Easy Popcorn Chicken Recipe
Popcorn Chicken is one of those comfort foods that never gets old. While these crispy, juicy morsels are 100% kid-friendly, the adults in your life will enjoy them just as much.
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What is Popcorn Chicken?
It’s likely that you first fell in love with popcorn chicken at KFC. If you’ve never tried it before, it features tender chunks of chicken breast that have been breaded and deep-fried to golden brown perfection. Unlike traditional fried chicken or Chicken Tenders, it comes in bite-sized pieces (hence the “popcorn” reference in the name).
It can be served as a snack or appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce, over salad, or with your favorite side for a complete meal.
Ingredients for Popcorn Chicken
- Chicken Breast – Use fresh or thawed chicken, cut it into even, bite-sized pieces
- Flour – all-purpose flour works best for this recipe
- Salt – fine sea salt or table salt will do
- Garlic powder – adds extra flavor to the breading
- Buttermilk – makes the chicken juicy and the breading nice and crispy
- Panko Crumbs – add a nice, crunchy texture to the chicken
- Oil – use any high heat cooking oil such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or light olive oil
How to Make Popcorn Chicken
- Slice chicken breast – cut into even, bite-sized pieces.
- Make the flour mixture – Whisk the flour, salt, and garlic powder together in a medium bowl.
- Measure buttermilk & panko – Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl and the panko bread crumbs onto a plate.
- Dredge the chicken – Dip the chicken bites into the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk then panko.
- Fry the chicken – Preheat about 1-inch of oil in a deep frying pan to 350˚F and pop the coated chicken pieces inside. Fry in small batches until golden brown.
- Allow the chicken to rest – Remove the popcorn chicken from oil with a slotted spoon and let it rest on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up the excess grease or a wire rack with paper towels underneath. Serve with your favorite sauce!
Tips for the Tastiest Popcorn Chicken
- Cut the chicken into even-sized pieces – To ensure even cooking, slice the chicken into similar-sized pieces.
- Avoid overcooking the chicken – Once the chicken turns golden brown, remove it immediately from the oil. The longer it cooks, the drier it will get. Chicken breast should reach 165˚F on an instant read thermometer when done.
- Check the oil with a thermometer – To make sure your oil has reached 350°F before adding the chicken.
- Season the batter – If you’re feeling adventurous, add in a couple teaspoons of different spices into the flour mixture. Cayenne pepper, freshly cracked black pepper, and paprika are all great flavorings.
- Add baking powder for extra crispy popcorn chicken – If you like your chicken extra crispy, add in a couple of tablespoons of baking powder to the flour mixture.
How to Serve
- Dipping sauce – Jalapeno ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, Avocado Ranch, hot sauce, and ketchup are all great options.
- Appetizer – Serve alongside other small bites like Jalapeno Poppers, Egg Rolls, or Air Fryer French Fries.
- Salad Topper – Sprinkle the popcorn chicken onto your favorite salad or even over pasta like we did with Lemon Chicken Pasta.
They are very similar. Popcorn chicken is smaller-sized and made with whole pieces of chicken breast meat, while chicken nuggets use ground chicken and can be made with both chicken breasts and thighs.
The best way to reheat leftover popcorn chicken in the oven or air fryer at 350°F until crispy and warmed through.
To freeze popcorn chicken, assemble the raw, breaded chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze uncovered for 1 hour or until frozen, then transfer to freezer-safe zip bags and store up to 3 months. Bake frozen nuggets at 400˚F for 15-18 minutes or just until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Yes – substitute in your favorite gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs and prepare as directed.
More Tasty Chicken Recipes
We love chicken recipes like this Popcorn Chicken because they are inexpensive, easy to make, and well-loved by everyone. P.S. If you love chicken, check out our 40+ Best Chicken Breast Recipes.
- Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Cheesy Chicken Fritters
- Baked Chicken Legs
- Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
- Chicken Fajita Quesadillas
Easy Popcorn Chicken Recipe
Popcorn chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy inside. Satisfying and the ultimate comfort food. Great as an appetizer or salad topping.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and garlic powder.
Pour the buttermilk into a separate bowl and the panko crumbs onto a plate.
Dredge a piece of chicken into the flour mixture until evenly coated then dip in buttermilk, letting excess drip off. Lastly, roll in panko bread crumbs until evenly coated. Transfer to a platter.
Preheat 1-inch of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Adjust the heat to keep the oil at 350˚F. Fry the popcorn chicken in small batches, leaving space between each piece and flipping as needed. Fry until golden brown and 165˚F at the deepest part of the chicken on a thermometer.
Remove the popcorn chicken from the oil and let it rest on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce!
*Nutrition calculation is only an estimate as it is difficult to quantify oil quantity from frying.