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Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you’re wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they’re a great place to start! Of course, they can also be baked in the oven or deep-fried in oil.

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you're wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they're a great place to start!

Should you get an Air Fryer?

The bottom line is this: If you can afford the price of an Air Fryer and you have space in your life to store one, yes. You should buy one. I only have experience with one particular brand (which I’ll explain as fully as I can below), but I know there are many for sale these days. Please feel free to share your personal experiences in the comments below!

Now for the back story: With January resolutions in mind, I asked on Facebook what you thought about Air Fryers: did you have one, and would you like to see recipes designed for it? Although a few of you said no thanks (which is why there are conventional oven baking directions below!), many, many of you said a resounding yes!

Whether you got an Air Fryer for the recent holidays, or you’re just considering buying one, I went ahead and took the plunge. It’s research, right? Well, first I made sure I could find a place in my growing collection of electric kitchen appliances to store an Air Fryer. Then, I bought the biggest one they had because I had read that they can be frustratingly small.

I have the As Seen on TV version (I am a SUCKER for As Seen On TV), which is the Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 Quart. That’s an affiliate link for Amazon.com, but of course feel free to shop around.

I would have preferred to buy mine at Bed Bath & Beyond since I could have used a 20% off coupon and their return policy is second-to-none, but they didn’t have any in stock. Frankly, I was fairly certain this experiment would be a failed one and I’d be bringing my “fryer” back within a week.

Well, color me surprised. 😳 I absolutely love this thing. So far, aside from many, many batches of today’s Air Fryer chicken nuggets, I’ve made a few different kinds of chicken (all have turned out great), incredibly crispy French fries, Air Fryer fried wontons, and even some yeast-raised donuts. Everything has turned out awesome. How about some Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Bites? Don’t mind if I do!

Not only has the food been great, but the appliance heats up very quickly (I haven’t found it necessary to “preheat” it at all) and the clean-up is simple. Be sure not to use an aerosol oil spray, as that has additives that can damage the nonstick coating of the fry basket. My Air Fryer came with a non-aerosol oil mister, but it’s not so easy to use. I’m not buying another sprayer, though. They’re too expensive and have too many issues.

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you're wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they're a great place to start!

How does it compare to baking?

These chicken nuggets have a much thicker, more satisfying crunch than anything that is baked in the oven (like these coconut chicken fingers my family adores) could possibly have. When you bake them in the oven, the breadcrumb coating may get browned, but the crust doesn’t form in the same way.

I’m actually quite a big fan of deep-fried foods, as when cooked in the proper oil at the proper temperature, the food absorbs very little oil. But there’s no way around at least some of the mess of the whole procedure of deep frying, and the lingering smell in the kitchen isn’t pleasant. I’ll have to make my KFC Chicken and report back about how it compares to the deep fry.

If I had known that air fryers would become so popular and widespread, I would have tested a lot of the recipes in Gluten Free Small Bites in the air fryer and provided notes in the cookbook. I’m thinking about trying the hush puppies or the coconut shrimp from Small Bites in the air fryer. I’ll have to let you know how they turn out, but I’m pretty optimistic.

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you're wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they're a great place to start!

Some semi-pro tips for using the Air Fryer

I’m far from an Air Fryer expert (yet!), and there are even some recipe developers who have written entire cookbooks on the subject of this crazy appliance already. But I’ve done a lot of reading and a ton of testing in the last couple weeks, and here’s what I know so far:

  1. If you’re converting an oven-baked recipe to the Air Fryer, keep in mind that air frying is more efficient than oven-baking. As a rule of thumb, try reducing the oven temperature by 25°F and reducing the cooking time by about 20%. This is just a general guideline, though!
  2. Air frying is really (of course) not actually just like deep-frying. It’s more like extremely efficient high-powered convection oven baking. Air is circulated all around the food by a high-powered fan. So be sure that your breading is sticking to the food quite well, or it might get separated during cooking.
  3. As I’ve mentioned already, stay away from an aerosol-based oil spray. It can damage the nonstick coating on the fryer basket. Also, handwash the basket. It cleans up very easily, and whether your manufacturer says it’s dishwasher safe or not, I’d wash by hand.
  4. I really don’t care for the recipes that the Air Fryer people themselves provide with the appliance and on the Internet. When in doubt, trust your favorite food blogger over the manufacturer in this case (and in many cases!). We’re generally a pretty hardworking bunch, and we’re operating in real-world circumstances, just like you.

