- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tbsp cornstarch
- ⅛ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ cup all purpose flour, set aside
- Canola oil, for frying (use enough so the chicken pieces will be swimming!)
- Deep Fryer OR 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 pieces
- Wire rack placed on top of a large baking sheet lined with paper towel
Prep the Chicken
- 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 (but it’s not absolutely necessary).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ 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.
Cook The Popcorn Chicken
- Before frying, make sure your deep fryer oil (or large pot of oil in the stove) has reached 375°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.
- Roll the chicken pieces between the palms of your hands to form them into their “popcorn” shape.
- Drop about 10 – 15 little chicken pieces in the fryer to cook. Try not to overcrowd them so they cook evenly and become nice and crisp.
- Allow the popcorn chicken to cook for about 7 minutes, or until golden. Use a slotted spoon or similar tool to turn them a few times during cooking, if necessary. The pieces will be golden when ready.
- Once the popcorn chicken has finished cooking remove them from the oil using a mesh basket or strainer and lay them onto the wire rack over a baking sheet to drain. This is important to maintain the crispness of the popcorn chicken.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT lay the popcorn chicken on paper towel as this will make them greasy and lose their crispness. While frying the remaining chicken, you can keep the finished pieces in the oven to warm (at 200°F) while on the wire rack.
- Continue frying batches of chicken until all have been cooked and set on the rack to drain.
Serve immediately along with fries, onion rings or any of your other favorite foods!
To prevent the onion rings from sticking to the bottom of the fry basket while cooking:
When frying, sometimes your fish will sink to the basket’s bottom and adhere to it!
Tip #1: When dropping your onion rings into the deep fryer, hold it in the oil with your fingertips for a couple of seconds to fry them lightly, then allow them to fall in. This will allow the batter a chance to fry for a little before sinking down and becoming trapped on the basket’s bottom.
Tip #2: Make sure the fry basket is fully immersed in oil before adding the onion rings to the oil. If you put a piece of freshly battered onion rings in the fry basket and then submerge it, they’ll stick to it.
- Prep Time: 35 Minutes
- Cook Time: 20 Minutes
- Category: Appetizer, Food Kids will Love
- Method: Frying
- Cuisine: American/Canadian