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I don’t know about you but I have a serious weakness for anything fried – and recently I’ve become addicted to gluten free popcorn chicken.

I’m talking crispy, gluten free fried chicken – basically like a gluten free KFC style popcorn chicken bucket.

Sadly KFC don’t have any gluten free options but no fear, I’ve come up with my own ‘Sarah Special’ blend of herbs and spices.

This gluten free popcorn chicken is deliciously tender with a crispy, crunchy, tasty coating.

And the truth it, making popcorn chicken is actually really easy.

You’ll want to make it over and over again!

gluten free popcorn chicken kfc style
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Gluten Free KFC dupe

I think we could all be waiting forever until the day gluten free KFC arrives.

When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease back in 2002, we didn’t even have a KFC in our town, so I’ve actually never had one.

And while I might not know what KFC should taste like, I know this gluten free homemade popcorn chicken is the bomb!

It’s got my own special blend of herbs and spices, including smokey paprika, a little kick of cayenne pepper, and some herby hints of oregano, thyme and marjoram.

I also add onion salt and garlic powder as they give these bite size pieces a lovely flavour.

This popcorn chicken is perfect with a hot sauce, garlic mayonnaise or even a blue cheese sauce.

They are also great in gluten free wraps or sandwiches – it’s a really versatile staple you’ll want in your kitchen repertoire.

And until that golden day that gluten free KFC arrives, this recipe is the next best thing.

gluten free popcorn chicken kfc style

What ingredients will I need?

Making this KFC style gluten free fried chicken is simple and you only need a few ingredients.

Once you have the basic spice mix, you’ll certainly want to make it over and over again.

You could even make a big batch so it’s on hand whenever you have a fried chicken craving.

There’s a printable recipe card below, but for the shopping list you’ll need:

  • 300g chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
  • 120ml buttermilk


  • 100g plain gluten free flour
  • 50g cornflour / cornstarch
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

I use chicken breast fillets for this recipe to make popcorn chicken, but of course you could use the same coating for any cut of chicken.

Just make sure you adjust the cooking times as larger chunks, and especially chicken on the bone, will take longer to cook.

For this recipe, I cut the chicken into bite size pieces.

If you don’t have cornflour/cornstarch, you can use just 150g of plain gluten flour.

However, the cornflour/cornstarch makes the chicken crisp up beautifully – I’d certainly say it’s a lot better for using it.

You can of course amend the spice mixes to take out anything you don’t like.

I know it has cayenne pepper but don’t worry – it’s not super spicy, just a very subtle hint of spice.

This and the smoked paprika also helps to add a lovely colour to the marinade.

You could always add some more cayenne pepper if you want to give this popcorn chicken a real kick.

gluten free popcorn chicken kfc style

How to make buttermilk

If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t worry – it’s really easy to make yourself.

And you can make it with cow’s milk or any dairy free milk, so this recipe can be completely dairy free too.

To make your own buttermilk, simply mix 100ml of any milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice.

Stir and leave it for a few minutes – the lemon juice with curdle and thicken the milk, creating buttermilk.


I’d recommend marinading the chicken in the morning if you’re cooking this for dinner.

It’s best when it has 8-12 hours to soak, as the buttermilk ensures the chicken goes super tender and flaky inside.

If you’re pushed for time you can leave it for an hour or two, or even skip this step completely.

It’s not essential but it does make a huge difference to the texture of the chicken.

gluten free popcorn chicken kfc style

Tips for deep fat frying

I’ll be honest, I always used to be afraid of deep fat frying.

I think we watched too many scary videos about chip pan fires when I was in Guides!

But honestly, it’s really quite simple – and perfectly safe if you invest a small amount (less than £10!) in a food thermometer.

Buying this food thermometer honestly changed the game for me.

You can use the food thermometer to keep checking the temperature of the oil, with no guessing as to when it’s ready.

It also means you can see if it’s getting too hot and save yourself burning anything.

Plus to avoid extra guessing games, you can probe the chicken when it’s done and check it’s cooked through.

You’ll want to heat your oil to 165’C (320F) and the centre of the chicken should be 75C (165F) when cooked through.

