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Popcorn chicken air fryer on a tray with a bowl of dip.

Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

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Created by Mariam E.
Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets are tastier and healthier than take-out, and you are going to love them. This bite-sized air fryer popcorn chicken is marinated in buttermilk so it’s tender and juicy, then seasoned to perfection and air fried until hot and crispy.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 42 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 1 lb chicken tenders cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • Salt and pepper to season the chicken in buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt for flour mixture
  • ½ tsp black pepper for flour mixture
  • Chopped parsley to garnish


  • In a medium bowl marinate the chicken pieces with buttermilk, salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl place the cornstarch and keep it aside.
  • In another bowl whisk the eggs with a fork and keep it aside.
  • In a plate combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and keep it aside.
  • First dredge the marinated chicken in cornstarch, then in egg mixture and finally in the flour mixture. Coat the chicken pieces evenly and shake the excess flour if any.
  • Repeat the same with the remaining chicken pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F. Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket and top with cooking spray again.
  • Air fry for 10-12 minutes until they turn crispy and golden. Flip the chicken halfway through until it is completely cooked.
  • Garnish the popcorn chicken with fresh parsley and serve with ranch or ketchup.


  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to about 6 hours. 
  • Make buttermilk by mixing 1 ½ teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice with milk. 
  • Preheating the air fryer will give you the crispiest chicken nuggets.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken. Leave space between the nuggets and cook in batches if needed. 
  • Don’t forget to flip the nuggets halfway through the cooking time. 
  • Always check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F. 
  • Make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for an easy meal or snack later on. 


Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 1mg
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