Baking/ Dinner/ Recipes/ Snack

Crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken with Panko!

04/05/2021

Grab 5 ingredients, and you’re ready to make this crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken. It only takes 12 minutes to cook, and you’ll be biting into crunchy panko chicken pieces in no time!

Crispy chicken bites, freshly out of the air fryer and ready to eat.

This post is sponsored by Ninja Australia.

Why We Love This

We love fried chicken – but definitely don’t enjoy the frying part. Using an air fryer to cook your chicken means no messy clean up and way less oil – which is healthier too!

This is a great way to use up a leftover chicken breast, just chop into bite-size pieces, coat in the panko crumbs and pop it in your air fryer!

Dipping an air-fried popcorn chicken into our gochujang mayo sauce.

What is Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken? 

Air fried popcorn chicken is just like regular popcorn chicken bites only easier! Tiny morsels of chicken pieces are coated in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs before frying to crispy perfection.

While some popcorn chicken is fried in all sorts of herbs and spices, our homemade version is plain with an optional sprinkle of salt and pepper. That way you can amp it up how you like, or serve it with a homemade dipping sauce like our gochujang mayonnaise or tonkatsu sauce.

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken – Boneless skinless chicken breasts work best here, or you use chicken thighs with the skin removed or tenderloins. You can also use other proteins such as tofu, fish or pork.
  • Egg – A large egg will help coat all the chicken pieces. Sub with milk or butter. In a real pinch, you can also use yoghurt or tomato paste but this will alter the flavour and final result.
  • Flour – Regular plain, all purpose flour is what you need here! Sub with cornstarch if you’re out or any other flour. This helps the egg stick to the chicken.
  • Panko CrumbsThese Japanese style breadcrumbs are what give the popcorn chicken that extra crispy, crunchy finish. You can get them at most supermarkets these days, or sub with regular breadcrumbs, crushed cornflakes or even polenta.
  • Olive Oil – A light drizzle of the oil in the panko is what helps to crisp the bites up in the air fryer. You can also coat with an oil spray or melted butter.
Ingredients laid out for popcorn chicken, to be cooked in the air fryer.

How to make Crispy Panko Chicken:

  1. In a medium bowl, add the optional salt & pepper to the flour. Next place the panko crumbs on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and lightly combine with your hands.
  2. It’s time to coat the chicken! Layout the chicken pieces, seasoned flour, bowl of whisked egg and the plate of oiled panko crumbs. Take a chicken piece and dip it in the following order:
    • Flour
    • Egg
    • Panko
  3. Place the pieces in the air fryer basket in one layer. Tip: Don’t overcrowd here, if there’s too much, cook them in two batches. Air fry them for 12 minutes at 200°C / 400°F, flipping them over at the 6 minute mark.
  4. Remove from the air fryer and serve immediately with your favourite dipping sauces such as gochujang mayonnaise or tonkatsu sauce.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Running out of Egg? Add a splash of milk to make it go further.
  • Storage – Popcorn chicken is best eaten straight out the air fryer. You can store them in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. To reheat, pop back in your air fryer on a lower heat setting (around 150°C / 300°F to warm them up and avoid burning them).
  • To Serve – Serve with your favourite dipping sauces – we love gochujang mayonnaise, but you can also have the regulars – tomato, BBQ or aioli.

FAQs

Do you dip the chicken in flour or egg first?

Pop your chicken in flour first THEN the egg second, as this helps the egg to stick to the crumbs.

Can you crumb without flour or egg?

While the best results for crumbing are with flour and egg, you can still achieve a crispy result without them. Substitute the flour for cornstarch or alternative flours such as almond flour, then substitute the egg with milk.

Can I make this in a conventional oven?

Yes, pop the coated chicken pieces on a lined baking tray and cook for 20 minutes at 180°C / 360°F. Flip them over half way through to cook and crisp up both sides.

Variations

  • Amp up the Flour – If you want extra flavour, add it into your flour with the optional salt and pepper. Onion powder and garlic powder work really well, or you can also get creative and try celery salt, paprika, shichimi togarashi or baharat!
  • Flavoured Oil – Swap out the olive oil in the panko for a flavoured oil. Chilli oil, thyme oil or garlic and herb oil are all sure to give it a big flavour kick!
  • Make it katsu! Don’t feel like cutting up the chicken? Make Japanese chicken katsu instead!
Picking up a piece of crunchy air fryer popcorn chicken, with dipping sauce nearby.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Bowl of crispy air fryer popcorn chicken with dipping sauce in background.

Crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken with Panko!

Grab 5 ingredients, and you're ready to make this crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken. It only takes 12 minutes to cook, and you'll be biting into crunchy panko chicken pieces in no time!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Course: Appetiser, Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 Chicken Pieces
Calories: 32kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Air fryer

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breasts 170g / 6oz, skinless, boneless, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 egg lightly whisked
  • 1 cup panko crumbs 40g / 1.4oz
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil

Optional

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, add the optional salt & pepper to the flour. Next place the panko crumbs on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and lightly combine with your hands.
  • It's time to coat the chicken! Layout the chicken pieces, seasoned flour, bowl of whisked egg and the plate of oiled panko crumbs. Take a chicken piece and dip it in the following order:
    1. Flour
    2. Egg
    3. Panko crumbs
  • Place the coated chicken pieces in the air fryer basket in one layer. Tip: Don't overcrowd here, if there's too much, cook them in two batches. Air fry them for 12 minutes at 200°C / 400°F, flipping them over at the 6 minute mark.
  • Remove from the air fryer and serve immediately with your favourite dipping sauces such as gochujang mayonnaise or tonkatsu sauce.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Chicken – Boneless skinless chicken breasts work best here, or you use chicken thighs with the skin removed or tenderloins. You can also use other proteins such as tofu, fish or pork.
  • Egg – Sub with milk or butter. In a real pinch, you can also use yoghurt or tomato paste but this will alter the flavour and final result.
  • Flour – Regular plain, all purpose flour is what you need here! Sub with cornstarch if you’re out or any other flour. This helps the egg stick to the chicken.
  • Panko CrumbsThese Japanese style breadcrumbs are what give the popcorn chicken that extra crispy, crunchy finish. You can get them at most supermarkets these days, or sub with regular breadcrumbs, crushed cornflakes or even polenta.
  • Running out of egg? Add a splash of milk to make it go further.
  • Storage – Popcorn chicken is best eaten straight out the air fryer. You can store them in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. To reheat, pop back in your air fryer on a lower heat setting (around 150°C / 300°F to warm them up and avoid burning them).
  • To Serve – Serve with your favourite dipping sauces – we love gochujang mayonnaise, but you can also have the regulars – tomato, BBQ or aioli.
  • Amp up the Flour – If you want extra flavour, add it into your flour with the optional salt and pepper. Onion powder and garlic powder work really well, or you can also get creative and try celery salt, paprika, shichimi togarashi or baharat!
  • Flavoured Oil – Swap out the olive oil in the panko for a flavoured oil. Chilli oil, thyme oil or garlic and herb oil are all sure to give it a big flavour kick.

Nutrition

Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 38mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
Crispy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken with Panko!

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