Air Fryer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Not exaggerating but these air fryer Taiwanese popcorn chicken are just as good or even better than the original deep-fried Taiwanese popcorn chicken. They turned out so crunchy and juicy without the extra calories so if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to this indulgent snack, you’ve come to the right place.

Taiwanese fried chicken is a popular street food in Taiwan and is commonly found in many bubble tea shops as a tasty treat to snack on. While there are many variations of Taiwanese popcorn chicken, the combination of the sweet, salty, and spicy flavors in this recipe is hard to resist. The addition of my secret ingredient – orange – also helps to tenderize the chicken and add a subtle citrusy flavor.

Crack open a beer or your favorite beverage and brace yourself because these are deliciously addicting and guilt-free. Enjoy!~

Air Fryer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Servings 4 people
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 cup sweet potato starch substitute with potato starch or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup Thai basil leaves washed and thoroughly dried
  • cooking oil spray

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lb chicken thighs boneless & skinless, about 3-4 thighs
  • 4 garlic cloves grated
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine substitute with dry sherry or mirin
  • 1 tbsp orange juice optional
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 egg white

Sichuan-White Pepper Seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp white peppercorns substitute with white pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar


  • Cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch thick pieces.
  • Transfer the chicken to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add grated garlic, soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, orange juice, salt, sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, and white pepper. Mix well and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • For the Sichuan white peppercorn seasoning, heat a small pan over medium-low heat. Then, add Sichuan peppercorns and white peppercorns (if using whole). Toast for 2 to 3 minutes, making sure to constantly stir to prevent the spices from burning. Remove from the heat then grind into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Transfer to a bowl then add salt and sugar. Mix then set aside for later.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400F (205C).
  • Crack an egg and separate the white from the yolk. Add the egg white to the marinated chicken and mix until combined.
  • To a small mixing bowl, add sweet potato starch. Coat each piece of chicken well on all sides. Optional, but highly recommended – sprinkle a few droplets of water into the sweet potato starch to create small beads. This will create crispy crunchy bits on the chicken.
  • Arrange the chicken in the air fryer basket, making sure they have ample space on all sides. Make sure they do not touch!
  • Spray both sides of the chicken with cooking oil spray then air fry for 5 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken then spray with cooking oil spray. Air fry for another 5 minutes.
  • Toss the Thai basil leaves into the air fryer with the chicken, and spray with cooking oil spray. Air fry for 5 more minutes or until brown and crispy.
  • Sprinkle the Sichuan white pepper seasoning on top of the chicken. Serve and enjoy!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Taiwanese

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