Dakgangjeong (Crispy Korean Chicken Nuggets)
Dakgangjeong is a recipe for crispy Korean chicken nuggets glazed with a sticky, tangy, sweet, and spicy sauce. This popular Korean fried chicken has many different versions and this recipe uses chicken thigh pieces with a chili sauce. Your chicken will maintain their crispiness until every last one is gobbled up.
Who wouldn’t enjoy munching on these little crispy Korean chicken nuggets that are sticky, sweet, and tangy? The nice thing about this recipe is that the chicken will stay crisp even after it gets coated with sauce. It has a tiny bit of spiciness due to the Korean chili paste, but not the kind of spicy that kills your senses.
What is dakgangjeong?
Dakgangjeong (닭강정) is a popular Korean chicken dish that is often sold as a Korean street food. Chicken pieces, either bone-in or boneless, are deep-fried twice to ensure their crispiness, then glazed with a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce.
“Dak” mean chicken and “gangjeong” is a type of Korean confectionery that is associated with deep-frying and a sticky glaze.
These crispy Korean chicken nuggets are often confused with another Korean fried chicken called yangnyeom chicken (양념치킨). The main difference is that dakgangjeong uses small chicken pieces while the yangnyeom chicken recipe calls for bone-in fried chicken wings.
My recipe for this delicious Korean chicken is a different take on Korean chicken gangjeong that you will not find elsewhere. I assure you that you will love the crisp texture and the delectable glaze that goes with the chicken.
And the dakgangjeong sauce? There are different versions of dakgangjeong sauce that coat the fried chicken pieces, but well… you’ll have to try my recipe made with chili sauce to decide which one you like better. This Korean chicken recipe will be much tastier than the one sold at your local Bonchon restaurant near you.
My cookbook, Korean Cooking Favorites, shares a different type of dakgangjeong sauce recipe that will also wow you.
Crispy Dakgangjeong Tips
- Cake flour and Cornstarch – The mixture of both flours will form a light, yet almost crunchy coating texture to the chicken. The crispiness will maintain even after the chicken pieces are glazed with sauce.
- Egg White and Oil – Beaten egg white will give the proper amount of moisture to the chicken so that it grabs the coating mixture. A little oil will help chicken pieces not to stick to each other.
- Deep-fry Twice – For any deep fried dishes that need crispiness, you need to deep fry twice or even three times. The reason is that moisture in the deep fried food moves to the surface and the surface gets soggy when the food cools. Then you cook off that moisture again on the second fry.
- Chicken Breast or Thigh? – The answer is… whichever you prefer. I like to use chicken thigh parts for this recipe. The fattiness of chicken thighs maintains moistness better than breast meat.
Ingredients for Korean chicken nuggets
Ingredients for Dakgangjeong sauce recipe: garlic, Korean chili paste (gochujang), Korean chili flakes, chili sauce, chili oil, sugar, ginger puree, rice vinegar, ketchup, Korean rice syrup (or dark corn syrup), rice wine.
How to make Dakgangjeong
Step 1. Dice chicken: Cut chicken thighs into small bite size chunks.
Step 2. Mix chicken coating: For the coating mixture, combine cake flour, cornstarch, onion powder, and salt; mix well. Take away 2 tablespoons from the mixture.
Step 3. Season chicken pieces: Put chicken pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the 2 tablespoon of coating mixture to the chicken along with ginger, salt, pepper, beaten egg white, rice wine, and oil. Mix them all together.
Step 4. Coat chicken: Put the coating mixture in a zip bag and add the chicken pieces; shake well to coat evenly.
Step 5. Fry chicken pieces: Deep-fry chicken in small batches, about 2-3 minutes, until they are lightly golden. As you frying chicken, stir them with metal tongs or a strainer to keep them from sticking to each other. Shake off excess oil as you take the chicken pieces out of the oil.
