Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce


Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce taste like chicken and waffles – without all the frying and fat!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

They say you attract more flies with honey, but what about maple syrup?

I try to keep ranty/ravy stuff off the blog – people have enough of their own problems without having to hear about mine – but gosh darn it, my laptop’s hard drive failed 2 weeks ago and the computer repair center I sent it to has been holding it hostage ever since (meanwhile I’ve been using Ben’s.) It’s been like pulling teeth to get updates and I still have no idea when I’ll get the dang thing back.

Throughout these past two weeks I’ve been sweet as honey with the technicians and customer service representatives I’ve dealt with. Like, beyond. Until someone made me cry. The person I was talking to wouldn’t let me get a single word in and just kept repeating the same canned line over and over…and over and over. It was mind blowingly frustrating. So I hung up and ugly cried.

Then I turned to Twitter.

Obviously honey wasn’t working, so I cranked up the saccharine dial to maple syrup and made an impassioned pleet (plea + tweet) for help (read: begged) which had this particular company practically buzzing at my door with a solution 5 minutes later. God bless social media for helping me with my wretched first world problems. Fingers crossed this actually works.

End rant.

Another area where maple syrup really does the trick? In a sweet and savory dipping sauce for Baked Popcorn Chicken!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Ever since Ben and I came home from Charleston last month, I’ve been replaying one of the last meals we had there over and over again in my mind – Chicken & Waffles from The Rarebit. It was, without a doubt, the best bite of food I had on our entire trip (it was Ben’s meal so I mooched off the side.) The combo of salty chicken, creamy waffles, and sweet maple syrup was simply sublime.

I’ve been trying to think of easy ways to recreate the flavors at home since then, and I think I may have found my answer: Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce! Bonus: they’re freezer-friendly too!

Lean chicken breasts are cut into poppable bite-sized pieces then seasoned with Cajun seasoning, rolled in panko bread crumbs, and then baked for a super crispy crunch. Maple Syrup, Dijon mustard, and plain Greek yogurt combine to create a dipping sauce that echoes the sweet and savory flavor of the dish I fell in love with at The Rarebit.

Is this an exact replica of their Chicken & Waffles? No. Do the flavors take me back to our trip for a bit? Heck yeah!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Start the Baked Popcorn Chicken first, with 1lb chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces. You could cut the chicken into bigger pieces for nuggets, but I think popcorn chicken is just so much fun. : )

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and Cajun Seasoning then stir to coat. I usually either have this Cajun seasoning blend on hand or I make Emerils Essence, which is fabulous too.

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Next get the breading stations ready. First combine 2 eggs with 2 Tablespoons water in a shallow dish.

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

In another shallow dish combine 1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs and 3/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning.

Note: this amount of Cajun seasoning on both the chicken and in the panko bread crumbs didn’t make the popcorn chicken too spicy, but it depends on the blend you use. Emeril’s Essence, for instance, is a lot spicier than this so adjust accordingly!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Also, a word on panko bread crumbs: I LURVE panko bread crumbs for the crunchy texture they give oven “fried” foods. They can, however, make the final product a little dry if you get too much on there – especially when you’re working with little bites of chicken. That being said, don’t panic if every inch of the chicken isn’t covered in bread crumbs. A little goes a long way!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

K, time to bread!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Working in batches, dunk the seasoned chicken in the egg mixture then into the seasoned bread crumbs. I just use my fingers. It’s fast…and kinda fun. ; )

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Place the chicken onto a nonstick-sprayed, foil-lined baking sheet, spray the tops with olive oil or nonstick spray, then bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes, flipping half way through, OR pop the sheet pan into the freezer and freeze until the chicken is solid then transfer to a freezer bag. Pull out and bake the same way as if they were fresh (ie do not thaw.)

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

While the chicken’s a cookin’ whip up that Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce. It’s ridiculous. Simply stir together 1/4 cup each real maple syrup and plain Greek yogurt with 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard. 

