Crispy, savory, sweet, and spicy, that’s right we are making hot honey chicken. These crunchy fried, yes sorry we are going there, chicken bites, some might even call them nuggets, are beyond delicious and finished with an easy to make hot honey. Enjoy them with a side of biscuits, on biscuits, or even by themselves these hot honey chicken nuggets might just rival your favorite fast food.
*This post is sponsored by Local Hive HoneyTM, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!
Hot & Sweet
So, what is hot honey? Well… it is hot honey, and by hot, I mean spicy. Hot honey gained popularity a few years ago and while there are several brands who sell it pre-bottled, making your own is easier than you think. I did a lot of research and testing prior to developing this recipe. Some people make it with a Louisiana hot sauce, some people make it with chili powder and paprika. I found the most flavorful and easiest hot honey was just 3 ingredients.
Surprise, it starts with honey, and not just any honey, good honey. Don’t let any other recipe tell you to use that generic honey bear. If you read my Chili Garlic Shrimp recipe then you know my love for Local Hive HoneyTM. Working with more than 250 bee keepers across the US Local Hive bottles 23+ different varietals of raw unfiltered honey. By keeping the honey raw and unfiltered they are able to retain the unique flavor profiles from each region or area. This is the type of honey you would find in a small market, but Local Hive has made good quality, and flavorful honey accessible to all.
For this hot honey chicken recipe, I used the Southeast varietal. With a sweet and slightly spicy flavor profile this varietal was perfect to transform into hot honey. To learn more about Local Hive HoneyTM, and snag a bottle of this Southeast or any of their other varietals check them out HERE! Use code TBA15 for 15% off your first purchase from now until end of December.
This hot honey gets its spice from good old chili flakes, and a lot of them. If you have a low tolerance for heat, but still want to make this hot honey feel free to strain the chili flakes out after the simmered honey sits for 10 minutes. Likewise, if you are like me and want the honey on the hotter side, leave the chili flakes in.
The final ingredient surprisingly is apple cider vinegar. You just need about a table spoon to bring this hot honey together. For step by step instructions check out the recipe card below!
What You’ll Need For Hot Honey Chicken
- Honey – Local Hive HoneyTM Southeast varietal works very well here. No flavored honeys.
- Chili Flakes – If you want to make this a smokey hot honey, swap out half the chili flakes for chipotle chili flakes.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Crispy Fried Chicken
- Chicken Breast – Cut in 1-inch pieces. Easiest way depending on how large your breasts are is to cut it into 3rds length wise and then 4ths or 3rds horizontally.
- Cornflakes – My favorite breading for chicken. If you are looking for more cornflake breaded chicken recipes check out my Sesame Cornflake Chicken Cutlets recipe.
- Chili Powder
- Oil – Choose a high smoke point oil such as vegtable or canola.
- Thermometer– For the longest time I didn’t even attempt to fry because let’s be real a vat of hot oil is terrifying. What if it bursts into flames? What if my food burns on contact or even worse it splatters all over the place. The solution is a digital oil/candy thermometer to sit in the pot while you are frying. The best way to avoid a frying disaster is to maintain the correct temperature between 325F and 350F degrees.
- Cooling Rack– The key to keeping the chicken crispy after it comes out of the fryer. I like to put a cooling rack over an aluminum foil covered sheet pan to collect excess oil.
- Tongs– For flipping the chicken.
I must warn you in advance, this is NOT an air fryer recipe. In order to get these “nuggets” super crispy and crunchy you are going to have to deep fry. I know deep frying is one of the most intimating cooking methods, but with a thermometer and an extremely organized set up it is a breeze. Below are step by step instructions on how to cook this hot honey chicken.
Step by Step
Prep your Station
A successful fry is an organized fry, so prep your fry station in advance. This includes setting up your drying rack, and the assembly line for the chicken before you even turn on the stove.
Season + Coat Your Chicken
I find that sometimes pre-coating the chicken can lead to a disaster, not here. Pre-coat all of your chicken before heating up the oil, that way you don’t have to worry about multitasking while frying. The order of the coat goes as below:
- Flour, yes this is necessary to keeping to final breading on.
- Egg… again
- Seasoned cornflake + panko breading.
Fry the Hot Honey Chicken
We aren’t going full deep frying here, although feel free to. You will need to reduce the cook time if you decide to deep fry. Fill the pot with about an inch and an inch and a half with oil over medium heat. Attach the thermometer to the side of the pot and watch it. Once it hits 325F degrees one by one with a pair of tongs place the chicken in the pot. Be careful not over crowd the pot. Keep in mind the temperature of the oil will not stay at 325F. When the chicken is added it will briefly drop and then continue to rise, especially when you take the first batch out. Try and maintain the 325F as much as possible for super crispy chicken. Depending on how thick the chicken is cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Always check the internal temperature (needs to be at 165F) if you are unsure about the doneness. Remove and place on the drying rack.
Drizzle, Toss, Dip
Once the chicken has cooled down and you are ready to eat, toss, drizzle or dip in the hot honey.
These chicken nuggets are best eaten fresh. If by chance you have leftovers store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Heat them up in an oven on 400F degrees until hot and crispy. Hot honey can be stored in a clean airtight jar for approx. 1-2 weeks out or 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator..
Hot Honey Chicken
- candy thermometer
- 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes makes approx 18 pieces
- 3 cups corn flakes grounded in the food processor
- 3/4 cup panko unseasoned
- 3/4 cup flour +/-
- 3 eggs beaten
- oil canola or vegtable
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
- 1 cup honey recommended Southwest Local Hive Honey
- 2 tbsp chili flakes
- 1 1/2 tbsp apple chide vinegar
- In a small saucepan over low-medium heat add the chili flakes and the honey. Bring to a simmer (not a boil) and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add in the vinegar.
- Pour into a clean air tight container of your choice and allow the honey to come back down to room temperature. If opting to strain out the chili flakes strain after 10 minutes.
- Store in an air tight container out of the fridge for approx 2 weeks or in the fridge for about a month.
- In a bowl combine grounded cornflakes, panko, chili powder, paprika and 1 tsp of salt.
- Salt the chicken with a heavy pinch of salt. Dredge the chopped chicken in egg, flour, egg again, then the breading.
- In a pot over medium heat bring 1 1/2 inches of oil to 325 degrees. Once reached carefully drop the chicken in one by one careful to not over crowd the pan (may need more than one batch). Cook for 4 min on each side then remove and place on a cooling rack. *depending on the thickness the chicken might need more or less time. Always check that the internal temperature is at 165°F
- Once the chicken cools and you are ready to serve drizzle, toss, or dunk the chicken in the hot honey. Serve immediately.