Step 6. Deep-fry twice: After the first frying is over, do the second frying until they get deep golden brown; about 2 minutes. Keep them on a wired rack to prevent them from getting soggy.
Step 7. Mix dakgangjeong glaze: Meanwhile, combine chili sauce, Korean chili paste, ketchup, Korean rice syrup, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar, and rice wine in a skillet.
Korean Rice Syrup (jocheong, 조청): It’s a natural sweetener extracted from rice into a liquid form. It is also known as a malt syrup. It adds a subtle sweetness and shine–literally–to the dish. Korean rice syrup has a darker shade than Korean corn syrup (mulyeot). If unavailable, you can use dark corn syrup as a substitute.
Step 8. Thicken the glaze: Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat until it thickens to a glaze consistency, stirring constantly.
Step 9. Toss with chicken: Add chicken pieces and toss well to coat with the glaze.
Dakgangjeong is often garnished with chopped roasted peanuts. With any deep-fried food, it is best served when hot. However, this recipe will retain its crispness even when it cools down. Serve dakganjeong on the day you made.
Unfortunately, the leftover is not as good. However, you can reheat these little nuggets in the microwave if you wish.
Korean Chicken Nuggets Recipe Video
More Korean Finger Food Ideas
If you love eating finger food as much as I do, these Korean appetizer recipes might please you.
Dakgangjeong (Crispy Korean Chicken Nuggets)
- 2 lb chicken thighs, diced into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup finely chopped peanut, optional
- oil, for deep-frying
For chicken coating
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For chicken seasoning
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim)
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 tbsp oil
For dakgangjeong sauce
- 6 tbsp chili sauce
- 2 tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang)
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 6 tbsp Korean rice syrup, or dark corn syrup
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp chili oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim)
To make the chicken coating
- Mix all the ingredients well. Reserve 2 tablespoon of the mixture on the side. Put the rest of coating mixture in a zip bag and set aside.
To season the chicken
- Put chicken in a large mixing bowl, add reserved 2 tablespoon of chicken coating, ginger, salt, pepper, rice wine, egg white, and oil. Mix with your hand to coat evenly.
- Heat oil to 340˚F. Add chicken into the coating mixture in a zip bag; shake well to coat evenly. Shake off the excess coating from chicken pieces.
- Deep-fry chicken in small batches, about 2-3 minutes, until they are lightly golden. As you deep-fry, stir them with metal tongs or a wire skimmer to keep them from sticking to each other. Shake off excess oil as you take the chicken pieces out of the oil.
- After the first frying is over, do the second frying until they get deep golden brown; about 2 minutes. Keep them on a wired rack to prevent them from getting soggy.
To make dakgangjeong sauce
- Combine chili sauce, Korean chili paste, ketchup, Korean rice syrup, sugar, garlic, chili oil, rice vinegar, and rice wine in a skillet.
- Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat until it thickens to a glaze consistency, stirring constantly.
- Add chicken and toss well to coat with the glaze. To garnish, sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve hot.
Hi. You say at the beginning you use potato starch but I don’t see it in recipe. Only corn starch. ???
Although you can use either cornstarch of potato starch, cornstarch is more common and easy to find ingredient. I meant to write both starches, then I must have decided not to at the end to make it simple.
Thanks for pointing it out.
Can I use light corn syrup instead of dark corn syrup? Or just use molasses? My local Asian grocery store didn’t have rice syrup
You can substitute with light corn syrup instead of dark. It should work just fine. Thanks.
I just made this dish tonight (ending up going to Hmart anyway so I found some rice syrup) and it turned out SO good! I got cold bean sprout salad, made some rice and tore some lettuce leaves with it, ate it all together. Tasted similar to Korean bbq but at home.
So happy to hear that you enjoyed it. Serving dakgangjeong with lettuce and beam sprout salad is a perfect example!
Thank you so much for leaving the comment and the star rating.
You are the bomb when it comes to delicious recipes!!
