Nashville Hot Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

If you love spicy foods, you’re gonna love these air fryer chicken nuggets. They use my spin on a Nashville Hot Chicken spice blend and a tiny bit of olive oil to make little juicy and tender flavor bombs.

And since the entire recipe has 75 grams of protein with just 390 calories and 0 grams of carbs, you’ll have plenty of room for fries, tots, and other goodies. But we’ll get to that in a minute. 

Nashville hot chicken nuggets on a white plate

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How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

This is a super easy recipe so instead of my typical recipe walkthrough, I’ll cover ingredient modifications, tips, and tricks below. And as always, you’ll find the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. 

Step 1: Bring the Heat 

spices for Nashville hot chicken nuggets

The spice blend is a slightly toned down version of my Nashville Hot Chicken Burgers mix. Here’s everything you’ll need (and don’t worry if you’re missing a thing or two):

  • cayenne pepper
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper and red pepper flakes 
  • brown sugar (I used zero-calorie Swerve Brown)

The biggest difference between these chicken nuggets and my chicken burgers is the cayenne pepper. Don’t get me wrong, the nuggets are still spicy AF. But if you really wanna bring the heat, increase the cayenne pepper by about 1/2 teaspoon. 

diced chicken breast covered in the Nashville hot spices

If you’re missing a spice or two, you can add a little bit of another. It should turn out fine. 

The only other ingredient note here would be on the olive oil. Like with my BBQ pulled pork and pork tenderloin carnitas, the olive oil keeps the spices on the meat and helps develop a slight crust on the exterior. So don’t skip the oil. If you’re lacking olive oil, feel free to use another type of oil.  

Bonus Ingredient Tip

If you wanted to avoid handling raw chicken, you could use the Perdue Farms diced chicken breast I used in my chili garlic chicken fried cauliflower rice recipe. They’ll deliver straight to your door and shopping at my affiliate link saves you 15% off your first order. They also make a great pre-cut strips option I’ve used to make garlic parmesan chicken strips.

thawing perdue harvestland diced chicken breast

Whether you go pre-diced or self-diced, don’t forget to pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before adding the olive oil and spices. It helps all the goodies stick to the chicken better! 

More diced chicken breast recipes: air fried sweet chili chicken and brussels sprouts, General Tso chicken, and air fryer cajun chicken and veggies

Step 2: Air Fry the Seasoned Chicken

seasoned chicken breast in the basket before frying

All my air frying these days takes place in a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi. Take note of the slight spacing between each chicken nugget in the photo above.

If you’re using a smaller air fryer, you may want to fry in batches or shake halfway through frying. And if you’re using a larger air fryer, you could probably scale the recipe up to make a larger batch. 

Nashville hot chicken nuggets after air frying

You want the larger nuggets to reach an internal temperature of 165ºF. If you don’t have a food thermometer, get one! They’re relatively inexpensive and will make cooking proteins so much easier. I have my favorite on my Kitchen Tools Amazon list.

Want to make these nuggets without an air fryer? Check out my pan fried buffalo chicken bites.

Step 3: Party On

While your chicken nuggets are in the air fryer, get your dip and other fixin’s ready to go. I didn’t get too fancy with my test batches—light ranch worked just fine. If you want a low calorie homemade ranch dip, check out this recipe from my spicy buttermilk chicken tenders:

  • 1/2 C (113g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp (30mL) Skim Milk (or any milk)
  • 1 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning 

Just mix ’em up and get dipping. 

Nashville hot chicken nugget on a toothpick dipped in a ranch dip

Aside from dips, I’ll drop a handful of recipes for nugget-friendly sides below. 

What to Serve with Your Chicken Nuggets

I bet these nuggets would be amazing in a salad or wrap, too. Let me know how you serve them! And if you have any other questions about these Nashville Hot chicken nuggets, leave a comment at the bottom of this post. 

Nashville Hot Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Nashville Hot Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Yield: 3 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Juicy, tender chicken nuggets air fried with a Nashville Hot spice blend.


  • 12 oz Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp (8g) 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*


  1. Use a paper towel to pat dry the diced chicken breast before adding to a bowl and tossing with the olive oil.
  2. Mix the spices and brown sugar in a small bowl before adding to the chicken. Toss until evenly coated.
  3. Add the chicken to an air fryer basket in an even layer. Cook at 400ºF for 8-10 minutes**. Let the chicken nuggets rest for 3-4 minutes after frying before serving.


*I used Swerve Brown, an erythritol-based zero-calorie sugar substitute. The nutrition information does not include any carbs from brown sugar. If you use the real deal, each serving will have around 3g of carbs.

**I used a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for air frying. Cook time may vary slightly between different air fryers. If you're baking your chicken nuggets, add the seasoned chicken to a baking sheet (use a baking sheet lined with a wire rack if you have it) and bake at 400ºF for a similar time frame.

The entire recipe has 2 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Servings Serving Size: about 8 nuggets
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 3gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 25g

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32 thoughts on “Nashville Hot Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets”

  • Ok, WOW with these… definitely my kind of spicy. I do think that maybe adding a touch of salt might be tasty, too. 10/10 though!!

  • Super spicy! I love it, and they were perfectly cooked in the air fryer. Definitely going to start using this method more often.

    • I made these chicken nuggets the other night and me and my husband loveD them! They are pretty spicy so if you don’t love too spicy, leave off the red pepper flakes! I also made home made ranch (plain greek yogurt with ranch dressing mix) and it was good good with the nuggets! I highly recommend this recipe!

