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.
Serve it up with our classic marinara sauce, (5 min!) homemade mayo or a sugar-free ketchup!
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
- 500 g deboned chicken thighs or chicken breast, diced into bite sized pieces
- 1/2 cup sour cream or full-fat coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic ran through a press
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt to taste
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
- our marinara sauce
- (sugar free!) ketchup or maple syrup
- chives finely chopped
- 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!).
I doubled the recipe and I liked it. I seasoned the chicken with adobo goya seasoning and some of the salon goya con azafran seasoning and left it in overnight. I ended up having to use 3-4 cups of almond flour, about 4 eggs with 4 tbsp of sour cream, and 3 batches of the pork rind mixture to completely cover everything.
Then I baked it in 425 for 20 min total, flipping it at the 10 minute mark. I had to do it in batches, so for double the recipe it took me about 3 batches to fully cook everything.
Then as a side sauce I got the sugar free ketchup (1 carb per serving) and mixed it with cayenne pepper and curry powder.
All in all a great recipe and once you make the chicken you can incorporate that chicken into other things (pasta dishes, thai curry, etc).
Thanks for the recipe!
This took me so long but it was so delicious! The marinade is key, and double coating the chicken helped everything stay together. I air fryed in batches, 370 for 8 minutes. Thank you Paola for these great recipes!
I’m confused on the marinade and how that should look??? Sourcream seems so thick. How does it stay in the chicken? Picture to show? Thanks. Cannot wait to try!
It’s thick don’t worry!! Just mix it thoroughly
These were delicious, you are the low-carb queen, I now barely go to any other websites or cookbooks. Fabulous!
Did you use the pink Himalayan sea salt rinds or what flavor?
Yup! They’re nice and neutral xo!
Trying to figure out grams. Don’t quite get it.
Click on US Cups below the ingredients 😉
delicious! I didn’t use the almond flour just the crushed pork rinds, what a great low carb idea! my husband and boys loved them too. I make a lot of your recipes, really helps me stay low carb. thank you. will surely make again.
Do you put them on a rack or turn while baking so the underdog gets brown?
Mine just crisped up nicely on the baking tray with parchment paper, no turning required. I wouldn’t suggest a rack for these as they would stick a lot and fall apart (trust me, I tried lol!)
About how many chicken popcorns are in a serving? I see where it says 4 servings, but unclear on just how big a serving is. TIA
Do these freeze well? They look sooooo good!
Yes!! Then just thaw them out and give them a quick bake again 😉
Can’t wait to try, love your recipes so much Paola thank you!
My pleasure Erica! Hope you love xo!!
Yep. That’s going into meal prep this weekend. Thanks Paola 🤗
I’m thinking this technique could also work for some bomb crispy eggplant parmesan that I’m also planning to make. Just adjust the seasonings a bit.
Lisa that sounds like an awesome idea!! Crispy eggplant is sooo yum!!! Maybe with a tomato salad and burrata….mmmmmmmm 🤗 I was also thinking of doing a tempura sort of thing with other veggies and shrimp… so yeah, I think def open to play 😉 big kiss girl!
P.s Can’t wait to hear about the tempura too! Awesome idea because that’s definitely a dish that I miss 👍
DEEEEE-Licious!!! Made the Chick Fil A sauce but these morsels can stand on their own without any sauce. That being said, I think I found the way to get the Chick Filet A fix I’ve been missing for so long. These are just as good in my opinion. In fact, I’m thinking I can do a whole chicken breast in this breading and pair it with Gnom-Gnom burger buns for a formidable chicken sandwich.
Thanks once again Paola! XO
Omg you’re filled with brilliant ideas Lisa!! Fried chicken burgers def gotta happen ASAP (and I’m totally quoting you!!) big kiss girl
This is so much fun! 😃
Hey Paola! Just tested a batch of the crispy eggplant. Success! We’ve got something wonderful here 😁Doesn’t even need the sauce and additional cheese, but I’m still doing it. For this week I am using the marinara and fresh mozzarella that I have on hand. However, I eagerly anticipate making another batch real soon with the tomato salad and burrata. XO 🤗
Hi, love the idea of this recipe but I cannot stomach the smell or taste of pork rinds. Any suggestions for a substitution for this?
I get you, but you honestly can’t tell they’re pork rinds (maybe try the baked ones I mentioned). Otherwise check out the fish tacos or fish & chips for the whey protein coating 😉 xo!
What can I use in place of the pork rinds?