Spicy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets have been in high demand here lately. Tender and juicy, these chicken nuggets are ready in no time and can be enjoyed on the go, as an appetizer, or as a main dish for a lite dinner.
I got inspired to make these spicy chicken nuggets after we made the air fryer chicken bites and they were a huge success. They were truly enjoyed at our last gathering and can’t wait to make them when we have our next BBQ with friends. They pair really well with our Ninja Focaccia or if you want to serve them with other appetizers, check out our Sausage Meatballs.
These spicy chicken nuggets only required a few spices. They can easily be interchanged to accommodate what is available to you.
- Chicken: For this recipe, we used chicken breasts and cut them into a nugget-size.
- Spices: Using cayenne pepper and chili powder provides a nice spice that is not overpowering. However, if you prefer less spicy, test it out with only one of them. This way you will find out if you prefer one or the other and can adjust the level of desired spice.
- Brown Sugar: We use brown sugar to help with the caramelization of the nuggets.
Scroll to the bottom of the post and print or save the recipe card. All the quantities and step-by-step directions on how to make these spicy chicken nuggets are there.
1- Unpack the chicken breasts. Pat dry with a paper towel and cut them into 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes.
2- Place the cubed chicken into a large mixing bowl. Pour olive oil to coat them.
3- Sprinkle the spices evenly and gently rub them on the chicken so every bite is coated with seasoning.
4- Place the seasoned chicken nuggets into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the basket. Leaving some space in between the chicken nuggets allows for air to circulate for more even cooking.
5- Air Fry on manual setting at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes, flip the nuggets halfway through the time.
6- The chicken nuggets are fully cooked when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F.
7- Serve and Enjoy!
Note: This recipe was done in a Cosori 5.8 QT. The size and the wattage of the air fryer may have an impact on cooking time and temperature. You may need to adapt the time by a few minutes.
Ok, I know spicy food doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. What I think is spicy for me is totally different than my husband. Here are a few ideas:
- Spicy – would you like it even spicier? Add some red pepper flakes to the nuggets. Once they are done, coat them with your favorite hot sauce.
- Deluxe – sprinkle some freshly grated cheese before serving, and add some jalapenos slices.
- Kid-friendly – the kids might love spicy food or not. Offer the nuggets with their favorite dipping sauce.
Check out our Air Fryer Chicken Bites if you are looking for a new flavor. They are sweet and tangy.
To make this recipe we used:
- Air Fryer
- Mixing Bowl
Storage & Reheat
If you have any nuggets left, they store very well in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. They will also freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the chicken nuggets in the fridge overnight before using them.
If you need to reheat them, place them back in the air fryer on a manual setting at 350 degrees F. for 3 to 4 minutes. Note when I reheat in the Cosori, I do 350 degrees F., but when I reheat the nuggets in my Ninja Foodi, I do at 330 degrees F.
Cooking chicken when you can’t see can be concerning. My solution is an instant-read thermometer. This way, I am 100% sure that the chicken has reached the perfect internal temperature. There are so many out on the market, but this one is working great for us.
Honestly, it comes down to size. A nugget is usually bigger, think 2 to 3 bites. A bite is exactly what the word is, a single bite.
Once you have added all the spices to the chicken add about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and toss the nuggets to coat them. Place in the air fryer and if you want even more crispy…spray with a little oil.
These chicken nuggets are very versatile. They can be served with a salad, corn on the cob, mac & cheese, or add them to a sandwich. Sean does a Po’Boy with this one, too.
Are you looking for more chicken recipe ideas?
Here are some more Fun Air Fryer Recipes
Love cooking with the air fryer but need new ideas? Here are some of our favorites.
Did you use both Cayenne pepper & Chili powder on the nuggets? Or do you have another favorite hot ingredient?
Let us know below.
Spicy Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer
- Large mixing bowl
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chili powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Unpack the chicken breasts and dry them with a paper towel. Choose how big you want the nuggets to be. I suggest about 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes.
- Put the nuggets in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, making sure the chicken is coated.
- Add the spice mixture and evenly coat while gently rubbing the nuggets so each is covered with the seasoning.
- Move the chicken nuggets into the air fryer basket. Only do a single layer and leave enough space so the air can circulate. This will allow the spicy chicken nuggets to cook evenly.
- Air Fry on manual setting at 400 degrees F. for 10 minutes, and flip the nuggets halfway through the time.
- Once the chicken nuggets' internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F., they are fully cooked.
- Serve and Enjoy!
You will be working with chicken and a sharp knife, so please be careful. Take all the standard precautions with chicken, like washing your hands and avoiding cross-contamination. USDA has more food safety information if you need it.