Baked popcorn chicken is extra simple to prepare and much healthier than deep-fried alternatives. Use chicken breast or chicken thighs for this. Substitutes for the buttermilk and breading are in the notes section below.
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, optional
4 cups corn flakes or potato chips
Non-stick cooking spray or olive oil
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. If you have one that fits, set an oven-safe cooling rack inside the baking sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray (this helps the chicken become more crispy).
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Marinate for at least 30 minutes. Or cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Drain very well.
To make the breading, add the corn flakes (or potato chips) to a large resealable bag, close it, and then beat the bag until the corn flakes are finely crushed. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and then shake until well mixed.
Working in batches, place the chicken into the seasoned breading, tossing and pressing as necessary to coat. Place the breaded chicken onto the prepared baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.
Place into the oven and bake, turning the chicken halfway through, until crisp, golden brown, and cooked through, about 20 minutes.