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If your childhood was anything like mine, you'd order chicken nuggets/tenders/fingers pretty much every chance you'd get (read: anytime mom and dad would cave to the begging and pleading). There's something about the savory, juicy interior, crunchy salty exterior and all-around craveable nature that makes the fried chicken bites nearly irresistible for kids—and kids at heart.
While I still happily dive into a serving on occasion, it's no longer a regular habit. Instead, when I'm in the mood for a similar flavor experience, I might turn to Spicy Pecan Popcorn Chicken or baked Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Nuggets. And when I'm feeling more like a plant-based meal, I typically turn to the MVV (most versatile veggie), cauliflower, and put it to use in this Air-Fryer Cauliflower.
But TikTok, Instagram and Reddit have inspired me to turn over a new nugget next time. In case you missed it, air-fried mushrooms might just be the next big thing. The vegetarian treat is setting the air fryer subreddit ablaze, My Healthy Dish's Sriracha-spiked Air-Fried Mushrooms have garnered more than 288,000 ❤️s and vegan social media star Tabitha Brown (yep, the creator of Carrot Bacon herself!) even put her own variation in the theme with her Air-Fried Barbecue Oyster Mushrooms:
For something that tastes even more like classic Southern fried chicken, I have my eyes on Live, Eat, Learn's Buttermilk Fried Mushrooms too. But the O.G. recipe that Reddit can't get enough of will be up first in my must-try line-up: Crispy Air Fryer Mushrooms from Sunday Supper Movement.
To make them, you'll need an air fryer (we love this Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer; buy it: $99.99, Amazon), four shallow bowls and some space. Oh yes, and a handful of ingredients, which I'll explain with the process.
With a clean towel, wipe off any excess grit on all of the 'shrooms in an 8-ounce package of baby bellas. Cut each mushroom into quarters, then each quarter into halves of 8 total pieces per mushroom.
In one bowl, add ½ cup flour, in another whisk 3 whole eggs and in the third, combine 1½ cups Panko breadcrumbs, 5 teaspoons seasoning as desired (the recipe creator used a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and Italian seasoning, but feel free to mix things up) and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
Coat the mushroom pieces in flour, then dunk and cover in the eggs and lastly roll them around in the breadcrumb mixture to coat thoroughly. Repeat this process with all mushroom pieces.
Spray the air-fryer basket with olive oil. Add about one-third of the mushroom pieces to the basket, evenly spaced to allow for some breathing room. Close the air fryer and cook for 7 minutes. Remove the first batch, sprinkle the mushroom "nuggets" with a bit more salt and repeat with the other two batches.