Crispy, tender, and flavorful-to-boot! This baked paleo and keto popcorn chicken is a real treat, with all good-for-you ingredients!
Paleo & Keto Popcorn Chicken
Baked (i.e. mess-free!)
So whether you serve them up as an easy entree or indulge as the main event, they’re bound to please. Plus, they’re easy-peasy!
The chicken is baked for a mess-free and more hands-off approach. And if that wasn’t enough, they freeze great too! So feel free to whip up a large batch while meal prepping, freeze away, and keep handy for a rainy day.
For this popcorn chicken I went for a ‘breading’ for baking rather than a batter (like in our fish tacos or ‘fish ‘n chips’). And I truly do love pork rinds (i.e. chicharrones!) more than anything for it. Plus, they’re the perfect balance between fat and protein with zero carbs (i.e. a keto dream come true!).
So before you freak out, there’s no after taste whatsoever. More like a wonderful crisp texture and amazing flavor. A lot of you ask me for brands, and I’ve loved the new baked variety from Epic (which has 40% less calories btw!). Because they’re not fried in lard, they’re drier and resemble panko crumbs so much.
Other than that, you’ll want to marinate the chicken in sour cream (with a touch of vinegar and spices). Then you’ll do three layers (almond flour, egg and pork rind blend) for the ultimate coating. And if dairy free, full-fat coconut milk actually does an awesome job in lieu of the sour cream.
Tips ‘N Tricks
Honestly not much to it! You can use any bite-sized pieces of chicken, but I used deboned thighs for extra juicy (and tasty!) results.
Just try and marinade the chicken overnight– it’s a game changer. For any poultry dish really, always aim for an overnight marinade for best-tasting results (or at least 2-3 hours).
Other than that, my one advice for the breading would be to use one hand for dipping in the dry ingredients (i.e. the almond flour and pork rinds mix bowls) and your other hand for dipping in the egg. This way you won’t end up with battered up fingers!
(Baked!) Paleo & Keto Popcorn Chicken
For the marinade
For the coating
- 1/2-1 cup almond flour as needed (or more pork rinds for a nut-free version)
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 90 g pork rinds crushed*
- 25 g Parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- pinch cayenne pepper
- kosher salt to taste
- Rinse and pat dry your chicken pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl suitable for marinating, mix together the sour cream, vinegar, poultry seasoning, garlic, freshly ground black pepper and season to taste. Add in the chicken, cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours (though preferably overnight!).
- Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- You will need three bowls for the three coatings. In bowl 1, place your almond flour (or more crushed pork rinds). In bowl 2, whisk your egg with sour cream. And in bowl 3, mix thoroughly together the crushed pork rinds, Parmesan cheese, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne and season to taste with salt (will vary quite a bit depending on the saltiness of your pork rinds).
- Dip your chicken pieces one at a time in the almond flour, followed by the egg, followed by the pork rinds mixture. Place in the prepared baking tray.
- Roast your chicken for 20-15 minutes until fully cooked (i.e. no longer pink and the juices run clear). Serve right away (though they're also surprisingly good cold too!).
- Store in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to three months (they reheat great!).