Daily Cooking Quest

Home / All Recipes / Chinese / Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn chicken is a popular Taiwanese street food. This bite size treats is a must-try for anyone visiting Taiwan. Now you can make them at home with my easy recipe.
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese popcorn chicken is one of many must-try street foods for those visiting Taiwan. When I took a trip to Taiwan back in 2014, every night market I went to have at least 3-4 stalls selling these popular treats, each with a long line of hungry customers.

If you have never tried popcorn chicken before and a trip to Taiwan is nowhere in your horizon, fear not, you can now recreate this delicious snack right in your own kitchen.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Chicken thigh, marinade sauce, and breading mix

You need three components to make delicious popcorn chicken: chicken thigh meat, marinade, and breading mix.

1. Chicken thigh meat

Make sure to use chicken thigh meat and not chicken breast. Chicken thigh has a higher fat content to chicken breast, and for this popcorn chicken, it is essential to use thigh meat.

You can use breast meat in a pinch, but I strongly suggest using that beautiful breast meat to prepare other recipes and wait until you get some thigh meat before making popcorn chicken.

2. Marinade

The marinade for Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a mix of soy sauce, five-spice powder, ground pepper, and garlic.

Cut thigh meat into bite-size pieces, and marinate with the sauce for at least 15 minutes.

3. Breading mix

While the chicken is marinating, prepare a breading mix by placing tapioca starch, ground pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a large gallon-size ziplock bag. Shake to make a uniform breading mix.

After 15 minutes of marinating time, add one egg to the chicken and stir to coat all the pieces with egg. Transfer the chicken into the ziplock bag with the breading mix and shake well to coat the chicken.

Arrange the coated chicken pieces on a wire rack. Rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let extra moisture dry out. This will yield a crispier fried chicken and reduce the amount of splattering when we fry the chicken.

Tapioca starch is essential. Other starch, such as cornstarch or potato starch, will create a different texture. Please don’t substitute tapioca starch if you want to recreate Taiwanese popcorn chicken.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Frying and serving Taiwanese popcorn chicken

1. Fry popcorn chicken

Heat enough oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot (~ 180 Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit), gently drop the chicken pieces into hot oil and fry until golden brown. About 2 minutes per batch.

Drain excess oil from fried chicken by placing them on a wire rack. Never do this on paper towels as the chicken will steam and become soggy, which is not something we want after all the work.

2. Fry Thai basil leaves

After frying the chicken, fry some fresh Thai basil leaves to serve with the popcorn chicken.

Drop Thai basil leaves into the hot oil, and quickly cover the pot with a lid since they will splatter. Open the lid once the sizzling sound dies down, and the leaves should be crispy and ready. Remove fried basil leaves with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack to remove excess oil.

3. Serve popcorn chicken

Prepare a spice mix for Taiwanese popcorn chicken by combining salt, ground pepper, five-spice powder, Sichuan peppercorn, and sugar/chicken bouillon granules.

Toss fried popcorn chicken with the spice mix, then add the crispy fried Thai basil leaves. Enjoy immediately while the chicken is still piping hot.

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

5.0 from 15 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 8

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Fried chicken
  • 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) chicken thigh meat, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 1 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • Spice mix (mix the following together)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon ground pepper (or 1 tablespoon ground pepper + 1 tablespoon chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (or chicken bouillon granules)
  • Optional herb
  • 1 handful of Thai basil leaves

Instructions

  • Fried chicken
    1. Marinate chicken thigh cubes with soy sauce, five-spice powder, ground pepper, and bruised garlic. Set aside for 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, place tapioca starch, ground pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a large gallon size ziplock bag. Shake to make a uniform breading mix.
    3. After 15 minutes of marinating time, add one egg to the chicken and stir to coat all the pieces with egg. Transfer the chicken into the ziplock bag with the breading mix and shake well to coat the chicken.
    4. Arrange the coated chicken pieces on a wire rack. Rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let extra moisture dry out.
    5. Heat enough oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot (~ 180 Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit), gently drop the chicken pieces into hot oil and fry until golden brown. About 2 minutes per batch.
    6. Drain excess oil from fried chicken by placing them on a wire rack. Never do this on paper towels as the chicken will steam and become soggy, which is not something we want after all the work.
  • Fried Thai basil leaves (optional)
    1. Drop Thai basil leaves into the hot oil, and quickly cover the pot with a lid since they will splatter. Open the lid once the sizzling sound dies down, and the leaves should be crispy and ready. Remove fried basil leaves with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack to remove excess oil.
  • To serve
    1. Gently toss fried chicken with spice mix, then transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fried Thai basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Claudia Lamascolo Claudia Lamascolo says:

    This looks super tender and delicious I really am intrigued by the use of tapioca starch , thats a new ingredient to me. Thanks!

  • Colleen Colleen says:

    These crisp little chicken bites look just delicious. I think they would be a hit for our next summer gathering. Can't wait to make them!

  • Cindy Gordon Cindy Gordon says:

    What a fun popcorn chicken recipe! I am sharing with my neighbors! They were just over and talking about making popcorn chicken but look for a fun twist!

  • Lauren Vavala | Delicious Little Bites Lauren Vavala | Delicious Little Bites says:

    I used to order popcorn chicken all the time at a restaurant here, but it was so plain. This is much more my style and I love that it's so easy to make at home! Delicious!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Out of so many versions of popcorn chicken, my favorite is still Taiwanese popcorn chicken. They are just so crispy and I simply love the seasoning.

  • Sara Welch Sara Welch says:

    What perfectly sized and crispy bites of chicken! Made a great appetizer for my niece's graduation party this weekend!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Oh, congratulations to your niece. I hope you guys have a fun graduation party this weekend, Sara. I am willing to bet that these popcorn chicken will be a hit. :)

  • cyndy cyndy says:

    These look amazing - making these with the kiddos tomorrow. We've been looking for a fun alternative to chicken wings.

  • Adrianne Adrianne says:

    Another awesome authentic recipe from you Anita!! Yum, that chicken looks so good the the herbs so flavoursome!

  • Paula Montenegro Paula Montenegro says:

    I love these chicken bites, the name itself sounds like the perfect graduation or party food! And I can't believe I have all the ingredients at home! Even tapioca and five spice. I'm definitely making this today! Thanks for sharing.

  • Dannii Dannii says:

    We love popcorn chicken, and this Taiwanese version sounds delicious.

  • Charla Charla says:

    This Taiwanese popcorn chicken look delicious. I bet they taste a million times better than what you get in KFC. I'm loving the use of the basil leaves too!!

  • Danielle Wolter Danielle Wolter says:

    What an awesome version of popcorn chicken. I have always wanted to get more into Taiwanese food. Can't wait to try this!

  • veenaazmanov veenaazmanov says:

    Full of delicious flavorful and spices. Best for a party platter option. Easy and a happy options when kids are around.

  • Jen Jen says:

    Thanks for the tip about letting the chicken sit before frying. I never knew of that before and that really helped. This was delicious!

  • kim kim says:

    Love this recipe! This chicken was so tasty and easy to make! I'll definitely make it again!

  • Lany Susanto Lany Susanto says:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: