A simple Chicken Popcorn recipe made of bite-size chicken breasts tenderized in homemade buttermilk then deep-fried until crispy and juicy.
It doesn’t pop and it does it have any corn in the ingredients either. But I think it is the cutest name for fried bite-size fried chicken, next to chicken nuggets I supposed. Call it whatever you like but this can easily become a family favorite—snack for little kids and munchies big kid’s game night.
Tender and juicy Chicken Popcorn: how to make it
Using simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, making Chicken popcorn is super easy. And because they’re bite-size, cooking time is quick too!
- Buttermilk – a not so secret ingredient that not only tenderizes the meat but makes them juicy too. Marinate the chicken pieces for a minimum of 2 hours and no longer than 6 hours. Overnight marination will make the meat too mushy.
- Coating – place all the coating ingredients in a zip bag. Seal then shake until well combined.
- Dump and shake – Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dump a few pieces of chicken in the flour mixture. Seal then shake until all pieces are evenly coated. Do this in batches if you have a small zip bag.
- Fry in batches – Do not overcrowd the pan and make sure the oil is hot enough but not too hot before adding the chicken. Drop one piece to test, if it sizzles then it’s ready. Hot tip 1: For easy frying, use a colander mesh to drop the chicken pieces all at once.
- Cook until golden brown.
- 8 minutes later, it’s done! Remove from the oil using a colander mesh then tap off excess oil. Let it cool before serving with your favorite dipping sauce.
What you need
Make your own buttermilk at home by combining milk and acid which could be vinegar, lemon or calamansi juice. Let it sit until it curdles. Of course, if you have access to the ready-made stuff, use it by all means.
The flour coating is made of all-purpose flour and rice flour. This combination makes a light batter and gives the chicken a nice crunch. Shh…This is a secret ingredient. Hot tip 2: Make it gluten-free by skipping the all-purpose flour entirely.
My four kitchen staples when making dry batter are salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. It’s what I have and it’s what I used. Other spices can be used too: dried parsley, cayenne pepper for spicy version and ground ginger just for a different variation.
Serve with your favorite sauce: BBQ, sweet and sour and my personal favorite sweet and spicy chili sauce!
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Watch the video on how to make Buttermilk Chicken Popcorn
Buttermilk Chicken Popcorn
- 600 grams /1.3 lbs skinless chicken breasts (around 4 pcs) sliced in bite-size chunks
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons rice flour i used glutinous rice flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
- oil for frying I used canola
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice
- To make the buttermilk, combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it curdles. Pour over chicken pieces, stir. Cover with a plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 6 hours.
- Combine flour, spices, and salt in a zip bag. Shake until well combined. Fill the skillet with about 2 inches of cooking oil, start heating it over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, take a few of the chicken pieces and place in the zip bag. Shake until all sides of the meat are well-coated. Add a piece of the coated chicken in the heated oil to test the temperature, if it sizzles immediately then it's ready.
- Using a colander mesh scoop, drop the chicken pieces in the hot oil and fry in batches until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pan. I cooked mine in 3 batches.
- Transfer to a serving plate and season with salt if needed. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!
- Buttermilk: Calamansi juice can also be used as a substitute for vinegar and lemon juice.
- Fry in batches: Do not overcrowd the pan and make sure the oil is hot enough but not too hot before adding the chicken. Drop one piece to test, if it sizzles then it's ready.
- For easy frying, use a colander mesh.
- Flour coating: substitute with regular rice flour, cornstarch or potato starch.
- Other spices alternatives: dried parsley, cayenne pepper for spicy version and ground ginger.
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