Crispy Turkey Nuggets (Korean-Fried Turkey Popcorn)

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These turkey nuggets are the perfect homemade snack! This is a super simple and easy recipe for these bite-sized turkey appetizers, and they are tossed in a spicy, sweet, and sticky gochujang sauce! 

A basket of Korean fried popcorn turkey nuggets coated with a red sweet and spicy gochujang sauce
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I absolutely love deep-fried crispy foods, especially when it’s coated with a spicy, sweet, and sticky sauce, and to prove it, you’ll find a plethora of similar recipes like my sweet and sticky crispy beef, sweet and sour pork, chilli chicken, sesame chicken, lemon chicken, Mongolian beef and last but not least Manchurian chicken. I’m sure there will be a lot more in the future as well!

It was super easy to switch up my protein and use turkey to make bite-sized popcorn turkey nuggets, especially since turkey pieces are larger in size than your average poultry, so one turkey breast is more than enough for this recipe and is very easy to work with especially when you buy it boneless. You’re going to love how versatile they are!

Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious turkey nugget recipe today!

A basket of Korean fried popcorn turkey nuggets coated with a red sweet and spicy gochujang sauce

What are Turkey Nuggets?

Turkey nuggets are a delicious and savory dish that can be made from turkey meat, specifically the turkey breast. 

This recipe involves cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces, marinating them for enhanced flavor, battering, and deep frying them until they are perfectly golden and crispy. 

Marinating them takes these bite-sized morsels to the next level and infuses them with flavor in each bite. And then, on top of that, the sticky spicy and sweet gochujang sauce adds a Korean twist to them that you will love!

The nuggets have a perfect balance of crispy exterior and juicy interior, and the sweet and spicy Korean sauce adds a tangy and savory touch that will have you reaching for seconds, especially when it’s paired with crunchy sweet and tangy radish pickles.

That being said, you can enjoy these popcorn turkey nuggets without the sauce as well and have them naked! These crispy bite-sized turkey nuggets works well as an appetizer or snack because it is so easy to share. They can also be served as a main with a side of rice as well if you can refrain from eating them before they get to the table!

Why You’ll Love This Turkey Nuggets Recipe 

  • Easy to Make: These popcorn turkey nuggets are straightforward and simple, with an easy-to-follow process. From marinating the turkey to making the sweet and spicy Korean sauce, every step is laid out clearly, making it easy to whip up.
  • Flavorful Batter: These crispy turkey nuggets are very flavorful thanks to the combination the flavorful marinade which is mixed right into the batter.
  • Versatile: This recipe is adaptable to your taste. You can adjust the spiciness of the sauce to your preference, and you can use either dark or white turkey meat. Plus, if you can’t find potato starch, you can use cornstarch instead.
  • Very Crispy: These crispy, bite-sized turkey nuggets is made with potato (or cornstarch) and double fried (Korean deep frying technique), so they come out very crispy and crunchy.

Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Turkey Nuggets

Ingredients for Popcorn Turkey Nuggets (turkey, ginger, onion, garlic, soy sauce, potato starch)

Here’s an overview of the specific ingredients for this turkey nuggets recipe. To check out the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.

For the Marinade and Batter:

  • Turkey – The star of this recipe, turkey is a lean protein that we’ll cut into bite-sized pieces. Turkey breast is particularly easy to work with, especially when boneless. Whether you use dark meat or white meat is up to you, both work well. Just remember to remove the skin for better adhesion of the batter.
  • Garlic, Ginger, and Onion – These ingredients are blended into a marinade that infuses the turkey with a savory depth of flavor. Not only do they taste great, but they also tenderize the turkey to make it juicy and delicious.
  • Soy Sauce – A staple in Asian cuisine, soy sauce adds umami and saltiness to both the marinade and the sauce. It enhances the other flavors without overpowering them.
  • Potato Starch – This key ingredient in the batter makes your turkey nuggets extra crispy. If you can’t find potato starch, corn starch is a good substitute.
Ingredients for Sweet and Spicy Gochujang sauce (tomato paste, gochujang, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, chilli flakes)

For the Sauce:

  • Gochujang and Gochugaru – These Korean ingredients bring the heat! Gochujang is a spicy, slightly sweet, and deeply savory red chili paste, while gochugaru is Korean chili flakes. If you can’t find gochugaru, cayenne pepper can be used as a substitute, but be careful – it is spicier!
  • Tomato Paste and Honey – These two ingredients form the base of the sweet and spicy sauce. The tomato paste gives the sauce body and tang, while the honey adds a sticky sweetness that balances the heat.
  • Sesame Oil – This is used in the sauce for that distinctive Asian flavor. It is nutty and slightly sweet, which compliments the other flavors in the sauce.

How to Make Turkey Nuggets (Step by Step)

Making this incredible turkey nuggets recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here’s how to make it step by step:

Marinating the Turkey

Prepare the Turkey: Dice the turkey into ½-inch sized pieces. Place these pieces in a bowl.

Create the Marinade: Next, slice your ginger, peel your garlic and onions, and blitz them in a food processor along with some soy sauce. If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate these ingredients manually. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the turkey.

