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Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites Recipe 

Longhorn Steakhouse is known for its delicious steaks and side dishes, but its appetizer menu is filled with excellent options that have become favorites amongst patrons. 

While their Wild West Shrimp and Seasoned Steakhouse Wings get a lot of air time, the sleeper hit of the appetizer menu is without question their Spicy Chicken Bites. 

A riff on Buffalo chicken bites, these fresh juicy chicken bites are fried to perfection and then tossed in a sweet chili-ginger sauce. 

Sweet, spicy, and crunchy, these bites are perfect for any occasion and surprisingly easy to replicate at home!

How to make Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites employ a standard method of frying chicken wherein the chicken is soaked in a marinade of buttermilk and salt for several hours. 

Buttermilk brining tenderizes the meat and keeps it moist during the frying process, while the ample amount of salt season the chicken bites from the inside out. 

Since the chicken will be coated in buttermilk, there is no need to use egg in this recipe as the buttermilk residue will bind the batter to the chicken. 

The chicken is tossed in a mixture of all-purpose flour and panko breadcrumbs that have been seasoned with black pepper and cayenne pepper.

To fry the chicken, you’ll need a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot that is at least 3 inches deep. The oil should be preheated to 350°F and should stay in that temperature zone for the entirety of the frying process. 

If the oil is not hot enough at the beginning or decreases too much in temperature while frying, it will soak into the flour resulting in an oily, greasy piece of chicken. To avoid this, use a kitchen thermometer to keep tabs on the oil temperature. 

You’ll fry the chicken bites in batches to prevent overcrowding. If there is too much chicken in the frying oil, the temperature will drop and the chicken won’t fry properly. 

Once the chicken is fried it will drain on a wire rack before being generously coated in the sweet chili-ginger sauce. 

The sauce is a mixture of rice vinegar, sambal oelek hot sauce, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and chili flake that is brought to a light simmer and then thickened with a slurry of cornstarch and water. 

The sauce comes together quickly and can be made while the chicken is draining or in advance. If it’s made in advance, gently warm it through before tossing the chicken. 

The process is slightly technical but fairly straightforward, and much easier than it sounds! Here is the breakdown of what you’ll need and how to make the perfect crispy chicken bite. 

Ingredients:

(4 servings)

For the chicken:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tender strips cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 quart of buttermilk 
  • 2 tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on preferred spice levels
  • 2 quarts of peanut oil or other neutral oil for frying
  • Crushed peanuts for garnish- optional 
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish – optional 

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup rice vinegar 
  • ½ cup water 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek hot sauce (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced 
  • 1.5 tsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water 

Instructions:

Before you begin, keep in mind that the chicken needs to marinate for at least 2 hours, but can soak for up to 24. The longer it marinates the more flavor it will have, but don’t overdo it! 

If you’re making the sauce a few hours ahead of time, store it covered in the fridge until ready to use. 

This is the process that we follow, but you can definitely adjust it to your own timeline!

Step 1:

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk and salt until well combined. 

Toss the chicken tender strips in the buttermilk until everything is evenly coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24. 

Step 2:

When the chicken is done marinating, remove from the buttermilk. Using a paper towel, wipe off any excess liquid. The chicken pieces should have a thin coating of buttermilk adhering to it. 

Place in the fridge until ready to use. 

Line a large baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Set aside. 

Step 3:

Heat the oil. 

Add oil to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed bottom pot fitted with a kitchen thermometer. Place over medium-high heat and bring up to 350°F. If it goes over 350 it’s fine, but if it goes over 375°F lower the heat to prevent burning. 

If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil temperature after 10 minutes by placing 1 piece of coated chicken in the pot. If it bubbles and sputters it’s ready. If it doesn’t it needs more time to come up to the correct temperature. 

Step 4:

While the oil is heating, prepare the flour and panko mixture. 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, panko, black pepper, and cayenne until everything is evenly distributed. 

Transfer the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss, making sure all the pieces are evenly coated. 

Step 5:

Fry the chicken bites. 

Using a kitchen spider or fine-mesh sieve, pick up ¼ of the chicken bites and gently shake to remove any excess flour mixture. 

Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil, making sure the spider and chicken are facing away from you to prevent burning yourself in the event of oil splatter. 

Fry the chicken, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown and cooked through. About 5 minutes. 

When the chicken bites are done frying, shake off any excess oil and transfer them to the prepared draining rack. 

Repeat the process until all of the chicken bites are cooked. 

Step 6:

While the chicken is cooling, prepare the sauce. 

In a small saucepan, mix together vinegar, water, sugar, sambal, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Place over medium heat and, stirring regularly, bring to a low boil. 

