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How to Make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Air fryer chicken nuggets are always delicious and cooked to the perfect crispiness! Made in just 20 minutes, this is the perfect weeknight meal for picky eaters. Learn how to make frozen chicken nuggets into a delicious, crispy snack. No more soggy breading!

small hand grabbing chicken nugget

Whether you are making these from scratch or pulling them out of the freezer, this method is the easiest way to make crispy chicken nuggets fast! This recipe works with Tyson Dino nuggets, Yummy Dino Buddies, homemade nuggets, regular chicken nuggets, and other fun-shaped chicken nuggets. 

An air fryer cooks in about half the time of an oven. They cut down the cook time drastically! While your oven takes about 10 minutes to preheat, the air fryer is already halfway done with cooking. I never thought I would need another appliance, but I am hooked!

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipe

We all need those easy recipes that don’t require a lot of preparation. Sometimes, it’s all about convenience and getting dinner on the table quickly during those busy weeknights. 

I mean, you can make homemade chicken nuggets. But, if you are in a pinch for time, pre-breaded, frozen nuggets are the ultimate time saver.

chicken nuggets and ramekin of bbq sauce

Plus, they aren’t just for kids anymore. You can make these early in the week to top salads or as a quick lunch.

More reasons why I love them:

  • Feeds picky eaters: Even the pickiest of eaters will latch onto a plate of crispy nuggets. If you use the fun-shaped nuggets, you get a bonus point!
  • Use any brand: This method works with Tyson chicken nuggets, Dino Nuggets, Perdue, Yummy Dino Buddies, dinosaur nuggets, and more.
  • Fast and Easy: You can cook a whole bag of chicken nuggets from frozen to done in about 20 minutes. It takes about 10 minutes to preheat an oven, so using an air fryer is a faster cooking method. 
  • No frying: Since air frying doesn’t require oil, it’s definitely a healthier option than deep frying. Plus, using a deep fryer just makes an absolute mess! 
  • Crispy: These come out perfectly every time. No soggy breading or falling apart. Way better than any microwave chicken nuggets.
  • Saves Money: The deep fry method requires a lot of extra oil, extra costs, and extra hassle. Using the air fryer is a much better way to enjoy nuggets and requires less time and effort.

Best Sauce for Chicken Nuggets

There are so many different options and combinations for dipping! Here is a list of our favorite sauces.

  • Ranch
  • Ketchup
  • BBQ sauce – traditional or tangy!
  • Honey mustard
  • Buffalo sauce
  • French fry sauce
  • Other leftover fast food sauces
dipping chicken nugget in bbq sauce

Best Frozen Chicken Nugget Brands

This recipe isn’t brand-specific, so use any brand you like. If you have kids, fun-shaped dinosaur chicken nuggets, smiley faces, letter shapes and others are great ways to make meal time fun.

Because this is a processed-food, look for brands that use real white meat chicken and without a lot of fillers added. You can also use veggie nuggets for a plant-based option.

Like I mentioned before, this recipe isn’t the healthiest option, but it’s better than swinging through a drive-thru window. If you have dietary restrictions, obviously you should honor those restrictions. Otherwise, look at this as an easy meal that’s a great way to feed the kids fast – not a weekly staple.

Here are some of the different brands I’ve tested and enjoy using this method:

  • Tyson
  • Perdue
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Banquette

How to Cook Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets

This is not a high-brow recipe by any stretch. But, it’s a simple and quick meal that doesn’t require much time or effort.

What you need to make this:

  • Any brand (or shape) of frozen chicken nuggets. Look for real chicken, high quality nuggets!
  • Air fryer: I love my Ninja Foodi. We use this appliance at least three times per week.
  • Tongs
  • Pot holders
  • Favorite dipping sauce

All you need to do is spray the air fryer tray or basket with cooking spray. Add the nuggets to the basket and cook at 390 degrees for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. Don’t forget to shake the basket or flip the nuggets half way through so they get crispy on all sides.

Depending on the air fryer you have, you may need to work in batches to prepare a whole bag of chicken nuggets.

