If you love Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers, you need this Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers Copycat Recipe – crispy, breaded, delicious chicken poppers that are a huge family favorite and super easy to make at home! These popcorn chicken bites are a perfect easy party appetizer everyone loves!
Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers are one of my kids favorite fast food indulgences – and are so incredibly easy to make at home – whether you call them “Chicken Poppers”, “Popcorn Chicken” or “Mini Nuggets” – these delicious, crispy, salty, and juicy chicken poppers are a huge hit with kids, and a fun easy appetizer for a party!
These chicken poppers are incredibly versatile – they can be either baked OR fried – (or fried a bit and then baked the rest of the way!) and don’t require fancy equipment.
You can even make a giant batch of these and freeze them (fully cooked) to pop in the oven for a busy school night alternative to grocery store chicken nuggets or McDonalds!
Tips to Make the Perfect Copycat Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers:
- Give them space!
- Whether you’re baking or frying these jumbo chicken poppers, they need room to crisp up. Chicken touching other chicken while cooking will give off too much moisture and start to steam (not bake or fry) the chicken – and will cook unevenly or too slowly, giving you overly dry breading and raw chicken in the middle.
- Don’t overcook.
- Chicken can be tricky to cook perfectly – you want to cook it through for safety’s sake, but not overcook a chicken breast since it can turn dry so fast.
- Fry then bake if you’re nervous to overfry.
- Sometimes when I don’t want the hassle of frying all the way, I will flash fry these chicken poppers and then pop them on a metal cookie cooling rack and into the oven to cook the chicken the rest of the way. If you’re not great at holding oil to a certain temperature (like me, I can never seem to keep it in a range while adding chicken, etc – it always gets too hot or cold and then cooks unevenly.) You’ll just fry to get the breading slightly browned, then shake off any excess oil, and pop in the oven. The chicken poppers in this posts pictures were flash fried, then finished in the oven.
To Make This Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers Copycat Recipe, you’ll need:
To make this jumbo chicken poppers recipe, baked or fried, you’ll need:
- 3 bowls for dredging
- Tongs or plastic gloves for dredging
- A large ziploc bag
- Meat thermometer
To make baked popcorn chicken, you need:
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Optional – a cooling rack once chicken batter has set, you can pop it onto a metal cookie cooling rack to provide better airflow in your oven. Don’t start chicken out this way or batter on chicken can fall off and clump weirdly until it has baked a bit to set.
To make fried popcorn chicken, you need:
- Large Pan with a 2″+ lip; a dutch oven; a deep fryer; or an Air fryer.
- Oil Thermometer
Sonic Jumbo Chicken Poppers Copycat Recipe
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Slice chicken breasts into 1-2" chunks.
Season with salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder, and turmeric, coating evenly over all the chicken.
Add to plastic bag with buttermilk and pickle juice.
Refrigerate at least 12 hours, up to 2 days before cooking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (if baking) before removing chicken from fridge so it is hot when you're ready.
Arrange 4 large, shallow bowls (salad bowls are great for this) in a line on your workspace.
Add chicken in the buttermilk mixture to one bowl.
Add corn starch to one bowl.
Add eggs to other bowl, beat until slightly foamy, about 1 minute.
Add flour to final bowl.
If frying, add 2-4" peanut oil to a heavy cast iron skillet or heavy pan with a 2"+ lip around the side (I like to fry in a dutch oven personally - less splatter) and heat to between 350-375 degrees.
If baking: Arrange parchment paper on a baking sheet at the end of your dredging assembly line.
Baking or frying: Working with individual chicken bites, or in small batches, move chicken from buttermilk bath to cornstarch, then egg bath, then flour, making sure you get a good, even coat on the chicken. I prefer extra thick breading, and will sometimes dredge three times!
If baking: When chicken has been dredged in egg and flour, place on parchment paper lined baking sheet - give a little space so each can crisp up without over crowding.
If baking: Bake 30 minutes, until chicken has reached internal temperature of 160 degrees and has turned a lovely golden brown.
If frying: fry in small batches until chicken has reached an internal temp of 160 degrees and has browned to a golden brown.
Serve immediately and enjoy!