Sweet and Savory Air Fryer Dough Nuggets

air fryer dough nuggets recipe

Gather round, friends: today I’ve got something amazing for you. If you’ve been around ETS for a while, you know that I’m not the best at following written directions. That especially goes for assembling toys or measuring for curtains or blinds, but sometimes it also goes for recipes. I like to take original recipes from my mom, friends, and well, Pinterest, and then make them, changing things here and there to my taste. Sometimes this works out and sometimes it decidedly does not (my husband still talks about this Asian Orange-Peanut Chicken stir fry I made one time that was bad, bad, bad….).


Today I’m going to share with you my newest creations: I like to call them golden pillows of deliciousness. Well maybe that’s a little dramatic . . . we can also call them Air Fryer Dough Nuggets. Spoiler alert: THEY ARE SOOOOO DELICIOUS!!



The Backstory

Last week on ETS I shared my recipe for sopapillas. This is a beloved recipe passed down from my mom to my sisters and I, and everyone in my immediate and extended family goes crazy for these things. So freakin’ good! Click here for my quick and easy sopapillas recipe. In that post I wondered aloud how these sopapillas, which are fried in oil, would taste if they were “fried” in my trusty GoWISE Air Fryer. After all, the easiest, most delicious donuts in the world are made in that air fryer, and you can even make Krispy Kreme style donuts in it. Why not sopapillas? So I gave it a whirl.



Here’s What Happened

I followed my sopapillas recipe to make the same dough as always, only instead of dropping the pieces of dough into hot oil, I placed them in a single layer in my air fryer. The result was less than spectacular. Check them out:

Can you tell from the pictures that they were, well, bland? Don’t get me wrong — they were soft on the inside, crisp on the outside, and tasted fine, but they were just very plain. It reminded me a little of eating pizza crust with no sauce or toppings or spices on it. My 8-year-old had a few friends over and they munched a few of these and asked for more, so they were decent; just not anything special. Since I had all of these plain WHITE (not frying them in oil kept them dough-colored instead of that beautiful golden color the fried ones become), sopapillas that were just okay, I decided to do some experimentation.


Variation #1: Sweet Dough Nuggets

To make these, I melted some butter and then brushed it on the top sides of the air-fried sopapillas. Then I sprinkled a dusting of powdered sugar on top of the butter, like this:

These were really good: the light coat of butter brought out the flavor of the dough, and the powdered sugar gave just the right amount of sweetness.


Variation #2: Even Sweeter Dough Nuggets

Knowing I love honey on sopapillas, I took the powdered sugar sopapillas and drizzled some honey over the top of each one. These were sweeter still, and came very close to tasting like my original oil-fried sopapillas recipe. Plus, between the butter and the honey, these had more of the pretty golden color I love so much about the original sopapillas. The boys raved over these and asked if we could have them again for breakfast the next day. They liked this honey version a lot better than the ones with just powdered sugar, and I did, too.


Variation #3: Savory Dough Nuggets

Because the plain air fried sopapillas tasted so much like bare pizza crust, it got me thinking that they would be prime candidates for becoming garlic buttery, like crusty breadsticks. On a whim, I brushed a few more with melted butter and then sprinkled on garlic powder, basil, and a hint of oregano. I let the boys try these before I did, and once these babies hit their mouths, I knew they were a hit. The boys were actually shoving each other out of the way trying to get to the plate to get more. Once I tried them, I knew why: SO YUMMY! These garlic butter dough nuggets would be the perfect compliment to a spaghetti or pizza dinner. We didn’t try dunking them in marinara sauce, but that would be an obvious companion. The boys said these savory dough nuggets were so good they seemed like something you’d get at a restaurant. I totally agree, and from now on we’ll be having these incredible gems of awesomeness a lot more often.


The Recipes

Here are the recipes so you can try them for yourself. I can’t recommend the savory ones highly enough: you will love them. The others are good too, but those garlic butter ones…..well let’s just say you will not be disappointed.


1. Basic Air Fryer Dough Nugget Recipe


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp butter, softened (or lard if you have it — you pie-makers may have some on hand)
  • 1-2 cups water


  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add softened butter (or lard), cutting in with a fork until it’s mixed in well.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and mix well. You may need to add another 1/2 to full cup of water (I usually add a total of about 1.5 – 1.75 cups of water total). Mixture should be a consistency that you can roll it out and it should not be sticky. If your dough is too sticky, add more flour until it’s soft, but not sticking to your fingers.
  4. Roll out small amounts of dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Then, cut it into four pieces. Or, if you’re impatient like me, roll out a big bunch of dough and cut 1 to 2 inch stripes across it one way, then cross them diagonally. You want to end up with pieces of dough that are 2-4 inches in size. The shape really doesn’t matter. You could make triangles, squares, rectangles, or whatever! It all tastes the same so it’s your preference.
  5. Place several dough nuggets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, not touching each other, and air fry at 370 degrees F for 3-4 minutes. I did the first batch for 4 minutes, then subsequent batches for 3 minutes because my air fryer was still pretty hot. No need to shake or flip these — they’ll puff and fry in that short amount of time.
  6. Repeat until all dough nuggets have been air-fried.


2. Sweet (& Even Sweeter) Dough Nuggets

  1. Make a batch of basic dough nuggets (see above).
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in the microwave.
  3. Brush the top sides of the dough nuggets with butter.
  4. Dust the tops of the dough nuggets with powdered sugar.
  5. For Even Sweeter nuggets, drizzle honey over the tops of the nuggets. Voila!


3. Savory Dough Nuggets

  1. Make a batch of basic dough nuggets (see above).
  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in the microwave.
  3. Brush the top sides of the dough with butter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp basil, and 1/4 tsp oregano. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. Sprinkle a light dusting of the savory blend over the tops of the nuggets. Then you’d better sit down when you try one of these, just in case you are overcome with the deliciousness. They are THAT good.


The Air Fryer

The air fryer I use is a GoWISE USA brand fryer and I really like it. I know Phillips makes good air fryers, too. My GoWISE was a lot cheaper than the Phillips models, but I can’t say whether it’s better or worse because I’ve never tried a Phillips. I do know that my GoWISE works really well and it’s super-easy to use and wipes clean every time after frying.


Lessons of the Day

Here are my key takeaways from this experience:

(1) Some things, like sopapillas are meant to be fried in oil and there’s nothing you can do about it.

(2) Everything tastes better with butter and sugar on it, but the butter and sugar probably negate the health benefits gained by air frying instead of frying in oil.

(3) Sopapilla dough + air fryer + butter + garlic = golden pillows of awesomeness.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *