Beer-Battered Chicken Bites with BBQ Sauce (Made with Guinness!)

The NBA playoffs begin on Saturday. If you can't be in the crowd or at a bar watching, you and your friends will most likely be huddled around a big screen and watching the game unfold from home. I've had a few friends reach out to me already and ask, "What's a good recipe if I'm hosting gameday??" (Everyone should know by now how much I love coming up with gameday recipes.)

Beer, barbeque, fried snacks, finger foods...all standards, all classics. My newest recipe is what happens when I decide to throw everything together into one dish.

Crispy, beer-battered chicken with a tangy barbeque dipping sauce!

First, make the dipping sauce. Nothing radical on this ingredient list. In fact, you probably have most of these sitting in your pantry or fridge already. Ketchup, mustard, hot sauce...

 Measure all of the ingredients into a small saucepan.

Finally, add the seasonings and the beer. I chose to use Guinness draught because its thick, creamy head and its flavor from the roasted barley round out the tangy BBQ sauce nicely.  If you don't have Guinness on hand, another stout or porter would be best.

Simmer the sauce over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Stir every so often to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan. Then, set the sauce aside to cool, and start to heat your frying oil to 400 degrees.

To make the beer batter for the chicken, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.

The cornstarch and baking powder are definitely important in batters like this. The cornstarch helps to create that big crunch, and the baking powder (a leavening agent) prevents the the crust from being too dense/gummy.

Next, whisk in some Guinness. Not only does it match up perfectly with the Guinness in the BBQ sauce, but dark beers just work well in batters like this because the beer flavor really comes through and doesn't get buried by the flour.

 The batter should be smooth, with all of the dry ingredients incorporated.

In a separate dish, spread out a little bit of flour. Work in batches to evenly coat the cubed chicken breasts.

Then, shake off the excess flour. You only need a light dusting on the chicken so that the batter has something to stick to. (I really hate when breading slips right off or when there's that pocket of air between the crust and its filling.)

Dip the chicken in the batter, allow the excess to drip off, then carefully place a few pieces into the 400 degree oil. Fry each batch for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is browned and crisp.

One of the cardinal sins of frying is "crowding the pan", because putting too many pieces in at one time can make the temperature of the oil drop too low. Food fried in not-hot-enough oil is probably one of the most deceiving things ever...Appears perfectly browned, but is in fact, greasy and soggy. (It's also important to let the oil come back up to the right temperature in between batches.)

Once a batch is done, transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet or platter to drain. Lightly season with sea salt while they're still hot. (A funny thing happens when you deep-fry...The first batch is usually halfway gone by the time the second one is done, due to plenty of snacking...Or is that just me?)

At last, transfer the dipping sauce to a serving vessel of your choice, ready to go with the fried glory that is Guinness Chicken Bites! I love the rustic look of a mason jar, but for playoffs parties, you could also use shot glasses, bowls with team logos, or even mini buckets in your favorite team's colors.

As a fun way to serve your guests, pile the chicken bites into pint glasses. Everyone can have their own, or you can spread the pint glasses out on your coffee table during the game! This is beer and fried chicken rolled into one, a match made in gameday heaven...

Here's to good company, good food & drink, and good games this weekend!

Guinness Popcorn Chicken with Guinness BBQ Sauce (serves 4-5)

Print Recipe
BBQ Sauce:
2/3 cup Ketchup
1 tbsp Mustard
1 tbsp Hot Chili Sauce (Recommended: Sriracha)
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsps Liquid Smoke
1/2 cup Guinness Draught
3 tbsps Dark Brown Sugar
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp Freshly Ground, Coarse Black Pepper
Popcorn Chicken:
4-5 Thin-Sliced Chicken Breasts, cubed
1 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour, divided
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsps Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Finely Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 cups Guinness Draught
Canola Oil, for frying.
  1. To prepare the BBQ sauce, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir to combine well. Then, simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Pour into a jar or small bowl, and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oil to 400 degrees.
  3. Evenly spread the 1/2 cup of flour in a baking dish or pan. Then, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour the Guinness into the mixing bowl, and whisk until the batter is smooth and all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. 
  4. Once the oil is ready, work in batches to coat the chicken in flour, dip in the beer batter, and fry in the oil. Fry the chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Transfer each finished batch to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. While the chicken is still hot, sprinkle lightly with more sea salt. In between frying batches, be sure to allow the temperature of the oil to come back up to 400 degrees.
  5. Serve the chicken immediately, alongside the BBQ sauce for dipping! Enjoy!