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you're wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they're a great place to start!

Watch this short (90 second) video to see how it’s done!

Just push play ▶ below and watch how to prepare the chicken nuggets and then how to make them quickly and easily in the Air Fryer.

Ingredients and substitutions

Egg-free: Since there is only one egg in this recipe, I think it would work quite well to substitute it with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). For a proper coating to which the breadcrumbs will adhere quite well, though, the question is more difficult. Maybe “chia eggs”? If you’re egg-free and have ideas, please share in the comments!

Dairy-free: As long as that tablespoon of milk is dairy-free, these nuggets are naturally dairy free.

Corn-free: Just replace the cornstarch for dredging with arrowroot, my gum-free gluten free flour blend or sweet white rice flour.

Herbs: Use whatever dried herbs you like. I like herbs de Provence because it’s a nice shortcut to a lot of flavor and the nuggets remind me of chicken and dumplings or pot pie that way.

Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast, and has a mildly cheesy flavor. It used to be relatively hard to find, but now that Trader Joe’s sells their own brand of the stuff, I think it’s made it to the mainstream. If you’d prefer to eliminate it and can have dairy, try replacing it with an equal amount by volume of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Air Fryer-free: See the recipe below for oven-baking directions!

These Air Fryer chicken nuggets really are super crispy but made with almost no oil and in just minutes. If you're wondering how to use this new fun appliance, they're a great place to start! #airfryer #glutenfree #lowfat #chicken

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 2 dozen chicken nuggets

Ingredients

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell)

1 tablespoon milk (any kind)

1 1/2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (20 g) nutritional yeast

3/4 pound (12 ounces) skinless boneless chicken breasts, minced (or ground chicken)

1/2 cup (80 g) Panko-style gluten free breadcrumbs, plus about 1 1/2 cups more, for dredging

1 to 1 1/2 cups cornstarch, for dredging

2 eggs (any size) (beaten with water), for dredging

Avocado or sunflower oil, for spraying or brushing (non-aerosol can if spraying)

Sriracha mayonnaise, for dipping (optional)

Directions

  • In a large bowl, place the egg, milk, herbs, salt, and nutritional yeast, and beat to combine well. Add the minced or ground chicken, and then the breadcrumbs, mixing to combine after each addition. The mixture should be sticky and should hold together when scooped. If you’ve used ground chicken instead of minced chicken, you may need a bit more breadcrumbs to help the mixture hold together.

  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside. Place the cornstarch in one bowl, the eggs beaten with water in another, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs in another. Set them side by side, next to the prepared baking sheet. Divide the chicken mixture into portions about 1 1/2 tablespoons each (a #50 ice cream scoop is ideal for this purpose) and roll each into a round then press into a flat disk between the wet palms of your hands. Dredge each portion through the cornstarch, coating on all sides, through the egg wash (allow excess to drip off) and then through the breadcrumbs to coat on all sides. Press the breadcrumbs onto the nuggets so they adhere, and place each nugget on the prepared baking sheet.

  • Place as many nuggets as will fit comfortably in the basket of your Air Fryer in a single layer, without crowding. Spray or brush the tops of the nuggets lightly with the oil, and place in the Air Fryer. Fry at 370°F for about 6 minutes. Remove the basket carefully from the fryer and, using heat-safe tongs, flip each of the nuggets over. Return to the fryer and finish frying until crispy brown all over and cooked through (another 6 to 8 minutes). Serve immediately with the optional sriracha mayonnaise.

  • Alternate Oven-Baking Directions: Prepare the chicken nuggets in the same manner, but place them on a wire rack above the lined baking sheet. Spray generously with oil, and bake in a 400°F oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each of the nuggets over and spray again with oil. Return to the oven and continue to bake until lightly golden brown and cooked through (about another 10 to 12 minutes).

