Popcorn Fried Chicken

Get ready to elevate your snacking game with my homemade Popcorn Fried Chicken recipe! Inspired by Taiwanese popcorn chicken, this appetizer boasts bite-sized pieces of chicken, marinated and deep-fried to perfection. Crafted with common Asian ingredients, it’s a perfect choice for any occasion!


Asian style popcorn fried chicken served in a black bowl topped with fresh chopped basil.

Why I Love This Recipe

Crafted with love in my kitchen, my Popcorn Fried Chicken recipe is a true delight and I will tell you why! It’s a delightful fusion of Japanese and Taiwanese flavors, featuring tender chicken pieces marinated in garlic goodness and coated in a crisp potato starch blend infused with Asian seasonings!

Whether served as a snack, lunch, or side dish, this creation of mine is versatile and utterly delicious. Crafted with elements from my Japanese Fried Chicken and Air Fryer Soy Sauce Chicken recipes, and perfected with my proven at-home deep frying method from my Tebasaki Fried Chicken Wings, it’s a unique take on the classic Taiwanese style popcorn chicken!

Trust me, you won’t be able to resist the crunchy, savory, and slightly sweet sensation with hints of basil and white pepper. If you’re craving a homemade Asian-style popcorn chicken that’s easy to whip up and bursting with flavor, I urge you to give my recipe a try – believe me, it’s a game-changer!



  • Chicken Thigh – boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces. Can also use chicken breast if preferred.
  • Neutral Oil no taste or flavor with high cooking temperature. Some choices are sunflower oil, peanut oil, sallower oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil. 
  • Basil  fresh and chopped. Can alos use Thai basil.
  • White Pepper – ground White Pepper in a bottle used for coating.
  • Ginger – fresh and grated.
  • Garlic – fresh and grated.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. 
  • Toasted Sesame Oil – 100% Toasted Sesame Oil that should have a dark brown color.  
  • Sweetener use your preferred sweetener.
  • Potato Starch – used to give the crispy coating. Can also use corn starch.
  • Salt sea salt preferred.
  • Togarashi (red pepper)Togarashi Japanese chili pepper blend found in most Asian or Japanese supermarkets. A good alternative would be cayenne pepper or red pepper.

🍗 Chicken Note

You can use Chicken Breast if preferred, but traditionally, this recipe is made with chicken thigh.

Asian style popcorn fried chicken served in a black bowl topped with fresh chopped basil, top down.


Step 1 Start with preparing the marinade. Combine soy sauce, sake, sweetener, garlic, ginger, and toasted sesame oil into a mixing bowl or ziplock bag and marinade cubed chicken for at least 2 hours and up for 24 hours.

Cubed chicken thigh being marinated in a ziplock bag.

💡 Marinating Pro Tip

For optimal flavor, we recommend letting the chicken marinate for 8 Hours.

Step 2 Remove excess marinade from the chicken and coat it evenly in a mixture of potato starch, white pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt.

Marinated chicken coated with popcorn chicken coating.

💡 Coating Pro Tip

For optimal coating, there are two methods you can choose: Dipping each piece of chicken into a bowl of starch or generously Sprinkling the starch over the chicken.

Step 3 Deep fry coated chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Top with fresh basil and white pepper.

Popcorn chicken served on a plate topped with fresh basil.

🍳 Deep Frying Pro Tip

Avoid Overcrowding the frying pan by frying the in batches. This allows each piece to cook evenly and prevents the oil temperature from dropping too much.

🍗 Extra Crispy Pro Tip

For an extra crispy texture, consider Double Frying the chicken. Once it’s rested for 1-2 minutes, fry it again to further enhance the crispiness of the exterior coating.

Recipe Variations

You can transform my popcorn chicken recipe into two enticing variations so easily! Firstly, skip the seasoned coating and just use the potato starch to create my Japanese Fried Chicken. Alternatively, skip the coating altogether and air fry the marinated chicken for a healthier twist, making my Air Fryer Soy Sauce Chicken. Both variations offer unique takes on the original recipe!

Pairing Recommendations

Pair my this popcorn chicken with light sides like Egg Drop Soup for a comforting option or Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad for a refreshing choice. Both dishes complement the crispy chicken perfectly!

Asian style popcorn fried chicken served in a black bowl topped with fresh chopped basil being picked up with chopsticks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What oil is best for frying the chicken?

For frying the chicken, it's best to use an oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil. These oils can withstand the high temperatures required for deep-frying, resulting in a crispy exterior without adding any unwanted flavors to the chicken.

Can I bake this instead of deep-frying?

Yes, you can bake this recipe instead of deep-frying. Simply preheat your oven to 400°F and bake the chicken for 8-10 minutes until it turns golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. However, take note that the texture may differ from the deep-fried version.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-5 days. When reheating, opt for methods like using an air fryer or baking to maintain the crispy texture of the chicken.

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Watch How To Make It

Asian style popcorn fried chicken served in a black bowl topped with fresh chopped basil being picked up with chopsticks.

Popcorn Fried Chicken

Welcome to the world of homemade popcorn chicken! Dive into crispy, flavorful bites crafted with love in your own kitchen. Perfect for snacking or as a main dish, this recipe brings the irresistible taste of popcorn chicken to your table.
4.88 from 8 votes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian Fusion, Japanese, Taiwanese
Keyword: homemade popcorn chicken, popcorn chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe
Calories: 262kcal



  • 6-9 oz Chicken Thigh skinless and boneless
  • 2-4 Cups Oil for deep frying
  • 6-8 Leaves Basil
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper


  • 1/4 Inch Ginger
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Japanese Sake can substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 tsp Sweetener your preferred sweetener


  • 1/4 Cup Potato Starch
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Togarashi can sub with ground red pepper


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Ingredients to make popcorn chicken on the countertop.
  • Grate garlic and ginger with a grinder and add into a small mixing bowl.
    Grated garlic.
  • Combine soy sauce, sweetener, Japanese sake, toasted sesame oil into the small mixing bowl and mix well.
    Marinade for popcorn chicken in a mixing bowl.
  • Cut chicken into small bite-size pieces, about 1/2 x 1/2 inch and place into a ziplock bag. Pour marinade from above into the ziplock bag and marinate for 2 hour minimum (up to overnight) in the refrigerator.
    Cubed chicken thigh being marinated in a ziplock bag.
  • Combine potato starch, sea salt, white pepper and togarashi in a large mixing bowl. Mix very well to form the coating and set aside.
    Coating for popcorn chicken in a mixing bowl.
  • Chop fresh basil leaves and set aside.
    Fresh basil chopped.
  • After the chicken is done marinating, remove the chicken and coat with potato starch mix. Place onto a holding plate.
    Marinated chicken coated with popcorn chicken coating.
  • Add enough oil to cover about 1/2 inch and heat oil up to 375F. Once up to temp, carefully place chicken inside without overcrowding to deep fry (cook 2 batches if needed). Cook until crust is lightly browned on all sides, about 2 – 3 minutes in total. You may have to rotate/flip chicken depending on how much oil you used.
    Popcorn chicken being deep fried.
  • Transfer to an oven rack. If you do not have a drying rack, place use a plate with a paper towel to soak up oil.
    Popcorn chicken resting on a drying rack.
  • After letting it rest, transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle on some white pepper to taste and top with fresh basil.
    Popcorn chicken served on a plate topped with fresh basil.


Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1654mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 145IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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