Nice recipe! But what is the difference between this and kkanpunggi?
Kkanpunggi is Chinese oriented deep fried chicken. The cooking method of both are similar by deep frying the chicken pieces. For the sauce (or glaze), Kkanpunggi uses chili oil and use cornstarch to thicken the sauce while dakgangjeong uses corn syrup to sweeten and thicken the sauce. Often some kkanpunggi has lots of garlic and fresh chili added in the sauce as well. Hope this helps.
Fabulous, the intro says potato starch, but the recipe says corn starch, does it make a difference? Also I was confused by the 2x frying so only fried once and it was fine. Loved the glaze.
You can use either potato starch or cornstarch. They both are great for making the chicken crispy. Double frying means you deep-fry them twice. That ensures the crispiness.
Glad that you love the glaze. Thank you so much.
I make my own chicken nuggets but I must admit they’re pretty boring and not a patch on these crispy Kerean ones. Can’t wait to give these a try instead! Thanks!
Wow, these chicken nuggets look so good! And what a great tip using cake flour to keep them crispy! Mmm, my boys would definitely love this. Can’t wait to try it out!
Holy cow! This chicken looks and sounds amazing. I’ve used the cornstarch trick on baked chicken wings, and it works great…but I’ve never thought about using it on regular fried chicken. I need to try that out now! Also, that sauce is making my mouth water…and I’m still working on my morning coffee right now!
Thanks David. Cornstarch makes the coating very crisp. It is widely used in deep-frying in Korean cuisine.
So DramaFever is sadly no more. Is there a way you could post the recipe here on your website?
Yummy i love this recipe. thanks for sharing. Simon
Can someone please tell me how to pronounce the name of this dish?
Can I grill those chicken balls instead of frying them?
Well, they might not hold their shape very well, but you can certainly try.
Hi Holly! I love your recipes so much. These korean chicken nuggets are absolutely my favorite food now! I start craving them after a few days! So I had to think of a way to make them into a meal for my partner and I. There is a japanese “fast food” in food courts in New Zealand called Katsubi Donburi where you choose various fresh vegetables, sauces and meat dishes (like teriyaki) to have over rice. I thought this would work very well with these nuggets and I was right!
I start with steamed rice seasoned with a little soy sauce and sesame oil then sliced red cabbage and quick steamed broccoli. Top that with a bit of japanese mayonnaise and bbq or chilli sauce and then the delicious sticky nuggets. It’s so delicious and we’re always very excited for korean chicken nugget night at home! Thank you Holly!
Glad to hear from you that this chicken nuggets are well loved by your family. I like to idea of serving with steamed broccoli and cabbage. That will make a very nice meal. You go girl! Thanks so much for this comment. It does make me happy.
Can I make this with beef meatballs?
The sauce is good enough to coat beef meatballs, too. Be very gentle when you coat them not to break apart.
These look so saucy and delicious! I really enjoy chicken nuggets (whether they are frozen, from McDonald’s, I like them all!) and I think these crispy ones will be better than anything I can buy from a store or eatery. I like that you used gochujang and honey in the sauce ~ what a delicious combination!
Oh man! Check out that glossy sauce!! I can just imagine the sweet, salty, sticky flavour. TOTALLY my kind of food!! I love Korean food! I have never had anything Korean I haven’t absolutely love!!
Yes, they are truly sticky delicious. I agree with you on Korean food. I myself never met any Korean food that I don’t like either. Ha ha ha!
I’ve been reading your blog (and making some of the delicious recipes, especially the dakgalbi, as my parents are in love with it) for a couple of years, and am excited to see you in partnership with Dramafever, my go to place for dramas! A good pairing, I say. 🙂
And that is how I found your awesome blog!
Great! I am glad that you found my blog.
It looks delicious. I can’t stand mayonnaise (or sour cream). Can I just omit it, or do I need to sub it with something, like Greek yogurt?
You can skip the mayonnaise.