October 23, 2023Review Recipe
Table of Contents
This popcorn chicken is sure to be a hit. Crunchy, airy, and delicate panko breading surrounds bite-size pieces of tender, juicy chicken breasts that are fried to golden brown perfection for a finger food that is even better than KFC.
Popcorn Chicken Ingredients
When you take a bite of this tasty popcorn chicken, you’ll notice that the crispy outside is met with a juicy and tender interior that’s packed with flavor.
The breading itself is seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices and each piece of chicken is perfectly sized for easy snacking.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 ounces each
- 2 cups of buttermilk
- 2 dashes of Cholula or Tabasco hot sauce
- 1½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- ¾ teaspoon of onion powder
- 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil or shortening for frying, at least 4 cups
Substitutions And Additions
HOT SAUCE: If you aren’t a fan of hot sauce, or have kids that can detect even the smallest amount of spice in a dish, you can leave the hot sauce out of the buttermilk.
Alternatively, if you crave heat, you can add a little more.
You could add crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste to the panko breadcrumbs.
BREADCRUMBS: You can substitute regular breadcrumbs for the panko bread crumbs in the popcorn chicken batter.
The texture will not be quite as light and crunchy with this swap however.
SAUCES: The dipping sauce options are endless.
Instead of ranch, try dipping your popcorn chicken in barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or sriracha mayo for a spicy kick.
If you prefer a milder flavor, a creamy garlic aioli or tzatziki sauce can be a delicious alternative.
Feel free to mix and match to find your perfect pairing.
HERB-INFUSED OIL: Take your flavor game up a notch by infusing your oil with herbs like rosemary or thyme.
Simply heat the oil with your chosen herbs in a small saucepan for a few minutes before using it for frying.
This subtle addition can infuse your popcorn chicken with a fragrant, aromatic essence.
How To Make This Easy Popcorn Chicken Recipe
The first step in making these chicken bites is to coat them in breadcrumbs for a crispy crust.
Once the chicken is ready, drop the pieces in hot oil until cooked through.
STEP ONE: Dice the chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces of approximately ¾ inch each.
STEP TWO: In a bowl, stir together the buttermilk and hot sauce.
OUR RECIPE DEVELOPER SAYS
You can make your own buttermilk using whole or 2% milk and lemon juice or distilled vinegar.
For every 1 cup of milk, stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
STEP THREE: In a second shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder.
STEP FOUR: Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
STEP FIVE: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven to 350°F.
The oil will take approximately 15 minutes to heat to temperature.
Use a candy or food thermometer to check the temperature, as it must be high enough before frying the chicken.
STEP SIX: Work with a few pieces at a time
Start by dipping the chicken first into the flour, making sure all sides are coated.
Next, dip the chicken in the buttermilk and then finally into the breadcrumbs.
The panko breadcrumbs add a really nice crunch to the popcorn chicken.
Make sure to really turn each piece of chicken fully in the flour, then the buttermilk, then the panko so that they’re well coated before frying.
STEP SEVEN: Carefully drop just a few of the small pieces of chicken at a time into the hot oil and fry until cooked through.
The internal temperature should reach 165°F. This will take about two to three minutes.
The outside will be a deep golden brown and crispy.
Maintain an oil temperature of 350°F for best results as you continue cooking.
For perfectly fried chicken pieces, maintain a decent depth of oil and the proper oil temperature of 350°F for best results.
STEP EIGHT: Place the cooked chicken on paper towels or brown paper bags to soak up the excess oil.
When removing the popcorn chicken nuggets from the pot, use a slotted spoon to make sure you drain as much oil as possible before transferring it to the plate.
How To Serve This Crispy Popcorn Chicken
For a large group, serve on a sheet pan with lots of different dips for a fun group serving idea.
Make it a fun dinner with several other yummy pub-style dishes.
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES
Storing Fried Popcorn Chicken
This is a great recipe to make a large batch and freeze the extras. Kids love this popcorn chicken, and it makes an easy meal to serve on the go.
IN THE FRIDGE: Allow leftover homemade popcorn chicken to cool to room temperature and then store it in an airtight container for two to three days.
The fried coating is best right after cooking, and while the panko stays crunchy for a while compared to a typical breading, these are still best eaten right away.
IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze the chicken bites by wrapping the cooled pieces in aluminum foil and placing them into a freezer bag.
Aim to put it in the freezer within two hours of cooking. It can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
REHEATING: To reheat the popcorn chicken, if frozen, make sure the chicken is thawed completely.
In the microwave, wrap the pieces in a paper towel to preserve the breading and heat in 30-second intervals.
In the oven, place the chicken on a baking pan lined with foil which will help preserve the crispiness.
Cover the chicken with foil and warm at 350°F for ten minutes.
This crispy, homemade popcorn chicken recipe wraps juicy chicken in a spicy buttermilk and breadcrumb coating for nuggets that are finger-licking good. Serve at a party or an at-home pub food night alongside your favorite dipping sauces.
Frequently Asked Questions
This easy recipe can be frozen for up to six months in an airtight container.
Fry only with oils that have a high smoking point.
The smoking point is the temperature it takes for the oil to start to break down and smoke.
Once it smokes, it’s not suitable for frying.
Good oils to use are peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, or vegetable oil.
Olive oil, on the other hand, is not a good oil to fry in.
Chicken thighs will also work in this recipe if you prefer dark meat to white meat.
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- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, (6 ounces each)
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 dashes Cholula hot sauce, or Tabasco hot sauce
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil or shortening for frying (at least 4 cups)
- Dice the chicken breasts into small bite-size pieces (¾ inch x ¾ inch).
- In a bowl, stir together the buttermilk and hot sauce.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder in a shallow bowl.
- Place the panko breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl.
- Heat the oil (at least 4 inches deep, preferably 6 inches or more) in a Dutch oven. Heat oil to 350°F. The oil takes 15 minutes or so to heat to temperature. Use a candy or food thermometer to check the temperature. It must be the correct temperature before frying the chicken.
- Working with just a few pieces at a time, dip chicken pieces into the flour mixture, coating on all sides. Then dip chicken in buttermilk and finally into the panko breadcrumbs.
- Carefully drop just a few chicken pieces at a time into heated oil and fry until cooked through (the center should reach 165°F). The outside should be deep golden brown and crispy. Maintain an oil temperature of 350°F for best results. The chicken takes just 2 to 3 minutes to cook through.
- Place cooked chicken on paper towels or brown paper bags to soak up excess oil.
- You can make your own buttermilk using whole or 2% milk and lemon juice or distilled vinegar. For every 1 cup of milk, stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
- The panko bread crumbs add a really nice crunch to the popcorn chicken. Make sure to really turn each piece of chicken fully in the flour, then the buttermilk, then the panko so that they’re well coated before frying.
- For perfectly fried chicken pieces, maintain a decent depth of oil and the proper oil temperature of 350°F for best results.
- When removing the chicken from the pot, use a slotted spoon to make sure you drain as much oil as possible before transferring it to the plate.