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Sweet and spicy Korean chicken recipe

Sweet and spicy Korean chicken recipe

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This crispy Korean-style chicken is incredibly tasty. It's deep fried and then drenched in a sweet and spicy sauce. Serve with rice for a main dish and top with chopped peanuts.

3 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • Marinade
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • Sweet and spicy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour
  • oil for frying

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:16min ›Extra time:20min marinating › Ready in:1hr6min

  1. Mix rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, salt and 1 pinch black pepper in a bowl with the chicken. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Combine honey, vinegar, brown sugar, gochujang, soy sauce, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon minced ginger and 1 pinch black pepper in a pot over medium heat. Stir well; when bubbling, reduce heat to low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Toss cornflour with the chicken to coat evenly.
  4. Fill a deep pan with 2cm oil and heat to 175 C. Add chicken in small batches, making sure to not overcrowd the pan. Cook until lightly golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Reheat oil to 175 C and deep fry chicken once more until deeply golden, about 40 seconds each. Transfer chicken to the pot with the sauce.
  6. Heat sauce and chicken over medium-low heat until warmed through, about 3 minutes.

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  • 1/4 cup gochujang (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vineger
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Combine gochujang, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Gochujang can be inconsistent in its thickness. Add up to 2 tablespoons water until sauce is just barely thin enough to drop off a spoon with inverted. Serve with Korean Fried Chicken.

What’s Different About Korean Fried Chicken?

When most people hear KFC, they think Kentucky Fried Chicken, so it’s natural to wonder how Korean fried chicken is different. There are several distinct differences between traditional American fried chicken and Korean fried chicken. First, most Korean fried chicken is coated with a sauce while American fried chicken has a crispy exterior. Second, American fried chicken is usually coated with a very thick layer of deep fried dough, while Korean fried chicken has a thinner coating (for this recipe, we only coat with corn starch).

These differences make Korean fried chicken taste like a completely different dish than their American counterpart. Personally, while I love American fried chicken, the wide variety of sauces that are popular with Korean fried chicken really make it stand out.

For this recipe, I decided to go with a spicy and sweet sauce since it’s one of the most classic flavors for Korean fried chicken. The spicy flavor comes from gochujang, or Korean chili paste. You can find this in any Asian supermarket, but don’t fret if you don’t have any near you! You can substitute gochujang with dried red chili peppers, or you can skip it completely for a more tangy-sweet sauce.


  1. Make the chicken:
    1. Mix the chicken pieces, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, add the potato starch, close the bag, and mix well by flipping the bag over and back again until the chicken is well coated.
    2. Place a large mesh strainer over a bowl.
    3. Heat 2 inches vegetable oil in a large, deep pan or wok over medium-high heat until it reaches about 340°F, 8 to 10 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, test it by dipping a tip of a chicken piece into the oil. If it bubbles, it’s ready. Carefully add the chicken to the oil one piece at a time, working in batches to avoid overcrowding.
    4. Deep-fry, turning the chicken with tongs, until all sides are light golden brown and crunchy, 10 to 12 minutes. As each piece is done, transfer it to the strainer. Once the chicken has drained, transfer it to a large bowl. Repeat with the rest of the chicken, making sure to bring the oil back up to 340°F between batches.
    5. Return the oil to 340°F over high heat and carefully add all the chicken—there’s no need to work in batches this time. The chicken will look a little soggy at first. Deep-fry, turning occasionally, until all the chicken pieces are dark golden brown and very crunchy, another 10 to 13 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to the strainer or a rack to drain, then place in a large bowl.
    6. If using the peanuts, place them in a slotted spoon or a small mesh strainer, carefully dip them into the hot oil, and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, just until light golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl.
    1. Mix the rice syrup, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl.
    2. Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic is a little crispy and fragrant. Add the soy sauce mixture and stir. Let it bubble for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is shiny and a little sticky. Remove from the heat if not using right away and reheat until bubbling when ready to finish the chicken.
    3. Add the chicken and peanuts (if using) to the bubbling sauce and toss with a wooden spoon to coat nicely. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and a few teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Transfer to a large plate or platter and serve. The chicken will remain crunchy for several hours if left at room temperature, or you can cover and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

    Excerpted from Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine © 2019 by Maangchi. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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    How to serve

    The traditional pairing to Korean fried chicken is pickled radish and an abundance of beer or soju but I like to serve mine over a nice, simple sticky rice! Add this chicken to a stir-fry, atop a fresh salad or eat it as an appetizer as is. The flavor profile of this Korean fried chicken will blow your mind – you’ll want to eat it with a shovel, no matter how you serve it.

    If you want some easy to make ideas on what to serve with your chicken, try these recipes!

    Reader Interactions


    Red or yellow curry? Can you also oven bake ?

    The recipe doesn’t say. So sorry! A web search turned up red curry powder as the more commonly used curry powder, so it’s a good bet. If anyone’s made these, chime in! If you want to do the wings in the oven, be sure to cook the chicken wings through first, before saucing. Bake them in the oven (at 400˚) or according to package instructions. If you’re not baking, you could boil the wings to cook them, which also renders out some of the fat. Once cooked, sauce them up and put them in the oven to warm the sauce and crisp up a bit.

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    What ingredients are used for Korean Chicken Thighs?

    I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this Korean Chicken recipe. I like them because they are convenient, quick cooking and more flavorful than chicken breasts.

    For the Korean chicken marinade, we use soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and gochujang.

    For the glaze, we use soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and gochujang.

    I braised this chicken using a dutch oven. You can also cook this recipe using your crock pot or slow cooker.

    Korean food is becoming one of my favorites and much of that is due to the peppers and spices that they have perfected over the generations. It goes far beyond kimchi, too!

    The Asian market closest to us has so many varieties of Korean sauces and paste, I keep trying new ones, some sound similar like red pepper paste and red chili paste, but the tastes are different and wonderful.