This easy air fryer popcorn chicken is a favourite with kids, ready in just 10 minutes and much lighter than fast food versions. Crispy on the outside and deliciously tender inside, this popcorn chicken in air fryer is quicker than cooking it in the oven. Dunk it into your favourite dip and enjoy as a main meal or a side.
Just a few ingredients is all you need to make these delicious bites of popcorn chicken. If you haven't tried breaded chicken in the air fryer before, this is going to totally change the way you cook. Bite sized pieces of crispy chicken that kind of looks like kernels of popcorn. They go down really well at a party too.
Why you will love it
- Quick and easy - This air fryer popcorn chicken cooks in just 5 minutes, which is quicker than doing them in the oven and there is no preheating needed.
- Healthier - Not only is the popcorn chicken itself healthier than frozen ones, but they are air fried to get crispy, which is healthier than frying them.
- Family favourite - Breaded chicken always go down well with kids and these ones are no different.
- Freezable - Make a big batch of these (cooking them in batches) and then you can freeze them for easy after school dinners.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken breast - You can use chicken breasts or boneless and skinless chicken thighs for this popcorn chicken. We used chicken breast to keep it leaner. Make sure to cut them into even pieces so they cook at the same rate.
- Flour - This is important as it goes on the chicken first and gives the egg something to cling to. We just used plain flour (all purpose).
- Egg - This gives the breadcrumbs something to stick to, otherwise they would just come right off.
- Breadcrumbs - This is the coating of the chicken and what makes it nice and crispy. We used golden breading, as it gives that amazing colour. But panko breadcrumbs get the crispiest. You could also make your own breadcrumbs. Panko is made from a crustless white bread that is processed into flakes and then dried. Because panko has a dryer and flakier consistency than regular breadcrumbs, they absorb less oil.
- Salt and pepper - To season.
- Garlic powder, Onion powder and Paprika - This is the flavour blend we have used. You could add some cayenne if you wanted some spice.
- Spray oil - Use olive oil that you have added to a spray bottle yourself.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make air fryer popcorn chicken - Step by step
One: Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces (about the size of a dice).
Two: Combine the flour, salt and pepper on one plate (a). Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, onion and paprika on another plate (b).
Three: Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip into the whisked egg, then coat in the breadcrumb mix.
Four: Repeat until all the chicken pieces are breaded.
Five: Put into the air fryer basket in a single layer and spray with a little olive oil.
Six: Cook at 200°C for 5 minutes, shaking halfway through cooking. You may have to cook in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.
Only use olive oil that you can put into a spray bottle yourself. Don't use spray oils in an air fryer, as it strips the coating off the basket.
This is a pretty simple recipe, so there aren't too many ways that you can adapt it. However, you could add a few little extras into the breading to change it up a bit. To make it crispier, and also make it feel a little more indulgent, you could mix some grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs, but you can leave it out too.
If you like spicy food, then you could mix a little bit of chilli powder into the flour with the paprika. You could also add some red chilli flakes to the breadcrumbs.
You could also follow our recipe for Chicken Goujons and then cook those in the air fryer.
What to serve with air fryer popcorn chicken
We served this air fryer popcorn chicken with some Healthy Ranch Dressing. But if you are making it more of a meal, try our incredible Paprika Chips and some ranch slaw. However there are lots of options when it comes to side dishes.
If you are looking for some more sauces to dip these air fryer chicken popcorn bites into, then why not try our Healthy BBQ Sauce, Southwest Sauce, 2 Minute Nacho Cheese Sauce, Easy Garlic Sauce or Homemade Tomato Ketchup?
Store: You can store leftovers, however they will loose their crispiness when stored in the fridge. They will get a little bit crispy again when reheated, but nowhere near as freshly cooked. Leftover popcorn chicken should be cooled quickly and then put in an airtight container in the fridge and they can be stored for up to 3 days.
Freeze: For best results we recommend freezing the popcorn chicken uncooked. Place them in a freezer container, with a layer of baking paper between each and then freezer. They will keep for 3 months. To freeze once cooked, let them cool completely and then flash freeze them on a baking tray. Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and it will keep for 3 months.
