Easy, crunchy, sticky, saucy chicken poppers that are coated and baked, not fried.
I like to think I’m a PRO at football snacks. I would be play in the snack Super Bowl every year if there was a snack Super Bowl. This is not meant to brag; I’m just a very good football snack maker! And one of my all-time, kick you in the pants (?) football snack to make is popcorn chicken. Actually, it’s these cheesy bacon jalapeños, but you already knew that. Second place is popcorn chicken aka little breaded chicken bites that are super juicy on the inside, crunchtastic on the outside, and served with an array of dipping sauces including but not limited to ketchup, honey mustard, and BBQ sauce.
And guess what?
I bake my popcorn chicken! No frying here, sista.
I love homemade popcorn chicken and one of my favorite varieties to make is this honey BBQ version. Basically plain popcorn chicken bites submerged in a tangy and sweet honey BBQ sauce while they’re still warm. The sauce is sticky and its flavor sinks into that crispy popcorn chicken breading. It’s all absolutely incredible and you don’t even need a dipping sauce! Which says a lot considering condiments make up 95% of my refrigerator. And cookie dough chilling would be the other 5%.
The breading! It’s easy peasy stuff. There are 3 layers of breading. But don’t get scared, it’s all super simple. First you’ll need flour. The chicken pieces will get a coating of flour prior to taking a dunk in egg. The flour helps the egg stick, the egg helps the crunchy coating stick. So, you’ll have a few bowls happening on your counter but I promise the clean up is a cinch.
For a super crunchy and thick coating– we’re going to use crushed corn flakes cereal. The cornflake crumbs will be mixed with some seasonings for added flavor like salt, pepper, smoked paprika (YES!!), and garlic powder. It’s all very yum.
Then you’ll bake the popcorn chicken until super crisp. Usually just under 20 minutes or so, but keep your eye on them. If your bites are cut very small, it might only be about 15 minutes. Use your best judgment. These are hard to mess up.
Look how golden and crisp. ↓ ↓
The honey BBQ sauce is nothing more than these 3 ingredients: your favorite BBQ sauce, honey, and a little ketchup. It’s all warmed together over the stove to sort of thin it out, then poured over the warm chicken. Give it a toss, taste test, and GASP you’ve met your new favorite game day snack. Also works perfectly as an easy dinner option served with sweet potato fries. And, I’m being super serious here, is really good on salad. Chopped up on top of a lettuce/tomato/cucumber/bacon crumble/shredded cheddar cheese action. Good glory! It’s fantastic.
Baked Honey BBQ Popcorn Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 5 cups (140g) corn flakes cereal, crushed lightly
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60ml) milk
Easy Honey BBQ Sauce
- 3/4 cup (222g) your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays Original)
- 1/4 cup (80g) honey
- 1/4 cup (68g) ketchup
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Place the bite-sized pieces of chicken in a large bowl. Add flour and stir to coat each piece. Set aside.
- Place the corn flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika into a large bowl. Set aside. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a small bowl.
- This next step gets your hands a little messy so have paper towels nearby. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off. Then generously roll in the cornflake mixture, shaking off any excess. Place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all chicken bites.
- Bake for 18 minutes, flipping once at the 9-10 minute mark. (During this time, I make the sauce in step 6.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Heat the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat for 6-7 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Carefully place the chicken bites into a large bowl. Pour the warm honey BBQ sauce on top and gently stir to coat. Serve warm. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
Make ahead tip: Prepare the popcorn chicken through step 4. Refrigerate for up to 1 day before continuing with step 5. You can also freeze the baked popcorn chicken before tossing in the honey BBQ sauce. Bake frozen popcorn chicken in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
You can leave the popcorn chicken plain. Simply add a little more seasoning (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder) to the cornflake mixture and leave off the honey BBQ sauce.
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Three things for you!
1) Did you see that I’m currently expanding Sally’s Baking Addiction? Click here for more information and how to apply. I can’t wait for you to be part of this team!
2) See you tonight, Philly! The 2016 book tour officially begins tonight. I’ll be all over the place the next two weeks: Boston, NYC, San Fran, San Diego, and the LA area. See you soon!
3) Guess what? I recently made buffalo popcorn chicken too! I shared the recipe on People last week. You have to try these.