Popcorn Chicken Air Fryer Recipe: The Ultimate Guide

popcorn chicken air fryer recipe

Popcorn chicken is a classic dish that most of us love. It is an ideal snack food that is perfect for any time of day or occasion. The best part about popcorn chicken is the crispy texture, which makes it so irresistible. If you have an air fryer, you can make popcorn chicken in a much healthier and delicious way. In this article, we will provide you with an in-depth guide on how to make the perfect popcorn chicken in an air fryer.

Food Science behind Popcorn Chicken

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s take a closer look at what makes popcorn chicken so delicious. The secret lies in the coating. The crisp exterior of popcorn chicken is created by combining cornstarch, flour, spices, and a liquid. When the chicken is coated in this mixture, the liquid and flour create steam, which separates the breading from the meat, creating a crispy exterior. This process is called dredging, and it is crucial to achieving the perfect popcorn chicken.

Selecting the Right Chicken

When it comes to making popcorn chicken, the type of chicken you use is essential. You want to make sure you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, as these types of chicken will cook more evenly and quicker. If you use chicken with bone and skin, the cook time will be longer, and the coating may not get as crispy.

Cleaning the Chicken

popcorn chicken

Before you start, always remember to clean the chicken thoroughly. Rinse chicken breast under running water to remove any possible contaminants. Make sure you pat them dry before cutting into bite-sized chunks.

Preparing the Coating Mixture

popcorn chicken

The breading of popcorn chicken is the most important part of this recipe. It contributes to the crunchiness and flavor of the final product. To make the perfect coating, combine one cup of flour, one cup of cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix well using a whisk to combine all the ingredients.

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Tips for Preparing the Chicken

close up view of air fried popcorn chicken

When preparing the chicken, always remember to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. This will ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and will also make the chicken easier to eat. One essential step is to dip the chicken pieces into beaten egg before coating them in the breading mixture. This will help create a bond between the chicken and the coating, resulting in a crispy and delicious exterior.

Cooking the Chicken in an Air Fryer

close up view of air fried popcorn chicken

Now that you have the chicken prepared and coated, it’s time to put them in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer at 375°F for five minutes. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray before placing the chicken pieces on it. Make sure to space the chicken pieces out evenly so that they cook evenly too. It is essential not to overcrowd the air fryer basket, or else the chicken pieces will not cook thoroughly and may turn out soggy.

Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time. The chicken is done when it has an internal temperature of 165°F. Take a piece of chicken out and cut it open to ensure it’s done.

Variations and Additions

There are many ways to customize your popcorn chicken recipe to make it uniquely yours. You can add different spices, such as cumin, chili powder, or cayenne pepper to the coating mixture. You can also add grated parmesan cheese or Panko breadcrumbs in the coating mixture to add texture and flavor. You can also mix mayonnaise, hot sauce, honey, or BBQ sauce in a separate bowl, depending on your preference.

Doneness Checks

When it comes to cooking chicken, it is essential to ensure it is cooked all the way through before consuming it. If you don’t have a meat thermometer at home, it is recommendable to cut open a piece of chicken to check its doneness. Cut the chicken in half to ensure there are no pink parts or spots. If the chicken appears pink, it needs to be cooked for a little longer before consuming.

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Recipe

Here is the recipe for perfect popcorn chicken made in an air fryer:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 beaten eggs

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, and salt to make the coating.
  2. Dip each chicken piece in the egg and then coat it with the seasoned flour mixture.
  3. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F for five minutes.
  4. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
  5. Place the coated chicken pieces evenly spaced on the basket.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time.
  7. Check the temperature of a piece of chicken to ensure it’s done.

Conclusion

If you want a healthier and drool-worthy popcorn chicken, the air fryer is your best option! With this comprehensive guide, you will be able to make perfect popcorn chicken every time. The coating is crispy, seasoned well, and will leave your taste buds wanting more. Remember to always use boneless, skinless chicken for the best results, and to clean the chicken before use. Try the recipe today, and let us know how it turns out – we bet it will be delicious!

Sources
  • Delicious Crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken – Chef Lola’s Kitchen
  • Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken – Urban Bliss Life
  • Crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken Recipe – Erhardts Eat
  • Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken Recipe – midnightsunak.com
  • FAQS On Popcorn Chicken Air Fryer Recipe

    What Is Popcorn Chicken?

    Popcorn chicken refers to small, bite-sized pieces of chicken that are typically coated with a crispy and flavorful breadcrumb or batter mixture.

    How Do You Make Popcorn Chicken In An Air Fryer?

    To make popcorn chicken in an air fryer, you will need to start by cutting boneless, skinless chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces. Then, prepare a coating mixture using breadcrumbs, herbs, and spices. Dip the chicken pieces into the coating mixture, ensuring they are thoroughly coated. Finally, place the chicken pieces in a preheated air fryer and cook until they are golden brown and crispy.

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    What Are The Advantages Of Using An Air Fryer For Popcorn Chicken?

    Using an air fryer for popcorn chicken offers several advantages. Firstly, air fryers require little to no oil, making the dish healthier compared to deep-fried versions. Secondly, air frying allows the chicken to become crispy on the outside while maintaining a moist interior. Lastly, air fryers are quicker and more energy-efficient than conventional ovens, reducing overall cooking time.

    Can I Use Frozen Chicken For This Recipe?

    Yes, you can use frozen chicken for this popcorn chicken recipe. However, it is essential to thaw the chicken completely before coating and air frying to ensure even cooking.

    What Can I Serve With Popcorn Chicken?

    Popcorn chicken makes a delicious and versatile dish that can be served with various sides. Some popular options include dipping sauces (such as ranch, barbecue, or honey mustard), coleslaw, French fries, salad, or even as a filling for sandwiches and wraps.

    Can I Use A Different Coating Instead Of Breadcrumbs?

    Yes, you can experiment with different coatings for your popcorn chicken. Some alternatives to breadcrumbs include crushed cornflakes, crushed crackers, panko breadcrumbs, or even a mixture of finely grated cheese and flour.

    Can I Prepare Popcorn Chicken Ahead Of Time?

    Yes, you can prepare popcorn chicken ahead of time. After coating the chicken pieces, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before air frying. This makes it a convenient option for parties or gatherings, allowing you to save time on the day of the event.