Aug 08, 2023

Popcorn Chicken Recipe

Serve with your favorite dipping sauces!

Addictively crispy, thoroughly seasoned, and finger-lickin’ good, popcorn chicken is a staple meal for American kids and parents alike. Made famous by the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, these bites knock that version out of the park! Speaking of, this popcorn chicken makes the perfect finger food for game day, especially when tossed in buffalo sauce and butter. They would make great leftovers heated up and tossed in orange chicken sauce, sprinkled on a green salad, on top of waffles, or served, like traditional fried chicken, over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.

What is in popcorn chicken?

Popcorn chicken is made similarly to classic southern fried chicken. A mixture of tenderizing buttermilk, egg, hot sauce, and salt seasons the meat, but it also cuts out the tedious task of individually dunking the chicken in a three-part breading station. The dry ingredients are spiced up with a couple tablespoons of Ree Drummond’s favorite seasoning salt to cut down on the ingredient list, and a little mustard powder, extra black pepper, and ground thyme bring even more nostalgic flavor. The all-purpose flour gives the fried chicken a golden hue while cornstarch is the key to a crispy coating. After giving the chicken a nice “shake n bake” tumble in a zip-top bag, it is ready to jump in some hot oil!

What part of the chicken is popcorn chicken?

Fast food chains and many other companies use small pieces of all-white breast meat. This recipe also calls for tender boneless skinless chicken breasts, however, the same amount of boneless skinless chicken thighs can be substituted for those who like dark meat!

Is popcorn chicken just chicken nuggets?

Not quite! Chicken nuggets are generally made from ground chicken that is breaded and deep fried. Popcorn chicken is more like a bite-sized version of chicken tenders, made from sliced meat rather than ground.

Can popcorn chicken be made ahead?

This recipe makes plenty of chicken to save or can be easily doubled, and it can be frozen for future snacks! Allow the cooked chicken to cool completely and spread the pieces into an even layer onto a baking sheet (this keeps them from sticking together). Allow them to freeze for at least 1 hour before transferring them to a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag. When hunger strikes, these babies can be heated until crispy and sizzling in a 375 degree oven or air-fryer for 10 to 15 minutes.


large egg

hot sauce

kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

all-purpose flour


seasoned salt

mustard powder

ground black pepper

ground thyme (optional)

Vegetable oil, for frying

Tip: For those who prefer dark meat, substitute the chicken breasts for the same amount of boneless skinless chicken thighs.

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