Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken

Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken is my new favorite low carb meal and high-protein snack! Skip the drive-thru and make these homemade spicy breaded chicken bites in an air fryer or in the oven in 20 minutes or less!

Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken and dipping sauce on a white plate

Before you reach for a bag of frozen Tyson’s popcorn chicken, consider this: super crispy and ultra flavorful popcorn chicken, made with gluten free, low carb and paleo ingredients all from the comfort of your own home.

Many breaded chicken recipes are coated in some sort of flour mixture, but this keto variation uses a mixture of crushed plain pork rinds, nutritional yeast, dry buffalo seasoning, garlic powder and baking powder as “breading.”

If you love buffalo sauce but not so much the mess, you’re going to LOVE dry buffalo seasoning. The New Primal and Frank’s Red Hot both make an amazing dry buffalo seasoning blend. Save the napkins because all of that savory garlic and spicy hot cayenne flavor is shaken instead of poured.  

This recipe is aimed to please. Adults and children agree -keto buffalo popcorn chicken is finger lickin’ good. 

💓 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Keto buffalo popcorn chicken is better tasting and better for you than it’s fast-food/frozen counterpart. They taste indulgent while being gluten free, low carb, and paleo/Whole30-friendly. See FAQ for notes about Whole30. 

It’s spicy! This recipe isn’t going to set your mouth on fire, but it definitely packs some heat -just enough heat!

Don’t let battering your own chicken deter you! You’ll love how easy it actually is. I promise!

You can serve popcorn chicken as snackable crispy bites or as the main course!

📝 Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast cut into poppable bite sized pieces is where all good popcorn chicken begins.
  • Pork Rinds are a savory zero carb protein-packed snack made from pork-skin. When crushed into a powder they work great as the flour component of breadings.
  • Nutritional Yeast is the secret behind many dairy-free recipes. It adds a subtle layer of “cheesy” flavor. In combination with the crushed pork rinds, this stuff is what makes keto popcorn chicken crispy. 
  • Baking Powder added to any breading mixture helps dry out the outer-layer of skin, making it crisp and crunchy while the inside stays moist and juicy. 
  • Dry Buffalo Seasoning has just the right amount of garlic and cayenne aka all of that classic buffalo sauce goodness without any of the drip.
  • Egg helps bind the pork rind mixture to the chicken and will help yield a thicker and crunchier outer-layer.
  • Garlic Powder adds another layer of craveable flavor. 

📖 How To Make Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken in the Oven

1️⃣ In a medium sized bowl, whisk together crushed pork rinds, nutritional yeast, Buffalo seasoning, baking powder and garlic powder. Make sure everything is well distributed.

2️⃣ In a separate bowl, crack the egg and whisk until fully beaten -just as you would for scrambled eggs. 

3️⃣ Next, prep the chicken breasts. Pat the chicken dry on both sides with a paper towel and then cut into bite size pieces (aim for about square inch pieces). 

4️⃣ Add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the beaten egg and toss gently until all pieces are well-coated. Working in small batches, shake off any excess (the chicken shouldn’t be dripping in egg) and then dredge each batch through the pork rind mixture, coating each piece of chicken in an even-layer. Gently shake off any excess.

5️⃣ As you finish coating each batch of popcorn chicken, place the breaded buffalo seasoned popcorn chicken pieces on a baking sheet in a single-layer. 

6️⃣ Bake popcorn chicken, tossing half way through, in your preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken has a crispy golden brown crust and a tender juicy center. They will be hot, so using tongs, place each freshly baked piece of popcorn chicken onto a serving platter with a side of ranch and enjoy!

Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken on a plate and one with a bite taken out

🧑‍🍳 Recipe Tips

  • Make sure to cut the chicken into same size pieces, so they cook evenly. 
  • To crush the pork rinds, blend in a food processor or place them in a sealed baggie and crush with your hands or a sturdy object (like the bottom of a mug). 
  • Divide the pork rind dry batter into two separate bowls. When the first bowl gets too clumpy from dredging the wet chicken through it, discard and move on to the fresh bowl of dry batter. 
  • Whether you’re making these in the oven or air fryer, it’s important not to cook too much at once. If the chicken is overcrowded, the pieces will not crisp up evenly. Work in batches, if necessary. 
  • Save yourself a step. If baking, place breaded popcorn chicken on a greased wire rack placed on a baking sheet. The hot air will then come in contact with all surfaces of the chicken, so you will not need to fip each piece half way through. 

👉 Making Popcorn Chicken in the Air Fryer

It’s been a few years since air fryers hit the market. I think it’s safe to say they’re here to stay. Most things an oven can do, an air fryer can do better. In this case, making buffalo popcorn chicken in the air fryer makes a lovely golden brown crust and a tender, juicy and flavorful inside. It’s also quicker!

To make air fryer buffalo popcorn chicken, follow the oven instructions until it’s time to bake them and then:

1️⃣ Add breaded buffalo seasoned popcorn chicken pieces in a single layer to the bottom of your air fryer basket. Depending on the size of your air fryer basket, you may have to work in batches to achieve a consistent crispy texture on each piece. 

2️⃣ Air fry at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping each piece half way through. 

3️⃣ Remove each piece with tongs and serve (if working in batches, cover cooked pieces to keep warm and repeat the process until all of the chicken is finished). 

🍽️ How To Serve

As an appetizer at your next game day gathering! Pile buffalo popcorn chicken high on a serving platter with a side of celery and ranch and/or bleu cheese. 

Serve popcorn chicken alongside these fellow low carb finger foods to really impress your guests:

Keto Bang Bang Shrimp
Italian Antipasto Skewers
Keto Pizza Dips

Serve popcorn chicken as a dinner entrée with your favorite low carb sides!

