Bring restaurant flavor to your football viewing party with this easy to make Air Fryer Asian Popcorn Chicken recipe, which can be adapted to oven-baking if you don’t have an air fryer.
I’m sure it’s different for everybody, but one of the things I miss most about my pre-COVID life is bar food. Ok, bar food, hugging people, leaving the house, dinner parties, and the kids being in school – in no particular order. But bar food is high up there. So today, I’m making this Air Fryer Asian Popcorn Chicken recipe.
This Asian Popcorn Chicken is everything you’re missing from restaurant fare: it’s crispy, sticky, salty and sweet… minus the grease. Even though sweatpants fashion became a thing in 2020, at some point we’ll have to button those pants up again. Ugh.
No air fryer, no problem. This recipe is just as awesome in the oven – with the added bonus that you can make more at once. Whip up a batch of this air fryer popcorn chicken for happy hour tonight or for the game on Sunday. Just be sure to plan on making a double batch. It’s THAT good.
Air Fryer Asian Popcorn Chicken vs. Baking Them
Do you need to make these in the air fryer? Absolutely not. But, they are just a tad crispier and cook faster in the air fryer. The downside is that you’ll probably need to cook ’em in two batches. Here’s a link to the air fryer that I have. It’s has a good amount of space and is easy to use. Give it a try if you’ve been on the fence.
If you’re oven-baking these, you’ll want to cook them on wire racks on top of a baking sheet, as pictured. This ensures that the top and bottom of the chicken bites are both crispy and cook evenly. Putting parchment paper (or aluminum foil) under the racks keeps cleanup simple.
Other Cooking Tips
Not into sweet chili sauce? These Air Fryer Asian Popcorn Chicken bites can be made sans sauce or with any other wing sauce you like. Just keep in mind that the key is to sauce them directly out of the oven and to enjoy them right away. There aren’t many foods worth burning your mouth over, but french fries, pizza and these Asian Popcorn Chicken bites are.
- 2 lbs. chicken tenderloins, cut into 1” pieces
- 1 cup flour
- 5 cups corn flakes, crushed by hand
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 bottle sweet chili wing sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chili Sauce or Kame Sweet Chili Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- zest of 1 lime
- Sesame seeds
- Sliced green onions
- If oven baking, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place an oven-safe wire rack on top of the baking sheet and coat with cooking spray.
- Stir together the crushed corn flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.
- In a large bowl toss the bite sized chicken pieces with the flour. Coat the chicken completely.
- Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off. Roll the piece in the corn flake mixture and let the excess fall off. Place on the prepared rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- If oven baking: bake for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is deeply golden, flipping halfway through.
- If baking in the air fryer: Lightly spray air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place half of the chicken in single layer in the basket and spray with cooking spray. Cook at 400°F until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cook time. Remove chicken from fryer basket and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the wing sauce, salt and lime. Bring to a simmer then remove from heat.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, add to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over top and stir carefully, to coat. Pour out onto a serving platter and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
- Serve hot!