This Crispy Buffalo Popcorn Chicken recipe is a deliciously healthier chicken nugget option for the entire family. Made with an extra crunchy outside from the cornflake-breadcrumb coating and a juicy, tender inside from the perfectly cooked chicken, this popcorn chicken is just the thing you need---fully drenched in a buttery, spicy + tangy buffalo sauce! Super easy to make and whipped together in under 50 minutes. Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, + Vegan options.
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I'm literally a humongous fan of chicken nuggets and bite-sized chicken, ever since childhood and naturally, I think that almost every child loves them, especially since they are just the perfect bite-size and can easily be dipped in your favorite condiment sauce. And while you might assume that your chicken needs to be fried for the perfect crispiness, this recipe proves that even oven baked chicken creates the crunchiest outer layer once you get the coating right and that's what you get with this Crispy Buffalo Popcorn Chicken!
When it comes to creating a crispy layer that doesn't require frying, I've found great success with combining cornflakes and breadcrumbs. You'll be surprised by how incredibly crunchy they become while still remaining nice and juicy on the inside. Don't believe me----try this Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders or Sticky Orange Chicken Popcorn Chicken recipe next! This popcorn chicken recipe offers a bold orange flavor which adds such a great eating experience for everyone. Plus, this Spicy Restaurant Style Salsa is a great side dish for tacos if you're thinking of turning these chicken bites tacos!
Overall, these chicken bites are super easy to make, seasoned in 2-layers for the best flavor, uses a handful of ingredients, baked to crispy perfection, and makes for the best appetizer, snack or meat addition to your main meal. Plus, there's a dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free option for those who need it.
Basically, popcorn chicken are bite-sized pieces unlike traditional chicken or chicken tenders. If you've had KFC popcorn chicken, then you know just how delicious these little breaded tender chunks of chicken breast are which come breaded and deep-fried to golden perfection!
The best part is that this chicken recipe comes together in under 50 minutes total and you'll only need a baking sheet with a wire rack, parchment paper, a skillet, and of course the handful of ingredients.
OK, so this is one of the hot debates as it relates to which one creates the crispier chicken or chicken bites. While cornstarch does add extra layer of crispiness for your chicken, using flour still works too!
But to best honest, the best kept secret is the combination of both cornstarch and flour (equal parts, so that's ¼ cup EACH for this recipe), which creates the crispiest results. Of course, if you're looking to make this fried chicken recipe gluten-free, then substitute the cornstarch or flour with arrowroot starch or a great all-purpose flour.
Making these crispy little bite-sized chicken is a simple matter of seasoning your chicken and breading them in a seasoned cornflake-breadcrumbs crust before baking them for crispness. Finish everything off with a buttery, spicy buffalo sauce and serve them up with your favorite side or by themselves with your favorite condiment. Wallah!
Here's what you need to prepare these crispy little buffalo popcorn chicken bites today:
To make sure your popcorn chicken get as crispy as possible, follow these simple tips that are tried + true:
In general, buffalo sauce is made of mixture of hot sauce, butter, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Making your own homemade buffalo sauce is simple and here's what you need:
To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly.
Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container.
When it comes to making these crispy buffalo popcorn chicken, the process is fairly simple and easy! You'll need to:
Part 1: Make the batter. This is done by combining the milk and eggs in a bowl and whisking them together until combined and smooth.
Part 2: Make the coating. Simply combine the breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes together in a bowl along with the seasonings (salt, black pepper, smoked paprika. parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and thyme).
Part 3: Make the buffalo sauce. This is an easy recipe for a tangy, spicy buffalo sauce and can be adjusted to be more spicy or less. Just a quick simmer of the melted butter, buffalo sauce, and honey and wallah!
Part 4: Add the baked crispy popcorn chicken to sauce. Toss your baked and crispy chicken bites into the sauce over the stovetop and you're all set! Enjoy!
You'll follow all of the steps to coating the bite-sized popcorn chicken and place them in your air fryer for 20 minutes or so at 390 degrees and flipping them halfway through to ensure that they crisp perfectly on both sides. NOTE: Be sure to spray the basket of your air fryer to ensure that chicken don't stick at all.
Once done, you can either create the sauce and toss the popcorn chicken in the sauce OR create the sauce and brush them on the popcorn chicken while they're still in the basket of the air fryer and cook again for another 1-2 minutes so that the sauce "bakes on".
These buffalo popcorn chicken are full of flavor all on their own, but who doesn’t love to dunk and dip----right? So, feel free to serve your wings with any (or all) of these tasty condiments:
Or turn these popcorn chicken bites into a savory and saucy salad topper! You can also incorporate them unto pasta, on tacos, top homemade pizza or make a grain bowl with chicken and beans or roasted veggies.
Of course, as I’ve stated before, these popcorn chicken bites can be incorporated in the following foods as well:
If you want to plan ahead, you can assemble the buffalo sauce and crushed cornflake-breadcrumb mixture up to two days ahead of time. Keep the buffalo sauce in an airtight container in the fridge and the cornflake-breadcrumbs in an airtight container at room temperature. Then bread and bake the chicken bites just before serving.
NOTE: You'll need to bring the buffalo sauce to room temperature and heat over the stovetop and add a bit more butter to create that "velvety-ness" if needed.
Basically, popcorn chicken is bite-sized and made with whole pieces of chicken breast meat that has been cut into chunks or cubes, while chicken nuggets use ground chicken.
Nope. It’s easy to substitute the honey. For instance, try pure maple syrup or brown sugar. Although brown sugar caramelizes nicely, adding maple syrup will help with the right amount of sweetness and velvety-ness when paired with the butter/sauce.
Yes---that's an option! To ensure that these popcorn chicken are GF-friendly, ensure that you use GF breadcrumbs, flour, as well as GF-friendly starch like arrowroot. To make this recipe dairy-free, be sure to use plant-based milk for the "wet batter". Also, sub butter with vegan butter for cooking sauce and ensure that the buffalo sauce is vegan-friendly.
Any leftovers can be kept in a tightly sealed container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or microwave when ready to serve.
The most effective way to get the buffalo sauce to stick to your chicken bites is by baking the sauce on. Once your popcorn chicken is fully baked + crispy, simply make the sauce in the skillet, toss them in the sauce, and add them back to the baking sheet with the wire rack and broil them for 5 minutes or so, until the sauce sticks.
Traditionally, most buffalo wings or chicken recipes are tossed in the sauce after they are baked and crispy. This helps them to soak up the sauce nicely without becoming soggy.
Honestly, the butter gives a nice richness and smoothness to the buffalo sauce that you notice without it. It also cuts down the heat and adds additional flavor!
You can totally bake your popcorn chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, however, I find that cooking them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit will result in a crispy skin in a shorter time. I personally find the results better with the latter.
If you're looking to reheat your popcorn chicken bites in an air fryer, it's by far the easiest to do.
Here's the steps:
Preheat your air fryer to 360 or 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lightly spray the basket of your air fryer and add the popcorn chicken to the basket in a single layer. No overcrowding!
Cook for about 5 minutes and then flip chicken bites to their opposite sides and cook for another 5 minutes.
Believe it or not, this has happened to me plenty of times. Moisture is the worst enemy in "frying" or baking chicken. This is why dusting your chicken with flour as I've mentioned before should be enough to create a moisture barrier around the chicken bites; otherwise, the moisture created during the cooking process is going to create steam that will cause your breading to flake off.
Of course! I have a great Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites recipe that works as a great substitute!
If you tried this Crispy Buffalo Popcorn Chicken recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.