Get that crispy, crunchy chicken nugget taste you love without leaving the house with these crispy homemade air fryer chicken nuggets. With just a few simple ingredients and minutes in the air fryer, you’ll have tender, juicy chicken nuggets with a crispy outer coating the whole family will devour.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Crispy, crunchy coating without deep frying – the air fryer makes them perfectly crispy!
- Juicy, tender chicken that tastes homemade, not processed
- Easy to make with simple ingredients you likely have on hand
- Kid-friendly and fun for dipping in different sauces
- Customizable with your favorite seasonings or spice blends
- Quick to cook compared to baking – ready in just minutes!
This delicious recipe is made with lean chicken breast, a few simple seasonings, and a buttermilk coating. They are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Plus, they are super easy to make.
If you are looking for directions for air frying frozen chicken nuggets check out this post: How to cook frozen chicken nuggets in air fryer.
Scroll down for the printable recipe card for these homemade air fryer chicken nuggets, or read on for all the details.
What do you need?
This recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces. You could substitute chicken thighs if you prefer.
Buttermilk is a key ingredient in making these chicken nuggets crispy. The lactic acid in buttermilk helps break down the chicken proteins, resulting in a tender texture, and the milk proteins coat the chicken, helping to create the super crispy coating when mixed with flour.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a substitute by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before adding the chicken.
Use all-purpose white flour. Gluten-free flour should also work for this recipe. However, I haven’t actually tested it yet! If you try making it with gluten-free flour please let me know in the comments how it turns out!
This recipe uses chicken seasoning for simplicity, but you can make your own seasoning from salt, black pepper, sugar, and paprika.
Olive oil spray
Choose an oil spray that spritzes rather than an aerosol spray, and try to avoid using generic cooking spray (as both of these can damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer basket).
How to make crispy homemade chicken nuggets in your air fryer
This recipe is very simple to make, there are just a few key steps to getting it just right:
- Marinate the chicken in buttermilk. Cut the chicken into 1-2 inch pieces, then place in a large bowl with the buttermilk. Mix well, cover with cling film, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or over night).
- Preheat the air fryer to 370°F/ 190°C.
- Batter the chicken. Mix the flour and seasonings together in a large (gallon size) zip-lock bag. Drain the chicken pieces, then add to the bag with the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake until the chicken is completely coated.
- Prepare the air fryer basket by brushing or spritzing with olive oil. Place the chicken nuggets in the air fryer basket and spritz (or brush) with oil.
- Air fry chicken nuggets for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping and re-spritzing the nuggets halfway through the cooking time.
- Check the temperature. Cook the nuggets in the air fryer until they are golden brown and have reached at least 165°F/ 74°C in the center of the largest nuggets (use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature).
Serve them as a snack with your favorite dipping sauce – BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, or tomato ketchup are all great choices, or try this homemade Chick-fil-A sauce recipe for the full fakeaways experience!
You can also make them into a meal. Here are some tasty serving ideas:
Storing and reheating
Store any leftover chicken nuggets in an airtight container in the fridge and use within three days.
To reheat your chicken nuggets in the air fryer, place them in the basket and air fry for 4-5 minutes until they have reached 165°F/ 74°C in the center.
Crispy Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- 2 to 3 large chicken breasts boneless, skinless. Cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk Note 1
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons chicken seasoning
- Olive oil spray
- Add the chicken pieces and buttermilk to a large bowl, mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
- Add the flour and seasoning to a large (gallon-sized) zip-lock bag and shake to mix. Strain the chicken pieces (discard the buttermilk) and add them to the bag. Seal the bag and shake until the chicken is completely coated.
- Spritz the air fryer basket with oil spray, or use an air fryer liner. Place the chicken pieces onto the chicken basket and spritz well with oil.
- Preheat the air fryer to 370°F/ 190°C. Air fry chicken nuggets for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping and spraying the nuggets halfway through cooking.
- The nuggets are cooked when they are golden brown, crispy, and have reached 165°F/ 74°C in the center [Note 2].
- You can make a buttermilk substitute by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk and allowing it it sit for 5 minutes before using.
- Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.