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Pecan Popcorn Chicken (gluten-free, grain-free, low carb) | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

This Pecan Popcorn Chicken makes for the perfect kid-friendly & adult-loved chicken nugget.
Looking for flavorful, crispy, tender, and juicy popcorn chicken? This recipe is for you!  Made in partnership with the American Pecan Council!

Pecan Popcorn Chicken | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

When I think of popcorn chicken, I think of KFC. Though I would certainly not eat that now, I wanted this popcorn chicken recipe to be reminiscent of the crunchy, crispy exterior, with a tender, juicy center! This recipe is just that!

Pecan Popcorn Chicken | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

These chicken nuggets, or popcorn chicken bites, are nutrient-dense, so you’ll feel GOOD about serving these! Pecans are lower in carbs and higher in fiber compared to many other nuts, and they’re among the highest in monounsaturated fats, including the beneficial oleic acid that’s found in olive oil!

Pecan Popcorn Chicken | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Dairy-free, Grain-free, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly! Plus, that Cajun Garlic Dipping Sauce is truly AMAZING.

Pecan Popcorn Chicken | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

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Pecan Popcorn Chicken | Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Pecan Popcorn Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Servings 4
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Pecan Mixture:

  • 1 3/4 cup finely ground pecans using food processor or pecan meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Egg White Mixture:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil pecan oil, or oil of choice, more as needed for frying

Cajun Garlic Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  • 1. Mix all ingredients for the pecan mixture in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  • 2. Place arrowroot flour and egg white mixture in two separate mixing bowls and set aside.
  • 3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set next to the three mixing bowls.
  • 4. Place chicken in the egg mixture, dredge in arrowroot flour, place back into the egg mixture and then dredge in the pecan mixture. Make sure to coat the chicken generously in the pecan mixture.
  • 5. Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Splash a drop of water in it, if it sizzles, it is ready to go! 6. Carefully, place the chicken in the hot skillet and fry for about 8-10 minutes, or until outside is golden and no pink remains. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • 6. While chicken is cooking, place the Cajun garlic dipping sauce ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend until just combined. Taste and adjust lemon and spices as necessary. Pour into desired serving cups and set aside until ready to eat.
  • 7. Serve warm!


Bake the chicken poppers instead of frying! Pre-heat oven to 400 °F. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to the top rack of the oven and broil on high for 1-2 minutes on each side, until the outside is golden.


Serving: 4gCalories: 587kcalCarbohydrates: 13.4gProtein: 39.3gFat: 43.3gSaturated Fat: 5.9gCholesterol: 13.4mgSodium: 831mgFiber: 4.6gSugar: 3g
Author: Lexi

This post is sponsored by the American Pecan Council. All thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own! I love the integrity of their products and think you’ll love them too. Thank you for continuing to support LCK and the brands I work with!

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Recipe Rating


  1. l am going to try making these for my picky eaters. Do you think I could cook this in an air fryer? Instead of traditionally frying them?

  2. 5 stars
    These are delicious! I loved the texture that the pecan coating gave the nuggets and the flavor was awesome!! The dipping sauce was a 10 too, ended up making sweet potato fries so I could dip them in the sauce!

  3. I made this tonight for dinner, it was fabulous! I was too lazy to cut up the chicken, so I used whole breasts. I used cornstarch since I didn’t have arrowroot. I baked it on a rack so it would crisp on both sides. I also gave it a quick spray of coconut oil.. The chicken stayed so moist, and the crust was very crispy. The sauce is to die for. My husband was very impressed. Thanks for a recipe that turns out as good as it looks.

  4. My kids would LOVE these! Do you happen to know if they would freeze okay if I made a big batch to have on hand? Thanks Lexi 🙂

  5. Made these today, yum! I used chicken thighs and put them in pickle juice for about an hour first because they had been frozen and didn’t want them to be dry. Then, I ran out of pecans ( I only had about half the amount on hand) so I finished up with some tenders using almond and cassava flours. I realize that is no longer the intended recipe, but it all worked out! Two thumbs up from my little one, so bonus!

    1. Unfortunately no, but you can use tapioca flour instead! You can find either arrowroot or tapioca flour at any major local grocery store! The Bob’s Red Mill brand is great! You can find it on Amazon here:

  6. Wow – what a great idea! A childhood classic for me was red chile-dusted pecans. I love that this recipe has some spice and some Cajun flavors. Looks like a great combo!
    Have a great weekend! Thank you for all you do!

  7. Lexi,

    Is there a way I could bake these instead of fry? If so, how would you suggest doing that?

    I love your recipes and meal plans!

  8. Ooof this sounds so addictive (like KFC but a million times healthier and better) That shot of the chicken in the basket is so awesome!

  9. Sometimes you just need a kid’s meal 😉 I too have shared recipes like my Paleo Coconut Chicken Nuggets ( ) for those types of cravings. I love the use of pecans in these for more flavor and texture, I’ll definitely have to try!