You’ve got to try this Healthy Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken! Tender, crispy pieces of chicken – first marinated to tenderize the chicken, then lightly breaded in a spicy, salty flour mix, then air fried to perfection. This popcorn chicken makes a great appetizer and a fabulous fried chicken salad topped with my Skinny Blue Cheese dressing.
- 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite size pieces (trim off fat if visible)
- 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 lemon or lime, cut in half and squeezed
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons (divided)homemade chipotle seasoning
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup of skim milk
- Optional – Adobo dipping sauce, Skinny Blue Cheese Dressing or any other dipping sauce
- In a large bowl combine softened cream cheese, egg and lemon/lime juice and 1 tablespoon of homemade chipotle seasoning. Use a hand mixer if desired. Add in chicken pieces and stir. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes up to overnight in the refrigerator.
- In a large ziplock bag, add flour, 2 tablespoons of chipotle seasoning, kosher salt, pepper and paprika.
- Preheat air fryer to 375°.
- Add a few pieces of chicken to bag and shake, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Do this for all of the chicken pieces. (At this point you could air fry now, but the chicken won’t look like the pictures, it’s best to coat it twice. You can also decide to splurge and deep fry, then it’s fine to deep fry at this stage).
- When finished breading all the pieces, dip the coated pieces in milk and back into flour mixture again-second breading.
- When you have enough ready for one batch, place chicken in air fryer, spray well with olive oil sprayer and air fry for about 8 minutes. Flip over if necessary and spray again, then air fry another 5-7 minutes. If you have the Breville Smart Oven air you won’t need to turn your pieces over. (Times are approximate, each air fryer is different so watch carefully on a small batch so you know when to take them out). Total air frying time is about 12-15 minutes depending on your air fryer. Be sure and serve hot!
I learned a few things after making this recipe a million times. Here are my tips:
- Don’t batter the chicken pieces until you are ready to fry, otherwise you will have to rebatter them. The flour soaks into the chicken and they won’t be as crispy if you bread them too early before frying.
- Shake off any excess flour before air frying.
- Spray the pieces well with the olive oil spray.
- Serve immediately, they lose their crispiness if you try to keep them warm in the oven.
- They freeze and reheat well. Flash freeze on a baking sheet, then transfer to vacuumed sealed bags.