Baked popcorn chicken is extra simple to prepare and healthier than deep-fried alternatives. Marinating chicken in a spiced buttermilk mixture is the secret to ultra tender, flavorful popcorn chicken. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t worry, there’s a substitute in the recipe below! Jump to the Easy Baked Popcorn Chicken Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
The first time we made popcorn chicken, it absolutely lived up to its name. We pretty much inhaled the crispy on the outside, tender on the inside bites of chicken. Let me show you how to make them.
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Making popcorn chicken
In our photos, we’ve used chicken breast, but chicken thighs are an excellent alternative. In fact, chicken thighs will produce a slightly more tender, juicy result.
As I mentioned above, it’s the marinating that really makes the flavor of the chicken pop. Here’s what we use:
- Buttermilk is tangy and acidic, which helps to tenderize the chicken. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by mixing milk (dairy or non-dairy) with lemon juice or vinegar (the exact measurements are in the recipe below).
- Salt and pepper is crucial, don’t skimp on the seasoning here.
- Dried thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder add extra flavor.
We marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. You can marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight, but not much longer since it will start to change the texture of the chicken.
For the breading, you have a few options:
- Corn flakes add a light and crispy exterior, just crush them by hand.
- Potato chips are amazing when used as breading for chicken — here’s our easy chicken nuggets recipe that proves that to be true. Potato chips are an excellent option for gluten-free popcorn chicken (just check the packaging first).
- Breadcrumbs are perfect for popcorn chicken. I like panko breadcrumbs, but regular breadcrumbs work, too.
The chicken bakes for about 20 minutes. You can either bake them on a baking sheet or if you have one, try setting an oven-safe cooling rack into the baking sheet. This will lift the chicken up off of the baking sheet and allow more air to circulate around the chicken. We use this method when baking bacon.
For serving, try making your own dipping sauce! We especially love this homemade honey mustard and this homemade ketchup. We also love homemade mayonnaise and this homemade tartar sauce.
More easy chicken recipes
- Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings
- Your New Favorite Chicken Salad
- Ridiculously Easy Homemade Chicken Nuggets
- Spiced and Fried Chicken