Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are seasoned cubed chicken breasts coated with panko crumbs and covered in a buttery lemon garlic sauce, cooked to a crispy golden brown in an air fryer. Try my Buffalo Chicken Tenders for another crispy chicken appetizer.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Air fryers are all the rage these days, so the more recipes you can have on hand to use one, the better! It makes your favorite deep-fried foods a little healthier, but without lacking in flavor. These chicken nuggets have a nice, crispy texture that is loaded with garlic flavor and a hint of lemon.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets Ingredients
Chicken: I used chicken breasts for this recipe; the chicken was nice and juicy with every bite!
Panko: Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb that is lighter and will stay crispier longer. Look for panko in the Asian food aisle of the grocery store. (You could use regular bread crumbs in a pinch, but the nuggets will have a different texture.)
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
It’s really easy to get this appetizer made and dipped into your favorite sauce (like my homemade buffalo sauce or ranch dressing). To get started, cut the chicken into cubes or tenders. Set the air fryer to 400°F as you coat the pieces of chicken.
First, season the pieces of chicken with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I just toss the chicken in a bowl with the seasonings to coat. Next, add the panko to the bowl to cover each chicken piece. Adding the panko after coating with the seasoning allows all the flavors of the seasonings to be on each piece of chicken.
Place the coated chicken in a single layer into the basket of your air fryer. Depending on the size of the air fryer, you may have to work in batches. Air fry each batch for 8 minutes, using tongs to flip the chicken pieces halfway through.
After 8 minutes, remove the chicken from the air fryer and place them in a large bowl. (You are not done cooking the chicken, yet, so leave the air fryer at 400°F.) Tent the chicken with aluminum foil to keep it warm as you make the butter sauce coating.
How to Make the Butter Sauce Coating
More garlic flavor is in the butter coating, as well as the hint of lemon flavor I stated earlier. To make the coating, simply combine the melted butter, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and salt in a medium bowl. Then, pour the sauce over the bowl of warm chicken. Toss the chicken pieces in the sauce to coat as evenly as you can.
Finally, place the sauced chicken back in the air fryer to cook for an additional five minutes. Chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the chicken from the air fryer and serve as an appetizer (I loved the nuggets dipped in my favorite condiment and as-is, with no dipping sauce)! These air-fried nuggets would also be delicious added to a bed of lettuce, topped with jalapeno ranch dressing.
Can I Make this Without an Air Fryer?
Yes! To make these nuggets in the oven, preheat the oven to 400°F. Then, follow the steps up to putting the chicken in the air fryer for the first time. Instead of placing the chicken in the basket of an air fryer, bake the seasoned and panko-coated chicken on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes. During the baking time, make the sauce.
After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and coat them in the butter sauce coating mixture. If the chicken is fully cooked (an internal temperature of 165°F), you do not have to put them back in the oven. Just enjoy them! Of course, if not fully cooked, place them back in the oven for a few more minutes after you have coated them in the sauce.
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Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are seasoned cubed chicken breasts coated with panko crumbs and covered in a buttery lemon garlic sauce, cooked to a crispy golden brown in an air fryer.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch pieces (approximately 2 chicken breasts)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups panko breading
Butter Sauce Coating
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- ¼ cup parsley, finely diced
- ¼ teaspoons salt
Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, oil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Toss together to coat evenly. Add the panko crumbs to the mix and toss again to coat.
Place chicken in a single even layer in the basket of the air fryer. (Work in batches if your air fryer isn't large enough).
Fry for 8 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl and set aside. Tent with aluminum foil to keep warm as you make the butter sauce coating. (The chicken will be going back in the air fryer to finish cooking.)
Butter Sauce Coating
In a medium bowl combine melted butter, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and salt. Pour the sauce over the chicken, evenly covering each piece of chicken. Place back into the air fryer to cook for another 5 minutes. (Chicken is fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 165°F.)
Serve warm, dipped in your favorite dipping sauce.