Most information on the breeding of Northern Emerald-Toucanet is from observations of a few nests in Mexico (Wagner 1944, Rowley 1966, 1984), El Salvador (Thurber et al. 1987), and Costa Rica (Skutch 1944, 1967). The timing of breeding is March-July in Mexico (eggs April-June), April-July in El Salvador, and March-August in Costa Rica.
The nest is in a cavity in a tree, 2-27 m above the ground; the cavity may be one previously excavated by a woodpecker, or a natural cavity. The entrance to the cavity usually is oval, higher rather than wide, up to 80 mm x 63 mm. The eggs are white and elliptical; mean dimensions 32.1 x 23.9 mm (n = 6, range 31.6-32.9 x 22.4-25.4 mm). Clutch size varies from 1-5, but usually is 3-4. Incubation is initiated with the laying of the second egg, and lasts 16 days. Both sexes incubate, but the female spends more time in incubation than does the male; the female also incubates at night. Both sexes brood the young; the female spends more time brooding than does the male, however. The young are provisioned with both fruit and animal prey. The time to fledging is 42-45 days.