Defrost: Always cook from frozen.
Reheat: If you are reheating from the fridge, put in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes until heated through. If you are cooking from uncooked frozen, then put the uncooked popcorn chicken in the air fryer, spray with olive oil and cook for 8-9 minutes until cooked through. If you are reheating frozen cooked air fryer popcorn chicken, then spray with oil and reheat for about 6 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
We can't rate highly enough the Power Air Fryer XL. The 5 litre capacity is big enough for cooking for the whole family and it can fry, grill, bake, sauté, roast and steam. There are simple touch screen controls and it heats up quickly and can cook your food up to 70% faster than a conventional oven. Also, it's dishwasher safe.
Every air fryer cooks differently, so yours might need a couple of minutes longer. Make sure you don't over cook it though, otherwise it will be dry.
This dish cooks in the air fryer for around 5 minutes, but the exact cooking time will depend on your air fryer. The best way to ensure that it is cooked through is to use a meat thermometer. Chicken is cooked when it has an internal temperature of 75°C/167°F at the thickest part of the meat.
It depends on the size of your air fryer. You need to make sure these are cooked in a single layer, so they get nice and crispy. If you wanted to make more you would need to cook them in batches.
If you want to cook a bag of store bought frozen popcorn chicken in the air fryer, then you can. It will take about 8 minutes.
Yes, you can make these up and keep them in a single layer in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
• When breading the popcorn chicken, use one hand for putting the chicken in the flour and then putting it in and out of the egg mixture and then another hand for tossing it in breadcrumbs. This is to make sure the breadcrumb hand doesn't get covered in egg and clumps of breadcrumbs. You can also use tongs to prevent messy fingers.
• If you are cooking air fryer popcorn chicken from frozen, don't thaw the chicken first, just cook from frozen.
• Every air fryer varies, so the first time you make this in your air fryer, check the popcorn chicken after 4 minutes and adjust the cooking time as needed.
• Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket. They need to be in one layer, without touching. This is so the air can circulate and they can get nice and crispy.
• Shake the basket half way through.
• Make sure the chicken is cut to the same size pieces, so that it cooked evenly.
• You could add Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs for extra crispiness and cheesy flavour.
• You can cook these in the oven instead. They will take about 12 minutes and will need flipping half way through.
More chicken recipes
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
- 350 g Chicken breast
- 2 tablespoon Plain flour
- 1 Eggs - whisked
- 50 g Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 0.5 teaspoon Paprika
- Spray oil
- Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces (about the size of a dice).350 g Chicken breast
- Combine the flour, salt and pepper on one plate.2 tablespoon Plain flour, 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic, onion and paprika on another plate.50 g Panko breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon Garlic powder, 1 teaspoon Onion powder, 0.5 teaspoon Paprika
- Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip into the whisked egg, then coat in the breadcrumb mix.1 Eggs
- Repeat until all the chicken pieces are breaded.
- Put into the air fryer basket in a single layer and spray with a little olive oil.Spray oil
- Cook at 200°C for 5 minutes, shaking halfway through cooking. You may have to cook in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.
- When breading the popcorn chicken, use one hand for putting the chicken in the flour and then putting it in and out of the egg mixture and then another hand for tossing it in breadcrumbs. This is to make sure the breadcrumb hand doesn't get covered in egg and clumps of breadcrumbs. You can also use tongs to prevent messy fingers.
- If you are cooking air fryer popcorn chicken from frozen, don't thaw the chicken first, just cook from frozen.
- Every air fryer varies, so the first time you make this in your air fryer, check the popcorn chicken after 4 minutes and adjust the cooking time as needed.
- Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket. They need to be in one layer, without touching. This is so the air can circulate and they can get nice and crispy.
- Shake the basket half way through.
- Make sure the chicken is cut to the same size pieces, so that it cooked evenly.
- You could add Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs for extra crispiness and cheesy flavour.
- You can cook these in the oven instead. They will take about 12 minutes and will need flipping half way through.