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The best popcorn chicken to make at home

You should try this today.

Have you ever sunk your teeth into a crispy, golden piece of popcorn chicken and wished you could recreate that mouthwatering experience at home? Well, today is your lucky day! Discover the best popcorn chicken recipe that will have you and your family drooling over every bite. Get ready to embark on a flavorful journey through the history, variations, and secrets of the perfect popcorn chicken, and uncover the ultimate recipe for you to try today.

Easy recipes with chicken breast

  • This guide provides an expert look into making classic and unique popcorn chicken, with tips on ingredients, techniques, cooking methods & more.
  • Explore a range of creative dipping sauces for elevated flavor or healthier alternatives such as oven-baked & air fryer options.
  • Troubleshoot common issues to ensure perfect results every time. From preventing soggy breading to ensuring even cooking.

The ultimate popcorn chicken guide

Popcorn chicken has been a beloved snack for centuries, especially in the American South, where its easy preparation and portability have made it a staple of Southern cuisine. Its popularity skyrocketed after it was introduced to the global market, and since then, various cultural influences and adaptations have given rise to numerous forms of this scrumptious dish worldwide.

Whether it’s a classic breaded version or a unique twist inspired by international flavors, the key to perfect popcorn chicken lies in the right ingredients and techniques. From the ideal chicken cuts to the secrets of seasoning, breading, and cooking methods, we’ve got you covered in this ultimate popcorn chicken guide.

The history of popcorn chicken

Although popcorn chicken has been around for centuries, it was KFC that brought it to the limelight in the early 2000s, making it a successful major product for the chain. These bite-sized pieces of tender chicken, coated in a well-seasoned breading and deep-fried to perfection, quickly gained a loyal following.

The best popcorn chicken recipe builds on this rich history, using boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces and fried until crispy, ready to be dipped in your favorite dipping sauce. The result is a delicious and satisfying snack that pays homage to its roots while leaving plenty of room for creativity and innovation.

Popularity and variations

Popcorn chicken’s fame has continued to grow, becoming a staple not only in the Southern United States but also around the world, thanks to fast-food restaurants like KFC and Popeyes. As the dish spread across the globe, various cultures put their own spin on it, resulting in a wide range of flavors and styles.

From Japan’s Karaage to South Korea’s Yangnyeom-chicken and Taiwan’s salt and pepper popcorn chicken, this versatile dish has taken on numerous forms, each seasoned distinctively to provide a unique taste. With such a rich array of variations, there’s no doubt that the best popcorn chicken recipe is out there, just waiting for you to discover it.

Perfecting your popcorn chicken: Ingredients & techniques

Understanding the ingredients and techniques is crucial to mastering the art of making perfect popcorn chicken. The right combination of chicken, seasonings, and breading techniques can make all the difference in creating a dish that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

This section will guide you through the key steps from selecting the ideal chicken to mastering the art of seasoning and breading. Get ready to take your culinary skills to new heights with these expert tips and tricks.

Choosing the right chicken

The quality of popcorn chicken significantly depends on the selection of the right chicken. Fresh or thawed frozen chicken breasts are the optimal choice, as they offer a lean and tender meat that’s perfect for this dish. If you prefer a more flavorful and juicy result, you could also consider using chicken thighs, which have a higher fat content and are less likely to dry out during cooking.

When it comes to thawing frozen chicken, follow these steps:

  1. Submerge the chicken in cold tap water.
  2. Change the water every 30 minutes.
  3. Small bags of chicken (around 1 pound) may take up to an hour to thaw.
  4. Once thawed, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces to ensure small, evenly cooked bites of tender chicken.

Seasoning secrets

To maximize flavor, it’s important to understand the art of seasoning your popcorn chicken. A well-seasoned flour mixture, combined with buttermilk or egg wash and breadcrumbs or panko crumbs, will give your chicken that irresistible taste that keeps you coming back for more.

Some wonderful seasonings for chicken are:

  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Red chili powder or paprika
  • Crushed black pepper
  • All-spice or garam masala

Spice it up with cayenne pepper and enjoy the delicious enriched flavors! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices and herbs, or even try using vegetable oil to create your own unique seasoning blend that suits your taste buds.

Breading basics

Mastering the breading process is pivotal to achieving a crispy and delicious coating on your popcorn chicken. Start by coating the chicken pieces in a seasoned flour mixture, then dip them in buttermilk or egg wash before rolling them in breadcrumbs or panko crumbs.

Panko crumbs are recommended for optimal crispiness, but regular breadcrumbs can also be used for a satisfying crunch. Once your chicken pieces are fully coated, it’s time to fry them up until they achieve that perfect golden-brown exterior. Get ready to impress your friends and family with your breading expertise!