Once boiling, stop stirring and let the mixture boil undisturbed for one minute until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is fragrant. 

Remove from heat and immediately add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce. Stir vigorously until the chili sauce has thickened and lightened slightly in color. 

Let cool for 5 minutes. 

*If the sauce was prepared in advance, gently warm on the stove right before use. 

Step 7:

Transfer the chicken bites to a large bowl and cover in the sauce. Toss until all of the chicken is fully and evenly coated. 

Shake off any excess sauce and transfer to a serving plate. If you’d like, garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro

Serve warm and enjoy! 

Ingredients Substitutions

Though this recipe is pretty straightforward, there are some ingredients you may not have on hand, but don’t worry! There are plenty of ingredients that can be substituted and still yield a delicious spicy chicken bite. 

As with most recipes, this recipe can be tailored to your specifications and still be tasty. Here are some suggestions we have for substitutions, but it is by no means a comprehensive list! 

1. Calamari 

It may sound bizarre to substitute seafood for chicken tenders but it totally works here! Fried calamari is the perfect vehicle for the chili dipping sauce, as it has a mild flavor and is less salty than other sea-dwelling creatures. 

If you use calamari, soak it in regular milk instead of buttermilk to prevent it from becoming tough and chewy. 

2. Sriracha 

Sambal is an excellent hot sauce, but not necessarily one you’ll find in every pantry. If you don’t have sambal on hand, sriracha is a great swap! 

Sriracha and sambal are in the same flavor family, but sriracha is the more recognizable of the two and it’s likely you already have it in your hot sauce cabinet. Substitute it 1 to 1 and feel free to drizzle it on the finished product for an extra punch of heat! 

3. Brown Sugar

If you like a richer flavored sauce, brown sugar can absolutely be swapped for granulated sugar. Reach for light brown sugar instead of dark to avoid overpowering the dish with an intense molasses quality. 

4. Garlic Powder 

If you like a more subtle garlic flavor or don’t have fresh garlic on hand, garlic powder can easily be used in its place. 

Garlic powder isn’t quite as intense as fresh garlic, but it certainly isn’t mild either. To prevent an overwhelming amount of garlic flavor, start with a ½ teaspoon and increase the amount if you think it’s necessary. 

Now that we have a good idea of how the recipe comes together and some options for substitutions, let’s explore the best ways to eat these delicious spicy chicken bites. 

What to serve with Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

Longhorn Steakhouse specializes in classic steakhouse dishes and everything on their menu was designed to go together, including these chicken bites! 

While you are by no means required to serve these with steakhouse-style foods, you certainly won’t be disappointed if you do! 

Steak 

Steak was destined to make the list, as it’s the backbone of the Longhorn concept!

Next time you’re serving steak at a gathering, whip up these chicken bites and serve them as an appetizer, side dish, or even as a steak topping. 

Mashed Potatoes 

Most steakhouses have a steak tips dish served over a bed of mashed potatoes, but these spicy chicken bites are excellent to use instead of beef tips.

Just whip up your favorite mashed potato recipe and spoon a generous helping of spicy chicken bites on top. It is so good that it might just become a weeknight staple! 

Broccoli 

Longhorn may be known for their steaks but they also make a killer broccoli side dish that pairs perfectly with these chicken bites. 

Serve these two together for the perfect weeknight meal or as centerpieces for a larger get-together. 

Grain Bowls

Rice, quinoa, or farro are great bases for a wholesome and healthy grain bowl and these spicy chicken bites are the perfect protein to round them out.  

Just follow your favorite grilled chicken grain bowl recipe and use these chicken bites in place of the chicken breast

How to reheat Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

In the unlikely event, you find yourself with leftover chicken bites, you’re in luck! Not only do they reheat well, but they’re just as delicious the next day if you follow these easy steps. 

The most important thing about reheating spicy chicken bites is reanimating their crunchiness with high heat and air circulation. The best way is in the air fryer, but it can also be achieved in the oven. 

How to reheat Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites in the air fryer 

Preheat your air fryer to 375°F. Once the air fryer has heated, place the leftover bites in the air fryer basket without overcrowding it. There should be enough space between each piece for the hot air to easily circulate. If needed, reheat in batches. 

Set a timer for 6 minutes and shake the basket halfway through. If the chicken isn’t crispy enough after 6 minutes, reheat with the same settings in two-minute intervals until they’ve reached the desired crunch. 

Repeat until all of the bites are reheated and serve immediately. 

How to reheat Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites in the oven 

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the leftover chicken across the top, making sure there is space between each piece. 

