Crispy, crunchy, and addictive, this delicious popcorn chicken is so easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser. It is a popular snack or appetizer, and it can also be served as a main course.
In my recipe, I am using Indian spices, adding a unique flavor and depth to the dish. Serve this KFC style popcorn chicken with tandoori mayo for an extra layer of creamy and tangy goodness. Not a chicken fan? Try this easy-peasy movie theater popcorn recipe.
What is popcorn chicken?
Popcorn chicken is a popular appetizer or snack made from bite-sized boneless chicken pieces that are marinated, seasoned, coated, and then deep-fried until they are crispy and golden brown. The name "popcorn chicken" comes from their small size and resemblance to popcorn kernels.
In my popcorn chicken recipe, I use Indian spices to marinate the chicken. These bite-sized, tender pieces of boneless chicken are elevated into a crunchy and flavorful delight, and the best part is that you won't need to worry about the intricate process of individual breading.
No popcorn chicken is complete without its trusty sidekick - the dipping sauces. Serve these Indian-spiced popcorn chicken bites with an array of dipping options, such as zesty mint chutney, tangy tamarind sauce, or spicy tandoori mayo.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Flavorful fusion: By infusing Indian spices, this popcorn chicken recipe offers a fusion of flavors that marries the crunchiness of popcorn chicken with the aromatic and vibrant notes of Indian cuisine.
- Bite-sized delight: The small, bite-sized pieces of succulent chicken are not only visually appealing but also perfect for convenient snacking, appetizers, or sharing at gatherings.
- Versatile dipping options: Pairing this popcorn chicken with an array of dipping sauces adds flavor and depth to the dish.
- Crowd-pleaser: This KFC popcorn chicken recipe will surely be a hit at gatherings, parties, or even as a special treat for the family.
Chicken: Use chicken breast cut into small bite-sized pieces.
Coating: I use all-purpose flour, egg, and panko crumbs to coat the marinated chicken.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Variations and optional seasonings
Here are some other seasoning options and variations that go well with this dish:
- For a gluten-free coating, use sweet potato starch, tapioca starch, or corn starch instead of all-purpose flour.
- Panko breadcrumbs are light and airy, and they create a very crispy coating. For a gluten-free option, you can use crushed cornflakes.
- Skip the minced garlic and use garlic powder and onion powder.
- Chili powder can be replaced with cayenne pepper. Similarly, ground black pepper can be replaced with white pepper.
- You can use Sichuan peppercorns, which are not hot like black or white pepper, to keep the heat level low.
- I have used sunflower oil for deep frying. However, you can use vegetable oil or olive oil as well.
Step 1: Cut the chicken breast into small pieces and place them in a large bowl. To this, add whisked yogurt, minced garlic, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper (image 1).
Step 2: Mix well, making sure the chicken pieces are well coated. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes (image 2).
Step 3: Add the flour and toss the chicken well. Make sure there are no dry bits of flour (images 3 and 4).
Step 4: Next, add the beaten egg and mix well, making sure the chicken pieces are coated (images 5 and 6).
Step 5: Add the panko crumbs next and mix well. Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This helps the coating stick to the chicken (images 7 and 8).
Step 6: Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep saucepan or frying pan. To check if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of panko in it. It should sizzle and immediately come to the top. The oil temperature should be around 375 F. Carefully drop the chicken pieces in the hot oil. Fry until they are crispy and golden. Do not overcrowd the pan (image 9).
Alternate cooking method
Baking: Arrange the coated chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush oil or use a cooking spray to brush the chicken with oil. Bake in a preheated oven at around 375 F (190 C) for about 20-25 minutes, turning them halfway through, until they are crispy and cooked through.
Air frying: To make air fryer popcorn chicken, lightly coat the chicken with oil spray and arrange them in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at around 375 F (190 C) for approximately 12-15 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally for even cooking.
Pan frying: In a non-stick skillet, add a thin layer of oil and heat it over medium heat. Place the coated chicken pieces in the skillet and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side until they are golden brown and cooked through.
Use boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces. You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs. This will ensure that the chicken is cooked evenly and that the breading does not stick to the skin.
Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces. This will help the chicken to cook evenly and will also make it easier to eat.
Use a light touch when coating the chicken in the breading mixture. Too much coating can make the popcorn soggy.
Fry the chicken in batches to prevent the temperature of the oil from dropping too low. This will help the chicken to cook evenly and prevent it from becoming greasy.
Do not overcrowd the pan when frying the chicken. This will lower the temperature of the oil and prevent the chicken from cooking evenly.
Remove the chicken from the pan as soon as it is golden brown and cooked through. Overcooking will make the chicken dry and tough.
Use this chicken popcorn to make a comforting KFC famous bowl at home!
To store leftover Indian-spiced popcorn chicken, allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them, and frozen chicken nuggets can be stored for up to 3 months. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C), arrange the chicken on a baking sheet, and bake for about 10-15 minutes until warmed through and crispy. Alternatively, you can reheat in an air fryer for a few minutes until they are crispy. Avoid microwaving, as it can make the popcorn chicken lose its crispiness.
Popcorn chicken and chicken nuggets are both bite-sized pieces of chicken that have been breaded and fried. However, popcorn chicken is typically smaller and has a lighter breading than chicken nuggets. Chicken nuggets are often more uniform in shape and may have a thicker breading. Popcorn chicken, on the other hand, features irregularly shaped chunks of chicken, is marinated for flavor, and can have a lighter, more textured coating. The term "popcorn" implies its small, irregular shape, resembling popped corn kernels.
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Marinate and coat the chicken:
- Cut the chicken breast into small pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- To this, add whisked yogurt, minced garlic, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well making sure the chicken pieces are well coated. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the flour and toss the chicken well.
- Next, add the beaten egg and mix well making sure the chicken pieces are coated.
- Add the panko crumbs next and mix well.
- Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This helps the coating stick to the chicken.
Fry chicken nuggets:
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep saucepan or frying pan. To check if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of panko in it. It should sizzle and immediately come to the top.
- Once the oil is hot, carefully drop the chicken pieces in it. Fry until they are crispy and golden. Do not overcrowd the pan.
- Take the chicken piece out using a slotted spoon and transfer the fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Serve with dip of your choice.