I am so, so excited about this recipe!!!
Golden brown popcorn chicken with a crispy, crunchy breaded outside and a tender, juicy chicken inside that’s egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and grain-free.
These fried chicken bites are delicious and so darn pop-able!
This recipe is one of those beautiful, happy accidents.
My favorite way to make pork chops involves baking a thick, bone-in chop in the oven, then searing the chop on both sides after it’s baked.
The pork chops end up cooked perfectly in the oven and are then given a crusty, textured outside in hot oil after cooking. This way, one of your tasty browned sides doesn’t get soggy after you’ve seared it and then put it in the oven.
So when I tried to make baked popcorn chicken last week and the crust didn’t cook well in the oven, I decided to apply that pork chop cooking method to my chicken. After baking the chicken bites, I quickly fried them in a little bit of lard. And oh my goodness…
I was afraid this twice cooking method would overcook the chicken, as we all know the bane of cooking with chicken breasts is that they are so easy to overcook and dry out.
But this method worked PERFECTLY.
The chicken was perfectly cooked all of the way through and was so tender and juicy, even while the outside was crisp and golden brown and deliciously crunchy. I couldn’t stop tossing these fried chicken bites into my mouth!!!
Try this paleo popcorn chicken with a simple honey mustard or pesto mayo dipping sauce. For an AIP-safe dipping sauce, try mashing roasted garlic with a little olive oil and a splash of lemon or balsamic. You could also try these with some AIP hummus!
If you’re reading this recipe and you’re not gluten-free, replace the cassava flour with regular flour! It will work just the same in this delicious recipe for egg-free fried chicken.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)
- 1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup Otto's Naturals Cassava Flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 cup lard or tallow
- Mix the milk and lemon juice together in a small bowl and set the bowl aside for about 10 minutes so the milk can curdle. Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts into half-inch sized cubes.
- Add the curdled milk and cubed chicken breasts to a gallon sized ziplock bag. Also add the sea salt, garlic powder, thyme, turmeric, and the bay leaf. Seal the bag and shake-massage it to mix the ingredients together. Let the chicken marinate for at least an hour, up to overnight.
- After the chicken is done marinating, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two large baking sheets with foil.
- Mix the flour, sea salt, dried thyme, and dried sage together in a large bowl. Remove about 6-8 pieces of chicken from the bag, shake to rid them of excess "buttermilk," and add them to the flour mixture. Toss the chicken until the pieces are evenly coated with flour and no wet spots remain. Add the breaded chicken pieces to the baking sheet, with plenty of space in between each piece. Repeat with the remaining chicken, only breading about 6-8 pieces of chicken at a time , until all of the chicken has been added to the baking sheets. Bake the chicken for 15 minutes.
- In the last 5 minutes of baking, heat the tallow or lard in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat until it is melted and very hot.
- When the chicken has finished baking, remove the baking sheets from the oven. Add the chicken pieces in batches to the hot oil. Make sure there is plenty of space in between each popcorn chicken bite in the skillet. DO NOT overcrowd the pan. Fry the popcorn chicken pieces for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove to a layer of paper towels and repeat with the remaining bites until all pieces have been fried.
- Serve with pesto, honey mustard, or AIP hummus for dipping. Enjoy!
*Make sure that you’re using a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet in this recipe. I strongly recommend against using non-stick pans.
Do you have a question about cooking or a recipe you’d like to see? Is there a recipe you’re trying to adapt for your diet? Let me know! I LOVE helping readers answer their questions and find recipes that work for them!
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I’m linking this delicious AIP recipe up to the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable!