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Fried Chicken Hearts (Popcorn Chicken Hearts)

These Fried Chicken Hearts are absolutely addicting, you will not be able to stop eating them! They are incredibly easy to make and a great "beginner" chicken hearts recipe for those who might be hesitant about eating chicken hearts.

I call these 'Popcorn Chicken Hearts' because they're super crispy and flavorful, just like popcorn chicken. 

2 Plates of fried chicken hearts with dip.
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You might have seen my chicken hearts with mushrooms recipe that I posted recently, and I wanted to share another favorite of mine: Crispy Fried Chicken Hearts. These little chicken heart bites are definitely a great recipe for those who might be hesitant about trying chicken hearts, because who doesn't like fried food, right?! 

If you're trying to convince someone that chicken hearts are delicious (or convince yourself lol), this is definitely the recipe you want to start with! These flavorful crispy chicken hearts will win you over even if you're hesitant about chicken offal recipes.

Hand dipping fried chicken heart into ketchup and mayo sauce.

Want more delicious chicken bites? Check out this Hot Honey Chicken recipe.

Frying chicken hearts

Frying chicken hearts definitely makes them less "chewy" than other methods of cooking, simply because they cook fast and don't have time to get chewy, and because they're coated in a delicious breading mixture. 

Most people are used to marinating chicken in buttermilk and breading chicken in some kind of breadcrumbs mixture, but I am sharing my family's traditional way of making fried foods: by dipping food into a mixture of egg + milk and then by dredging in a mixture of well-seasoned flour.

I love using egg + milk as the dipping mixture because (1) I don't have a half-used container of buttermilk I forget about in the fridge only to find it all chunky a month later, and (2) I always have those ingredients on hand! Mixing together egg and milk makes the flour mixture stick on just as well as if you dipped chicken into buttermilk.

Instead of breadcrumb breading, I use all-purpose flour that is well seasoned with a few simple spices: salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, and Italian seasoning. You can use dried basil, dried oregano, or a combination of any of those herbs in place of the Italian seasoning, if that's what you have on hand. 

I typically like to pan-fry food instead of deep-frying (see my pan-fried cauliflower and pan-fried lion's mane mushrooms) but since chicken hearts are not flat, it's hard to pan-fry them evenly. So for this recipe, I deep fry chicken hearts in vegetable oil, which is a high smoke point oil that does not degrade at a frying temperature of ~350-375 degrees.

And don't worry, you don't need a thermometer to do this at home. You can tell if the oil is hot enough when a piece of breaded chicken heart starts sizzling quietly (not boiling wildly!) when carefully placed into the oil.

You might be wondering - can I air fry chicken hearts?

I've tried this recipe in the air fryer, and it just does not come out as good. I love my air fryer as much as the next person, but just go ahead and treat yourself to a REAL treat with these popcorn chicken hearts by frying them in oil. 

Related recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Quesadilla

Plate of crispy fried chicken hearts with dip.

Ingredients

For the chicken hearts:

  • 1 lb chicken hearts, cleaned and halved or butterflied (see tips and photos at the bottom of the blog post!)
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • ~1-2 cups vegetable cooking oil, depending on your pot or pan

For the dip:

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Squeeze of sriracha, to taste (omit if you prefer non-spicy dip)
  • Optional add-ins to try: a squeeze of relish, some fresh lime juice, pinch of garlic powder, or chopped scallions

You'll also need:

  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 large plate lined with a paper towel
  • Slotted spoon or skimmer
  • Small saucepan or small pan with high sides (the narrower the less oil you'll need to use... but the more batches you'll need to cook)
  • 1 small bowl (for the dip)

Want more non-traditional chicken recipes? Try these Chicken Kofta Kebobs with Ground Chicken

Instructions:

Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the next 6 ingredients (salt through black pepper), and mix well. In another bowl, scramble together the egg and milk until well-mixed. Prepare a large plate with a paper towel.

Ingredients to make fried chicken hearts.

Step 2: Add half the chicken hearts to the egg bowl and swirl around. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to transfer them from the egg mixture to the flour mixture, then use a fork or your hands to get them coated really well in the flour mixture.

The more flour is stuck on the chicken, the crispier and more flavorful your fried chicken hearts will be!

3 steps for preparing chicken hearts: dipping in egg and dredging in flour.

Step 3: Pour 1-2 cups of oil into a small saucepan or a small pan with high sides. You will want at least 2 inches of oil on the bottom of the pan so the chicken hearts cook evenly. Heat the oil to about 350-375F, though you don't have to measure the temperature with a thermometer if you don't have one. You can just do a "test fry" and carefully add one breaded chicken heart to the oil. If it starts sizzling, the oil is hot enough. If it doesn't start sizzling, remove it with a metal slotted spoon and wait a little longer.

Step 4: Use a slotted spoon or heat-safe tongs to carefully place the breaded chicken hearts into the hot oil. Add a few at a time and do not overcrowd the pan.

Step 5: Fry the chicken hearts for ~3-4 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. If they turn brown too fast, lower the heat a little. If they take longer than 4-5 minutes to get to a beautiful golden brown color, you can turn the heat up a little. Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the fried hearts onto your plate with a paper towel.

Step 6: Fry the rest of the breaded chicken hearts, then repeat step 2 to bread the rest of the chicken hearts and fry them. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with your favorite dip.

Step 7: Make the dip: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Want more delicious chicken bites? Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets

How to prepare chicken hearts for this recipe

Start by trimming off any fat or veins from the ends of the chicken hearts. Then decide how big you want your fried chicken hearts to be - whether you want to slice them in half or butterfly them. I do not recommend frying whole chicken hearts because they will be a little too big and the texture of biting into a whole chicken heart is frankly, not as nice as biting into a halved chicken heart.

I like to slice them in half to get smaller pieces that are nicely covered in crispy breading. This does require a little more effort: adding more tiny pieces to hot oil and removing them from the hot oil.

The other option is to "butterfly" them, which simply means slicing them almost all the way in half, but stopping before you cut all the way through. Then they open up like the wings of a butterfly (hence the name) and both sides can be nicely breaded. You'll have less pieces to work with so the frying process will be a little less fussy (win!) but they will be bigger pieces (a win for some people, not a win for those with little kids who want small pieces of food).

Sliced chicken hearts on a cutting board.

Related recipe: Fried Anchovies

How to serve these chicken hearts

These chicken hearts make a great snack or appetizer, or can be part of a main dish for lunch or dinner. I love serving them as part of a whole "finger foods meal." Just pair them with a veggie (try roasted cauliflower!) and these Parmesan truffle potato wedges or roasted Jerusalem artichoke

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Plate of crispy fried chicken hearts with dip.
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Fried Chicken Hearts

This Popcorn Fried Chicken Hearts recipe is the most delicious way to eat chicken hearts, hands down! A great recipe for those who are new to eating chicken offal, because they seriously taste and feel like popcorn chicken!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kate
Cost: $4

Ingredients

For cooking the chicken hearts:
  • 1 lb chicken hearts cleaned and halved or butterflied (see tips and photos below the recipe instructions!)
  • ~1-2 cups vegetable cooking oil depending on your pot or pan
Mix together in one bowl:
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix in another bowl:
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ½ cup milk
For the dip:
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • squeeze of sriracha to taste (omit if you prefer non-spicy dip)

Special equipment

  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 large plate lined with a paper towel
  • Slotted spoon or skimmer
  • Small saucepan or small pan with high sides
  • 1 small bowl (for the dip)

Instructions

Bread the chicken hearts:
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour (1.5 cups) with the next 6 ingredients (salt through black pepper), and mix well. In another bowl, scramble together the egg and milk (½ cup) until well-mixed. Prepare a large plate with a paper towel.
  • Add half the chicken hearts to the egg mixture and swirl around. Use a slotted spoon or your hands to transfer the hearts from the egg mixture to the flour mixture, then use a fork or your hands to get them coated really well in the flour mixture. The more flour is stuck on the chicken, the crispier and more flavorful your fried chicken hearts will be!
Fry the chicken hearts:
  • Pour 1-2 cups of vegetable oil into a medium saucepan or a small pan with high sides. You will want at least 2 inches of oil on the bottom of the pan so the chicken hearts will be covered in oil and cook evenly.
    Heat the oil to about 350-375F, or do a "test fry" to test the temperature: Use a clean slotted spoon or metal tongs to carefully add one breaded chicken heart to the oil. If it starts sizzling, the oil is hot enough. If it doesn't start sizzling, remove it with a metal slotted spoon and wait a little longer.
  • Use a clean slotted spoon or heat-safe tongs to carefully place the breaded chicken hearts into the hot oil. Add a few at a time and do not overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry for ~3-4 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. If they turn brown too fast, lower the heat a little to give them time to cook through. If they take longer than 4-5 minutes to get to a beautiful golden brown color, you can turn the heat up a little.
    Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the fried hearts onto your plate with a paper towel.
  • Fry the rest of the breaded chicken hearts, then repeat step 2 to bread the rest of the chicken hearts and fry them. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with your favorite dip.
Make the dip:
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well... or use your favorite dip!

Notes

  • Try adding any of these to your dip: A teaspoon or two of relish, some fresh lime juice, pinch of garlic powder, or chopped scallions.
  • Please note that the nutrition facts do not include the dip, and are an estimate that will vary widely depending on how much oil will actually be used during the frying process, which also depends on how breaded your chicken hearts are. 

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal (18%) | Carbohydrates: 28g (9%) | Protein: 22g (44%) | Fat: 16g (25%) | Saturated Fat: 4g (20%) | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 176mg (59%) | Sodium: 601mg (25%) | Potassium: 310mg (9%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 1g (1%) | Vitamin A: 598IU (12%) | Vitamin C: 4mg (5%) | Calcium: 60mg (6%) | Iron: 9mg (50%)

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