Homemade Popcorn Chicken couldn’t be easier to make! The key is marinating in buttermilk for that crispy, flaky finish. But warning, these are incredibly moreish!! – Hungry now? Jump to Recipe
Ever wish you could get KFC style popcorn chicken in the comfort of your own home? Yeah, me too. It’s literally my guiltiest pleasure in life and i’m assuming that because you’ve made it here, it could well be yours too. So, here’s the plan. I show you how to make popcorn chicken in the the most mindblowingly delicious way and we can fall into a food coma and regret not going to the gym together. Sound good? Okay cool. Let’s go..
Buttermilk Chicken Marinade
The best popcorn chicken has to be crispy on the outside and soft and juicy in the centre. No brainer right? We’ll get onto the batter in a second but firstly, the absolute key to tender fried chicken is buttermilk. And not just buttermilk, but marinating in buttermilk.
Once you’ve marinated the chicken in buttermilk it becomes nice and soft, and when you then coat it in the batter it becomes flaky. The flakier the popcorn chicken, the crisper it is. Win win!
How long to marinate popcorn chicken?
If I know I’m making a batch of popcorn chicken I’ll marinate it overnight. Absolute minimum should be an hour. But because the chunks are quite small you want them to flake, not turn to mush. So just to be on the safe side I tend not to marinate for longer than 12ish hours (it’s not going to hurt if it’s longer, but you’ll see what I mean texture-wise).
Do I have to marinate the popcorn chicken in buttermilk?
Short answer – no. But you do have to at least coat it to allow the flour the stick.
Alrighty, nice tend chicken breast at the ready, let’s talk crispy batter.
Popcorn Chicken Batter
- Baking Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Salt & Pepper
I always add a tsp of baking powder in with my fried chicken just to give it that extra crisp. The baking powder reacts with the oil and produces tiny air bubbles, which results in a light and airy batter.
I played around with the seasoning (a lot) and finalised with the above combination. WHICH, in my humble opinion, creates the most delicious popcorn chicken imaginable.
How to make popcorn chicken
- Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks and marinate or coat in buttermilk.
- Combine your batter ingredients and coat each piece of chicken.
- Deep fry in batches until golden and hot through the centre.
Can you bake popcorn chicken?
You can, and I’ve tried it, but in all honesty it’s just not as crispy and moist in the centre. However if you are watching the calories and wanting to cook in the oven, then I suggest using a flour/egg/breadcrumb combo to try and get the maximum crispiness. Dredge in flour, then egg and finish in breadcrumbs.
Spicy popcorn chicken
Even if you don’t like spice, keep the cayenne pepper in, just reduce the quantity. Cayenne pepper, alongside the smoked paprika, not only injects some gorgeous colour into those popcorn chicken pieces, but it also adds heaps of flavour.
Just look at the golden crispy goodness!
*wipes drool from face*
The smell, the colour, the TASTE! I should have really eaten before typing this post because i’m now craving a bucket of popcorn chicken all over again.
I would say the only hard part is choosing what dip to have them with, but realistically the hardest part is not eating them all before they make it to the dip!
In case you were wondering, i’m a BBQ sauce kinda guy. But incase you’re not, here’s some other inspo…
Dips for Popcorn Chicken
And there we have it folks! Super easy and insanely delicious homemade popcorn chicken! KFC, you’re sacked! Just kidding please take me back..
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How To Make Homemade Popcorn Chicken (Full Recipe & Video)
'Homemade Popcorn Chicken couldn't be easier to make! The key is marinating in buttermilk for that crispy, flaky finish. But warning, these are incredibly moreish!!'
- 10.6oz / 300g Chicken Breast
- 2-3 cups / 500-750ml Oil suitable for frying (vegetable, canola, sunflower)
- 1 cup / 250ml Buttermilk (or enough to completely cover the chicken)
- 1 cup / 128g Plain Flour
- 1.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 tsp Onion Powder
- 3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
- Black Pepper, to taste
Slice your Chicken Breasts into even bite size chunks.
Combine in a bowl with your Buttermilk, 1 tsp of Salt and a good grinding of Black Pepper. Pop cling film over and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Preferably overnight.
In a bowl, combine your Flour, Baking Powder, 2nd tsp of Salt, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Oregano and Black Pepper.
Take your pieces of Chicken a coat them in the flour mixture. See notes for ways to do this.
Heat up 2-3 cups of oil, depending on depth of pan. Grab a tiny piece of leftover flour mixture and drop it in. If it sizzles, you're good to go.
In batches, add the chicken and fry for around 3-5mins until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain away excess fat. To test if they're cooked, just take one piece out and slice it through the centre. It should be white and piping hot.
Serve with your favourite dip!
Watch how to make it!
a) Spice - 1 tsp of Cayenne Pepper gives a nice gentle kick of spice. If you're not good with spice at all, consider lowering to 1/2 or 1/4 tsp. Just don't leave it out, it offers beautiful flavour!
b) Coating - personally I have no problem coating the chicken piece by piece, I think you can coat more efficiently that way. Even though there is enough flour to coat all the chicken, sometimes when you add it all at once the batter becomes a bit thick and wet. This will take away from the light and airy batter you want. However, to speed things up consider either placing the chicken (batch by batch) in a large zip lock bag and shaking, or place the flour mixture on a flat, curved surface (such as a tray) and mix it together that way. Either way, make sure you drain away the leftover buttermilk and don't mix the flour straight in!
c) Batches - it's important to fry the chicken in batches for two reasons. The first is so it's not overcrowded, which can increase the chances of your chicken sticking together. The second is that if there's a large amount of chicken plonked in the pan at once, it lowers the temperature of the oil. Because the chicken pieces are small, they don't take long to cook, meaning you don't want them sat in oil for longer than they have to be. If they soak up too much oil over a long period of time they won't be crispy. I find that two batches is usually fine, but no more than 3 for this recipe. You don't want the first batch to be cold.
If you loved this Homemade Popcorn Chicken then check out my Crispy Baked Jalapeno Poppers!