Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken: Make Once, Eat Twice Recipe

Need an easy, kid-friendly, whole family-pleasing dinner recipe? This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is it!

Finding a recipe that the whole family can agree is a winner can be a challenge, am I right?

Between me, my husband, and my two teenagers, our tastes can be all over the place. There are some recipes that some of us love and others tolerate/like, recipes that some of us like but others do not at all, and there are a few rare unicorn recipes that we all love and agree to make over and over again.

This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is one of those rare unicorn recipes.

what is an air fryer?

Before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk about the almighty Air Fryer for a moment.

Do you have one? Have you considered getting one? I have the GoWISE USA 5.8 Quart Programmable 8-in-1 Air Fryer XL in Red. It’s a beast and definitely takes up a lot of space on the countertop (I made room to store mine below) but it’s worth it in order to make larger batches of food at a time.

In essence, an air fryer is a large egg-like appliance that sits on your countertop (away from other heat sources and plastics!). You use it for cooking the food you would normally cook in a traditional deep fryer or convection oven. However, instead of frying food in large quantities of oil as you would in a deep fryer, the air fryer essentially acts as a countertop convection oven and circulates hot air quickly around all sides of the food. This helps make food crispy like a deep fryer would – but with much less oil.

In theory, the air fryer helps you create healthier versions of the deep-fried foods you love. It still uses oil, and you still control the breading, but it’s definitely healthier than deep-frying!

air fryer popcorn chicken

I’ve used our air fryer for a few different recipes now. It’s great for fries, but terrible for lumpia; some recipes are better using traditional cooking methods.

This Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken recipe is the best one so far and I’m excited to share it with all of you!

make once, eat twice; or feed a crowd!

I was skeptical of using the air fryer for chicken at first, but it’s fantastic. The chicken is cut up into small cubes, marinated for at least a couple of hours, then breaded, dunked in the marinade again, and breaded a second time.


you can totally skip the second marinade dunk and breading step if you want to use less breading. Just know that your chicken will not look as crispy as the one I made here. Because more breading = crispier crunchier chicken.

You can actually halve the ingredients if you just want to make enough for 4-6 people for dinner.

This recipe makes enough to serve 4-6 people for one dinner, and then enough to freeze for the future. I love the Make Once, Eat Twice way of cooking with my family since my kids can take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven or microwave to warm up for after-school snacks.

It’s also a great recipe to make if you are feeding a large crowd. It’s an awesome Game Day Recipe – just serve with options of dipping sauces like BBQ sauce, ranch, and honey mustard.

serving ideas for popcorn chicken

Serve it on top of a green salad, with honey mustard or ranch dressing.
Use it as a sandwich/sub filling to create a crispy chicken sandwich or sub, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Serve it kabob-style with alternating pieces of chicken, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, and a basil leaf to create Caprese Chicken Kabobs
Three words (and an ampersand): Chicken & Waffles, baby!

air fryer popcorn chicken recipe



2 lbs chicken breast tenders, cut into small pieces
2 cups almond milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 ground paprika
Dry Ingredients
3 cups flour
3 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp paprika
oil spray


Set aside three shallow bowls on the counter.
In a large ziplock bag, add the chicken and marinade ingredients. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.
In a large shallow bowl, add the dry ingredients.
After marinating, place chicken and marinade into a large bowl. Working in small batches, dredge chicken chunks into dry ingredients, shake off excess flour, dunk again briefly into the marinade, then dredge for a second time in the dry ingredients, fully coating each piece of chicken. Be sure to gently shake off excess flour mixture.
Spray olive oil onto the bottom and sides of the inside of the air fryer vessel. Place breaded chicken in an even layer; set aside the rest of the chicken. Give the tops of the chicken in the air fryer vessel a quick spray with olive oil, then place into the air fryer.
Cook in the air fryer at 370 degrees for 10 minutes; shake halfway through. NOTE: depending on the size and amount of chicken, you may need to allow yours to cook in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes more.
Remove from the air fryer, and repeat steps until you’re finished with all of the chicken (four batches for me; it may be more or less for you, depending on how you cut your chicken pieces).
Serve immediately. Place any extra chicken into freezer-safe plastic bags and freeze for up to 2-3 months.

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