These homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are a fun and kid-friendly snack! They’re served with a Chick-fil-A Copycat Sauce for bites that are crunchy, tangy, and all-around delicious.Jump to Recipe
If you’re craving chicken nuggets but not the excess deep fryer oil or long baking times, make these Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets instead! They’re coated in a simply seasoned panko and breadcrumb coating, then air fried until crisp. Each nugget is crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside.
While the homemade chicken nuggets come together quickly, they can also be made ahead and frozen for later. It’s a budget-friendly solution for when the cravings hit.
This recipe is a fun and simple snack for after school or family dinners. The nuggets are especially delicious when dipped in the homemade Chick-fil-A Copycat Sauce! Serve with french fries on the side and dig in.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken thighs – I prefer to make homemade chicken nuggets from cubed boneless chicken thighs because they’re more flavorful than chicken breasts. However, if all you have are chicken breasts at home, go ahead and use them!
- Kosher salt
- All purpose flour – Although I haven’t tested it, this recipe should work just as well with a gluten free flour blend or almond flour.
- Egg – The nuggets are dipped in a beaten egg to help the panko breading stick.
- Panko breadcrumbs – Regular or gluten free breadcrumbs work too.
- Parmesan cheese
- Paprika – You can use smoked paprika or chili powder to give the nuggets more heat.
- Garlic powder
- Olive oil spray
- Mayonnaise – Used as the base of the Chick-fil-A sauce. Replace storebought mayo with my homemade mayonnaise to upgrade the flavor!
- Mustard – Yellow or dijon mustard works.
- Barbecue sauce
How to make air fryer chicken nuggets
To prep the chicken thighs, cut off and discard any excess fat and chop the thighs into 1-inch pieces. Pat them all dry with a paper towel and season with salt.
Make the dredge in three separate bowls; flour in one, a beaten egg in the second, and the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and seasonings in the third.
To dredge the chicken nuggets, first dip them in the flour, then the egg, and lastly, the panko mixture. Lay the coated pieces in an even layer in the air fryer basket and spray them with olive oil.
Air fry the chicken nuggets until they’re golden brown and crispy. Repeat until you run out of nuggets.
Tip: Keep the air fryer nuggets on a baking sheet in a 250ºF oven to keep them warm as you finish the rest of the batch.
To make the copycat Chick-fil-A sauce, stir all of the sauce ingredients together until combined. Serve on the side of the crispy nuggets and enjoy!
More dipping sauce ideas
If you don’t want to serve the nuggets with Chick-fil-A sauce or prefer to have a platter of dipping sauces, go ahead and choose from this long list:
- Barbecue sauce: A classic!
- Ketchup: Another classic.
- Honey mustard: Mix honey and mustard together for a sweet and tangy dip.
- Ranch dressing: This lightened-up version tastes just as good as the original.
- Aji sauce: A Peruvian-style herb sauce.
- Honey: My childhood favorite! It’s sticky and sweet.
- Creamy Chipotle Sauce: easy to make with only 7 ingredients!
- Buffalo sauce: Heat Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) and a tablespoon or two of butter together.
- Sweet chili sauce: Sweet, tangy, and a little spicy.
- Lemon basil aioli: Light, herbaceous, and fresh!
Frequently asked questions
This sauce was originally concocted when an employee of the Chick-fil-A franchise mixed barbeque and honey mustard together during the 80s. Since then, it’s become a popular french fry and burger sauce at the restaurant. It has an addictive tangy, smoky, and creamy taste.
If you’ve prepared the batch of nuggets but kept them in the freezer for later, go ahead and cook them as normal from frozen. They may need a few extra minutes in the air fryer to cook through.
The nuggets should only take about 10 minutes to air fry and you’ll know they’re cooked through when the outside becomes golden brown and crispy. If you aren’t sure, use an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature will read 165ºF when they’re safe to eat.
Sure! Lay the dredged nuggets on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400ºF for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Storing and freezing
Store: Refrigerate the leftover chicken nuggets in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
Freeze: Lay the dredged or cooked nuggets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen tenders to an airtight, freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Warm the leftovers in the oven at 350ºF, in the air fryer, or in the microwave.
Looking for more air fryer recipes?
These fun snacks are all easy to make and cook in the air fryer:
- Artichoke Hearts
- Potato Wedges
- Crispy Chicken Wings
- Cheesy Ranch Potatoes
- Crispy Chicken Tacos
- Loaded Sweet Potatoes
If you try these Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets with Chick-fil-A Copycat Sauce
Make the Chicken Nuggets
- Preheat air fryer to 400 while you prep the chicken. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Cut any excess fat off. Cut into 1-nch pieces. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, making sure to get all sides seasoned.
- Add flour in a shallow bowl.
- In a second shallow bowl, beat 1 egg with a fork.
- In a third shallow bowl, stir together the panko, parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Working a few pieces of chicken at a time, dip each piece of chicken into the flour, then the egg, then into the seasoned panko mixture, patting it gently as needed to adhere.
- Coat the air fryer basket with the olive oil spray, then add chicken tenders in a single layer so that they are not touching. Coat the top of the chicken tenders with oil spray. Bake for 7 minutes, shake the basket and cook for another 1-3 minutes. (The chicken should register at least 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer and the outsides will be golden brown and crisp.)
- While the first batch of chicken is cooking, prepare the remaining chicken and add it to the baking sheet. Once the first batch is done, cook the other batches next. (Tip: If you’d like to keep the chicken warm between batches, add to a baking sheet with a cooling rack, add the chicken, and keep warm at 250 degrees F in a regular oven.)
- Serve with dipping sauce of your choice.
Make the Dipping Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk well to combine