Step-by-step popcorn chicken recipe

With the secrets of perfect popcorn chicken now in your hands, it’s time to apply your newfound knowledge with this detailed, step-by-step recipe. From preparing the chicken to coating, breading, and cooking, this recipe will guide you through the process with ease, ensuring a foolproof result every time.

Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or a seasoned pro, this popcorn chicken recipe is sure to become a favorite. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to create a mouthwatering masterpiece that will have everyone begging for more.

Preparing the chicken

Before embarking on the cooking process, prepare the chicken breast by slicing it into bite-sized pieces. Whether you’re using fresh or thawed frozen chicken breasts or thighs, this step is crucial for ensuring that your chicken cooks evenly and stays tender throughout the cooking process.

Once your chicken is cut into uniform pieces, it’s time to marinate it in buttermilk. This will not only enhance the flavor but also help to tenderize the meat. Here’s how to marinate the chicken:

  1. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces.
  2. Place the chicken in a bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  3. Pour enough buttermilk over the chicken to fully cover it.
  4. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but for the most flavorful result, let it marinate for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Coating and breading

Once the chicken is ready, the next important step is coating and breading the pieces. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by coating the chicken in a seasoned flour mixture.
  2. Dip each piece into beaten eggs.
  3. Roll the chicken in breadcrumbs or a mixture of breadcrumbs and flour.

To ensure an even coating and a crispy finish, be sure to press the breadcrumbs onto the chicken pieces firmly, so they adhere well. Once all your chicken pieces are fully coated, it’s time to cook them using your preferred method, be it frying, baking, or air frying.

Cooking methods

Several unique cooking methods for making popcorn chicken are available, each offering its own set of benefits. Deep-frying is the most traditional method, producing a deliciously crispy exterior and tender interior. To ensure the best results, fry the chicken at a temperature between 350-375°F (177-190°C) for 4-5 minutes per batch.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, consider baking your popcorn chicken in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 14 minutes or using an air fryer, which can produce a similar result with less oil and saturated fat.

No matter which method you choose, make sure to cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.

Dipping sauce delights

A delightful dipping sauce is a must-have to complement the flavors and textures of the popcorn chicken. With a wide variety of classic and creative sauce options, you can elevate your popcorn chicken and create a truly memorable dining experience.

A world of delightful dipping sauces awaits, guaranteed to keep you craving popcorn chicken at every meal!

Classic sauces

You can never go wrong with classic dipping sauces that have stood the test of time. Some of the most popular options include honey mustard, buffalo sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and BBQ sauce.

These tried-and-true favorites pair beautifully with the crispy, tender popcorn chicken, providing a burst of flavor and enhancing the overall experience. Whether you’re a fan of tangy, sweet, or spicy flavors, there’s a classic sauce out there that will hit the spot and make your taste buds sing:

  • Tangy BBQ sauce
  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Spicy buffalo sauce
  • Creamy ranch dressing
  • Zesty honey mustard

Try dipping your chicken bites in one of these delicious sauces for a mouthwatering treat.

Creative combos

Adventurous foodies will find a plethora of creative sauce combinations to explore and discover. From sweet chili and mango salsa to lemon honey Dijon and Sriracha hickory barbecue, the possibilities are endless, including the refreshing addition of lemon juice.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match your favorite sauces or even create your own signature blend. The sky’s the limit when it comes to finding the perfect dipping sauce for your popcorn chicken, so let your imagination run wild and discover a unique combo that will have you reaching for seconds.

Healthier alternatives and dietary modifications

While traditional popcorn chicken is undeniably delicious, it’s not always the healthiest option due to the deep-frying process. However, there are plenty of healthier alternatives and dietary modifications available to cater to different preferences and restrictions.

From oven-baked and air fryer options to gluten-free and dairy-free adaptations, there’s a popcorn chicken recipe out there for everyone, including those who prefer to air fry.

Oven-baked and air fryer options

For those seeking to minimize oil and saturated fat without compromising flavor, oven-baked and air fryer methods provide a healthier alternative to the classic dish. Baking your popcorn chicken in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 14 minutes will still result in a crispy and delicious coating, while using an air fryer can provide a similar texture with even less oil.

Both of these methods are a fantastic way to enjoy popcorn chicken without the guilt, and they still deliver the satisfying crunch and tender chicken you love. Give these healthier alternatives a try and discover a new way to enjoy your favorite snack.

Gluten-free and dairy-free adaptations

For those with dietary restrictions, gluten-free and dairy-free adaptations can make popcorn chicken accessible and enjoyable for everyone. By using a gluten-free flour blend and gluten-free breadcrumbs, you can create a delicious, crispy coating that’s suitable for those with gluten sensitivities.

