Cornbread Chicken Tater Cupcakes

This year perhaps more than usual, the season calls for more light-hearted endeavors and meals that inspire whimsy. If you are looking to lighten the mood without lightening the menu, might I suggest these adorable savory cupcakes featuring corn muffins, mashed potatoes, and tender chicken nuggets?

We keep things simple by suggesting you use a box of corn muffin mix, leftover taters, and an air fryer to make the nuggets. That said, you can make muffins from scratch, mash taters for this very recipe, and make the nuggets in the oven by arranging them on a sheet pan and baking them in a 400° F oven for 20-25 minutes (turn them once halfway through baking). But as written, this is a fun recipe that doesn't have you running in too many directions, which is just about my speed now.

I served a couple of cupcakes alongside some roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots. Any vegetable or salad side will do, but I recommend something a touch lighter since the main course, while festive, is not particularly light. So find some balance and your inner child!

Cornbread Chicken Tater Cupcakes

  • 1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix, prepared according to package instructions
  • 1½-2 c. mashed potatoes (leftovers work great!)
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs - cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black sesame seeds
  • 3 oz. panko breadcrumbs
  • Cooking oil spray

Prepare the corn muffins from the mix and cool - depending on how you make them, you should get 6-8 muffins. That means you will be able to make 3-4 servings, as a serving is 2 cupcakes - though I imagine youngsters might do well with one. Plan accordingly.

Warm your mashed potatoes and keep them warm while you prepare the chicken.

Preheat your air fryer at 400°F for about 10 minutes.

Mix the chicken pieces with the mayonnaise; set aside.

In a shallow dish, stir together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and breadcrumbs.

Dip each chicken piece into the breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to help the coating adhere.

Place chicken nuggets in the air fryer basket, in a single layer; you may need to bake in two batches or more, depending on the size of your fryer.

Spray the nuggets with some cooking oil and air fry them for 12-15 minutes or until crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Once done, remove the nuggets from the basket with tongs.

To assemble the cupcakes, "frost" each corn muffin with ½ cup of mashed potatoes. Top with a few chicken nuggets and nestle a few more alongside two cupcakes on each plate. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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