This Vegan KFC Popcorn Chicken Recipe is full of bite-sized pieces of heaven in your mouth. The crispy texture is just like the real thing except it’s a homemade KFC recipe.
I have recreated a vegan and gluten-free version of KFC popcorn chicken! I also paired it with a homemade honey mustard sauce that is absolutely to DIEEE for.
PSA: I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but I do LOVE some good vegetarian and vegan alternatives! I don’t actually like fried chicken, so I much prefer these over popcorn chicken pieces.
They are also much easier on the waistline, as they are baked, and have a quick frying option at the end (but not necessary). KFC chicken would be at least 3 times the amount of fat and calories than this recipe.
You could also cook these in the air fryer to make air fryer popcorn chicken. This way there isn’t a ton of excess oil left over from frying them.
Table of Contents
WHAT IS POPCORN CHICKEN?
The original recipe is small pieces of chicken that have been seasoned and coated with bread crumbs then fried in vegetable oil till a crispy texture is achieved. Since the coated chicken pieces resemble chicken nuggets and popcorn, that is why they get their name.
I’m not a huge fan of chicken (which is why I made this recipe vegan), but of all chicken recipes, this one is probably my favorite. I think the flour mixture combined with the extra crispiness and the dipping sauce makes it one of the only chicken recipes I enjoy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love fast food, but for some reason a piece of chicken isn’t the most appealing to me. This recipe is not exactly like eating a real popcorn chicken bite, but it’s got the same flavor and gets super crispy and delicious.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE VEGAN KFC STYLE POPCORN CHICKEN
You will need the following ingredients listed below to make this homemade kfc popcorn chicken recipe (the exact measurements, nutrition information and full recipe are in the printable recipe card below):
- Cauliflower – if you want to make the traditional kfc-style popcorn chicken then you can also use chicken breast.
- Almond milk – any non-dairy or dairy milk will work. You only need less than a cup of milk.
- Chickpea flour – can also use all-purpose or plain flour if you don’t need to avoid gluten in your diet.
- Spices – dried oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, red chilli powder, dried basil, salt & black pepper would all be great seasonings for this recipe.
- Bread crumbs – if you are not celiac or gluten intolerant you can also use regular bread crumbs that aren’t gluten free.
- Avocado oil – any hot oil will work.
- Dipping sauce – I choose to make my own honey mustard but you can use any dipping sauce of choice.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST POPCORN CHICKEN
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Chop up cauliflower into bite-size florets.
In a medium-size bowl, combine chickpea flour, almond milk, water, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, dried mustard, and salt + pepper.
Dip the florets into the batter then into the panko breadcrumbs.
Place florets on about 1 inch apart in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes in preheated oven, rotating the florets halfway through.
Heat 1/3 cup avocado oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Work in small batches, making sure not to overcrowd the cauliflower, cook until golden brown on all sides, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
This step is optional, but will really crisp the popcorn“chicken” up!
In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the honey mustard and whisk!
Season the popcorn “chicken” with more salt and pepper and serve with french fries, ketchup, and the homemade honey mustard! KFC ain’t got NOTHING you on you!
EASY HOMEMADE HONEY MUSTARD
While the cauliflower is baking to perfection, you have plenty of time to whip up an easy honey mustard dip. Simply add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk! That’s it. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
What I love about making your own dressings and dips is that you can taste the mixture as you go – so feel free to adjust the seasoning to your liking. When you dip the cauliflower popcorn chicken into the honey mustard, they are downright addictive (trust me, I ate WAY too many)! Be sure to serve them with some french fries and ketchup to have the full KFC experience!
CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE OTHER FLOURS IN THIS RECIPE?
All-purpose flour can be substituted 1:1. So if you are not celiac or gluten-free, all-purpose works perfectly in this recipe! I have not tried with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free 1:1 flour, but I imagine that would also work!
CAN YOU SUBSTITUTE OTHER MILKS IN THIS RECIPE?
Yes, any other nut milks would work just fine, just keep in mind it may change the flavour slightly! You can also use regular milk if you’re not vegan or dairy-free!
To be clear, this cauliflower popcorn chicken does not taste exactly like OH MY GOSH real popcorn chicken. If you find any recipe that claims cauliflower is going to taste just like chicken, run far away. Sprint, and don’t look back.
Cauliflower is not chicken, cauliflower will never be chicken, and cauliflower popcorn “chicken” is never going to fool anyone into thinking that it is REAL POPCORN CHICKEN. End of story.
That being said, these are flipping delicious in their own way. There’s no need to treat them as a 100% substitute for the real thing because they are the real thing.
MORE FUN HEALTHY SNACKS & PARTY FOOD
- Gluten Free Pizza Bites
- Starbucks Spinach Feta Wrap
- Easy 6 Ingredient Vegan Beer Bread
- Cauliflower Thai Sweet Chili Wings
- Pepperoni Pizza Dip
FOR POPCORN CHICKEN
- 1 small head cauliflower
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 3/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried mustard
- salt + pepper
- 1 3/4 cup breadcrumbs, use GF panko breadcrumbs to keep this recipe GF
- 1/3 cup avocado oil
FOR HONEY MUSTARD
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup vegan mayo
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Chop up cauliflower into bite-size florets.
- In a medium-size bowl, combine chickpea flour, almond milk, water, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, dried mustard, and salt + pepper. Dip the florets into the batter then into the panko breadcrumbs.
- Place florets on about 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the florets halfway through.
- Heat 1/3 cup avocado oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Work in bunches, making sure not to overcrowd the cauliflower, cook until golden brown on all sides, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. This step is optional, but will really crisp the popcorn“chicken” up!
- In a separate bowl, combine all the ingredients for the honey mustard and whisk!
- Season the popcorn “chicken” with more salt and pepper and serve with french fries, ketchup, and the homemade honey mustard! KFC ain’t got NOTHING you on you!
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 588Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 971mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 7gSugar: 26gProtein: 13g
The nutrition information provided is calculated based on industry-standard software and should be used as a general guide only. The information may vary depending on ingredient substitutions, cooking techniques, and individual serving sizes. It is the responsibility of the reader to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the nutritional information provided. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for personalized medical or nutritional advice.
I love to bake, cook, exercise, and document all of the above. Nutrition is not low fat. It is not low calorie. It’s not feeling deprived or being hungry all the time. It’s nourishing your body with real, whole foods so that you are consistently satisfied and energized to live your life to the fullest! Read more…