Making frozen chicken nuggets in the air fryer is SO easy, and quick, and the air fryer makes the nuggets crispier than ever. This is the only way we make frozen chicken nuggets for my kids now.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about eating as healthy as possible as much as possible. Buuuuuuuuuttttttt with a full-time job, 3 kids, and a second full-time job as a personal chauffeur to 3 kids… I also know when to pick my battles.
That means some days it’s homemade, Whole30/paleo, copycat Chick-Fil-A nuggets… aaaaand some days I’m tearing open a bag of frozen chicken nuggets and dumping them into the air fryer. It’s called balance.
Hear me out.
What Makes This Method So Good
- There’s no heavy oil, so it’s a lighter alternative to deep fried or fast food chicken nuggets. They’re still deliciously crispy, though. And it’s pretty much foolproof. No burnt nuggets because your oil was too hot. No soggy nuggets because the oil wasn’t hot enough, or because you opted for the oven instead of frying them at all.
- You can cook them right out of the freezer. No, really – just tear open the bag or box and dump them straight into the air fryer. No thawing or defrosting. If you’ve ever had kids crying or acting out because they’re hungry and can’t wait ANOTHER SECOND to eat, you know just how much of a lifesaver this is.
- This is also a great way to reheat leftover chicken nuggets. Whether you cooked too many the first time around, or you’ve got extras from your last trip through the drive-thru (hey, no shame) you can just pop them in the air fryer at 400°F for 4-5 minutes and they’ll crisp right back up!
Can You Cook Chicken Nuggets and Fries in the Air Fryer At the Same Time?
You absolutely can! This is one of my favorite time-saving tricks. It’s especially great if you’re cooking small portions of both or if you have a larger air fryer.
Follow the instructions below, cooking for a total of 15-ish minutes instead of 10. Shake the basket and flip the nuggets after the first 7 minutes, then check the nuggets again around minute 12. If they’re crispy enough for your liking, take them out and let the fries cook until they’re done. It should only take another 3 minutes or so, depending on your preferred fry-doneness.
If you want to cook them separately, we’ve got the perfect method for Air Fryer Frozen French Fries, too!
- You probably already know this, but all air fryers are not created equal. Just like any other appliance, they behave differently from one to the next… even if they’re both the same brand, same model, same age, and sitting on the same counter. The cook time also depends on the size of your chicken nuggets and how many you’ve got in the basket. 10 minutes in my air fryer may need to be 12 minutes or 8 minutes in yours, so just keep an eye on the food and adjust the time as needed.
- The spray oil is optional, so if you’re trying to use less oil or avoid it altogether, you can skip it here. If you like your nuggets really crispy, though, spray the basket lightly with spray oil, place the nuggets in the basket, then lightly (lightly!) spray the nuggets, too.
- I used a Chefman air fryer with a basket for these frozen chicken nuggets. This method works in an air fryer oven with racks, too! Just remember – you want a single layer of nuggets on the air fryer trays. No stacking or piling or overlapping. The details are still the same – 400° Fahrenheit, 10 minutes, flip the nuggets after 5 minutes. With an air fryer oven, you also want to rotate the trays when you flip the nuggets. That way they’ll all cook as evenly as possible.
Other Air Fryer Recipes You Have to Try
- Air Fryer Salmon with Brown Sugar Crust
- Air Fryer Hot Dogs
- Frozen Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Tater Tots
- Air Fryer Steak with Easy Herb Butter
- Frozen Shrimp in the Air Fryer
- Pizza Rolls in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Potato Wedges
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings in Buffalo Sauce
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Wings with an Easy Buffalo Sauce
- frozen chicken nuggets any type, any brand
- dipping sauce of choice optional
- Air fryer
- Cooking spray safe for air fryers, optional
- Preheat air fryer to 400° Fahrenheit.
- When preheated, spray air fryer basket with spray oil (optional) and place chicken nuggets in basket in single, even layer, making sure not to stack or overlap nuggets. Work in batches as needed to avoid over-crowding basket. Place basket in air fryer and cook 5 minutes.
- Remove basket and flip chicken nuggets over. Return basket to air fryer and cook another 5 minutes, for total cook time of 10 minutes.
- Transfer chicken nuggets to plate(s) and serve with plenty of dipping sauce (optional).
- Spray Oil: If you like your chicken nuggets a little less crispy, you can skip the spray oil altogether or just use it on the basket itself. If you like your nuggets really crispy, spray the basket with spray oil, place the nuggets in the basket, then lightly (lightly!) spray the nuggets with oil, too.
- Nuggets: We used Applegate Natural Frozen Chicken Nuggets, and the nutrition info shown here reflects those specifically. Any type and any brand of frozen chicken nuggets work, though! Also, if you’re cooking a lot of nuggets or you have a smaller air fryer, you’ll need to work in batches to avoid over-crowding the air fryer basket. They won’t cook like they need to if you put too many in the basket at one time.
- Air Fryer Oven: Preheat air fryer oven to 400°F. Place chicken nuggets in a single, even layer on the air fryer tray(s). Fry nuggets for 5 minutes, then flip nuggets over and rotate trays. Fry nuggets another 5 minutes or until done.
- Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten-free chicken nuggets.
- Make it Low Carb: Use lightly breaded nuggets or nuggets with the lowest carb count you can find.
- Make it Vegetarian/Vegan: Use plant-based chick’n nuggets.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.