I love popcorn chicken and it is always a hit with the kids. When made right it has a crispy coating with crunchy nooks and crannies. I recently ordered it from a local place but was severely disappointed. In this day and age of delivery and curbside pickup it arrived soggy and cold with a pale and soft breading. Being stuck at home I figured why not try and make it myself. I knew I could do better.
My first try at popcorn chicken came out OK, but it just wasn’t quite right. Similar to the restaurant version I received earlier that week the breading color was a little pale and not quite as crunchy as I was I was hoping for. I changed up a few things and was able to get beautiful results:
- Adding baking powder to the flour mixture gave it little lift to lighten the coating to improve the crispiness and color
- Soaking the chicken in the (non-dairy) milk and dipping it in the flour mixture a second time provided a little more body to the crust
- I allowed the chicken to rest for five minutes after dredging it in the flour and before frying it enabling the crust to set.
A Sauce With Something Special
I figured the chicken needed to be paired with a dipping sauce. Restaurants in my area often serve popcorn chicken with Cattlemen’s Carolina Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce. In my attempt to make something similar but with my own twist I went digging through by fridge and came out with amba. Amba is a Middle Eastern condiment made from unripe fermented mangoes. It is often served at falafel and shwarma shops across Israel. Amba has a bright and tangy taste, but can be a little aggressive. I balanced it with the sweetness of duck sauce sauce and honey mustard.
Recipe: Popcorn Chicken
Better than the bucket
- 2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Cut in to one inch cubes
- 3 Cups (Non-Dairy) Milk
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1/4 Cup Baking Powder
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- Vegetable Oil Enough to come at least an inch up the side of your frying vessel
Pour the (non-dairy) milk in to a large mixing bowl and soak the cubes of chicken in the (non-dairy) milk for ten minutes.
While the chicken is soaking combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a another large mixing bowl.
Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture until you have an full and even coating on all the chicken pieces.
Add the chicken back to the (non-dairy) milk and allow it to soak for another five minutes.
Dredge the chicken in the flour a second time and let the chicken to rest for the five minute to allow the flour coating set.
Add the oil to your pot or frying pan and put over medium high heat and allow it to come up to temperature.
Add the chicken pieces in small batches to the pan and fry on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Sweet and Tangy Amba Dipping Sauce
A Middle Eastern spin on a South Carolina classic.
- 2 tbsp Amba
- 2 tbsp Honey Mustard
- 3/4 Cup Duck Sauce
Add the amba, mustard, and duck sauce to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Like this recipe? Here are some of our other chicken recipes:
Pho gà-Vietnamese Spiced Chicken Soup