Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn Chicken

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Marinate : 60 mins
Total: 110 mins
Servings: 6

Popcorn chicken is the name for small, bite-sized pieces of chicken that are breaded and fried. Their shape is reminiscent of popcorn, and they are designed to be eaten with your fingers and conveniently popped into your mouth just like popcorn. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk to keep it moist and delicious even after frying. The breading is seasoned for extra flavor, and the popcorn chicken is perfect for dipping in your favorite sauces.

Ingredients

  • Popcorn Chicken:
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)
  • Optional Dipping Sauces:
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Honey mustard
  • Buffalo sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Popcorn Chicken ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce.

    whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  3. Add the cubed chicken, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

    Add the cubed chicken, then cover and marinate

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  4. In another large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, salt, baking powder, sage, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

    combine dry ingredients for popcorn chicken

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  5. Working a few pieces at a time, use a slotted spoon to lift the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing the excess buttermilk to back into the bowl. Place the chicken in the breading mix and toss to coat.

    Place the chicken in the breading mix and toss to coat

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  6. Using another slotted spoon, lift the coated chicken from the breading mix and place back in the buttermilk bowl. Repeat the process once more to create a second coating.

    coat chicken a second time with buttermilk and breading

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  7. After the chicken is double coated in the breading mixture, place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

    place coated chicken on baking sheet

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  8. Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep pan until it reaches 1 to 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Heat the oil to 350 F. Working in batches, fry the chicken for about 4 to 5 minutes total or until golden brown, turning if necessary. Allow the oil to come back to temperature between batches.

    fry the chicken

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  9. Transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

    put chicken on paper towel lined plate

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  10. Serve popcorn chicken hot with your favorite dipping sauces. Barbeque sauce, honey mustard, or buffalo sauce are all delicious options. Enjoy!

    Popcorn Chicken with dipping sauces

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Baked Popcorn Chicken

If you love popcorn chicken but don't like frying the chicken, it's easy to turn this into a baked variation with a few changes to the recipe.


Marinate the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture as described. For the coating, combine 2 cups of crushed cornflake cereal and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour along with the paprika, salt, sage, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Omit the baking powder.


Lift the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture and press to coat in the crushed cornflake mixture. You do not need to double coat as you would for frying.


Place on a rimmed baking sheet covered with non-stick foil. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 F for 8 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces and return to the oven until cooked through, about 8 minutes more. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.