Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Poppers (Whole30, Keto, Paleo)

BBQ Chicken Poppers

My BBQ Chicken Poppers are the ultimate Appetizer for any party or get together! In addition, they serve as a family friendly lunch or dinner option. Honestly, everyone is sure to go crazy over these crispy balls of goodness that are Whole30, Keto and Paleo compliant.

The base of these poppers is ground chicken, which can be found at most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, just ask your butcher to grind some chicken breast for you. Easy peasy! To the chicken, I add in fresh chopped onions, an egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder and almond flour. If you are wanting to take the spice level up a notch, I also suggest adding a few tbsp of chopped jalapenos.

Chicken Poppers

Before adding to the air fryer, I roll each ball in a mixture of almond flour along with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder. In order to get that crispy skin, it is recommended to use an air fryer, but you can also fry these in a pan and finish in the oven. I know not everyone has an air fryer, so I wanted to make sure to include another easy cooking method for you guys.

Chicken Poppers

Can I make these Chicken Poppers in the oven if I don’t have an air fryer?

Yes, you can also make these in the oven. However, they will not get as crispy as the air fryer version. If you are wanting to still get that crispy skin, I would suggesting frying in a little coconut or avocado oil before transferring to the oven. This will allow the outside to get the same type of crispy as you would get using an air fryer. It will be an extra step, but totally worth it.

Chicken Poppers

Tips for making these Chicken Poppers?

  • Using an air fryer is highly recommended
  • Use my homemade Whole30 Ranch for dipping
  • Do not toss these popper in the BBQ sauce UNTIL right before serving. If you toss too soon, they will become soggy.
  • If you are making these for meal prep, I would recommend storing them without tossing in the BBQ Sauce. Before you heat up the next day, you can toss right before adding to the oven or microwave. This will allow the poppers not too get too soggy in the fridge.


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Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Poppers

  • Author: Ashley McCrary
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Total Time: 19 minute
  • Yield: 18 Poppers 1x


A crispy Chicken Popper smothered in BBQ sauce and dipped in a homemade creamy ranch dressing. This is the perfect for the entire family and also a great appetizers for a party or a get together. Whole30, Keto, Paleo and Dairy Free. 


  • 2 lbs ground chicken OR ground turkey
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup almond flour 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 sweet onion (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp diced jalapenos (*OPTIONAL)
  • Ranch dressing for dipping
  • 3/4 cup compliant BBQ Sauce


  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder


Air Fryer Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add in the ground chicken, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onions and chopped jalapenos if desired. Mix together.
  2. Add in the beaten egg and almond flour. Mix with a spoon until everything is combined.
  3. Roll the chicken mixture into golf ball sized balls.
  4. In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the coating.
  5. Carefully roll each chicken ball into the almond meal.
  6. Spray the air-fryer basket with cooking spray and add in each ball. Depending on how big your air fryer is, you may need to do this in 2 batches. Don’t overcrowd the meatballs and only cook in a single layer.
  7. Set the fryer to 400F and cook 13 mintues, flipping halfway through and spraying the balls with cooking spray (This helps it get more crisp). 
  8. Remove the cooked chicken poppers and toss in the 3/4 cup compliant BBQ sauce or sauce of choice and serve immediately
  9. Serve with my homemade ranch and celery and carrots

Oven Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F 
  2. Follow steps 1-5 from above
  3. Heat a large skillet along with 1/2 cup cup coconut or avocado oil (divided, if completing in 2 batches)
  4. Once the oil is hot, add each meatball to the skillet and cook until the coating gets crispy on all sides. A couple of minutes or so, flipping the poppers throughout. 
  5. Transfer the chicken poppers to a coated sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165F
  6. Toss the poppers in BBQ Sauce or sauce of choice and serve immediately. 
  7. Serve with my homemade ranch and celery and carrots.


  • Click here for my homemade version BBQ sauce or I recommend using Oh So Sweet Super BBQ Sauce (which is Keto) or The New Primal BBQ Sauce for Whole30
  • Make sure to wait to toss the chicken poppers in the sauce until RIGHT before serving so they don’t get soggy.
  • If you are not a BBQ fan, feel free to toss in Franks Hot Sauce or another sauce of choice. These are very versatile. 
  • If making for meal prep, I recommend not tossing until ready to eat. If these sit in the fridge with the sauce, they will become very soggy. Simply reheat then toss in sauce. 
  • Last 3-4 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. 
  • If the mixture is still a little too wet, be sure to add a little more almond flour
  • Category: Appetizer/Main Dish
  • Method: Air Fryer or Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Chicken Poppers, BBQ Chicken Poppers, Keto Poppers, Keto, Whole30, Paleo, Air Fryer

This is a rough estimate without the poppers being tossed in the BBQ Sauce. I recommend using my homemade BBQ sauce that is Keto/Whole30 or sub The New Primal’s BBQ sauce or Oh So Saucy Keto BBQ Sauce for a great alternative that low in carbs. *Additionally, feel free to use Franks Hot Sauce instead of BBQ sauce and it won’t add any carbs.