For a dairy-free adaptation, consider using a dairy-free buttermilk substitute or omitting the yogurt from the recipe. With these modifications, you can still enjoy the mouthwatering taste of popcorn chicken while accommodating your dietary needs.

Serving suggestions and pairings

The right serving suggestions and pairings can elevate your popcorn chicken meal experience. Whether you’re looking for appetizer ideas to impress your guests or complete meal combinations for a satisfying and well-rounded dinner, we’ve got you covered with a range of options to suit every taste.

Appetizer ideas

As a fantastic appetizer, popcorn chicken can be presented in numerous ways that will definitely impress your guests. Some creative ideas include:

  • Mini chicken and waffle appetizers
  • Popcorn chicken tacos
  • Popcorn chicken skewers
  • A variety of dipping sauces

These creative ideas are sure to impress.

Pair your popcorn chicken with other crowd-pleasing appetizers like:

  • Potato wedges
  • Korean corn dogs
  • Blooming onion
  • Mac and cheese
  • Mashed sweet potatoes

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a show-stopping appetizer spread that will have everyone talking.

Complete meal combinations

If you’re looking to serve your popcorn chicken as part of a complete meal, there are plenty of delicious combinations that will satisfy and delight. Pair your popcorn chicken with sides like:

  • Potato wedges
  • Coleslaw
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cornbread
  • Mac and cheese
  • Biscuits
  • Fried tomatoes
  • Sweet potato mash
  • Baked beans
  • Creamed corn

for a well-rounded and satisfying dinner.

And don’t forget about the drinks! Pair your popcorn chicken with beverages like:

  • Champagne
  • Sparkling wines
  • Off-dry Riesling
  • Lambrusco
  • Rosé
  • India Pale Ales
  • Sake
  • Syrah
  • Whiskey
  • Gin

for a truly enjoyable dining experience.

Troubleshooting common popcorn chicken issues

Even seasoned home cooks may face challenges when making popcorn chicken. Don’t worry, we’re here to assist you in resolving common problems to guarantee a perfect result every time. From preventing soggy breading to ensuring even cooking, these expert tips will have you cooking up a popcorn chicken masterpiece in no time.

Preventing soggy breading

Soggy breading, a common issue when making popcorn chicken, can be easily circumvented with a few straightforward techniques. First, make sure that your chicken is coated evenly with the flour mixture, buttermilk or egg wash, and breadcrumbs or panko crumbs. Press the breading onto the chicken pieces firmly, so it adheres well.

When frying the chicken, follow these tips for optimal crispiness:

  • Avoid overcrowding the pan, as this can cause steam and make the breading soggy.
  • Use the right type of oil for frying.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process.

By following these tips, you’ll achieve perfectly crispy air fryer chicken.

Ensuring even cooking

To achieve perfectly cooked popcorn chicken, it’s critical to ensure even cooking. To do this, make sure to cook the chicken at the correct temperature for the recommended amount of time. A temperature between 350-375°F (177-190°C) is ideal for frying, and 4-5 minutes per batch should be sufficient.

Using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken is also a good idea, as it should reach 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. By following these tips, you’ll ensure that your popcorn chicken is cooked evenly and thoroughly, resulting in a delicious and satisfying dish every time.

The right ingredients and techniques make a huge difference

We hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through the world of popcorn chicken and that you’re now armed with the knowledge and skills to create the best popcorn chicken recipe you need to try today. From the history and variations of this beloved dish to the essential ingredients, techniques, and serving suggestions, you’re ready to impress your friends and family with a mouthwatering, homemade popcorn chicken masterpiece. So, gather your ingredients, fire up your oven or fryer, and get ready to savor every delicious, golden bite of perfection.

What are popcorn chicken made of?

Popcorn Chicken are made with whole pieces of chicken breast that have been seasoned, breaded and deep fried until golden. They have a tender and crisp texture, and are named popcorn chicken due to their resemblance to popcorn.

Why did KFC stop selling popcorn chicken?

KFC stopped selling popcorn chicken as part of an effort to streamline customer experience and make way for new food items that may do better. This is in line with the chain testing a new spicy slaw chicken sandwich in select restaurants.

Why is popcorn chicken so good?

Popcorn chicken is a delicious snack thanks to the five spice and ginger, giving it a flavour unlike any other fried chicken. Plus, with its similar size and texture to popcorn, it's easy to enjoy as you pop them into your mouth.

What is the recommended internal temperature for cooked chicken breast?

Cook chicken breast to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal safety and flavor.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for popcorn chicken?

Yes, you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for popcorn chicken for a more flavorful and juicy result.