Air fryer popcorn chicken is a perfect snack or easy dinner that is a guilt-free alternative.
This is in large part thanks to the air fryer using much less oil than regular frying, but it still provides you with a delicius crispiness.
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The name “Popcorn Chicken” is a reference to its similarity to kernels of popcorn.
The small, irregularly shaped pieces of chicken are like popcorn, both in appearance and in the way they pop into your mouth as a snack.
Why You Will Love This Healthy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
Healthier alternative to traditional fried chicken: By using an air fryer, you can cut down on the amount of oil needed, which means fewer calories and less fat.
Easy to make: Just a few simple ingredients and a little bit of prep work is needed.
Super crispy chicken: I used homemade panko in this recipe, which gives the chicken a unique crispiness.
What You Need For This delicious Popcorn Chicken In Air Fryer
To make air fryer popcorn chicken, gather the following ingredients:
Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
I use chicken breasts, which turn out juicy in the air fryer.
Flour: All-purpose flour acts as the coating base.
Panko Bread Crumbs: Panko bread crumbs add an extra level of crunchiness to the popcorn chicken.
Their light and airy texture make them ideal for achieving crispy perfection.
Seasonings: A mix of garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper adds an amazing flavor.
Egg and Milk: Whisk together an egg and a splash of milk to create an egg wash.
This will help the flour and bread crumbs adhere to the chicken.
Olive Oil Spray: A quick spritz of oil before air frying will ensure a golden, crisp exterior.
How To Make Air Fry Popcorn Chicken
Cut chicken breasts into bite-size cubes.
Pat dry with paper towels. Season with garlic pawder, paprika, salt and black pepper.
Set up your breading station – in three separate bowls, place flour, whisked eggs with a splash of milk and panko breadcrumbs.
Coat the chicken pieces in flour, shaking off excess.
Dip in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off.
Then place chicken in panko breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere.
Arrange breaded chicken in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Lightly spray with olive oil.
Air fry for about 10 minutes (larger pieces 12-14 minutes). Flip chicken halfway.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Best Tips for Success
- Make sure chicken pieces are dried well before breading to help the coating stick.
- Preheat the air fryer.
- Make sure to cut the chicken into similar-sized pieces.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. Leave enough space between the chicken pieces to allow proper hot air circulation.
- Lightly spraying the chicken with olive oil helps to get the best crispy popcorn chicken.
- Cook time may vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces and the model and size of your air fryer. Keep a close eye on the chicken to avoid overcooking.
Gluten-Free Option: Replace all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or almond flour for a gluten-free version. And use gluten free panko.
Breadcrumbs Variation: You can substitute panko bread crumbs with regular bread crumbs, crushed cornflakes or crushed tortilla chips.
Spices and Seasonings: Customize with different spices and seasonings.
Buffalo Popcorn Chicken: Toss the cooked popcorn chicken in your favorite buffalo sauce for a spicy kick.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce: Whip up a tangy honey mustard sauce by combining equal parts honey and Dijon mustard, and toss in the popcorn chicken for a sweet and savory combination.
Teriyaki Glaze: Drizzle the cooked chicken with a homemade teriyaki glaze or your favorite store-bought version.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onions for an Asian-inspired twist.
What to Serve With Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
These little bites are perfect with a side of simple ketchup, sweet chili sauce, BBQ sauce or ranch dressing.
Another idea is to serve them in a salad to create a crisp salad with chicken.
How to Store, Reheat and freeze
Storing: Allow the leftover popcorn chicken to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Reheat the popcorn chicken in the air fryer for a few minutes until heated through.
Freezing: If you want to freeze, I reccomend to freeze the uncooked popcorn chicken.
Arrange the breaded chicken pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer for about an hour. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag.
Frozen popcorn chicken can be stored for up to 3 months.
To cook, follow the regular air fryer instructions, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Can I Make Baked Popcorn Chicken Instead?
Absolutely! If you don’t have an air fryer or prefer to bake your popcorn chicken, you can adapt the recipe to oven method.
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and place the breaded chicken pieces in a baking dish covered with parchment paper.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
What size chicken pieces should I use?
Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.
How can I tell when the chicken it’s done?
Use a meat thermometer.
Chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. The breading should be golden brown and crispy.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the chicken, coat it, and refrigerate for a few hours before cooking.
Just remember to bring it to room temperature before air frying.
Homemade Popcorn Chicken
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This air fryer popcorn chicken recipe is quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious. Try this delicious air fryer recipe for a healthier twist on a classic favorite.
- 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 Egg
- A splash of milk
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Olive oil spray
- Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes and season with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Prepare the breading station, in one bowl put the breadcrumbs and flour in another.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk to create the egg wash.
- Dip each piece of chicken into the flour mixture, coating it evenly. Shake off any excess flour.
- Next, dip the flour coated chicken into the egg wash.
- Then roll the chicken in the panko bread crumbs, pressing gently to help the crumbs stick to it.
- Place in a single layer in the air fryer basket.You may need to cook in batches.
- Lightly spray the chicken pieces with olive oil spray.
- Cook at 400°F for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 812Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 286mgSodium: 896mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 85g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.