Comments (42)

  • This sound great!! I can’t wait to try them! 😍

    • Hope you love them!

  • These would be a fantastic Super Bowl finger food:-)

    • Thank you! Yes, I think this would be a great addition to a Super Bowl party.

  • The taste was great, however the meat mixture was very wet and the balls didn’t hold shape well. Good flavor though so I’ll work on the binding when I make them again!

    • Yes. Be sure to check out my notes where I recommend adding more almond flour to the mixture of needed.

    • Tip! Olive oil on ur hands to help mixture from sticking also put the meat mixture back in the fridge about 15 mins before forming into balls!

  • These are seriously the best ever. I have already made them twice and the whole family loves them.

    • So happy to hear this. My family thinks they are pretty great too!

  • These turned out so good. Will for sure be making again. Thank you for the great recipes.

    • Thank you! So happy to hear you like this recipe.

  • So good! I am always looking for new ways to use my air fryer and this is the perfect recipe! Easy to make and everyone loved them!

    • Thank you Anne! I am really happy to hear they were a hit

  • These were so good. Everyone loved them!

    • Thank you Jen! I am so happy to hear they were a hit!

  • These are so yummy! I don’t have an air fryer (yet!) so they don’t look as nice but they are so so good highly recommend.

    • Thank you so much Christina. I am so happy to hear you love them.

  • OH MY. These are SO good! I made mine in the oven and they turned out perfect. Definitely making these again and again!

    • Hi Anissa…….thank you for your kind words. Isn’t fun to have a tasty chicken recipe? Glad I could help make life healthy and easier:-)

  • My husband and I loved these! I also tried rolling the poppers in buffalo sauce and ranch. They definitely hit that boneless buffalo wings spot! We also had plenty of leftovers which reheated great.

    • Aww, thanks for sharing Stacy!! So glad you have something to add to a favorite “GO TO” list. And those air fryers are life changing aren’t they??? 🙂

  • These were amazing and quick to make! I’m not a big poultry fan but man oh man I didn’t mind it one bit in this dish! I even made some without sauce for my son and he was thrilled.

    • LOVE this review. My air fryer saves me many nights when tired from a busy day. When you find food that is a game changer for the kids, its a home run isn’t it? Thanks for the kind review:-)

  • These were absolutely amazing! Great recipe and a great dinner time hit!

    • So happy to hear you loved them. Thank you

    • These are amazing and easy to make. I love all of the recipes but this is a family favorite.

      • Hi Karen…..i know what you mean. These are a hit in my home too. Thank you for the kind comment. Have a blessed weekend!

  • Looks yummy! I love following you on Instagram! I came across your page after hearing you on the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey!

    • Hi Megan……love that you found me. Hope the recipes will help your kitchen time to be simple and tasty.

  • These were amazing! Perfect as an entree or an appetizer!

    • Thanks Samantha…..they really are so versatile and can be used so many ways. Thanks for kind words of support!

  • I absolutely love this recipe. I have made it multiple times and it always comes out delicious. It is so easy to put together and it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a whole30 or not, it is sooooo good. I’ve made it for several friends and they’ve all loved it as much as I do. Definitely can’t recommend making this enough

    • Awww, thanks so much Ashley for the kind words. It is certainly a home run to find something everyone loves!!!! Thrilled the recipe is a favorite. Have a blessed weekend!

  • These look great! I can’t have eggs – is there something I could substitute them with?

    • You could dip them in either coconut or unsweetened almond milk.

  • How can I make these without an air fryer?

    • Be sure to read through the blog post. I have added in a paragraph for this.

  • These were so delicious and easy the make!! They were a win with the whole family. Thank you so much for this yummy recipe.

    • This is awesome to hear! Thank you

  • Just had these for dinner. They are delicious! I tossed them in primal kitchens bbq ranch before I served them. Will definitely make again!

  • Hi, I’m curious if the nutrition info is just for 3 balls and no sauce? I’m assuming so, but I’m tracking macros so I wanted to make sure I capture everything. Excited to try these!!!

    • Its for 3 balls and 1 tbsp of sauce


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