Wondering How Long to Air Fry Chicken Nuggets? We’ve Got the Answer

You finally treated yourself to an air fryer. Kudos. Of course, you swiftly bought your kids’ favorite foods (hi, frozen French fries) to crisp up in the dreamy appliance for dinner. But do you know how long to air fry chicken nuggets? All in, it’ll take about 15 minutes, but there are a few important tips to follow in order to get crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside nuggets. Read on for our recs before you start cooking. In the meantime, we’ll dig the ketchup out of the pantry.

15 Air Fryer Chicken Recipes That Make Dinner a Breeze

how long to air fry chicken nuggets how long
mtreasure/Getty Images

How Long to Air Fry Chicken Nuggets

For the uninitiated, air fryers are basically countertop convection ovens that cook foods by circulating electric heat with high-powered fans. This dry, full-coverage heat makes for impeccably crispy results, minus the intimidating frying, messy oil and extra calories.

When baked in a standard oven, chicken nuggets take at least 20 minutes to prepare. But with this handy appliance, you’ll likely only need to air fry them for about 6 to 10 minutes on one side and 4 to 6 minutes on the other side at 400°F, depending on the size of the nuggets and your model of air fryer.

how long to air fry chicken nuggets how to cook
Grandbrothers/Getty Images

How to Cook Chicken Nuggets in the Air Fryer

If you’re starting with frozen chicken nuggets, all you need to do is place them in a single layer into the air fryer basket and cook. If you’re making them from scratch, you’ll want to coat them in seasoned flour, dip them in egg or oil and roll them in whatever breadcrumbs or outer coating you’d like. (Might we suggest potato chips? Crushed Goldfish? Shredded coconut?) Then, you’ll want to spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray or oil and cook the nuggets.

Here are some pro tips for cooking chicken nuggets (or anything, really) in the air fryer:

  • Preheat the air fryer. This is crucial to getting an even, crisp exterior. If your air fryer doesn’t have a built-in preheating function, simply set it to the temperature you want and let it warm up for about five minutes before placing the nuggets inside.
  • Use minimal oil. The whole point of an air fryer is that it can prepare “fried” foods without much grease. You don’t need more than a quick spritz of oil on the air fryer tray or basket to get the job done. (Also, use a higher smoke point oil—like vegetable oil—if possible, to minimize smokiness as they cook.) If you’re starting with frozen chicken nuggets instead of homemade, you can skip the oil completely.
  • Cook the nuggets in a single layer. If they’re overlapping or touching, those spots won’t have full access to the hot air being circulated in the air fryer, so they’ll turn out mushy and stuck together. If your basket is small and you’re cooking for a crowd, it’s best to fry the chicken nuggets in batches. You’ll also want to flip the nuggets halfway through cooking to ensure even crisping.
  • If going by package instructions, reduce the temp by 25°F. Since convection ovens cook with a more intense heat than standard ovens, you can likely lower the recipe’s temp and keep the cooking time the same if you’re going by instructions meant for a standard oven. The air is much hotter in the air fryer, so the nuggets will crisp faster; lowering the temp a bit will keep them from drying out or burning.

Ready to Start Cooking? Here Are 6 Chicken Nugget Recipes to Try:

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...