Popcorn chicken is a fun and tasty “pop-able” savory snack for folks of all ages! My recipe is packed with lots of garlicky flavor, crispy coating, and it comes with a creamy and delicious dipping sauce!
No Frying Pan Required for this Popcorn Chicken!
I just love nibbling on little finger foods that pack a lot of flavor into each bite, and when they're healthy, it’s even better!
That's what makes my scrumptious popcorn chicken recipe such a perfect snack food or appetizer for both kids and adults to enjoy, because the one-bite pieces of marinated chicken are baked until golden and crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside—no frying pan required!
Whipped up without a lot of muss or fuss, this crispy popcorn chicken is a delicious, protein-packed snack that's perfect to plunge into a light, creamy sauce.
How to Make Popcorn Chicken in the Oven
The great thing about going the baked route with this popcorn chicken recipe is that besides saving a few calories, it keeps the process super simple and clean. There’s no need to heat up any oil and fry in batches—that means less mess!
For my recipe, I choose ingredients that will add lots of savory flavor to each little morsel and help to create that crunchy outer coating, a definite must when it comes to popcorn chicken. I even include a creamy parmesan-ranch dipping sauce to serve on the side to make things extra finger-licking good!
Here's a little peak at how I prep my popcorn chicken recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe)
- Because I want each bite of popcorn chicken to be loaded with lots of savory seasoning, I like to first briefly marinate my chicken pieces in garlic, salt and pepper, which give this recipe an irresistible amount of flavor.
- Once marinated, the chicken gets a dip in flour and then a shake in a coating that's a combo of cornflakes and grated parmesan cheese, kissed with paprika. It's the perfect coating for this baked version of popcorn chicken, providing lots of texture and crispy bits!
- I place the coated pieces onto a baking tray and baked for about 20 minutes before finishing under the broiler for a couple of minutes (for extra crunch).
- While the chicken bakes, I whip up my quick, creamy parmesan-ranch dipping sauce, and then serve it on the side to plunge the popcorn chicken into while hot!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 353 calories (with 2 tablespoons of dipping sauce)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes
Total time: 37 minutes
Popcorn Chicken Ingredients:
• 1 pound chicken tenderloins (or skinless and boneless chicken breasts), cut into tiny bite-size pieces
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided use
• 1/4 teaspoon, plus a pinch, black pepper, divided use
• 1/2 cup flour
• 2 1/2 cups corn flakes
• 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 1/4 cup buttermilk
• Cooking oil spray
Parmesan-Ranch Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 cup sour cream
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 clove garlic
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon, plus a pinch, salt
• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped chives
- Preheat your oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
- Add the diced chicken pieces into a medium-size bowl, and add to it the garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and pinch of black pepper; toss together to combine, and marinate the chicken while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Add your flour to a large ziplock bag, and set aside.
- Add the cornflakes, parmesan, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and granulated garlic to the bowl of a food processor, and process just until a fine crumble (not too fine and powdery, but not too chunky); add that mixture to another large ziplock bag, and set aside for a moment.
- Add your chicken pieces to the bag with the flour, and shake to coat the pieces well.
- Place the flour-coated pieces into a medium-size bowl, and drizzle the buttermilk over them; using your fingers, mix the buttermilk gently into the chicken, just to coat it.
- Add the buttermilk-coated chicken pieces to the ziplock bag with the corn flake mixture, and shake to coat the pieces well.
- Place each piece of coated chicken onto the foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer, give them a light misting of the cooking oil spray, and bake for 20 minutes; then, turn on your broiler, and allow the popcorn chicken to become extra crunchy by broiling for 2 minutes more.
- While the popcorn chicken bakes, prepare the parmesan-ranch dipping sauce (optional): add all sauce ingredients to the bowl of your food processor, and process until completely smooth and blended; keep covered in fridge until ready to serve.
- Serve the hot popcorn chicken with the parmesan-ranch dipping sauce (or your preferred sauce) on the side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Popcorn Chicken:
- Chicken breast tenderloins for convenience: I really like to use the smaller chicken breast tenderloins for this recipe, as they are easy to cut into small, one-bite pieces and yield a nice, juicy texture when baked. You can also sub skinless, boneless chicken breasts, or even skinless, boneless thighs, if you prefer.
- Marinate for extra flavor: Marinating in the fresh garlic, salt and pepper gives this popcorn chicken a really savory flavor. All you need is a few minutes, just while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
- Cornflakes, the perfect coating for extra crunch: To make the coating, I quickly process together the cornflakes with rest of the coating ingredients just to break them up into a slightly finer texture. Crushed/processed cornflakes are an ideal coating ingredient when it comes to just about any baked “fried” chicken recipes!
- Homemade dipping sauce, or store-bought: My little dipping sauce is quick to whip up, and has a really tasty savory “tang” to it from a hint of garlic, parmesan, and lemon. It's so good with this popcorn chicken! But feel free to use store-bought ranch, or your favorite dipping sauce if you prefer.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014, and has been updated with even more love!