Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets – Cookin’ with Mima


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Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are tastier and healthier than take-out, and you are going to love them. This bite-sized air fryer popcorn chicken is marinated in buttermilk so it’s tender and juicy, then seasoned to perfection and air fried until hot and crispy. Air fryer nuggets are perfect for the whole family. 

Air fryer chicken nuggets on a parchment lined tray with a bowl of dip.

Popcorn chicken is a kid-approved favorite because it’s fun to eat. This popcorn chicken air fryer recipe is mom-approved because it’s healthier than take-out options. Perfect as a snack or a meal, air fryer chicken nuggets are made with less oil but still have all the crunch of deep fried nuggets. These nuggets can be made in under an hour (including marinating time) and can easily be reheated from the fridge or freezer, so they are perfect for meal prep. 

Does your family love bite-sized chicken?  Try my Crispy Honey Chicken, Sweet and Spicy Asian ChickenGarlic Butter Mushroom Chicken Bites.

Why You’ll Love This Chicken Nugget Recipe

  • It’s kid-approved. Air fryer nuggets are bite-sized and perfect for dipping, so kids love them. They make a great afterschool snack. 
  • It’s healthy. This popcorn chicken air fryer recipe is made with just a few spritzes of cooking oil. They are way healthier than fried chicken nuggets.
  • It’s easy to make. Just coat the chicken and let the air fryer do the work. There is no hot oil to babysit, and it’s easy to make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for easy snacks and meals on another night. 

Ingredients of Chicken Nuggets

Ingredients needed for air fryer nuggets.
  • Chicken: Cut chicken tenders into bite size pieces. You can also use chicken breast or boneless, skinless chicken thighs. 
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk tenderizes the meat. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can mix 1 ½ teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice into milk and allow it to clabber before soaking the chicken. 
  • Salt and Pepper: Add salt and pepper to the buttermilk to season the chicken while it marinates. 
  • Cornstarch: Dredging first in cornstarch will help you get really crispy chicken. 
  • Eggs: Bring the eggs to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Flour: All-purpose flour will add crunch to the breading mixture. Use gluten free flour if you prefer. 
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper create a flavorful crust for the nuggets.
  • Parsley: For garnish.

How To Make Homemade Chicken Nuggets in The Air Fryer

Cubed chicken tenders marinating in buttermilk.
  • Marinate the chicken: In a medium bowl marinate the chicken pieces with buttermilk, salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Bowls of seasoned flour, egg and cornstarch for dredging chicken nuggets.
  • Prepare the stations: In a small bowl place the cornstarch and keep it aside. In another bowl whisk the eggs with a fork and keep it aside. In a plate combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and keep it aside.
Dredging stations for popcorn chicken.
  • Coat the chicken: First dredge the marinated chicken in cornstarch, then in egg mixture and finally in the flour mixture. Coat the chicken pieces evenly and shake the excess flour if any. Repeat the same with the remaining chicken pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet. 
  • Prepare the equipment: Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
Before and after of crispy popcorn chicken in air fryer.
  • Cook the chicken: Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket and top with cooking spray again. Air fry for 10-12 minutes until they turn crispy and golden. Flip the chicken halfway through until it is completely cooked.
  • Garnish and serve: Garnish the popcorn chicken with fresh parsley and serve with ranch or ketchup.
Air fryer chicken nuggets on a tray and one is resting in a bowl of dip.

Tips To Make Air Fried Chicken Nuggets

  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to about 6 hours. 
  • Make buttermilk by mixing 1 ½ teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice with milk. 
  • Preheating the air fryer will give you the crispiest chicken nuggets.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken. Leave space between the nuggets and cook in batches if needed.  
  • Don’t forget to flip the nuggets halfway through the cooking time. 
  • Always check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F. 
  • Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for an easy meal or snack later on. 
Close up of air fryer nuggets with a bite taken out of one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I put chicken nuggets in the air fryer?

Place chicken into a 390 degrees F air fryer and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time. 

Do you need to flip chicken in the air fryer?

Flipping is necessary to help the chicken get golden and crispy on all sides. 

How do I store and reheat air fryer chicken nuggets?

Store leftover popcorn chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, place in a 400 degrees F air fryer for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. If reheating from frozen, you may need to add a few minutes to the time. 

Can I freeze nuggets?

Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for easy meals and snacks later on. Place the chicken on a baking tray and freeze until solid. Place the pieces into a freezer bag or freezer proof container for up to 3 months. Just remove and reheat what you need. 

Air fryer popcorn chicken in a bowl.

More Kid-Approved Chicken Recipes

I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this delicious Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it, and share it with your friends and family!

If you try this recipe and liked it, please leave a star rating and comment below. Use my hashtag to share it with me on Instagram so I can see your delicious recreations! Also, follow me at Cookin’ With Mima on FACEBOOK |INSTAGRAM |PINTEREST for all of my latest social posts and recipes.

Popcorn chicken air fryer on a tray with a bowl of dip.

Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are tastier and healthier than take-out, and you are going to love them. This bite-sized air fryer popcorn chicken is marinated in buttermilk so it’s tender and juicy, then seasoned to perfection and air fried until hot and crispy.

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 12 mins

Total Time 42 mins

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl marinate the chicken pieces with buttermilk, salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • In a small bowl place the cornstarch and keep it aside.

  • In another bowl whisk the eggs with a fork and keep it aside.

  • In a plate combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and keep it aside.

  • First dredge the marinated chicken in cornstarch, then in egg mixture and finally in the flour mixture. Coat the chicken pieces evenly and shake the excess flour if any.

  • Repeat the same with the remaining chicken pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.

  • Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket and top with cooking spray again.

  • Air fry for 10-12 minutes until they turn crispy and golden. Flip the chicken halfway through until it is completely cooked.

  • Garnish the popcorn chicken with fresh parsley and serve with ranch or ketchup.

Notes

  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to about 6 hours. 
  • Make buttermilk by mixing 1 ½ teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice with milk. 
  • Preheating the air fryer will give you the crispiest chicken nuggets.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken. Leave space between the nuggets and cook in batches if needed. 
  • Don’t forget to flip the nuggets halfway through the cooking time. 
  • Always check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F. 
  • Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for an easy meal or snack later on. 

Nutrition

Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg






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