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popcorn chicken on plate

Popcorn Chicken Air Fryer

Course Main
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer, popcorn chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) buttermilk (see notes below for dairy-free option)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 pound (453 grams) boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups (156 grams) all-purpose flour or for gluten-free, use 1 1/4 cups (173 grams) Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-free Baking Flour or 1 1/4 cups (160 grams) Otto's Cassava Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • olive oil in a mister


To make homemade:

  1. In a bowl large enough for the milk and chicken, stir together the buttermilk, salt, pepper and garlic until combined.
  2. Add the chicken and let sit for 30 minutes. It can also be refrigerated up to 8 hours.
  3. Stir in a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (flour through pepper).
  4. Use a fork to pick up a piece of chicken, letting it drip off excess marinade, and put it in the flour mixture.
  5. Dip that piece of chicken again in the marinade (with the other pieces of chicken still in there). I have the fork with chicken in one hand and a spoon in the other hand, with the chicken sitting on top of the spoon, to help the chicken not get lost in the marinade.
  6. Drip off excess marinade and coat it again in the flour mixture.
  7. Place in the prepared air fryer basket. The pieces should not be touching.
  8. Once the basket is full, spray the chicken with olive oil.
  9. Cook at 375 F (190C) for 7 minutes. Flip each piece over, spray with oil, and cook for another 7 minutes or until cooked through.
  10. Cool leftovers and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

To make frozen:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 370 °F (190 °C) and place the popcorn chicken evenly in the basket of the air fryer.

  2. Cook for 4 minutes, shake, and cook for another 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

Recipe Notes

  • To make dairy-free buttermilk, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, regular vinegar or apple cider to a 2-cup measuring cup. Fill it with milk of your choice including dairy-free, alternative milk, if you prefer. I don’t recommend coconut milk because it is much thicker and has a stronger taste. But almond milk or cashew milk would work fine. Let it sit for 5 minutes. That’s it, you have buttermilk! It may or may not curdle, but don’t sweat it, it sill still work for this recipe.
  • To make paleo popcorn chicken, use cassava flour and the above dairy-free buttermilk.