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Elaine A
    January 9, 2018 at 1:46 PM

    Hi Nicole. We bought the same air fryer from bed bath and beyond for the same reasons. WE LOVE IT. We use it for anything and everything that used to get deep fried – fish, chicken wings, French fries fresh or frozen, fried chicken thighs and breasts… You name it. Everything comes out delicious, especially knowing it is virtually grease free! It is worth it in so many ways!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 9, 2018 at 7:40 PM

      I always try to buy things from BB&B whenever I can. I keep thinking they’re going to revise their return policy, or stop accepting those 20% off coupons on everything, but so far so good! So glad you are enjoying your Air Fryer, Elaine. I think I’m going to make fried GF wontons next. :)

  • Irene Fraser
    January 9, 2018 at 7:19 AM

    Hi Nicole, just a general question, when you say have ingredients at room temp does it matter how cold your kitchen is? This is probably a stupid question but i’m a beginner at this baking game !x!x

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 9, 2018 at 9:00 AM

      Hi, Irene,
      Haha that’s a good question and since you were wondering it’s always better to ask! Room temperature refers to around 70°F. A few degrees here and there won’t matter much. The purpose behind baking with certain ingredients at room temperature is that it ensures that they’ll combine fully when mixed. It’s especially important with fats, like butter or oils, but if the other ingredients (say, eggs) are cold, they’ll lower the temperature of the room temperature fats when you combine them and the fats will clump and not combine. I hope that helps!

  • Jen S.
    January 8, 2018 at 12:37 PM

    wow! I had an air fryer on my Christmas list but I guess I wasn’t as good as I thought so I’ll be buying one on my own soon! Can’t wait to try it out!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 8, 2018 at 1:22 PM

      Oh, Jennifer, we all know that you were super nice and deserved your Air Fryer! 😘

  • Millie
    January 7, 2018 at 5:34 PM

    I have an Air Fryer like yours and have had it for about a year. I love it and use it several times a week. I make chicken, (and will try your recipe) scallops, fish, donuts, bagels and even use the little pan that came with it for making cakes, cheesecakes and other desserts. I no longer do fries, fish, chicken etc in the oven. It makes the crispiest french fries and anyone we’ve served them to say the same thing. Worth every cent I spent on it. I also bought mine on Amazon.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 8, 2018 at 9:28 AM

      Glad to know how much you love yours, Millie! The French fries are really lovely, but even though I have the larger capacity fryer, it’s a bit tedious to make them in 3 batches or so to make enough for my larger family. I haven’t made anything in the pan yet, but I’m for sure going to give it a spin. I’m still working on making donuts that taste like they were actually fried, but I’m close! If you have any tips, please share! Thanks for your more experienced perspective. :)

  • Linda Snyder
    January 7, 2018 at 10:13 AM

    I bought an Air-Fryer back in Oct., tried it on “my” version of Chick-fil-a nuggets and did not like it. They never completely cooked! Maybe I had a lemon fryer! I am going to try it again, because of your review. I grew up on fried food, but it’s so messy, that I don’t do it very often. I thought this would be great, but my experience was not good. I’ll let you know how it goes the second time around. Thanks for all you do for us, GF people!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 7, 2018 at 10:21 AM

      I wonder what you didn’t like about the fryer, Linda?

  • Lori DeBell
    January 6, 2018 at 4:25 PM

    Non stick? Yikes I’m gonna have to find one that is stainless steel

    • Holly
      January 7, 2018 at 2:40 PM

      I agree Lori! No way am I’m cooking for my family with the PFOA output in non stick. That said, I would love to try this recipe! If you find a stainless steel interior let us know please.

  • Suzey Gent
    January 6, 2018 at 10:28 AM

    Thanks for the recipe. I have had an air fryer for years. I use it a lot. Would love to try the yeast raised doughnuts. Did you use the recipe in bakes bread? What temperature did you cook them at please

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 6, 2018 at 3:36 PM

      I’m still working on how best to use the air fryer for donuts, Suzey. I don’t have full recommendations yet. Stay tuned!