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Plop the baked popcorn chicken onto a plate, spoon up the dipping sauce, and then dunk away!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce

Serves 4


Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce taste like chicken and waffles - without all the frying and fat!


  • 1lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
  • For the Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce:
    • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees then spray a foil-lined baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside. Lightly season chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning then stir to coat. In a shallow dish whisk together egg and water. In another shallow dish mix together panko bread crumbs and Cajun seasoning.
  2. Dunk seasoned chicken in egg mixture then bread crumb mixture, and then place onto prepared baking sheet. Spray tops with olive oil or nonstick spray then bake for 10-12 minutes (depending on how big you cut your chicken,) flipping halfway through.
  3. For the Maple-Dijon Dipping Sauce: stir ingredients together then serve.
  4. To freeze popcorn chicken: freeze on the baking sheet after breading and before baking until completely frozen, and then transfer to a freezer bag. Bake straight from the freezer as directed (do not thaw first.)

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Confession: popcorn chicken from KFC used to be like, my favorite, favorite, favorite thing ever back in the day. I would rejoice every time they came back on the menu, as I feel like they disappeared quite frequently?! Anyway, this is a fun and MUCH healthier way to enjoy ’em!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

Plus you’re not going to find that sweet and creamy dipping sauce on any fast food menu. With the warm flavor of maple combined with a spicy hint of Dijon, it’s really unique and yummy. Hope you enjoy!

Baked Popcorn Chicken with Maple Dijon Dipping Sauce |

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  1. Oh, that is such a bummer about your laptop!! I think you have done a fantastic job holding that rant in for two weeks and dealing with problems like that over the phone is SO frustrating, I would have ugly cried too. The maple-Dijon sounds like a great combo and makes me think of your honey-dijon red potatoes, so delish!

  2. Jamie 05.07.2013

    If you’re anything like me the pregnancy hormones popped small problems right into ugly cry ones: guy cuts me off in traffic? Pull over to ugly cry. Honey puts the crib in the wrong place in the nursery? TOTAL ugly cry. So glad the twitter-verse helped you out, though! And thanks for the yummy chicken. = )

  3. Juliene 05.07.2013

    I totally used that same tweet method with Best Buy when they kept telling me nothing was wrong with my laptop when I had it in their repair 4 or 5 times with no fix. Social media is a blessing in some cases!

  4. Those look yummy! I hope your laptop gets fixed soon. My laptop died a couple of years ago, no fixes for me. I gave up and had to by a regular old pc again :(

  5. Debtgirl 05.07.2013

    I think I can talk my teen into helping with this one!looks delish!

  6. Stephanie 05.07.2013

    I made this for supper (I had all the ingredients, yay no trip to the store!) the sauce is so so good!!! Loving this super easy recipe!!!

  7. Ja @Ja on the RUN 05.07.2013

    yum!!! I have stocks of Panko crumbs! Doing this soon! :)

  8. Honey-mustard/Maple-mustard sauce is one condiment I absolutely love love LOVE, but I always forget that it’s easy to make at home! These look so fun and delish, I love that they’re freeze-able too!

  9. This popcorn chicken looks so delicious, I wish I was having it for dinner tonight! Good luck with your laptop troubles..

  10. Tiffany 05.07.2013

    Not to mention, I’m pretty sure that was you (and IBE) I nearly ran over backing out of my driveway this afternoon. Sooooooooooo very sorry! Must. Slow. Down.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 05.07.2013

      Ahh, oh my gosh don’t even worry about! I was watching you the whole time! :)

  11. They’re lucky you only ugly cried. I swear I turned into a pirate when I was pregnant. I could cuss like the best of them… I may have even growled a few times.

  12. Jess 05.07.2013

    What a fun idea, and I love that it makes you think of your trip – you guys ate some great food down there! These look delicious!

