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Recipe: Spicy pecan popcorn chicken

| Recipes | Healthy You

Spicy popcorn chicken recipe

Winning weeknight meal.

Chicken nuggets aren’t just for kids. This is a grown-up take on a classic dish that many of us have probably eaten for years. Using either Grape Nuts cereal or coarse breadcrumbs, these crispy crunchy chicken bites are a great weeknight meal.

Serves 4


  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • ¾ cup coarse dry-whole wheat breadcrumbs (see tip) or Grape-Nuts cereal
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1-pound bones, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk or milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thoroughly coat a wire rack with cooking spray and set it on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Combine breadcrumbs (or cereal), pecans, chili powder and salt in a food processor; process until the pecans are finely chopped and the chili powder is mixed throughout about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.

Whisk egg white and water in a second shallow dish. Add chicken and turn to coat, then dredge in the pecan mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off excess. Discard any remaining egg and pecan mixture. Place the chicken on the prepared rack and thoroughly coat it with cooking spray.

Bake the chicken until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk (or milk), dill and garlic powder in a small bowl. Serve the chicken with the dip.

Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):

306 calories, 15.1g fat (2g saturated fat), 430.1mg sodium, 15.9g carbohydrates, 27.5g protein, 2.3g sugar, 3.1g fiber

Adapted from: Eating Well

Reviewed by PeaceHealth dietitians and nutritionists