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Air fryer frozen chicken nuggets are quick and easy to make. Follow these steps so they're always perfectly crispy outside and juicy inside.
Confession time! My husband has chicken nuggets when he doesn't want to test one of my recipes...again. So, with his help, I wrote this post on how to cook chicken nuggets from frozen in an air fryer.
He's an expert and will tell you that nuggets get soggy in the microwave and the oven takes too long to heat up. But, an air fryer heats up quickly and allows you to easily monitor the cooking process. The result is always juicy on the inside and browned on the outside.
However, there are a few differences when it comes to cooking commercial chicken nuggets. Below you'll find all the tips plus some creative ways to enjoy them.
What You'll Need
You'll need an air fryer and a bag of frozen chicken nuggets to make this recipe. That's it.
We used a Cosori Max XL with a 5.8 quart capacity to cook the chicken nuggets pictures. We also make them in a Ninja 4-quart 1550 watt Air Fryer. The process is exactly the same. New air fryer variations are popping up all the time, so be sure to always read and follow the manual that comes with your appliance.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for your air fryer model. The results will vary depending upon the wattage of your machine and how it works. Start by cooking a small test batch until you are familiar with the result in your machine. From there, you can adjust the cooking time and make larger quantities of perfect frozen chicken nuggets.
Frozen Chicken Nuggets
You'll also need a bag of your favorite chicken nuggets. They come in all shapes and sizes. (I'm thinking of you Dino Nuggets!)
Some popular ones we've tried before are made by Tyson, Perdue, Banquet, Applegate, and Trader Joe's. The ones below are a lightly breaded version made by JustBare.
Directions with Pictures
Commercial chicken nuggets are fully cooked or par-fried before they're frozen. So, always read the cooking instructions on the package to determine how long to cook them. Most companies provide guidance for making them in an air fryer these days.
The steps and tips below apply to just about any product you purchase:
Tip: There's no need to preheat the air fryer because it comes up to the proper temperature quickly. However, you can take this step and reduce the cooking time by the same amount. Also, note that when cooking a second batch it will cook more quickly.
- Add frozen chicken nuggets to the air fryer basket. Don't defrost them first. No oil is needed! Mine never stick.
- Non-stick aerosol cooking spray is usually not recommended by manufacturers. Lightly spritz the basket or crisper with olive oil or other oil if you feel it is necessary.
- Arrange them in a single layer in the basket. For the best result, do not stack them. But, they can overlap a little.
- Cook chicken nuggets for about 8-10 minutes at the temperature indicated on the package. Many products recommend 400 ºF. The ones pictured called for 350 ºF.
- The exact time to cook chicken nuggets will vary based upon your machine, the brand, and how many you're cooking at once. If it's not stated, start with 8 minutes at 400 ºF.
- Pause the air fryer, pull out the basket, and check the progress, particularly for your first few batches. It's so easy to do.
- You don't need to flip the nuggets halfway if they're in a single layer. The air will circulate around the nuggets and cook both sides. You can give the basket a shake if you want to because the breading is firmly in place!
Store cooked chicken nuggets in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes or until the desired temperature is reached. Use the same temperature used to cook them initially.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, if you have plenty of room. Remove the chicken nuggets when they're finished and continue cooking the fries until they are done.
Yes, the same process will work for any type of nugget. Veggie nuggets will most likely require less time.
The dipping sauce can make or break a chicken nugget experience. Here's a list of our favorites. Let me know if I missed one.
- Honey mustard sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Sweet and sour sauce
- Marinara sauce
- Bang Bang sauce
Healthy Side Dishes
Wondering what to serve with chicken nuggets? Here are some healthy side dish ideas:
- Vegetable "Fries" - Serve carrot or okra fries which are also perfect for dipping!
- Vegetable "Tots" - Cauliflower and broccoli muffins can both be eaten with your fingers.
- Chicken and Waffles - Make it low-carb with cauliflower waffles or keto chaffles.
- Salad - Add to BBQ chicken salad! Make it with mixed greens, thinly sliced red onion, shredded cheese, tomatoes, ranch dressing, and a drizzle of barbecue sauce.
Did you make this recipe?
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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets
- 12 ounces frozen chicken nuggets
- Add frozen chicken nuggets to the air fryer basket. Don't defrost them first. No oil is needed!
- Arrange them in a single layer in the basket. For the best result, try not to stack them. But, they can overlap a little.
- Cook chicken nuggets for about 8-10 minutes at the temperature indicated on the package. Many products recommend 400 ºF. Mine called for 350 ºF.
- Pause the air fryer, pull out the basket, and check the progress, particularly for your first few batches. You don't need to flip the nuggets halfway through if they're in a single layer. However, you can give the basket a shake if you want to because the breading is firmly in place.
- The nutritional information will vary based on the brand of chicken nuggets you buy. The information above is for a 3 ounce serving of JustBare chicken nuggets.