    • Suzey Gent
      January 6, 2018 at 5:45 PM

      Thanks Nicole I certainly will. I may even experimenting with one of your recipes myself 😊

      • Nicole Hunn
        January 7, 2018 at 9:00 AM

        If you do, Suzey, let us know how it goes! I have been able to make the donuts successfully so far, and they taste great, but I’m still working on making them actually taste like they were legitimately fried. I’ve been able to make that happen with French fries, so I’m sure I can make it happen. :)

  • J. Goldsby
    January 6, 2018 at 9:48 AM

    I have a 6 Quart Nu Wave Air Fryer AND I Love it i Cooked TWO 1/2 Inch Steaks in YESTERDAY and They came out Perfect. Then I went back and Cooked some Pork Steak that Was Really Really Good. Only Seasoning No Flour or Nothing

  • DESIREE KINCANON
    January 6, 2018 at 2:27 AM

    We absolutely love our air fryer. When they first came out about a yr ago, we bought one to try and see if we would like it. We used it all the time. So about 5 months ago, we upgraded to a 9.8 qt air fryer. It’s made by Todd English and it’s all digital, it has everything, even a rotisserie in it. This thing is awesome. Best purchase we have bought in a long time when it comes to appliances.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 6, 2018 at 3:35 PM

      Whoa, that’s a big air fryer, Desiree!

  • Desiree N
    January 5, 2018 at 11:47 PM

    I received an Air Fryer (Black and Decker) and tried a few things…. what is nutritional yeast and where to buy it? I did cook th TJ’s chicken nuggets and they came out fantastic..like that McD place, and fries from scratch were a hit!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 6, 2018 at 3:35 PM

      Hi, Desiree, nutritional yeast can be purchased in the natural foods section of most larger grocery stores (Bragg’s is the most prevalent brand), and it’s also sold at Trader Joe’s.

  • Tonya Varner
    January 5, 2018 at 2:18 PM

    Nicole I have asked Everyone Who tries My Pins Along with a woman who wanted to email me Or call! What is The Best One to Purchase?? I cook for me and my Husband but I also do Family Stuff and Lord knows I’m The Cooker/Baker and Pie Maker 😊 I really want an Air Fryer I just don’t know what Kind OR what Size 3 guart or 5?? Can you please help me out

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 5, 2018 at 2:56 PM

      Hi, Tonya, if you’re just cooking for yourself and your husband, then I think the smaller Air Fryer would be fine. But if you have the space and can afford the larger one, then it’s easier to work with since there’s less chance of overcrowding.

  • Jackwelyn
    January 5, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    I am thrilled you posted about the fryer and nuggets! I have been wanting to try a air fryer for so long and didn’t want to risk the fail :( So excited to try.

    • Jackwelyn
      January 5, 2018 at 1:00 PM

      I forgot to ask and only scanned the post, sorry if its in there… have you made the nuggets and frozen them and used the fryer?

      • Nicole Hunn
        January 5, 2018 at 2:00 PM

        Hi, Jackwelyn, No, I haven’t air fried them from frozen, but I bet it would work. I have refrigerated the raw, shaped nuggets and then air fried them straight from the refrigerator before and it worked great.

  • Carole
    January 5, 2018 at 11:05 AM

    Is the appliance you are talking about The Power Air Fryer XL or the Power Air Fryer Oven?

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 5, 2018 at 12:04 PM

      I linked to the appliance in the post, Carole, and it’s pictured in the video. It’s the Power Air Fryer XL. I don’t know of anything called the Power Air Fryer Oven.

  • Connie Hoffman
    January 5, 2018 at 10:24 AM

    What brand did you buy? Just considering one if I don’t have to use any oil.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 5, 2018 at 12:05 PM

      I linked to it in the post, Connie. It’s the Power Air Fryer XL.

  • Jennifer Solomon
    January 5, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    I have an acti fry. How long should I cook chicken?

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 5, 2018 at 12:07 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with the Acti-Fry, Jennifer. Maybe you could google the general cooking differences between that and things cooked in the Air Fryer? Sorry!

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