Marinating meat in a metal bowl.

Marinate the Turkey: Mix the turkey pieces and marinade well and then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. While the turkey is marinating, you can begin making the sauce.

Making the Sweet & Spicy Korean Sauce

Start the Sauce: Set a pan over medium-low heat and add a bit of vegetable or peanut oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add in the garlic and cook until it turns golden (this should take about 1-2 minutes).

Finish the Sauce: Lower the heat and add the rest of your sauce ingredients, allowing them to simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the sauce is done, set it aside.

Sweet and spicy gochujang sauce in a green bowl with a side of chilli flakes

Battering & Deep Frying the Turkey

Prepare for Frying: Once the turkey has finished marinating, mix ½ cup of potato starch into the bowl until the marinade and starch combine and become sticky. Then, place ¾ cup of potato starch on a plate and dredge each piece of turkey in the starch until well coated. Shake off any excess starch and set these pieces aside.

Turkey pieces being battered and coated in potato starch in preparation for deep frying

Fry the Turkey: In a deep fryer or pot, heat the oil to 350°F (180°C). Next, add the turkey pieces one by one, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. You may need to fry in batches. Fry each batch for 2 minutes and then set aside on a rack or paper bag to absorb excess oil. For extra crispy nuggets, do a second fry for 2-3 minutes with all the turkey pieces.

Deep fried popcorn turkey nuggets on a paper bag on a tray to absorb oils after deep frying

Putting It All Together

Tweak the Sauce: Stir the sweet and spicy Korean sauce. If it is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and stir again. If the sauce has cooled down, you might need to reheat it.

Combine the Turkey and Gochujang Sauce: Toss the freshly fried turkey nuggets with the sweet and spicy Korean sauce and enjoy your homemade turkey nuggets!

Korean popcorn turkey nuggets served in a black basket with a side of unsauced popcorn turkey nuggets on a plate.

Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Popcorn Turkey

  • Use Boneless Turkey: Both white and dark turkey meat work well for this recipe. However, purchasing boneless turkey breast makes the preparation process much easier.
  • Marinate For Better Flavor: Marinate the turkey pieces for at least 1 hour in the fridge with the garlic, ginger, onion and soy sauce mixture. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat deeply.
  • Double fry for Extra Crispiness: After the first fry, set the turkey pieces aside, then add them back into the oil for a second fry. This Korean deep frying technique will make your turkey nuggets extra crispy.
  • Adjust Sauce Spiciness: The spiciness of the sauce can be increased with gochugaru (Korean chili pepper powder). If it is unavailable, cayenne pepper can be used instead, but start with half the amount as it is hotter than gochugaru.
  • Use Potato Starch for the Crispiest Batter: Potato starch is the preferred ingredient for the crispiest batter. If it is not available, corn starch can be used as an alternative.
  • Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Add the pieces in slowly and a few pieces at a time to prevent the oil temperature from dropping too low which will make the turkey nuggets soggy and not crispy. It will also prevent the nuggets from sticking together as well, since potato starch is initially very sticky once it hits hot oil for the first few seconds. You may have to deep fry it in batches.
  • Reheat the Sauce: If the sauce has cooled down, make sure to reheat it before tossing with the freshly fried turkey. This guarantees that your nuggets are served hot and delicious.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this with other Korean banchan dishes like pickled radishes, Korean corn cheese, Korean cucumber salad (Oi Muchim) and Korean glass noodles (Japchae / Chapchae) to make it a Korean night out at home!
  • For a fun and interactive meal, serve your turkey nuggets with a variety of dipping sauces instead of the gochujang sauce. Honey mustard, spicy mayo and barbecue sauce are classic choices, but don’t be afraid to get creative with store-bought or homemade dips.
  • If you’re in the mood for a hearty dinner, pair your turkey nuggets with a side of baked sweet potato. The sweetness of the potato compliments the savory nuggets perfectly.
  • For a healthier option, try using leftover turkey nuggets in a salad. Just chop them up and toss them with your favorite greens and dressing.
  • Turkey nuggets also make a great addition to a party platter. Serve them with a selection of cheeses, like parmesan, chips and some fresh fruits for a balanced and delicious spread.
Closeup of Korean popcorn turkey nuggets in a black tray.

Recipe Variation Ideas for Turkey Nuggets

This delicious turkey nuggets recipe is so flavorful and easy to make, you’ll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:

  • Use Leftover Turkey: This recipe is a great way to use up leftover turkey meat. Just dice the leftovers into bite-sized pieces and follow the recipe as directed. This variation is not only tasty but also helps reduce food waste.
  • Try it Air-Fried: If you’re watching your calorie intake, try making these turkey nuggets in an air fryer instead of deep frying. Use the same recipe but cook the nuggets in your air fryer at 375°F for 12 minutes. This method will give you crispy nuggets without the extra oil.
  • Add Some Heat: If you love spicy food, add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or increase the amount of gochujang in the sauce. This will give your turkey nuggets a fiery twist that spice lovers will definitely appreciate.
  • Make it Barbecue: For a western twist, replace the Korean sauce with your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce. This will give your turkey nuggets a sweet and smoky flavor that’s perfect for game day or any casual gathering.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What type of turkey meat should I use for this recipe?