How Long to Cook Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer

Air fry frozen nuggets at 390 degrees for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. 

Most store bought chicken nuggets are already fully cooked, but should reach 165 degrees internally for safe eating. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to be sure.

After they are done cooking, allow them to rest for a minute or so to avoid burning little hands. This also allows the exterior to crisp up a bit more. Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Best Way to Reheat Chicken Nuggets

If you thought the air fryer was only for cooking, think again! I love to use an air fryer for reheating pizza and other foods that should stay crispy!

This is a great method for reheating fast food nuggets, too. Reheat chicken nuggets from McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Wendy’s, or other fast food restaurants.

To reheat chicken nuggets, add them to the air fryer basket and heat for about 5 minutes at 350F degrees until they are crispy and warmed through.

What to serve with Chicken Nuggets

Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can serve it with your favorite side dish or as a complete meal on its own. Here are some other side dishes to try:

  • Steamed vegetables
  • Air Fryer French Fries, curly fries, sweet potato fries
  • Potato dishes

Tips for the Best Chicken Nuggets

  • Know your air fryer: Just like every oven is different, the same goes for every air fryer. My model is likely different from yours. Be sure to follow the manual and instructions for your air fryer. Use cooking time as a reference point.
  • Don’t preheat: There’s no need to preheat the air fryer. Just add the nuggets to the basket and turn the unit on.
  • Don’t thaw: Chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza rolls, and other convenience foods can be cooked frozen. 
  • Don’t overcrowd: Overcrowding will leave you with chicken nuggets that are unevenly cooked and possibly soggy. For the best results, add the nuggets in a single layer with a little space around for the hot air to circulate for the crispiest nuggets!

Do you need to preheat an air fryer?

You do not need to preheat an air fryer unless the instructions say to do so. Because the air fryer is much smaller than a conventional oven, the appliance heats up much faster than a regular oven. Plus, the heating element is closer to the food.

How do you cook frozen raw chicken nuggets in an air fryer?

To cook frozen, raw chicken nuggets, follow the steps in the recipe card below. Air Fry the nuggets for 8-10 minutes at 390, flipping halfway through. Take the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure the nuggets reach 165 degrees F.

How do you make frozen chicken nuggets crispy?

The secret to crispy nuggets is the air fryer! Allowing plenty of room for the hot air to flow around the nuggets will give them a crispy exterior.

Why are my chicken nuggets soggy?

If your chicken nuggets are soggy, it’s likely because the air fryer basket was overcrowded or the nuggets need to continue cooking. Try removing some of the nuggets so the hot air can better circulate. Additionally, continue cooking for another 5 minutes to crisp up the exterior of the nuggets.

More Easy Air Fryer Recipes:

side shot of cooked chicken nuggets piled on cutting board

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Anna Kate
Air fryer chicken nuggets are always delicious and cooked to the perfect crispiness! Made in just 20 minutes, this is the perfect weeknight meal for picky eaters. Learn how to make frozen chicken nuggets into a delicious, crispy snack. No more soggy breading!
Servings 20 nuggets
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients
  

  • Frozen Chicken Nuggets (about 5 pieces per serving)
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions
 

  • Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray.
  • Add nuggets (may need to work in batches for whole bag).
  • Cook at 390 for 20 minutes, shaking basket halfway through.

Notes

  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Tips for the Best Chicken Nuggets

  • Know your air fryer: Just like every oven is different, the same goes for every air fryer. My model is likely different from yours. Be sure to follow the manual and instructions for your air fryer. Use cooking time as a reference point.
  • Don’t preheat: There’s no need to preheat the air fryer. Just add the nuggets to the basket and turn the unit on.
  • Don’t thaw: Chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza rolls, and other convenience foods can be cooked frozen. 
  • Don’t overcrowd: Overcrowding will leave you with chicken nuggets that are unevenly cooked and possibly soggy. For the best results, add the nuggets in a single layer with a little space around for the hot air to circulate for the crispiest nuggets!

Nutrition

Serving: 1Calories: 10kcalProtein: 1gFat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 19mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating




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