Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer

If you’re a fan of Taiwanese street food and crave that irresistible crunch of crispy chicken, you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’ll take you on a culinary journey to discover how to make extra crispy Taiwanese popcorn chicken using an air fryer. We’ll explore the secrets behind achieving that perfect crispiness and the authentic flavors that make this dish a Taiwanese favorite. So, if you’re ready to elevate your home-cooking game and savor the taste of Taiwan, read on!

What Is Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken?

Taiwanese popcorn chicken, also known as “salt and pepper chicken,” is a beloved street food in Taiwan. It’s famous for its bite-sized pieces of chicken, marinated in a flavorful mixture, coated in a crispy batter, and deep-fried to perfection. The result is an explosion of flavors and textures in every mouthful.

Taiwanese popcorn chicken stands out for its combination of savory and slightly spicy flavors. It’s known for its small, bite-sized pieces that are incredibly addictive. The use of fragrant spices and seasonings makes it a tantalizing treat for the taste buds.

Originating from Taiwan, this dish has become an international sensation. It’s a staple at Taiwanese night markets, where vendors compete to offer the crispiest and most flavorful popcorn chicken. Now, with the rise of home cooking and the convenience of air fryers, you can recreate this street food delight in your kitchen.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer

Why Use an Air Fryer for Crispy Chicken?

Using an air fryer to make Taiwanese popcorn chicken offers several advantages. First and foremost, it’s a healthier cooking method compared to traditional deep-frying. Here’s why it’s worth considering:

Air frying requires significantly less oil than deep-frying, making it a better option for those looking to reduce their calorie intake and saturated fat consumption. The hot air circulation in the air fryer cooks the food evenly and creates that desired crispy texture without submerging it in oil.

An air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food, cooking it from all angles. The result is a crispy exterior and a tender interior, mimicking the texture of deep-frying. This method is not only healthier but also less messy and more energy-efficient.

Perfecting Your Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Checking for doneness is crucial in ensuring your Taiwanese popcorn chicken is cooked to perfection. Here are some tips:

  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  • If you’re unsure, cut into a piece to make sure it’s cooked through and no longer pink inside.
  • For extra crispiness, you can air fry the chicken for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Variations and Customizations

While the classic Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a delight on its own, you can always experiment with flavors and styles:

  • Try different spice blends or seasonings to create unique taste profiles.
  • Add a touch of heat with chili powder or paprika for a spicy kick.
  • Explore gluten-free options by using rice flour or a gluten-free flour blend.
  • For a twist, you can use chicken breast instead of thigh meat for a leaner version.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer

Recipe by Heather Smith


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup potato starch or cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Cooking spray or oil mister


  • In a bowl, combine the minced garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, and five-spice powder (if using). Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat evenly. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, potato starch or cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 380°F (190°C). Remove the chicken from the marinade and coat each piece with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess coating.
  • Lightly grease the air fryer basket with cooking spray or an oil mister to prevent sticking. Place the coated chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket, ensuring they are not overcrowded. Cook at 380°F (190°C) for 12-15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through to ensure even cooking. The chicken should be golden brown and crispy.
  • Once cooked, transfer the Taiwanese popcorn chicken to a serving plate. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauces, such as sweet chili sauce or garlic mayonnaise.

Nutritional Content (per serving, approximately 4 ounces of chicken):

  • Calories: 220
  • Protein: 26g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 100mg
  • Sodium: 890mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 1g

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?

   – Yes, you can use chicken breast if you prefer leaner meat. However, chicken thighs tend to be juicier and more flavorful.

2. What can I substitute for potato starch or cornstarch in the coating?

   – You can use tapioca starch or rice flour as alternatives. These will also provide a crispy texture.

3. Do I need to preheat the air fryer?

   – Preheating is recommended for even cooking and better results. Most air fryers preheat quickly, usually within 2-5 minutes.

4. Can I make a larger batch of Taiwanese popcorn chicken in the air fryer?

   – You can, but it’s important not to overcrowd the air fryer basket. Cook in batches to ensure the chicken cooks evenly and becomes crispy.

5. How can I store leftover popcorn chicken?

   – Store any leftover popcorn chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, use the air fryer at a lower temperature to maintain crispiness, or briefly microwave and then crisp it up in the air fryer again.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe Air Fryer

Can You Use Air Fryer to Make Buffalo Chicken Flatbread?

Air fryers are versatile appliances that can be used to make a variety of dishes, including buffalo chicken flatbread. With the right buffalo chicken flatbread recipe, you can achieve a crispy, delicious flatbread loaded with flavorful and spicy buffalo chicken. The air fryer’s ability to circulate hot air evenly ensures a perfectly cooked and crispy crust, making it an ideal cooking method for this appetizing dish.


In summary, Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a delicious and addictive snack that you can easily recreate at home using an air fryer. With the right ingredients, marination, and air frying technique, you’ll achieve that signature crunch and authentic Taiwanese flavor. So, gather your ingredients, fire up your air fryer, and treat yourself to a taste of Taiwan in your own kitchen. Enjoy!

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