You can use either dark meat or white meat for this recipe, both work well. One turkey breast is often enough for this recipe, especially if it is boneless. If you are using bone-in turkey, make sure to debone it first and then cut the pieces into ½ inch bite-sized pieces.

Can I increase the spiciness of the sauce?

Yes, you can. To increase the spiciness of the sauce, you can use gochugaru (Korean chili pepper). If you can’t find this, you can use cayenne pepper but start off with half the amount first as cayenne pepper is a lot spicier than gochugaru.

What can I use if I can’t find potato starch?

For the crispiest batter, potato starch is recommended. However, if you can’t find potato starch, you can use cornstarch as an alternative.

Can I make the sauce ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the sweet and spicy Korean sauce ahead of time. If it becomes too thick, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of water to it and mix again. Remember to re-heat the sauce before tossing it with the freshly fried turkey nuggets.

Can I use leftover turkey nuggets for this recipe?

Absolutely! This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover turkey nuggets. Simply follow the recipe as is, using your leftover turkey nuggets in place of the fresh turkey meat.

How to Store Leftover Turkey Nuggets

Refrigerating: Place the leftover turkey nuggets in an airtight container or wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in the fridge. They should be good for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating: When you’re ready to enjoy your refrigerated turkey nuggets, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the nuggets on a baking sheet and heat them for about 10-15 minutes. This will help them regain their crispiness. You could also use an air fryer if you have one, just be sure to adjust the temperature and time accordingly.

Freezing: If you think you won’t be able to consume the leftover turkey nuggets within a few days, freezing is a great option. Place the cooled nuggets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Thawing and Reheating From Frozen: When you’re ready to eat your frozen nuggets, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat them in the oven or air fryer as described above.

More Turkey Recipes You May  Like

More Korean Recipes You May Like

A basket of Korean fried popcorn turkey nuggets coated with a red sweet and spicy gochujang sauce

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Recipe Card

Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey Nuggets

A simple and easy recipe for crispy bite-sized popcorn turkey nuggets tossed in a spicy, sweet and sticky gochujang sauce! Great as a snack or appetizer.

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Course: Appetizer, Snack

Cuisine: Korean

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Made with ♡ by Joyce Lee

Joyce’s Recipe Notes

  • You can use dark meat or white meat for this recipe, both work well. I like to remove the skin because I find it helps the batter stick better to the meat during the batter steps. If you are using bone-in turkey, debone it first and cut the pieces into ½ inch bite-sized pieces.
  • To increase the spiciness of the sauce, I use gochugaru (Korean chili pepper). If you can’t find this you can use cayenne pepper but make sure you start off with putting half the amount first. Cayenne pepper is a lot spicier than gochugaru.
  • For the crispiest batter, use potato starch. If you can’t find potato starch, you can use corn starch.

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Ingredients 

Sweet & Spicy Sauce Ingredients

Instructions 

Marinating the Turkey

  • Cut the turkey into ½-inch sized pieces and place it in a bowl.

  • Cut 2 slices fresh ginger, peel 2-3 cloves garlic, and dice ½ small onion and blitz it in a food processor with 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce. Pour the marinate into the bowl with the turkey.If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate it manually.
  • Mix the turkey with the marinade together well and place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour, while you start making the sauce.

Making the Sweet & Spicy Korean Sauce

  • Peel and finely dice or grate 2 cloves garlic and set it aside.

  • Set a frying pan over the stove and set the heat to medium low and add a bit of oil in.

  • Once the oil is shimmering, add in the garlic and pan-fry it until it is golden in color (approximately 1-2 mins).

  • Adjust the stove to low heat, and add 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), 3 tablespoons tomato paste, ¼ cup honey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and ½ tablespoon gochugaru in and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.

  • Once the sauce is done, set it aside.

Battering & Deep Frying

  • Once the turkey has finished marinating, mix ½ cup potato starch into the bowl and mix everything together well until the marinade has combined with the starch and everything is sticky.

  • Add ¾ cup potato starch onto a plate. Dunk each piece of turkey individually one by one into the potato starch until it is well coated and white. Shake of excess potato starch and set aside.

  • In a deep fryer, set the temperature to 350F (180C). If you are using a pot, add at least 1 inch of oil and set the stove to medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350F (180C). To test if the oil is hot, you can stick a wooden chopstick in to see if it bubbles or throw in a grain of rice to see if it sizzles.

  • Once the oil is hot, add the turkey pieces in one by one, but do not over crowd the pot. (You might need to fry these in batches.) Fry for 2 minutes and set aside on a rack or paper bag to absorb the oil.

  • Once all the turkey has been fried, we are ready to do a second fry with it which will make it crispier. Add all the turkey back into the oil and fry it for 2-3 minutes.

Putting It Together

  • Stir the sweet and spicy Korean sauce. If it is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to it and mix again.

  • If the sauce is cold, re-heat the sauce.

  • Toss the freshly fried turkey with the sweet and spicy Korean gochujang sauce and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 549mg | Potassium: 878mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 244IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg

*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*

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