Popcorn Chicken - tender oven baked pickle brined Popcorn Chicken Bites served with the perfect chicken dipping sauce, these will be gone in seconds and loved by the whole family.
Oven Baked Popcorn Chicken
What is it about popcorn chicken bites that kids just love? I think it's the fuss free bitesize pieces of chicken they can just pop in their mouth with no bones etc. My kids love them especially from a place here in North American called Chick-fil-A.
However with us being in the middle of a pandemic and our nearest one being across the border in the US. I figured I'd treat the kids tonight with some leftover chicken I had and make my own. These were a huge success. The tray was cleared as fast as I put it on the table and they loved the dip.
Pickle Brined Chicken
One of the signature things with Chick-fil-A chicken is the taste. It has unique taste of pickles, which I would have assumed comes from brining the chicken, but a quick google tells me it's the seasoning that gives it the taste and they don't actually brine their chicken in pickle juice.
However if you have ever tried brining chicken or turkey you will know the result is lovely tender pieces of chicken and whenever I finish a jar of pickles. I save the juice in my fridge and then next time I have some chicken, it goes into the juice and brined overnight. Not only does it tenderize the chicken, it also adds amazing flavour.
Okay okay!! If you are not a fan of pickles (gherkins) this recipe may not be for you. Although saying that my kids don't care for pickles (gherkins) but they loved pickle brined chicken - go figure!!
Best Leftover Pickle Juice for Brining
There are so many different varieties of pickles (gherkins) out there, so which ones are the best for using the leftover juice for brining? I like to go for ones that have dill and garlic as added ingredients. I find this adds the best flavour.
Coating for Chicken
For the golden coating, I use panko breadcrumbs. I just find the get the best result for oven baked chicken as they go nice and golden.
You can use regular breadcrumbs if you prefer or you can even make you own using some healthy whole meal bread (which can also be counted as a healthy extra B choice if you are following Slimming Eats).
To make your own breadcrumbs from wholemeal bread, just lightly toast the bread (otherwise it will be too soft) and then blitz in a food processor until fine breadcrumbs.
Do I need to use the yoghurt with the egg dip?
Usually when doing chicken bites, you dip in flour, then egg, then your coating, but wanting to skip the flour and a little yoghurt whisked in with the egg works wonders too to help the breadcrumbs bind to the chicken pieces.
Sides for Popcorn Chicken
What kind of sides go well with the popcorn chicken? Well the dip is a must trust me. These are just the best pairings, but good ole ketchup is fine too, especially where kids are concerned.
For a healthy side I like these with just some salad - crisp lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes, simple but delicious.
For a more filling meal you may also want some chips/potatoes were have some great options on Slimming Eats, such as:
- Garlic and Herb Wedges
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Perfect Oven Baked Fries
- Spicy Wedges
- Crispy Seasoned Potatoes
or if you don't fancy chips rice is a good option too. We like
Can you freeze the Popcorn Chicken?
For the best result, we prefer to eat these once cooked. Freezing them cooked is likely to result in them overcooked when you come to reheat.
They can be frozen, but I recommend freezing them before cooking, just after you add the panko breadcrumbs.
To do this, spread the popcorn chicken out of a tray lined with parchment paper, then pop in the freezing, once they are frozen you can pop them in a freezer bag.
To cook, just bake from frozen, I would raise the temp of the oven and little and they will need slightly longer cooking to ensure they are cooked through.
Can these be cooked in an Airfryer?
I haven't had a chance to test these out in my airfryer yet, but I don't see why they wouldn't work.
Let me know the result if you do decided to try these out in your airfryer.
More Chicken Recipes
Looking for some more chicken recipes? Check out the following:
- HUNTERS CHICKEN (CHICKEN NEW YORKER)
- GOLDEN PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN
- CREAMY HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN
- ASIAN SPRITE CHICKEN
- SWEET AND STICKY CHICKEN
- SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN CASSEROLE
or head on over to my Full Recipe Index with over 900 delicious Slimming Eats and Weight Watchers friendly recipes all fully searchable by meal type, ingredients, value and smart points etc
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- 350g (12.5oz) of uncooked chicken breast
- leftover pickle (gherkin) juice from a 900ml (30.4oz) jar
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of onion powder
- ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt
- pinch of black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons of fat free greek yoghurt
- 45g (1.6oz) of panko breadcrumbs (or use other breadcrumbs of your choice)
- cooking oil spray
for the dipping sauce:
- 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of fat free greek yoghurt
- 1 teaspoon of American Mustard
- 1 teaspoon of sweetener of choice (optional)
- Place the chicken into a container or dish, pour over the leftover pickle juice so that the chicken is submerge. You can slice into smaller pieces if needed, but don't slice into the popcorn sized pieces until after brining. Place in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven. to 200c (180c FAN), 400f or gas mark 6.
- Remove chicken from pickle juice and pat dry with kitchen paper just to remove excess moisture. Slice into bitesize pieces
- Add the chicken to a bowl with the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper and toss to thoroughly coat.
- Whisk together the egg with the two tablespoons of greek yoghurt. Add the panko breadcrumbs to a plate
- Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Spray over the top with cooking oil spray, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, removing half way through cooking time and rotating on the tray giving another spray of cooking oil spray.
- Serve and enjoy . The dip is perfect with these or serve with your own choice of dipping sauce.
For the dipping sauce:
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve alongside the popcorn chicken
Please see below for full nutritional info and additional details about recipe:
- Calories - scroll down to nutritional info box
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Nutrition InformationServing Size 1 SERVING
Amount Per Serving Calories 297Total Fat 3.2gSaturated Fat 0.4gCholesterol 172mgSodium 711mgCarbohydrates 18.4gFiber 0.8gSugar 1.9gProtein 50.3g