Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets 7 Ways

Today I have seven air fryer chicken nuggets recipes for you that are super easy to make, high protein, and perfect for meal prep. Only one of the recipes requires a quick marinade. The rest go straight in the air fryer and take about 20-25 minutes from start to finish. 

As for the layout of this recipe guide, I’ll cover the basics of making chicken nuggets in the air fryer first. Then you’ll find a breakdown of the ingredients needed for each recipe. And finally, a printable recipe card with all seven seasoning blends will be at the bottom of the post. 

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How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

For every recipe below, you’ll need one pound of boneless skinless chicken breast that’s been cut into bite-size (or maybe big bite-size) pieces. All but one of the recipes will call for a tablespoon of olive oil as well. In case you’re wondering, the olive oil provides flavor, color, and a place for all the spices and herbs to get to know one another. I wouldn’t omit the olive oil. 

The process of making chicken nuggets in the air fryer itself is an easy one. I like to pat the chicken dry with a paper towel so you get nice and even olive oil distribution. Once you have olive oil coated chicken, you’re ready to add the seasoning blends and air fry. 

seasoning and air frying diced chicken breast

Quick ingredient note: A few of the recipes call for a second liquid ingredient like lemon juice or soy sauce. Be sure to mix that in with the olive oil to coat the chicken. Do not mix the dry ingredients with the olive oil and other liquid ingredients.The lemon pepper nuggets (pictured above) are a great example of this. 

What air fryer do you recommend?

I test all my air fryer recipes in either the 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi or the Instant Pot Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker combo. Both of these are all-in-one units that double as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and even dehydrator.

I’ve found both cook a pound of air fryer chicken nuggets in the 10-12 minute range, regardless of seasoning blend. But not every air fryer will have the same cook times. You’ll want to check on your first batch of chicken nuggets early to avoid over cooking. Nobody wants rubbery chicken nuggets! 

Ninja Foodi and Instant Pot Air Fryer

Do I need to flip the chicken nuggets?

Not necessarily. The contact with the air fryer basket can create some color and browning via Maillard reaction, but the beauty of air frying is you’ll get some color on both sides even without flipping. My advice would be to try it both ways and see if it makes a difference and is worth flipping halfway through. 

Though I’ll add if you’re using a smaller air fryer, you’ll want to flip/shake halfway through for even cooking. 

How can I make these chicken nuggets without an air fryer?

You should be able to pan fry or bake your nuggets without any issues. Use my pan fried chicken tenders (8-10 minutes over medium heat) and spicy baked chicken tenderloins (400ºF for 15-18 minutes) as examples for times/methods. The nuggets may cook a bit faster than tenderloins so check on them a minute or two earlier. 

The Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Recipes

Now, let’s get to the good stuff. You can click a recipe name below to jump straight there.

  1. Lemon Pepper
  2. Garlic Parmesan
  3. Chipotle Lime
  4. Nashville Hot
  5. Chick-Fil-A Copycat
  6. Jamaican Jerk
  7. Cajun

Or you can scroll through all of them. Don’t forget, there’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post with all the seasoning blends in the notes.   

Lemon Pepper Chicken Nuggets

Inspired by my air fryer Greek chicken and potatoes, all you’ll need is a lemon and a pre-made lemon pepper seasoning.

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes 

Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 27 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat per serving (makes 4) 

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

If you’ve tried my air fryer chicken tenders, this seasoning blend will look familiar! 

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1/4 C (15-30g) Grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

Nutrition Facts: 205 calories, 31 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, and 8 grams of fat per serving (makes 4)  

Chipotle Lime Chicken Nuggets

chipotle lime air fryer chicken nuggets on a black plate

These nuggets would be great with a creamy salsa dip like in my baked beef tacos or in salads. 

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Lime Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Lime Zest
  • 1-2 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder, to spice preference
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 27 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat per serving (makes 4)

Nashville Hot Chicken Nuggets

My original Nashville Hot chicken nuggets called for 12 ounces of chicken and half a tablespoon of olive oil. I tested the same spice blend with a pound of chicken and full tablespoon of olive oil, and they’re still great. Though if you want extra spicy, you’ll probably want to up the cayenne or even use a spicier pepper like habanero. 

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp (12g) Brown Sugar

Nutrition Facts: 160 calories, 27 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat per serving (makes 4)

Chick-Fil-A Grilled Nuggets

My spin on Chick-Fil-A grilled nuggets is the only olive oil exception on the list. You’ll need to give the diced chicken a quick 30-60 minute bath in a blend of pickle juice and milk before draining, seasoning, and air frying. 

  • 1/2 C (120mL) Pickle Juice
  • 1/4 C (60mL) Skim Milk
  • 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika

Nutrition Facts: 135 calories, 27 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fat per serving (makes 4)

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Nuggets

Everyone seems to love my Torchy’s Brushfire Tacos so I transformed it into these jerk air fried chicken nuggets. The original recipe includes jalapeño pepper strips, which would be a solid addition. 

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Salt-Free Jerk Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 27 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat per serving (makes 4)

Cajun Chicken Nuggets

Going off another copycat, my spin on Five Guys cajun fries have been a hit as well. So I figured that seasoning blend would go just as well on chicken as it does on potatoes. My suspicions were confirmed. 

  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp (6g) Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Thyme 

Nutrition Facts: 155 calories, 27 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat per serving (makes 4)

Wrapping Up

You’ll find the printable recipe card with all the seasoning blends below. Here are a few takeaway tips: 

  • Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before adding the olive oil.
  • Always mix any additional liquid ingredient with the olive oil and chicken, not the dry spices.
  • Different air fryers may have different cook times. Check on your first batch early to avoid rubber chicken nuggets. 
  • If your equipment has the option, broiling can add extra color to your air fryer nuggets at the end of cooking without drying out the chicken. 

And that should cover it. If you have any questions about these air fryer chicken nuggets, drop a comment at the bottom of the post. Otherwise, happy snacking! 

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets 7 Ways

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets 7 Ways

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

7 seasoning blends for easy air fryer chicken nuggets.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, diced
  • 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
  • Seasoning Blend from the List Below

Instructions

  1. Pat diced chicken breast dry with a paper towel and add to a large bowl.
  2. Evenly coat the chicken in the olive oil. (For seasoning blends with other liquid ingredients like soy sauce or lime juice, add in this step.)
  3. Mix your choice of seasoning blend from below in a separate bowl before adding to the chicken. Stir to evenly coat the chicken in the dry seasoning blend.
  4. Add the seasoned chicken to an air fryer basket. Air fry for 10-12 minutes at 400ºF until the chicken nuggets reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Notes

Lemon Pepper

  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes 
  • Garlic Parmesan

  • 2-4 Tbsp (15-30g) Grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Chipotle Lime

  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Lime Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Lime Zest
  • 1-2 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder, to spice preference
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Nashville Hot

  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp (12g) Brown Sugar
  • Chick-Fil-A (swap olive oil for pickle juice/milk marinade)

  • 1/2 C (120mL) Pickle Juice
  • 1/4 C (60mL) Skim Milk
  • 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Jamaican Jerk

  • 1 Tbsp (15g) Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Salt-Free Jerk Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Cajun

  • 1/2 Tbsp (6g) Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Thyme 
  • Nutrition Information Notes

    The nutrition facts are for the base recipe of chicken and olive oil. I've included the specific nutrition info for each version of nuggets in the post above.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Servings Serving Size: 1 Serving
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Total Fat: 5gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 27g

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