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.
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
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
- 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.
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 perduefarms.com/mason 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.
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
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.
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.
Aside from dips, I’ll drop a handful of recipes for nugget-friendly sides below.
What to Serve with Your Chicken Nuggets
- Crispy Carrot Fries
- Copycat Wingstop Fries
- Crispy Rosemary Potatoes
- Air Fryer Roasted Carrots and Potatoes
- Air Fried Cauliflower Gnocchi
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.
- 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*
- Use a paper towel to pat dry the diced chicken breast before adding to a bowl and tossing with the olive oil.
- Mix the spices and brown sugar in a small bowl before adding to the chicken. Toss until evenly coated.
- 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