:
Storage: Nuggets are best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Honey mustard will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Note: Any leftover chicken will not be nearly as crispy compared to when it's not fresh and reheating in a microwave will likely remove all the crispy texture, but the flavor will still be good.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 725Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 169mgSodium: 1587mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 3gSugar: 30gProtein: 53g
I believe that the stats in this recipe are artificially inflated because there will likely be a bit of unused butter, unused panko-parmesan mixture, and leftover honey mustard, all of which are being taken into account by the computer-generated stats listed.
More Easy Chicken Recipes:
Baked Chicken Nuggets — Coated in a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, which makes them extra flavorful and crispy! Dunk them in homemade honey mustard or your dipping sauce of choice. You’ll definitely want to leave room for seconds!
Loaded BBQ Chicken Nugget Nachos — You can make a dinner out of these nachos. They’re loaded with avocado chunks, juicy tomatoes and corn, and bbq sauce-smothered chicken nuggets.
Cheeze-It Chicken Tenders – EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and so CRISPY on the outside thanks to a Cheeze-It Cracker coating!! Don’t bother frying chicken when you can bake it!
Baked Bacon Cheddar Chicken Tenders – Fast, EASY, perfectly CRISPY on the outside, and juicy on the inside!! The BACON and CHEDDAR coating is irresistible!!
Everything Bagel Baked Chicken Tenders – EASY, ready in 15 minutes, and perfectly CRISPY on the outside!! Tastes like an everything bagel met chicken on the way to the oven and so GOOD!
Easy Honey Mustard Chicken — This honey mustard chicken is ready in 20 minutes and features a homemade honey mustard sauce.
15-Minute Honey Mustard Chicken Skillet — If you like dipping your chicken in honey mustard, you’re going to LOVE every bite of this chicken that’s coated in homemade honey mustard sauce!!
I was provided a Cosori Air Fryer in exchange for this post. The recipe, images, text, and opinions expressed are my own.