Taiwanese salt and pepper popcorn chicken.

For a newer version of this recipe please check out this post

Taiwanese popcorn chicken is crispy outside and tender, juicy inside. One single morsel bursts with tons of umami flavor!  The best thing is that the flour coating is light and airy so it won’t leave a greasy and heavy aftertaste.

The true distinct flavor of Taiwanese popcorn chicken comes from the flavor of fried basil and five spice powder.

Although the traditional recipe calls for skinless and boneless chicken thigh, it just so happened that I was only able to find chicken breasts this time and I have to tell you that the results are equally good if not better.  I also pan fried the chicken instead of deep frying it, for a healthier version.

Without further ado, let’s get started !

5 from 1 vote

Taiwanese salt and pepper popcorn chicken

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
Taiwanese salt and pepper popcorn chicken 
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  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breast or thigh, skinless
  • 1 cup of basil leaves

Seasoning Group A

  • ½ tsp minced ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup sweet potato starch
  • 3/4 cup coconut or almond flour

To serve:

  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp chili pepper, optional, if you like spicy food like me !


  • Slice chicken into small pieces/chunks. Marinate the meat with seasoning group (A) for at least 25-30 minutes. (even better overnight)
  • Dredge the chicken in seasoning group (B) in the following order: a) sweet potato starch, b) lightly dust with coconut flour or almond flour.
  • Heat the oil for 5 to 10 minutes and pan fry the chicken in separate batches. When the chicken is cooked through and golden-brown in color, remove it from the oil and drain it on paper towels.
  • Pat the basil very dry and pan fry the basil in lower temperature oil (be careful of water splatter !)
  • Drain the oil and toss the basil leaves with the chicken. To serve, season with white pepper, black pepper, salt and chili pepper
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Taiwanese
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