Spicy Popcorn Chicken

Spicy Popcorn Chicken

Spicy Popcorn Chicken from boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces and breaded in corn chex cereal, then air fried to make a copycat version of the classic popcorn chicken with only a fraction of the oil.
30 Minutes
1 Hour

Per Serving – Makes 20

191 Calories

19g C | 25g P | 6g F

How to Make Spicy Popcorn Chicken

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Spicy Popcorn Chicken

4.88 from 16 votes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer, chicken, free, freezer friendly, under 10 ingredients, under 500 calories
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 191kcal
Boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces and breaded in corn chex cereal, then air fried to make a copycat version of the classic popcorn chicken with only a fraction of the oil.
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  • 5 lbs (2270 g) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups (300 g) corn chex ground (or use breadcrumbs)
  • cup (75 g) cornstarch tapioca works as well
  • 2 tsp (6 g) cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp (6 g) paprika
  • 3 tsp (12 g) salt
  • 2 tsp (6 g) pepper
  • 3 (150 g) eggs
  • ¼ cup (60 g) hot sauce
  • (15 g) cooking spray


For the Chicken

  • Cut the chicken into 1"-1.5" cubes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Place the chicken into a large ziplock bag or bowl and sprinkle over the cornstarch. Shake/mix to evenly distribute the starch on all of the chicken.
  • Place the corn chex into a food processor or blender and blend until they have formed a powder.
  • Mix together the corn chex, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika in a shallow dish or a large bowl.
  • Crack 3 eggs into a bowl and add your hot sauce. Beat the eggs.
  • Dunk the cornstarch coated chicken into the egg wash and then place into the bag/dish with the corn chex. If you're using the bag method, don't overcrowd the bag. Shake to coat adding more corn chex if needed. Make sure you allow the excess egg wash to drain off of the chicken before you put it into the bag. If there is too much egg on the chicken it can cause the breading to clump together. If this happens, you will probably want to dump it out and start over between rounds of coating. With the dish method you can just do them as you go. Keep one hand for the egg dunk and one hand for the breading, that will keep the corn chex from gunking up on your fingers.
  • I like to set a sheet pan nearby so that I can place the completed pieces on the pan and ready to air fry.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (204°C) on the air fry setting and set the timer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken to your air fryer basket in a single layer. Spray the top lightly with oil and air fry at 400°F (204°C) for 8-10 minutes. Shake the basket half way through. Pull the chicken out when the breading has turned a golden brown color and the chicken is finished cooking. In my air fryer this takes right around 8 minutes.
  • You will need to cook in batches as to not over crowd your air fryer. Store the finished chicken on a wire lined baking sheet to cool.


  • If you are going to vacuum seal this, you need to flash freeze the chicken first. To do this, place the sheet pan into your freezer, uncovered, until all of the chicken has frozen solid. Then you can transfer it over to your vacuum sealed bags. If you don't flash freeze first, all of the chicken will freeze in a block when you take all of the air out.
  • If you are freezing in a regular ziplock freezer bag, allow your chicken to cool to room temperature and place into a large ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal. Place into the freezer. You don't need to flash freeze, but it can still be helpful.
  • To reheat, you can use the microwave or your airfryer. Air fry at 400° until they are hot. It will take around 3-8 minutes. Smaller pieces will heat faster and dry out so be cautious.

Nutrition Information Notes

  • This recipe calls for 300g of corn chex, 3 eggs, and cooking oil spray. I included all of the chex, eggs, and 15 grams of oil for the cooking process in the nutrition information for the calorie estimate. It is highly likely you will have corn chex and eggs left over so this estimate is probably on the higher end. If you need exact nutrition information, you should measure and calculate it yourself but i wanted to err on the high side.
  • This recipe makes 20 servings. For me, that was about 8 or 9 pieces of chicken. Depending on how big or small you cut your chicken, that could change. If you weighed the total amount of your cooked chicken, and divided by 20, that would give you the weight of 1 serving.



Calories: 191kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 3g


The information in the following table are estimates for the total nutrition of the recipe, as written.  If you follow the recipe listed above, as written, you can use these tables to determine the nutrition information if you wanted to split the recipe, as written, into more or less servings than what is originally listed.  If you update the number of servings in the “Servings” field of the recipe above, the information in these tables are no longer accurate as you have updated the ingredients.

3815 cals

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. angel

    5 stars
    the best popcorn chicken recipe ever! super easy

  2. Jennifer Fidler

    5 stars
    The best corn-chex chicken recipie out there. It does not end up dry like others!! And totally possible to change up the spices. Will definitely be making again.

  3. steve Dettinger

    These are so addictive!

  4. Jeff Maze

    I’ve been devouring your videos lately and decided to make this one. Outstanding. I used boneless skinless thighs though, and only had about 5 (~1.25-1.5lb) and so needed a lot less ingredients. I ended up guestimating at most of them, but kept everything in there except the cayenne, which instead I used red pepper flakes. I also ground up a package of seasoned croutons for the breading, which might have really just been the icing on a really fantastic recipe. *Chefs Kiss*

    In a Ninja Foodie Deluxe, the nuggets cooked perfectly @390 for 10 min. Hit around 175-180 internal but were still very moist, and very quick cooking.

    I plan to purchase your yearly sub, you do great work and should be rewarded! 🙂

  5. Cassandra Perry

    I am so confused for some reason. How many nuggets is a serving??

    1. Josh Cortis

      It depends on how big you cut them. If you divide the total number of pieces you made by 20, that value would be 1 serving as far as the nutritional estimate goes

  6. Matt Baker

    Do you have a nutrition estimate for if you use regular breadcrumbs instead?

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