Air fryer chicken bites are a surprisingly quick and easy dish that everyone in the family will love. Enjoy them for dinner or an after school snack. Moist and tender, and loads healthier than drive-thru nuggets, you’re going to love these homemade chicken nuggets.
Like most kids, mine are obsessed with drive thru-chicken nuggets. They’re a quick and delicious treat no doubt, so I don’t write them off completely. But it’s always good to have a healthier homemade version in your back pocket. This air fryer chicken bites recipe is so easy and tasty, your kids will love this new option. Try them with my bacon wrapped asparagus made in the air fryer for a tasty & healthy dinner.
Why we are obsessed with this recipe
- A healthier yet equally delicious version of fast food nuggets with a lot less sodium, fat and processed chicken.
- Easily made gluten-free, dairy-free or even grain-free depending on dietary restrictions.
- Such a quick and easy healthy meal! Just a few pantry staple ingredients, and a super quick cook time thanks to the technology and speed of the air fryer.
This is pretty much the same recipe as the one I shared 8 years ago, but made even more convenient in the air fryer!
- Boneless skinless chicken breast – 2-3 depending on size, preferably air-chilled and cut into large 1″-2″ pieces
- Olive oil – about 2 tbsp, just enough to coat the chicken pieces
- Panko bread crumbs for the coating – feel free to sub out for your favorite gluten-free or grain-coating. There are so many great options now, it’s hard to tell the difference between them and regular breadcrumbs!
- Grated parmesan cheese to add flavor, but nutritional yeast is another good alternative if you wish to make these dairy free. If using nutritional yeast, use half as much.
- Seasonings to give it some flavor – garlic powder, a punch of cayenne pepper and of course salt and black pepper
Cut up chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces about 1″ -2″ in size, making sure to keep them as uniform as possible.
In a medium bowl, toss the chicken pieces in the olive oil and set aside.
In a shallow bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan cheese and spices and stir together.
Working in small batches, toss the chicken chunks in the bread crumb mixture, making sure to thoroughly coat for best results.
Place in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray. Lightly spray with a quick coat of nonstick cooking spray and air-fry for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees f. Make sure to shake the basket or rotate the chicken pieces half way through cooking.
Cooking time will vary a bit depending on your air fryer make and model. Begin checking the pieces at 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 150-160 degrees f. When done, you will get crispy chicken bites with a fraction of the salt and fat.
Serve these juicy little chicken tenders with your favorite dipping sauce. My kids love barbecue sauce (you can find my homemade bbq sauce recipe here), and I love a slightly spicy aioli or ranch dressing. I’m not lying when I say the whole family, including adults, love these.
No air fryer? No problem
To make these in the oven, place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then flip over each nugget and cook for another 5 minutes until internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees f.
Common questions answered
Store leftover chicken bites in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave, or to get crispy chicken nuggets, pop in the air fryer for 2-4 minutes. These chicken bites make a great option for meal prep because they reheat so nicely.
You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, but I prefer chicken breasts.
These homemade air fryer chicken nuggets don’t taste very different than the original recipe I shared 8 years ago. But air frying cooks the pieces of chicken a bit more quickly, and the breading gets crispier. I just love using the air fryer because it preheats so quickly, cooks quickly, and doesn’t heat up my whole house like the large oven does.
Cooking and serving tips
Make a double batch of these crispy air fryer chicken bites to have on hand for a quick lunch, after school snack of even for a perfect appetizer.
Add lemon pepper seasoning or onion powder to the breadcrumb seasoning mixture for an extra kick of flavor.
Do not overspray the nuggets with vegetable oil spray, as it will make the nuggets get a bit soggy.
Serve with buffalo sauce or marinara sauce for dipping. Air fryer potato chips or sweet potato fries would make the perfect side dish.
Check out my other air fryer recipes, and if you made these and loved them, please consider leaving a 5 star rating!
Tried this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or rating, letting me know how you enjoyed it! Connect with me on Instagram and Pinterest, and never miss a post by signing up for my weekly newsletter!
Air Fryer Chicken Bites
- 1 Air Fryer
- 3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts 2 large or 3 smaller breasts, cut into large bite size chunks
- 2 tbsp Olive oil just enough to coat the chicken pieces
- ¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 3 tbsp Grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Salt & pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Cooking oil spray just a light spray
- Cut up chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces about 1″ -2″ in size, making sure to keep them as uniform as possible.
- In a medium bowl, toss the chicken pieces in the olive oil and set aside. In a shallow bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan cheese and spices and stir together.
- Working in small batches, toss the chicken chunks in the bread crumb mixture, making sure to thoroughly coat for best results.
- Place in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray. Lightly spray with a quick coat of nonstick cooking spray and air-fry for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees f. Make sure to shake the basket or rotate the chicken pieces half way through cooking.
- Cooking time will vary a bit depending on your air fryer make and model. Begin checking the pieces at 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 150-160 degrees f. When done, you will get crispy chicken bites with a fraction of the salt and fat.
I am obsessed with making these chicken bites!! I just took my air fryer out of the storage, and now I am using it daily! Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂
The homemade breading was delicious! Giving them a spray with oil before cooking made them very crispy- just like prebreaded fried chicken in a bag. Was a hit with my kids and definitely recommend!
Always looking for a healthier alternative to fast food. Your recipe turned out perfectly. Everybody loved these homemade chicken nuggets. Thank you.
This is the ultimate, easy kids meal! What would we even do without our air-fryer? I’m not sure how I survived so long without one! haha
So good! The air fryer gave the coating such a crisp texture, and it made the process really simple and convenient.
I love the idea of making these for an after school snack. My kids are always starving when they get home, so this would be a great protein source till dinner.
Made these chicken bites this week and they came out so crispy, juicy, and delicious! Will definitely be making them again.
Easy, cheesy and flavorful. Air Fryer Chicken Bites and homemade sounds healthier and perfect.
Such a great snack!! Another great air fryer recipe, thanks!
What a great treat for kiddos and “big kids” too! I love how versatile the air fryer can be! Great dish!
These have become one of my kid’s favorite snacks after school! I’ve made these a couple of times and they are asking me often to make them more on the regular. Really good recipe!
I love my air fryer and I’ve been dying to try making chicken bites so your recipe arrived just in time. We loved them and the kids especially gobbled them up.
You will be skipping the bag of frozen nuggets once you make these amazing air fryer chicken nuggets. The kids loved them!
For us oven users, I wonder if a quick run under the broiler after the chicken has cooked will crisp up the exterior?
Andrea Howe says
Yes, that will help, but even in the oven they do come out a bit crispy – you’d be surprised!