Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Poppers
There’s no denying that I’m loving and eating buffalo chicken this week….I kind of have a problem 🙂 it’s fine. I previously made my buffalo chicken dip and buffalo chicken dip bites, but these are a gluten-free friendly snack size option for those of you who want all the buffalo chicken fun without the dip or the gluten.
These buffalo chicken poppers (named coined by all of you – thank you!) are like a hybrid between a juicy chicken meatball and a chicken nugget. They’re made with a ground chicken mixture: cream cheese, buffalo sauce, celery and scallions, plus spices and aromatics. Then, we add gluten-free bread crumbs to the mixture to hold it together, and coat the nuggets in gluten-free bread crumbs for the ultimate crunch. The only difference between nuggets and meatballs in this case is the shape, so if you want to serve them as meatballs on skewers instead, be my guest!
Want to jazz it up even more? Add everything seasoning to your bread crumb mixture for extra crunch and flavor. You know I love my everything seasoning, so I didn’t want to go on overkill with the seasoning for Instagram purposes…but I do have to say that I love these with everything seasoning.
I know this may seem obvious, but when making this recipe, please make sure that the cream cheese, buffalo sauce and bread crumbs you are using are certified gluten-free!
Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Poppers
- air fryer (optional)
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1/3 cup minced scallions can sub dried chives or 1/4 cup minced dried onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/3 cup buffalo sauce plus extra for serving
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 1/4 cups gluten-free panko bread crumbs (you can also just use any other bread crumb you like! I prefer the panko!) 3/4 cup for mixture and 1 1/2 cups for breading the outside of the popper
- 2 tsp smoked paprika optional
- 1/4 tsp fine kosher salt optional, only for people using completely unseasoned bread crumbs
- Olive oil or another oil of your choice for seasoning
- Blue cheese dressing optional, as a side (tastes so unreal)
- If using an oven, preheat to 450 degrees F. If your oven has a convection or convection roast setting, turn that on for the crispiest results!
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, celery, scallions, cream cheese, buffalo sauce, garlic powder, freshly cracked black pepper and 3/4 cup of gluten-free bread crumbs. With clean hands, squeeze and mix the mixture together until fully. combined. (Sorry for the raw meat action lol, this is just the best way to make sure the ingredients are fully dispersed throughout.)
- Place the mixture into the fridge to firm up while your prepare the bread crumbs.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs and 2 tsp of paprika. Taste the bread crumbs to see if they are naturally salty. If they taste dull and unseasoned (the only comparison I can think of here is like holy Communion lol I am sorry God,) add 1/4 tsp of fine kosher salt to the bread crumb mixture. IMPORTANT! Please note that your poppers will already be salty due to the buffalo sauce in the chicken mixture and when it's drizzled on top or coating the poppers, so if you are sensitive to sodium or don't like too much salt, do not season your bread crumb mixture with salt! If you don't want to coat your poppers in buffalo sauce, then I think adding the 1/4 tsp of salt here is fine. 🙂 trust your instincts! You can always toss them in salt after they cook, too!
- Remove the ground chicken mixture from the fridge. Spread the mixture out onto parchment paper and form a 1-2 inch thick rectangular slab. Use a knife to cut the slab into even chicken nugget sized pieces. Take each newly cut piece and roll it into a chicken nugget shape (whatever shape you want.)
- If baking in the oven, spritz or wipe down a sheet pan with oil to make it nonstick. Then, place the poppers onto the newly prepared sheet pan in even rows. Spritz the poppers with oil or drizzle oil on top and bake for 20 minutes. Then, flip them over and bake for another 10-20 until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Cook time can depend on the size of your poppers, so if they feel soft and not crunchy, continue to bake until they harden up.
- If air frying, place the poppers evenly into the air fryer basket and air fry for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, until golden brown and crispy. The internal temperature should be at lest 165 degrees.
- Remove the poppers from the heat. You can toss them in buffalo sauce if you want them fully coated like wings, or you can drizzle buffalo sauce on top / serve it on the side. Serve with blue cheese dressing if you feel so inclined (it tastes so good!) Enjoy immediately!