Crispy homemade air fryer popcorn chicken with TONS of flavor. Make in your Ninja Foodi or other hot air machine. Best homemade crispy chicken pieces and an easy finger food everyone loves.
You’ve got to try this homemade air fryer popcorn chicken nuggets recipe. Make spicy or mild and serve with your favorite dipping sauces. Easy air fryer recipe that will make you a hero with your kids. (affiliate links present, originally published 2/21)
Healthy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
This is just one of our many air fryer chicken recipes, but this is probably my kids’ favorite one. An easy homemade chicken nuggets recipe you can make plain with salt and pepper or lots of seasonings if you’d rather. But these are even smaller which means you can get them way crispier! Everyone will love these, from adults and kids.
Yes of course you can make frozen popcorn shrimp and things in your basket too but those are full of preservatives. If you have the time I suggest you use breading with diced breasts or thighs and make these yourself. Your kids will like them better I promise.
FIRST – You should sign up for my free newsletter so you get new posts emailed to you twice a week and never miss out on anything! If you love air fryer recipes too, here are some resources to start with:
- My Favorite Air Fryer is a Cosori or for a dual machine, the Foodi.
- You can find more easy air fryer recipes here, we have Ninja Foodi recipes as well; bookmark them both!
Homemade Popcorn Chicken Recipe
I used my Cosori air fryer for this one but any brand will do. You could use chicken breasts or thighs if you’d rather. There is some heat to this breadcrumb mixture below but like I said you can alter to your liking.
We will show you how to make homemade popcorn chicken here. If you are using ready made frozen Tyson anytizers, you can heat those up too in just about 6 minutes.
Frozen takes 6-8 minutes flipping halfway through. Homemade will take closer to 10 minutes turning pieces over after 5. Remove and enjoy when they’re as golden brown as you want.
Breaded Air Fryer Chicken Bites
Cube it up like you see here as small or large as you wish. Just note that smaller will cook faster so you’ll need to adjust timing accordingly.
This doesn’t take much longer than about 10 minutes total as is. With a light breading you’ll reach a safe internal meat temperature in no time. You could make air fryer chicken no breading pieces too if you wanted.
The latter would be a more low carb keto friendly option. I would adjust the cook time to 6-8 minutes flipping halfway thru if you went for that version.
If you want even faster cook time, follow our chicken fries in air fryer recipe. Those are sliced super skinny so they cook at no time at all.
Popcorn Chicken Air Fryer Time
Now let’s get to the crunchy breading and seasoning those babies shall we. Just mix those seasonings and toss to coat. Then let that sit so it sort of becomes a sort of chicken marinade of sorts, like a dry rub.
Then you’ll want a few small bowls or plates with lips on the edges to use. Start dipping into flour, egg, breadcrumbs. Place pieces of chicken on parchment paper or baking sheet to sit until they’re all prepared.
If you set it all up like an assembly line it will make this super easy to do. I always suggest preheating your air fryer basket for 5 minutes at the desired temperature. I have done it both ways and this is the best way.
Another tip for all food you air fry is to make sure you put all your bite size pieces in a single layer. That will ensure each piece gets hot air circulating around every inch to get to crunchy perfection.
- A quick spray of olive oil cooking spray is a must in my book as well.
- Leads to an easier cleanup and the bottom won’t stick once it’s time to flip them over either.
Popcorn Chicken in Air Fryer
- Chicken breasts or thighs – cut the chicken into bite size pieces.
- Breadcrumbs – you could use Panko or traditional
- All purpose flour
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Chili flakes for a bit of heat – adjust to your liking
And you’ll need your machine too of course……
There’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post but here’s a quick step by step. Rinse, cut chicken into 1″ pieces and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle all seasonings on outsides, toss in seasoning mix. Let this sit for about 10 minutes to “marinate”.
- One at a time, dip chicken pieces into flour.
- Shake off excess, then dip into egg, then into the bread crumbs.
- Place coated pieces on a piece of parchment paper to rest while you’re coating remaining.
- Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.
Spray inside of air fryer basket with olive oil spray. Lay pieces inside in one layer. Spritz top of pieces with olive oil and cook the chicken for 10 minutes, flipping after 5. Total time will depend on the size of your bites.
Can you eat popcorn chicken the next day?
As long as you refrigerated it throughout the night you could reheat chicken in air fryer. Of course they won’t be as crunchy as they were fresh but air frying them again for 2 minutes or so will help.
They will be more dried out because you’re heating them twice but you also don’t want to waste what is left over. You could warm, dice up and throw it over a salad though! OR use in our chicken salad sandwich recipe.
If you’re serving these as is for a snack or dinnertime our favorite dips are bbq, Ranch or fry sauce. Want to try one more goodie? Try Ninja Foodi popcorn and have a pop pop pop kind of week.
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken
- Rinse, pat dry with paper towels and cut chicken into 1" pieces. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, chili flakes, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano on outsides, toss in seasoning mix. Let this sit for 10 minutes to "marinate".
- One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the flour. Shake off excess, then dip into the egg, and then into the bread crumbs. You can do this a 2nd time to make extra crispy if desired.
- Place coated pieces on a piece of parchment paper to rest while you're coating remaining.
- Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.
- Spray inside of air fryer basket with olive oil spray. Lay pieces inside without overlapping.
- Spray top of pieces with olive oil and cook for 5 minutes, flip pieces over, spray lightly again on top and cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.