Ahhhh… popcorn chicken…
Otherwise known as little gold nuggets of pure love and joy!
If you've ever wondered how to make these lovely little golden bites at home, I'm going to show you how!
Popcorn chicken has always been a tremendous favorite for kids and adults alike. They're great for lunch, a snack or to serve as an appetizer. 🙂
This recipe makes such delicious little bites of chicken that you'll swear they're take out – but nope – these are yours baby! All yours! <3
The secret to these crispy and tender little popcorn chicken bites is buttermilk. Before frying, I soaked the chicken pieces in buttermilk for about 1 hour (but you can also do it overnight to up the yumminess factor even more), then I coated them with a combination of flour and spices.
Using buttermilk tenderizes and moistens the chicken but it also gives the seasonings and flour something to cling onto while it's frying.
Serve these tasty little bites with some dipping sauce like honey mustard, BBQ or plum sauce. You might also want to try my recipe for homemade buffalo sauce with the popcorn chicken…. it's sooooo good… <3
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour, set aside
- Canola oil, for frying (use enough so the chicken pieces will be swimming!)
- Large heavy bottom fry pan with high sides (at least 3 inches)
- Deep fry thermometer, attached to the side of your pan
- Deep fry slotted spoon or wire basket for turning/removing the chicken
- Wire cooling rack placed on top of a large cookie sheet lined with paper towel
- In a mixing bowl, soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes. For best results, I like to soak the chicken overnight in the fridge.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour with cornstarch, paprika, pepper, salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Make sure everything is combined well – I like to use a whisk for this.
- Take the chicken, a couple pieces at a time and drop them into the flour mixture. Make sure that you give each piece a little squeeze to pack the flour mixture onto the chicken. Do this with each piece of chicken until they are coated.
- Place the chicken back into the fridge to chill while heating up your oil for frying.
- On the stove, in a heavy bottomed, high sided frying pan, heat canola oil to 350°F.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge. You'll notice that a lot of the flour mixture has been absorbed by the buttermilk on the chicken – this is exactly what you want to happen. Take each piece of chicken and dredge them in the reserved flour for a final coat before frying.
- Drop about 10 – 15 little chicken pieces in the frying pan to cook. Try not to overcrowd the pan or it will take longer to cook.
- Allow the popcorn chicken to cook for about 7 minutes, turning a few times with a pair of tongs or other similar tool. The pieces should be golden when ready.
- Once the popcorn chicken has cooked, place each onto a metal cooling rack over a cookie sheet lined with paper towel to drain. Season with a bit of salt if desired.
- Repeat steps 7-9 until all chicken has been cooked.
If you're frying your popcorn chicken on the stove like I do, don't forget to keep an eye on the temperature of your oil and adjust the heat as you go. Try to keep the temperature at 350°F.
If you'd prefer, you can also use a deep fryer to make this recipe. Just follow the instructions above as a guideline. If your fryer has a temperature setting be sure to heat it to 350°F and make sure not to overcrowd the fry basket (or they might all stick together or take longer to finish).