Of course you can also use a deep fat fryer if you have one, but heating oil in a pan with a thermometer is a lot easier than I first though.

When you’re done, you can also let the oil cool completely and then filter it back into a bottle to use again, before recycling it when you’re done.

Make sure you never fry anything containing gluten in the same oil though – otherwise you’ll end up cross contaminating your gluten free food.

If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can check if the oil is ready by dropping a little of the flour mix into it.

If it sizzles and rises straight to the top, the oil is ready. If it furiously sizzles and starts to burn instantly, the oil is too hot.

gluten free popcorn chicken kfc style

My gluten free popcorn chicken recipe

Here it is, the ultimate gluten free popcorn chicken recipe!

The perfect KFC style fried chicken which everyone will love – and it’s completely free from gluten.

If you make this recipe and love it, please do let me know by tagging me on my Instagram or using #theglutenfreeblogger. I love seeing your creations!

And please do leave a review to let others know you loved it too! It would mean the world to me. 

Yield: 2

Gluten Free Popcorn Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This crispy, gluten free popcorn chicken is basically gluten free KFC style fried chicken bites. Deliciously crunchy with my own blend of herbs and spices!


  • 300g chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
  • 120ml buttermilk (see notes for homemade version)

For the coating:

  • 100g plain gluten free flour
  • 50g cornflour / cornstarch
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

For frying:

  • 1 litre vegetable oil


Marinade the Chicken:

  1. Add the chicken pieces to the buttermilk, mix well and then cover and place in the fridge. Ideally marinade for 8-12 hours, but if you're short on time a couple of hours will suffice. The longer you leave it, the more tender the chicken.

Coat the chicken:

  1. Add all of the coating ingredients to a large bowl and stir well until fully combined. (I find a great way to do this is to also add it all to a tub, seal with a lid and shake vigorously!)
  2. When the chicken has marinaded, take one piece at a time and roll it in the coating. You want to make sure each individual piece is coated well. Place on a plate, ideally not touching each other.

To fry:

  1. Pour the oil into a large pan until it is around 5cm deep (this is approx 1 litre of oil in the pan I use). Heat the oil to 160'C (320F) - I highly recommend using a thermometer to do this safely and ensure the oil isn't too hot. Alternatively, if you don't have a thermometer you can drop in a small amount of the flour mixture - if it sizzles and rises to the top, the oil is ready.
  2. When the oil has reached temperature, use a slotted spoon to carefully lower 3-4 pieces of chicken, one-at-a-time, into the oil. They should instantly start sizzling away.
  3. Fry for 3-5 minutes, turning to ensure they fry evenly. Try not to let the pieces of chicken touch - this is why it's important to only do a few pieces at a time. If they start to burn before 3-5 minutes is up, you may need to turn down the oil temperature a little.
  4. Once golden and piping hot, remove the chicken pieces onto a paper towel-lined plate. You can check the temperature of the chicken to ensure it's cooked if you like - it should be more than 75'C (165F). Repeat until all the chicken pieces are cooked. Serve right away while hot.


  • To make your own buttermilk, add 1 tbsp lemon juice to 100ml milk, stir and leave for 4-5 minutes to thicken.
  • Once cooked, the fried popcorn chicken can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, or frozen. Ensure you reheat thoroughly before eating.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 562Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 1130mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 54g


Want to have a go at some of the other gluten free dinner recipes on the blog?

Give some of these other gluten free treats a try and see what you think!

There are plenty to choose from – here are a couple of easy baking ideas to get you going:

If you do make this recipe please let me know! I’d love to see your photos using #theglutenfreeblogger, share them in my Facebook group or tag me on Instagram. 

And if you have any recipe suggestions, please let me know in the comments what you’d like to see next!


Make sure you pin these recipe cards below for later! 

Do head over and follow me on Pinterest too for more gluten free recipe inspiration.


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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. Delicious!! Finally can enjoy KFC like chicken, I’d say it is better and put it in the GF wrap with salad, fresh tomato, cucumber, red onion and gf salad cream!

  2. What Gluten Free flour did you use? I am in Canada so limited in what is available. My go to is Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 or PC All Purpose.