Make it a keto “KFC Famous Bowl!” KFC’s version is popcorn chicken and corn served on top of mashed potatoes and then covered in gravy and cheese. To make a homemade low carb KFC Famous Bowl, pile keto buffalo popcorn chicken with green beans (or any green vegetable) over a bowl of creamy mashed cauliflower and finish with gravy and shredded cheddar! 

Craving something lighter? Serve keto buffalo popcorn chicken over a big fresh garden salad sprinkled with your favorite cheese and salad dressing.

Don’t forget the sauces. There is plenty of flavor packed in each bite, but I love taking it a step further and dipping keto buffalo popcorn chicken in MORE flavor. Try these delicious dipping sauces:

Whole30 BBQ Sauce
Habanero  Ranch
Homemade Ketchup

🔁 Variations

🍤 Keto Buffalo Popcorn Shrimp: This recipe is just as yummy with shrimp instead of chicken. Simply swap out the chicken for large to extra size shrimp. Continue following the recipe as is, keeping in mind that shrimp cooks a bit quicker than chicken. If baking in the oven, cook shrimp for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. If cooking popcorn shrimp in an air fryer, cook shrimp for 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Shrimp is cooked when white and no longer opaque. 

🧑‍🍳 Keto Buffalo Chicken Tenders: Popcorn chicken is essentially bite size chicken tenders, so adapting this recipe into full size tenders just makes sense. To make keto buffalo chicken tenders, all you’ll need to do differently is slice chicken breasts into strips and add a few minutes to the cook time. The larger the cut of chicken, the longer it will take to cook through. 

♻️ Storing, Freezing & Reheating 

Storing: Let popcorn chicken cool to room temperature, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. 

Freezing: I love making a huge batch of popcorn chicken to freeze and reheat as needed. To freeze, place room temperature popcorn in a heavy-duty freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Reheating from refrigerator:
Bring popcorn chicken to room temperature and then reheat in a 400 degree preheated oven or air fryer for 7 to 10 minutes or until the breading gets crispy again and the chicken is warmed through. 

Reheating from frozen: Reheat frozen homemade popcorn chicken on a baking sheet in the oven or in an air fryer at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the breading is crispy and the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. 

❓FAQ

Is keto buffalo popcorn chicken spicy?

 It’s hot but its’ not that hot. My recipe for air fryer popcorn chicken is where this one originated from and it isn’t spicy at all.

Can I make keto buffalo popcorn chicken less spicy?

If the flavor of dry buffalo seasoning is too spicy, swap it for one of your favorite spice blends (think dry ranch seasoning, a garlic and herb blend, blackening seasoning etc.)

What is the difference between popcorn chicken and chicken nuggets?

Popcorn chicken is made with chicken breasts while store-bought chicken nuggets are made with emulsified chicken meat and other stuff. The frozen bagged varieties of both contain undesirable chemicals and preservatives. Bypass the junk and make popcorn chicken and chicken nuggets from scratch.

What can I substitute for pork rinds?

To keep things low carb, substitute pork rinds for almond meal flour. Keep in mind that the pork rinds add their own layer of flavor to this recipe. If omitting, you may want to increase the seasonings.

Is baking powder Keto?

There is a little less than 1.5 grams of carbohydrates in a teaspoon of baking powder. Unless you’re spooning baking powder straight to the face, yes -it’s Keto.

Can I have buffalo popcorn chicken on Whole30?

For Whole30 purposes, use either compliant pork rinds or swap with almond meal flour. Baking powder isn’t technically Whole30. For the purpose it serves in this recipe, you can swap it out for baking soda, arrowroot starch or tapioca starch. 

More Keto Air Fryer Recipes

Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers
Air Fryer Onion Rings
Air Fryer Burgers
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

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keto buffalo popcorn chicken

Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken

Keto buffalo popcorn chicken is my new favorite low carb meal and high-protein snack! Skip the drive-thru and make these homemade spicy breaded chicken bites in an air fryer or in the oven in 20 minutes or less!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 126kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Chicken Breast large diced
  • ¾ cups Pork Rinds plain, crushed into a powder
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tbsp Dry Buffalo Seasoning
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together crushed pork rinds, nutritional yeast, Buffalo Seasoning, baking powder and garlic powder.
  • In a separate bowl, crack an egg and whisk until fully beaten.
  • Pat one pound chicken breast dry with a paper towel and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • Toss chicken breast pieces into egg mixture until fully coated.
  • In small batches toss egg coated chicken pieces in breading mixture until each piece is covered.
  • Add breaded buffalo seasoned popcorn chicken pieces in a single layer to a lightly greased sheet pan or sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes tossing half way through carefully with tongs.
  • Remove from air fryer with tongs and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

Air Fryer Keto Buffalo Popcorn Chicken

It’s been a few years since air fryers hit the market. I think it’s safe to say they’re here to stay. Most things an oven can do, an air fryer can do better. In this case, making buffalo popcorn chicken in the air fryer makes a lovely golden brown crust and a tender, juicy and flavorful inside. It’s also quicker!
To make air fryer buffalo popcorn chicken, follow the oven instructions until it’s time to bake them and then:
  1. Add breaded buffalo seasoned popcorn chicken pieces in a single layer to the bottom of your air fryer basket. Depending on the size of your air fryer basket, you may have to work in batches to achieve a consistent crispy texture on each piece. 
  2. Air fry at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping each piece half way through. 
  3. Remove each piece with tongs and serve (if working in batches, cover cooked pieces to keep warm and repeat the process until all of the chicken is finished).

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 233mg | Potassium: 343mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 64IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg

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