  • Woo wee these are spicy! I’m from Texas so I love me some spice and usually handle it pretty well, but these nugs had my cheeks sweating. They were super tasty but I would probably use less chili in the future just so I can share with my partner. He can’t have too much spicy in his life. Really love the way they turned out though! Thanks for the recipe.

  • These missed the mark for me, and I think it was the brown sugar. The rest of the spices have some serious potential to make an awesome at home hot chicken though! Maybe on Perdue chicken chunks???

  • It was good! Some spices stuck out more than I would’ve liked them too, definitely had to much of a chili powder taste so next time I make them I will tone it down with that!

  • This recipe basically was the icing on the cake to convince me to get the Ninja Foodie. Let me tell you.. it was amazing! We didn’t use all the spices out of fear it being a little too hot. It was still delicious 😋

  • Omg these were SPICY. I brought these for lunch at work the other day and oh my gosh I had tears streaming down my face! Definitely wasn’t expecting that so I’ll probably be toning down the amount of spice added in the next time I make these.

  • Bought an air fryer and haven’t used it much. When I saw This saw this recipe I knew It would be the perfect one to finally try it out. I love Spicy and the blends in the seasoning were perfect. I can’t wait To make again!

  • Fantastic recipe! I’ve made it three times now and it’s going to become a regular rotation. As I’ve made it I’ve adjusted the spices a little, as I like heat but this recipe packs a punch! Last time I made it I reduced most of the “spicy seasonings” in half and it was perfect! Great job Mason!

  • It was so good. It was nice that it was a recipe where I had al ingredients on hand. I paired it with the Dole Salad Kit in Chipotle Cheddar flavor for some veggies and more heat on the side. Want to try and find a way to incorporate it into a pasta bake of some kind.

  • I could write up some super descriptive comment using fancy food words about how good this recipe is, but I can pretty much sum it up with the fact that I’ve eaten it for at least one meal each of the last 8(!) consecutive days. That is all, ’nuff said.

    • I think I would bake them or even sauté in a pan before using a pressure cooker. But if you want to go for it, they shouldn’t take more than a few minutes with high pressure. I typically do a pound or two of whole chicken breast in 8-12 minutes.

  • I made this a few nights ago. I live in Nashville, so I was curious to try it! It turned out really well. One thing that I like about this recipe is that you literally just need the chicken and the spices, which I always have on hand. The spice level was hot but not too hot so that I couldn’t enjoy it. The dipping sauce Complemented the chicken.

  • I made these last weekend and put them over protein waffles. It was the perfect “fried chicken” and waffle experience! My husband loved them. I didn’t have any swerve brown sugar on hand so I used real brown sugar but cut the amount in half to keep the carbs low. The rub still turned out great 👍🏻

  • Oh my gosh! These are delicious. First time I made them, I did them in my instant pot with the air fryer lid for 10 min, and it didn’t need that long. 8 minutes was perfect when I did them again! I used avocado oil, and it was an easy conversion. They definitely packed some heat, so either add a lil more brown sugar to help it or decrease the chili! Also they of course pair great with a lil’ dollop of ranch.

  • These were so delicious! Slightly sweeter than what I think of Nashville hot chicken normally being, but the sweetness was nice to offset the spice. Will definitely make again!

  • We made these and at first I thought they had a little too much kick at the end for me. The next day I paired some left overs with waffles and it was PERFECT! If you like spicy but not too spicy, just cut back and make it to your preference !

  • These totally hit the spot. Made them along with the copycat wing stop fries and really enjoyed both. I used chicken breast for myself and drumsticks for the hubs. Was told to hold on to both recipes and he would definitely want to have them again!

  • I made these and they were super easy (I’m an experienced cook I make real gumbo etc I’m Creole). They just need salt. Everything else for us cajun/Creole folks is usually good. But anyway made them in like 35 minutes or less including cook time. Very tasty amazing recipe.

  • Such a good recipe. Pretty spicy!! The only changes made were that I upped the garlic powder to 1 tsp (I love garlic), used regular brown sugar, and added about 1-1 1/2 tsps of salt. I cooked in batches as suggested. Came out great!!

  • These have become my go-to meal during quarantine – I make them at least once a week and always look forward to my meals when I know I have this chicken to eat. They are easy and quick to make and delicious. They have a bit of kick to them but not an unbearable one. I pair these with the greek ranch dip and Wingstop fries and its a great meal. Highly recommend.

  • Make these NOW! Heat level was perfect for me the way the recipe called for it but I cut of the pepper flakes on my wife’s as she is not a huge fan of heat and she enjoyed it. I’ve also made the garlic parm version of these and they came out dynamite as well. Perfect as a snack or with sides as a full meal

  • I am totally in love with this recipe and how quick it is using the air frier. They are amazing with veggies or on waffles.

  • Bought an airfryer because of Mason’s recipes. This was the first recipe I made and it did not disappoint, so good and the perfect amount of hot/spicy. I paired it with some Cajun fries and it was amazing.

  • These nuggs are DOPE. I make them at least once a week. I added one additional step for max delish factor: marinate the chicken in pickle juice before you season them. This helps them stay tender, and also enhances the flavor of the nuggs. Served up with a side of Grillos pickles, and fries!

  • Oh I have tried this Nashville nuggets my brother I loved it perfect level of spicy. We serve with brown rice, guacamole, and some greens. I wish I can post picture of it. But it was bomb.

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