Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken. Super crispy, flavourful chicken bites seasoned with Chinese five spice as the main star. This will be the best Taiwanese popcorn chicken recipe you’ll ever make at home!
This chicken recipe is by far one of my best on the blog! It’s super crunchy, packed with flavour and absolutely addictive. You will not be able to stop at one bite. I almost finished the entire plate to myself!
What is Taiwanese popcorn chicken?
It’s a very popular and delicious fried chicken dish that originates from Taiwan. The chicken possesses a very tasty, crispy and addictive texture thanks to the starch beading process. It is also commonly sold as street food!
Easy to make!
My Taiwanese style popcorn chicken is simple to make. The ingredients are mostly accessible, and I share a substitute for Shaoxing wine which may be the only ingredient that is hard to find at a Western grocer. You can find it at as Asian grocer.
You’re basically marinating your cubed chicken thighs for 30 minutes or overnight (the latter creates way more flavour). Then generously dredging and massaging the starch into the chicken until the starch begins to bead on the chicken. This is what creates the extra crunchy bits.
Next, mix a 3 ingredient Taiwanese popcorn chicken seasoning. Deep fry the chicken until golden and crispy brown, about 3-5 minutes per batch. Sprinkle the seasoning while hot.
Finally, deep fry the fresh basil for 20-30 seconds until crispy to serve with the chicken. That’s it!
What you’ll need
For this recipe you’ll need the following Taiwanese popcorn chicken ingredients:
- boneless skinless chicken thighs
- potato starch, or tapioca starch
- fresh Thai basil, or normal basil
- vegetable oil
- Egg white
- regular soy sauce, not light or dark
- shaoxing wine, or Dry Sherry Wine
- white granulated sugar
- Chinese five spice
- white pepper
- Chinese five spice
- white pepper
How to make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
Below are brief steps with visuals. Please scroll down to the recipe card below to find full instructions and details.
Dice chicken into bite-size pieces, about 8 pieces per thigh. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
Marinate chicken with marinade ingredients as listed for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix Seasoning ingredients as listed.
Spread tapioca starch on plate. With wet hands, generously dredge your chicken into the starch. Massage the starch into the chicken until beads of starch form on the chicken (see video). Note: The beads give the chicken that extra crispy exterior. The moisture from your hands and from the marinade will also create "beading".
Deep fry chicken in 3-4 batches at 350 F for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcrowd your pan or it will result in non-crispy chicken.
Remove chicken and transfer to cooling rack. Quickly season with seasoning while chicken is hot.
Next with fresh basil in one hand and a lid/oil guard in the other, drop the basil into the hot oil and quickly cover to prevent splash back. Deep fry for 20-30 seconds. Remove and sprinkle fried basil over chicken. Enjoy!
Below are tips on making authentic Taiwanese popcorn chicken recipe:
Dice your chicken into even cubes
This allows for an even cooking time as your chicken bites are the same size.
Use chicken thighs for best taste
Chicken thigh is fattier and will result in a more delicious texture over chicken breast. However, if you do decide to use chicken breast, please reduce the cooking time by a minute or so, as breast tends to dry out faster than thigh.
Marinate the chicken at least 30 minutes or overnight for best results
If you want delicious flavourful chicken, then it will take time. Marinating for at least 30 minutes or overnight will help you achieve a tastier result.
Thoroughly dry washed basil
You really want to make sure every leaf is dried to prevent a large amount of oil splash back when you deep fry the basil. I use a clean paper towel to do the job.
Tapioca starch or potato starch will work!
Either of these starches will work for this recipe. Just make sure it is not potato flour as this has a different texture.
Generously dredge and massage starch into chicken with wet hands
When you generously dredge and massage the starch into the chicken with wet hands, this will create starch beads on your chicken. These starch beads are the essence to extra crunchy Taiwanese popcorn chicken.
Deep fry at 350 F until golden and crispy
Using a cooking thermometer is the best way to know the temperature of your oil. I link to one in the recipe card below. If you do not have one, set your heat to medium high but more towards the medium level.
Season chicken while hot
Once you remove the chicken from the hot oil, immediately season it with the seasoning mix. The heat will allow for the seasoning to adhere onto the chicken.
Have an oil guard ready!
Before you drop that fresh basil into the hot oil, first make sure it is dried thoroughly and secondly, have an oil shield, guard, or lid ready in the other hand. The moisture from the basil will create for oil splash back! But it will die down in 10 seconds.
Below are frequently asked questions about this Taiwanese style popcorn chicken:
What is used for coating the Taiwanese popcorn chicken?
Traditionally course sweet potato starch is used but this ingredient is not easy to locate. So, I recommend using potato starch or tapioca starch.
Where did popcorn chicken originate?
This popular dish originates from Taiwan!
How do you reheat Taiwanese popcorn chicken?
I reheat mine in the air fryer, but I remove all the basil first or it can catch fire in the air fryer as it is very light weight and will fly around in the air fryer. You can also bake it at 350 F until warmed.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this recipe, you may enjoy these other fried chicken recipes:
JAPANESE CHICKEN KATSU
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
CHINESE LEMON CHICKEN
AIR FRYER KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
KARAAGE (JAPANESE FRIED CHICKEN)
GENERAL TSO CHICKEN
VIETNAMESE GARLIC BUTTER CHICKEN WINGS
SWEET SPICY GOCHUJANG CHICKEN
Well, I hope you give my Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try and most importantly, enjoy.
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Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
- Dice chicken into bite-size pieces, about 8 pieces per thigh. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
- Marinate chicken with marinade ingredients as listed for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- In a separate bowl, mix Seasoning ingredients as listed.
- Spread tapioca starch on plate. With wet hands, generously dredge your chicken into the starch. Massage the starch into the chicken until beads of starch form on the chicken (see video). Note: The beads give the chicken that extra crispy exterior. The moisture from your hands and from the marinade will also create "beading".
- Deep fry chicken in 3-4 batches at 350 F for 3-5 minutes. Do not overcrowd your pan or it will result in non-crispy chicken.
- Remove chicken and transfer to cooling rack. Quickly season with seasoning while chicken is hot.
- Next with fresh basil in one hand and a lid/oil guard in the other, drop the basil into the hot oil and quickly cover to prevent splash back. Deep fry for 20-30 seconds. Remove and sprinkle fried basil over chicken. Enjoy!