Ditch the deep-fryer and preheat your oven for a finger-friendly recipe for Baked Popcorn Chicken with Honey-Garlic Glaze.
When it comes to quick and easy DIY dinners, few foods beat chicken nuggets around our house. Between my three boys, my husband and myself, we can all get in on the dipping and dunking action.
Consider this recipe for Baked Popcorn Chicken with Honey-Garlic Glaze a slightly elevated spin in the good ol’ nuggets.
The secret to achieving the essential crunch without submerging these bad boys into a vat of boiling oil is two-fold:
- Panko breadcrumbs (a Japanese breadcrumb known for its ability to crisp up quickly)
- Cooking spray (everyone’s low-cal BFF in the baked goods and browning departments)
Also essential on the texture front is the use of chicken thighs rather than chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are much more tender and will never dry out compared to their poultry cohort, chicken breasts.
Could you dice up chicken breasts for this recipe? Abso-cluckin-lutely! Just make sure not to overbake the nuggets or they’ll run the risk of being dry.
Then it’s time for the real star of the show here: this finger-lickin’, sweet, sour, spicy and oh-so-sticky honey-garlic glaze. One taste and you’ll be drizzling, dunking and dipping everything you can get your hands on into this saucy concoction, so don’t hesitate to pair it up with other proteins or veggies to maximize on its versatility.
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For the chicken:
- Cooking spray
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
For the sauce:
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Make the chicken:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease it generously with cooking spray.
- Trim any fat from the chicken thighs and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Add the flour and salt to a sealable plastic bag. Add the chicken to the bag, press out any air then seal the bag shut. Shake the bag until the chicken pieces are coated on all sides.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs.
- Add the breadcrumbs to a second shallow dish.
- Remove each piece of chicken from the bag and shake off any excess flour. Dip the chicken in the eggs, shake off any excess, then dip it in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat the chicken on all sides. Repeat the coating process with all of the chicken pieces, arranging them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray then bake them for 8 minutes. Flip each chicken piece once then continue baking until cooked through and crispy, an additional 5 to 10 minutes. While the chicken is baking, make the sauce.
Make the sauce:
- Add the olive oil to a small saucepan set over medium-low heat.
- Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper flakes (optional) and cook and additional 30 seconds.
- Add the honey and apple cider vinegar, whisking to combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and whisk in the brother mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Transfer it to a serving bowl.
- Remove the popcorn chicken from the oven and serve it with the sauce for dipping.
- If you prefer to toss the popcorn chicken with the sauce, rather than use the sauce as a dip, you can double the sauce recipe but use only 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.
Can you bake in an air fryer?
I made this and substituted the red paper flakes for cayenne pepper. This turned out great! Easy to make
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Suzy!
This sounds delicious! What’s the serving size used for the estimated nutrition facts?
Hi Emily! The estimated nutritional info is for one serving (it’s calculated by taking all of the ingredients’ nutritional info and dividing by six, the total number of servings of this recipe).
Made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! I’ll definitely be making this again in the near future.
So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Nancy!