I can’t even begin to express my love for onion rings. Even more so now…
This air fryer popcorn chicken is absolutely addicting! With a lot less oil and guilt, you’ll never have to buy frozen or grocery store popcorn chicken again!
You’ve been warned! This recipe is insanely addicting and probably one of the best air fryer chicken recipes I have ever made. Not only that, this chicken can be used for so many other recipes so make sure you save this recipe and get creative with it down the road.
Personally, I could eat this whole batch and not even blink an eye. I almost did last time because it’s just that good. Seriously, fried-ish chicken that’s versatile and dippable…you can’t go wrong. It’s just perfect for the whole family!
This was somewhat of a mission for me to make crispy, crunchy, yet, juicy fried chicken in my air fryer. Considering it’s one of my absolute favorite foods, I was up for the challenge and this may be the best recipe yet. You can toss these in buffalo sauce (which I of course did), BBQ sauce, or an Asian sesame sauce to add to a lot of different dishes. Throw them in a wrap or top a salad with these and and it takes care of your protein source. I can just dip them in sauce and call it a day, they’re amazing!
I will admit that I have made these multiple times to really get it right, so here are some tips and tricks that I have learned on my fry-less journey:
- – Chicken thighs (boneless, skinless, with extra fat removed) are more forgiving than breasts. You can use breasts to keep them even leaner but you have to get the cook just right or else they get tough and dry. If you do use breasts, cut them a little bigger and marinate them in buttermilk or Greek yogurt first. This helps them stay a little moister.
- – Season every step of the dredging process. Be careful on the salt but add as much garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, etc. as you want. Still season with salt but I suggest adding more at the end to get them to your liking.
- – These are best directly out of the air fryer but still perfect for leftovers. Keep in mind the longer you cook these, the crispier they will get but the chicken itself may become too tough.
- – Know your air fryer! If you have to preheat it, do so! Although that’s obvious, I have not tested this using an air fryer that needs to be preheated. I just feel like everyone’s air fryers are a little different.
- – Don’t try to cram all the chicken in at once. Making batches of these may take a little longer but you’ll thank me when it’s done. If you layer or cram them together you’ll have less crispy and stuck together pieces.
- – You can absolutely double batter these. After the first dip in the flour mixture you can toss them back into the egg and then back into the flour. You can even dredge them in some flour or cornstarch first, then egg, then into the flour mixture. I have not done much in the way of experimenting with this method, I just tried on one or two. It’s not really needed to be honest.
- – If you’re really trying to cut down on the flour you can use just cornstarch and nix the flour all together. It’s a very light coating but works really well!
- – If you have leftovers or want to get fancy on the spot, toss in your favorite sauce and eat them that way. I tossed them in buffalo sauce right away and sprinkled them with blue cheese! The perfect little boneless buffalo chicken bite!
I really wanted to bring this recipe to the world because I have a feeling there will be more creations to come that start with this base. I’m already thinking some sort of chicken and waffle combo for brunch would be fantastic!
Now let’s answer the burning question of…are these like fast food nuggets? Actually, yes, they reminded me a little of a mix between McDonalds and Chick Fil A. I’m sure someone will tell me they taste like neither but to each their own. If you do want it to be more like a Chick Fil A nugget, marinate these in pickle juice and add a little powdered sugar to the dry ingredients. Yum!
Give this a try! I especially believe that these will be a hit with the kiddos or at your next party. Do not forget to serve them with your favorite sauce and try to eat your heart out!
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
- 2 pounds chicken thighs or breasts boneless, skinless, cubed
- ½-1 cup liquid egg whites or whole eggs scrambled
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt divided, + more for seasoning
- 1 cup flour all purpose
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder plus extra for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder plus extra for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika plus extra for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- nonstick cooking spray butter or olive oil flavor
- Cut chicken into 1-2" cubed pieces. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. For extra flavor, season the chicken with garlic powder, onion powder and/or paprika.
- In a shallow baking dish, place all of the raw seasoned chicken and pour over eggs and hot sauce to marinate. Make sure all the chicken is touching or submerged in the egg mixture. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least one hour.
- In another shallow baking dish combine flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper and the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix with a whisk or fork until all ingredients are combined in the dry mixture.
- (Preheat air fryer if needed to 390°.)
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and allow rest for 10-15 minutes until it gets to room temperature.
- Take a piece of chicken and remove it from the egg mixture and allow excess egg to drip off before lightly tossing it in the flour mixture. Once the piece of chicken is completely coated in the flour mixture, tap off any extra flour and lay the chicken piece in the air fryer. Repeat this step until one single layer of coated chicken is covering the bottom of the basket. Do this in batches and avoid crowding or stacking the chicken.
- Heavily spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray and cook for 8-11 minutes on 390° (depending on your air fryer). Check halfway through the cooking process and flip the piece of chicken at that time.
- Remove and salt, if needed.