Go Back
+ servings
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:

  • In a bowl large enough for the milk and chicken, stir together the buttermilk, salt, pepper and garlic until combined.
  • Add the chicken and let sit for 30 minutes. It can also be refrigerated up to 8 hours.
  • Stir in a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients (flour through pepper).
  • Use a fork to pick up a piece of chicken, letting it drip off excess marinade, and put it in the flour mixture.
  • 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.
  • Drip off excess marinade and coat it again in the flour mixture.
  • Place in the prepared air fryer basket. The pieces should not be touching.
  • Once the basket is full, spray the chicken with olive oil.
  • 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.
  • Cool leftovers and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

To make frozen:

  • Preheat the air fryer to 370 °F (190 °C) and place the popcorn chicken evenly in the basket of the air fryer.
  • Cook for 4 minutes, shake, and cook for another 4 minutes or until lightly browned.


  • 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.