  13. Hillary 05.07.2013

    Just so you know how much IGE influences this reader’s daily life- after reading your Charleston posts I begged my hubby to switch our anniversary plans to Charleston (we honeymooned there but had planned to visit somewhere else). After seeing all of your pictures I could. not. help. myself. and we splurged and got a place downtown. I’ve been telling friends that my favorite food blog changed my travel plans ;)

  14. Sometimes all that we need to feel better is a good cry…oh, and good food doesn’t hurt, either! ;)

  15. Kim 05.07.2013

    I think all of your recipes look awesome, but this totally appeals to my inner love of KFC that I have tried to squelch. We won’t tell the Colonel about this:)

  16. Tieghan Gerard 05.07.2013

    I personally love a good cry. It always feel good every once and a while!!!!

    This chicken look delicious!!! Love that it is baked!

  17. So sorry to hear about your computer, stuff like that is so frustrating!

  18. It sucks that sometimes to get companies to actual do something that you have to use social media to make it happen! Hopefully now it is fixed for you.

    Loving this recipe, it seems like a great one for when you have friends over :)

  19. Sadye 05.07.2013

    Stop posting so many tasty and easy-looking recipes! The kitchen that feeds only one human can’t keep up! (Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings — I am totally kidding, and please keep up the delish posts.)

  20. Kristen 05.08.2013

    I make this recipe all the time but I use brown sugar instead of honey. Just an FYI, Honey can be deadly for babies to consume. You might think about using maple syrup in place of a few more of your recipes that call for honey!

  21. Kate 05.08.2013

    This looks great and I can’t wait to try it. As an FYI (from a Vermonter) choosing grade B maple syrup will give you better maple flavor and less sugar. Hard to find but oh so worth it!

  22. Matt 05.08.2013

    Popcorn chicken looks good! Great photos too. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Might be a good snack in front of TV.

  23. Such a yummy recipe! This looks delicious, Kristin!

  24. debtgirl 05.08.2013

    What would you use instead of yogurt for dipping sauce if you couldn’t have dairy? Its such a problem for me these days. I can’t have any of my favs!

  25. Oh my gosh — that is forever to go without your computer!!! Rant is completely reasonable. Hope it “gets better” soon!

    These look so amazing! Cheers to lightening up one of my favorites!

  26. Lauren Williams 05.09.2013

    Sounds Delish! never thought of combining syrup with mustard!

  27. Jenn 05.09.2013

    When I read the title of the post I thought, “Wow, she’s made chicken crusted with popcorn?” I guess it just shows how creative you are!

  28. Wow, this sounds so good. I will definitely have to try this out this week!!

  29. I tried chicken and waffles for the first time last night and my mind was completely blown. I love the sounds of these chicken bites, plus they look SO easy.

  30. Mary Ann 05.09.2013

    Yeah, so this is in my oven RIGHT NOW! I’m so excited! Also, I had extra egg and panko so I whipped up a pan of “fried” zucchini too. But that has to wait to bake until after the chicken comes out!

  31. Katrina 05.09.2013

    Me too! I thought you made chicken coated in popcorn…. Could you try that? Lol. Looks delicious.

  32. Cherie 05.12.2013

    Oh my word!! These were soooo good! Can’t wait to make again! Loved the sauce too!

  33. Yaoli 05.15.2013

    This was so delicious! Especially the sauce, much healthier because of the greek yogurt but tastes so amazing. My boyfriend said it was the best version of honey mustard he’s ever had. We licked up the sauce dish!

  34. Lauren 06.21.2013

    I made this tonight and it was great! Both my boyfriend and I liked it, which is saying something. Thanks!

  35. Liz 07.14.2013

    This recipe is great!

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  39. […] baked take on a normally fried dish, Iowa Girl Eats’ baked bites are spicy and extra-crispy, thanks to Cajun seasoning and a healthy dose of panko […]

  40. mark burton 03.04.2014

    Not sure how I stumbled on this but thank you it is a brilliant recipe and i am heading to the shops now to buy the ingredients. Have a great day.

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