This Popcorn Chicken Recipe is perfect to serve at parties, tailgates, or just as an easy weeknight meal. It is so quick and simple to make that you will be eating in no time! The ingredients are simple and it’s very easy to make. Loved by young and old for it’s delicious flavor, this is sure to become a family favorite!
Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s easy to make popcorn chicken with this recipe.
- The ingredients are likely items you have in your kitchen already.
- Popcorn chicken is so versatile to use as an appetizer or entree.
- Popcorn chicken is so much better for you than processed and pressed chicken nuggets.
- You can customize the seasonings you use to switch up the flavor.
- This helps stretch the meat budget by making boneless skinless chicken go further.
How To Make Popcorn Chicken
Popcorn chicken is a fast, easy meal that you can whip up in just minutes. You may have had popcorn chicken at the movies or as part of an appetizer platter before, and now you can make it at home for your family.
Let’s discuss how to make this popcorn chicken recipe, as well as the ingredients that are needed for it. Please take note that below you will find discussion, expert tips, and answers to frequently asked questions about this recipe to help you recreate it in your kitchen.
If you *just* want the recipe itself, scroll down. The full printable recipe itself, with exact measurements and instructions, is found at the bottom of this page
Popcorn Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken breast, boneless and skinless – plump and juicy, you can’t go wrong with chicken breasts in this recipe. They work wonderfully with the seasonings.
- Buttermilk – if you don’t have this, you can make your own buttermilk substitute. Buttermilk not only brings great flavor, it does an amazing job at tenderizing your chicken.
- Dried oregano – Oregano is a herb that we normally think of in Italian food but it works beautifully for making your popcorn chicken coating.
- Corn flakes – Corn flakes are perfect for creating a crunchy coating. Don’t worry, your chicken nuggets won’t taste like breakfast cereal, the flavor will come from the seasonings.
- Flour, all-purpose – Flour is a great way to give chicken that crispy outside, and the all-purpose flour won’t change or alter the flavor of your chicken.
- Cayenne pepper – Cayenne pepper gives popcorn chicken a subtle and spicy kick.
- Garlic powder – Garlic powder is always a good addition for flavor, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the shining stars of this recipe.
- Onion powder – Onion powder works beautifully with garlic powder when it comes to delivering flavor.
- Sea salt and black pepper – In my opinion, the flavor of sea salt outshines the standard table salt any day. Mix it with black pepper and you have the classic standard spice combo.
- Oil to fry – What kind of oil is best to use to fry the popcorn chicken? When frying chicken you will want to use canola oil or peanut oil. These oils provide a mild flavor and have high smoke points, which means they are better for the environment than vegetable oils like soybean and corn.
Steps To Take
Reminder, the full printable recipe with the exact details is found at the bottom of the post. Here, let’s disucss the how you make popcorn chicken.
Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place them into a medium-sized bowl. Add buttermilk, one teaspoon of oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir together so that all the pieces of chicken are mixed up and covered with these ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least one 1 hour to marinate before cooking it. You can leave in the fridge overnight if desired.
In a large shallow plate, mix the corn flakes, flour, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, salt pepper, and 1 teaspoon oregano.
Pour about 16 oz of oil into a deep pan. Set in on the stove for medium heat. The ideal temperature to fry at will be about 350-375 degrees fahrenheit. I find a thermometer really helps make frying easier and lets me control the temperature for the best results. Remove each piece of your popcorn chicken from the buttermilk marinade and coat with the corn flakes mix by pressing it gently into the breading.
Cook popcorn chicken in oil until browned and cooked through. This typically takes about 3-4 minutes on each side. Then take out and place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Serve immediately with your favorite dip or dressing.
You can use less expensive chicken thighs but as that is dark meat, it will take a little longer to cook.
Add Tabasco hot sauce to your popcorn pepper mix if you want it spicy!
Mix in some grated parmesan with the marinade before you put it in the refrigerator for a cheesy popcorn chicken.
One of the best things about popcorn chicken is dipping it in delicious sauces! Some of our favorite sauces to dip these chicken nuggets into include Cane’s Sauce, Ranch Dressing, Buffalo Sauce or Honey Mustard.
Let chicken fully cool, then it will keep beautifully for up to 3 days in the fridge if you use an air-tight container.
You can make popcorn chicken in large batches to keep them on hand for a few days or freeze. Your family will never go back to processed chicken nuggets again!
You can change up the flavors of your chicken by switching up the marinade recipe. Add BBQ sauce or use ranch dressing as your marinade for a fun flavor swap.
You can bake these instead of frying them. Just heat your oven to 425 F | 210 and bake for about 15-20 minutes on a nonstick baking sheet. If it is a darker nonstick sheet – lower the temperature by 25 degrees to prevent burning.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
Can this be made ahead of time? While marinades will take at least one hour to be effective, they only get better the longer they have to work – up to 24 hours. It is not a good idea to fry the popcorn chicken ahead of time because it will get soggy. However if you do, you can reheat it in an Air Fryer or oven instead.
What can I use beside cornflakes? Panko crumbs are a good replacement for corn flakes.
Can I Freeze Popcorn Chicken? Yes, but you want to flash freeze it first. That means you have to let it all cool down completely first. The put it on something like a baking sheet but spread out so there is space between the popcorn chicken pieces. Put that baking sheet in the freezer for roughly 2 hours. After that you can store them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 1 month.
How to I reheat popcorn chicken? While the microwave is fast and easy, it can lead to soggy results. I recommend putting your chicken in the oven or use an air fryer (350 F / 176 C) to reheat. This takes about 10 minutes in the oven and about 2-3 minutes in the air fryer.
Recipes To Pair With Popcorn Chicken
Looking for the perfect side dishes to serve with your chicken nuggets? Here are some recommendations.
- Air Fryer Potato Wedges
- KFC Coleslaw
- Air Fryer Corn On The Cob
- Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole
- Jiffy Cornbread
- Easy Mac and Cheese
- Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
- Air Fryer Tater Tots
Popcorn Chicken Recipe
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp dried oregano, divided
- 1 cup corn flakes finely crushed
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper if you love the pepper flavor, increase to 1/2 tsp
- Oil to fry Canola or peanut works well
- Cut chicken breasts into bite size chunks and transfer to a medium size bowl. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon oregano, a pinch of salt and and a pinch of pepper. Mix and make sure all chicken is covered. Tightly cover bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- In a shallow bowl or plate, mix together corn flakes, flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and remaining salt, pepper and oregano. Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade and gently press into the dry mixture to coat, making sure to rotate chicken to cover all sides.
- Heat approximately 16 oz of oil in a large deep pan to somewhere between 350 and 375 degrees fahrenheit. Fry coated chicken in batches, making sure to not overcrowd the pan, until nicely browned on both sides. This usually takes about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove chicken from oil and place immediately onto a plate that has been lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. Serve immediately.