Need an easy, kid-friendly, whole family pleasing dinner recipe? This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is it!
Finding a recipe that the whole family can agree is a winner can be a challenge, am I right?
Between me, my husband, and my two teenagers, our tastes can be all over the place. There are some recipes that some of us love and others tolerate/like, recipes that some of us like but others do not at all, and there are a few rare unicorn recipes that we all love and agree to make over and over again.
This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is one of those rare unicorn recipes.
What is an Air Fryer?
Before we dive into the recipe, let's talk about the almighty Air Fryer for a moment.
Do you have one? Have you considered getting one? I have the GoWISE USA 5.8 Quart Programmable 8-in-1 Air Fryer XL in Red. It's a beast and definitely takes up a lot of space on the countertop (I made room to store mine below) but it's worth it in order to make larger batches of food at a time.
In essence, an air fryer is a large egg-like appliance that sits on your countertop (away from other heat sources and plastics!). You use it for cooking food you would normally cook in a traditional deep fryer or convection oven. However, instead of frying food in large quantities of oil as you would in a deep fryer, the air fryer essentially acts as a countertop convection oven and circulates hot air quickly around all sides of the food. This helps make food crispy like a deep fryer would - but with much less oil.
In theory, the air fryer helps you create healthier versions of the deep fried foods you love. It still uses oil, and you still control the breading, but it's definitely healthier than deep frying!
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
I've used our air fryer for a few different recipes now. It's great for fries, but terrible for lumpia; some recipes are better using traditional cooking methods.
This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is the best one so far and I'm excited to share it with all of you!
Make Once, Eat Twice; or Feed a Crowd!
I was skeptical of using the air fryer for chicken at first, but it's fantastic. The chicken is cut up into small cubes, marinated for at least a couple of hours, then breaded, dunked in the marinade again, and breaded a second time.
NOTE: you can totally skip the second marinade dunk and breading step if you want to use less breading. Just know that your chicken will not look as crispy as the one I made here. Because more breading = crispier crunchier chicken.
You can actually halve the ingredients if you just want to make enough for 4-6 people for dinner.
This recipe makes enough to serve 4-6 people for one dinner, and then enough to freeze for the future. I love the Make Once, Eat Twice way of cooking with my family since my kids can take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven or microwave to warm up for after-school snacks.
It's also a great recipe to make if you are feeding a large crowd. It's an awesome Game Day Recipe - just serve with options of dipping sauces like BBQ sauce, ranch, and honey mustard.
Serving Ideas for Popcorn Chicken
- Serve it on top of a green salad, with honey mustard or ranch dressing.
- Use it as sandwich/sub filling to create a crispy chicken sandwich or sub, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
- Serve it kabob-style with alternating pieces of chicken, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf to create Caprese Chicken Kabobs
- Three words (and an ampersand): Chicken & Waffles, baby!
More Easy Dinner Recipes
- Instant Pot Filipino Chicken Adobo
- Healthy 30-Minute Instant Pot Moroccan Chicken
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta (Dairy-Free)
- Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken Recipe
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
- In a large ziplock bag, add the chicken and all of the marinade ingredients. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.
- In a large shallow bowl, add all of the dry ingredients.
- After marinating, place chicken and marinade into a large bowl. Working in small batches, dredge chicken chunks into dry ingredients, shake off excess flour, dunk again briefly into the marinade, then dredge for a second time in the dry ingredients, fully coating each piece of chicken. Be sure to gently shake off excess flour mixture.
- Spray olive oil onto the bottom and sides of the inside of the air fryer vessel. Place breaded chicken in an even layer; set aside the rest of the chicken. Give the tops of the chicken in the air fryer vessel a quick spray with olive oil, then place into the air fryer.
- Air fry at 370°F for 10 minutes. Halfway through this cooking time (at 5 minutes), open the air fryer and shake the basket. If using a tray-style air fryer, use tongs to turn chicken pieces over. Spray tops of chicken with cooking spray, then resume air frying for the remaining 5 minutes. NOTE: depending on the size and amount of chicken, you may need to allow yours to cook in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes more.
- Remove from the air fryer, and repeat steps until you're finished with all of the chicken (usually 3 to 4 batches for me; it may be more or less for you, depending on your air fryer and also how you cut your chicken pieces).
- Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauces. Place any extra chicken into freezer-safe plastic bags and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Chop the chicken into similar sized-pieces so that they cook up evenly.
- Do not crowd the air fryer basket or tray. Trying to cook too many pieces at once will increase air frying time.
- It is very important to make sure you shake off excess flour before cooking in the air fryer, and that you add an even layer of spray oil to the tops of the chicken.
- If your flour isn't crisping up at the end of 10 minutes, this usually means:
- you have too much flour left sticking to your chicken,
- you've crowded too many pieces into the space and they're not able to cook properly, and/or...
- you need to add a little more oil spray to the tops.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.
If you like this air fryer chicken recipe, you'll also love my CRISPY AIR FRYER CHICKEN WINGS recipe!
Do YOU have an air fryer? What do you love to make in your air fryer?
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This post was first published on October 1, 2018. It was updated February 2, 2020 with new content.