Let the chicken sit at room temperature while the oven is preheating, ideally letting it rest for 30 minutes prior to baking.  

When you’re ready to reheat, cover the chicken with a sheet of foil to add an additional layer of insulation. Position the tray on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 20 minutes

Remove from the oven, but do not turn off the heat. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes then check for crispiness. If they need more time, place them back in the oven at 5-minute intervals until ready.

Serve immediately. 

How to store Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

To make sure you get the most out of your leftovers, it’s imperative that you store them properly. Ideally, you should eat them at once, but it’s also perfectly fine to freeze them. 

These chicken bites are highly perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If you’d like to make them in large batches and store them for later use, they can also be kept in the freezer. 

Store in the fridge 

To store in the fridge, make sure the spicy chicken bites have cooled down completely. Transfer to an airtight container, ideally one big enough so they don’t overlap. 

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

Store in the freezer 

To store in the freezer, fry the chicken but do not dress it in the chili sauce. Let the chicken cool down completely, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking tray. Make sure the chicken pieces do not touch. 

Place the tray, uncovered, in the freezer, until the chicken pieces are completely frozen through.  

Once the pieces are completely frozen, transfer them to a large freezer-safe bag, eliminating as much air as possible. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

When ready to use, do not thaw before frying! Fry the chicken frozen and increase the frying time by 2-3 minutes. Follow the rest of the instructions as usual. 

longhorn spicy chicken bites recipe

Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites Recipe

Longhorn Steakhouse is known for their crowd-pleasing steaks and appetizers, and their spicy chicken bites are one of their most popular items. Savory, sweet, and perfectly crunchy, these chicken bites are easy to make and great for large gatherings and weeknight dinners alike.
4.63 from 24 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Marinating Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 55 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Asian Fusion
Servings 4 people
Calories 740 kcal
Equipment
  • dutch oven
  • kitchen thermometer
  • kitchen spider
  • cooling rack
Ingredients
  
For the chicken:
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tender strips cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 quart buttermilk 
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 quarts peanut oil or other neutral oil for frying
  • crushed peanuts for garnish optional
  • fresh cilantro for garnish optional
For the sauce:
  • ½ cup rice vinegar 
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek hot sauce (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1.5 inches fresh ginger peeled and finely minced 
  • 1.5 tsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water 
Instructions
 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk and salt until well combined. 
    Toss the chicken tender strips in the buttermilk until everything is evenly coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24. 
  • When the chicken is done marinating, remove from the buttermilk. Using a paper towel, wipe off any excess liquid. The chicken pieces should have a thin coating of buttermilk adhering to it. 
    Place in the fridge until ready to use. 
    Line a large baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Set aside. 
  • Heat the oil. 
    Add oil to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed bottom pot fitted with a kitchen thermometer. Place over medium-high heat and bring up to 350°F. If it goes over 350 it's fine, but if it goes over 375°F lower the heat to prevent burning. 
    If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, check the oil temperature after 10 minutes by placing 1 piece of coated chicken in the pot. If it bubbles and sputters it’s ready. If it doesn’t it needs more time to come up to the correct temperature. 
  • While the oil is heating, prepare the flour and panko mixture. 
    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, panko, black pepper, and cayenne until everything is evenly distributed. 
    Transfer the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss, making sure all the pieces are evenly coated. 
  • Fry the chicken bites. 
    Using a kitchen spider or fine-mesh sieve, pick up ¼ of the chicken bites and gently shake to remove any excess flour mixture. 
    Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil, making sure the spider and chicken are facing away from you to prevent burning yourself in the event of oil splatter. 
    Fry the chicken, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown and cooked through. About 5 minutes. 
    When the chicken bites are done frying, shake off any excess oil and transfer them to the prepared draining rack. 
    Repeat the process until all of the chicken bites are cooked. 
  • While the chicken is cooling, prepare the sauce. 
    In a small saucepan, mix together vinegar, water, sugar, sambal, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Place over medium heat and, stirring regularly, bring to a low boil. 
    Once boiling, stop stirring and let the mixture boil undisturbed for one minute until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is fragrant. 
    Remove from heat and immediately add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce. Stir vigorously until the chili sauce has thickened and lightened slightly in color. 
    Let cool for 5 minutes. 
    *If the sauce was prepared in advance, gently warm on the stove right before use. 
  • Transfer the chicken bites to a large bowl and cover in the sauce. Toss until all of the chicken is fully and evenly coated. 
    Shake off any excess sauce and transfer to a serving plate. If you’d like, garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro
    Serve warm and enjoy! 
Nutrition
Calories: 740kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 43gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 1420mgSugar: 17g

 

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