5 from 2 votes

Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

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Craving a crunchy, juicy game-changer? Look no further than learning how to make air fryer chicken bites, guaranteed to leave you wanting more.

With their crispy exterior and tender, juicy interior, these mouth-watering bites are the perfect treat for any occasion. Perfect for any time, any day. Trust us, one bite and you’ll be in heaven!

pile of popcorn chicken on a plate with ranch dressing.

Choosing the Right Chicken for Air Frying

Choosing the proper chicken is crucial when making delicious air fryer chicken bites. It is recommended to opt for chicken thighs or chicken breasts, as they cook quickly and evenly in the air fryer.

Before cooking, it’s important to cut the chicken into bite-sized chicken chunk pieces. Aim for uniformity in size to ensure consistent cooking times.

raw cut up chicken breasts in a mixing bowl uncooked.

Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes.
  • Brown sugar, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper
  • Flour, cornstarch
  • Egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs

It’s important to note that every air fryer can operate slightly different. We use a 6 quart Ninja Foodi All In One in this recipe. Please check your machines manual if it operates differently.

How to make (homemade) Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

Whether hosting a game night, a family dinner, or simply enjoying a night in, these delicious chicken bites will surely be a hit.

Serve them as an appetizer, a snack, as part of a chicken and waffles recipe, or a simple dinner and watch as they disappear in no time.

dipping chicken nugget into sauce.

Marinate the chicken.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 lb. of 1″ chicken breast cubes with 1/2 teaspoon each of brown sugar, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika, 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and cayenne pepper, one tablespoon of flour, one tablespoon of cornstarch, and one egg.

Mix well to ensure the chicken pieces are evenly coated.

Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate, allowing the flavors to infuse into the chicken.

chicken bites in a silver mixing bowl marinating.

Coat the popcorn chicken.

  • Spread 4 cups of panko bread crumbs into a large dish.
  • Add the marinated chicken cubes to the panko, cover, and shake well to ensure each piece is thoroughly coated with the bread crumbs.
put marinated chicken in panko crumbs tupperware.

Preheat and cook:

How long to air fry popcorn chicken?

  • Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
  • Arrange the coated chicken cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket, ensuring they do not touch. You might need to cook in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.
  • Lightly spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Cook for 10–13 minutes or until the pieces of chicken are golden brown and crispy to your liking.
adding coated and crumbed chicken bites to air crisp basket.
cooked chicken bites in air fryer.

Serve and enjoy.

  • Serve your crispy, air-fried chicken popcorn hot with ranch dip.
  • Perfect for a snack, appetizer, or tasty addition to any meal!
popcorn chicken recipe.

Benefits of Cooking with an Air Fryer

Air fryers have gained immense popularity in recent years, and for good reason. These innovative kitchen appliances offer a range of benefits that make them a must-have for any food lover.

First and foremost, air fryers allow you to enjoy fried food without the excessive use of oil.

Traditional deep-frying methods, like we use with this honey butter fried chicken recipe, require a significant amount of oil to achieve that crispy texture, but with an air fryer, you can reach the same result using just a fraction of the oil.

Delicious Dipping Sauces and Accompaniments

While these air fryer chicken bites are delicious on their own, they truly shine when paired with a variety of your favorite dipping sauces.

Whether you prefer something tangy, spicy, or creamy, there’s a dipping sauce for you!

bowl of ranch dip
We like our chicken with this homemade ranch dip recipe.

Recipe Variations and Flavor Combinations

While the classic air fryer chicken bites are undeniably delicious, don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and your favorite seasoning mix to create your own unique chicken recipe.

  • Sweet and Spicy: Toss the chicken bites in honey, soy sauce, and chili flakes before air frying.
  • Garlic Parmesan: Season the chicken bites with garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, and dried Italian seasoning before coating them in breadcrumbs.
  • Asian-inspired: Marinate the chicken bites in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil before air frying. Other Asian inspired flavors you can use are the seasoning set up from salt and pepper chicken or crispy sesame chicken. Serve with a sweet chili sauce or a soy dipping sauce.
bitten into homemade chicken recipe.

With their crispy exterior, tender interior, and endless seasoning and dip combinations, mouth-watering air fryer popcorn chicken bites are sure to become a staple in your week.

5 from 2 votes

Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken with Panko Crumbs


Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Enjoy guilt-free, perfectly cooked air fryer popcorn chicken every time. Simple ingredients, stellar results

Equipment

  • air fryer In this recipe, we use a Ninja Foodi All In One 6 quart

Ingredients
 

Marinade

  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  • Marinate the Chicken: In a mixing bowl, combine 1 lb. of 1" chicken breast cubes with 1/2 teaspoon each of brown sugar, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika, 1/4 teaspoon each of cumin and cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 1 egg.
    Mix well to ensure the chicken cubes are evenly coated.
  • Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to marinate, allowing the flavors to infuse into the chicken.
  • Coat the Chicken: Spread 4 cups of panko bread crumbs into a large Tupperware dish.
    Add the marinated chicken cubes to the panko, cover, and shake well to ensure each piece is thoroughly coated with the bread crumbs.
  • Preheat and Cook: Preheat your air fryer at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Arrange the coated chicken cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket, ensuring they do not touch. You might need to cook in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
    Lightly spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray. Cook for 10-13 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown (remember chicken doneness is 165 degrees F) and crispy to your liking.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Serve your crispy air-fried chicken cubes hot with ranch dressing or your favorite dipping sauce. Perfect for a snack, appetizer, or a tasty addition to any meal!

Notes

See full article for other seasoning and marinating ideas.
The number of chicken bites you’ll get from 1 lb of chicken cut into 1-inch chunks can vary based on the exact size of each piece and the chicken breast’s initial size. However, as a general estimate:
  • If each 1-inch chunk is roughly cubic and considering chicken’s density, you might expect to get around 16 to 24 chicken bites per pound. This estimate accounts for some variation in chunk size and the irregular shape of chicken breasts.
Keep in mind this is a rough estimate, and the actual number might be slightly more or less depending on how you cut the chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 20pieces | Calories: 1370kcal

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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5 from 2 votes

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