How to Make Korean Fried Chicken (Chimaek)
Make tasty Korean fried chicken at home with this easy recipe. Fry the chicken wings twice for ultimate crispiness, then coat them in homemade gochujang yangnyeom sauce–all in 40 minutes. Serve it up for game night or share with family and friends for a Chimaek feast!.
“I have been using your recipe for KFC for ages now, and just wanted to say that it is the BEST! My partner even thinks it is better than any KFC he has had before (in restaurants)!”bianca
Crispy, crunchy, juicy fried chicken is a beloved dish around the world. The world famous Korean fried chicken (yangnyeom chicken) is trending and became a must-try Korean dish.
There are many varieties of phenomenal Korean chicken, but this spicy Korean fried chicken recipe is perhaps the most popular. If you’re looking for an authentic Korean dinner recipe, you can’t go wrong with this dish.
Korean fried chicken and beer
Have you heard of ‘Chimaek (치맥)’? The term combines the English word “chicken (치킨)” with the Korean word for beer (maekju 맥주).
This popular pairing of Korean fried chicken and beer is not only a game night finger food, but it also takes center stage every Friday after work during happy hour get-togethers among friends and co-workers in Korea.
You will find numerous chimaek restaurants in back allies in business districts or the downtown area of major cities. There are more chimaek restaurants in South Korea than there are McDonald’s in the entire world!
Chimaek is a significant social phenomenon in South Korean drinking culture. You will often find chimaek scenes in Korean movies and K-dramas.
We don’t drink alcoholic beverages in my household, so we enjoy it with our favorite soda drink: root beer!
It’s common for people to mistake Korean fried chicken wings for another dish, dakgangjeong, which is made with boneless chicken thigh pieces and a sticky sauce similar to chicken nuggets.
However, the sauce recipe for Korean fried chicken is different. If you’re interested in trying out different Korean recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, where you can find a unique and delicious take on Korean fried chicken with a distinct sauce.
Want to avoid the deep frying, but still would like to enjoy the goodness of Korean chicken wings? Try my Korean honey garlic chicken wings. They are healthier wings and still as delicious.
Also, don’t miss out on my most popular chicken recipe, Korean BBQ chicken!
Secrets of crispy and crunchy chicken texture
The key to achieving a crispy and crunchy texture for Korean fried chicken is double-frying the chicken. This method ensures that the chicken is fully cooked without burning the outside coating. The second fry also removes any extra moisture in the chicken that might have been retained during the first fry.
In addition to the double-frying method, using cornstarch in the coating helps the chicken stay crispy for a longer time, even after adding a glaze.
The red spicy sauce that coats the wings are called yangnyeom sauce (양념소스). It is made with gohujang (Korean chili paste) with the addition of ketchup, sugar, vinegar, and an unusual ingredient — apricot jam (or strawberry jam)!
This unusual ingredient is a restaurant secret that adds brightness to the flavor without being overpowering. The sauce is quick and easy to make – simply mix the ingredients in a pan and heat them up.
Once the yangnyeom sauce is ready, you can brush it onto the crispy chicken wings or coat them in it. The sauce is a perfect combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and mildly spicy. It has a mild heat level that even young children can enjoy.
Gochujang is a traditional fermented condiment used in Korean cuisine. Its savory and pungent taste is created with brown rice, fermented soybeans and red pepper powder.
These few recipe tips will help you make the best Korean chicken you’ve ever tasted.
- Gluten-free recipe: Using cornstarch instead of wheat flour makes these chicken wings not only crispier but make them gluten-free chicken wings as long as you use gluten-free gochujang in the sauce.
- Add a touch of baking powder in the coating: A small amount of baking powder mixed in with the cornstarch will enhances the browning of the chicken. The tiny air pockets created in hot oil makes the coating of the chicken crisper and crunchier.
- Double deep-frying: Double deep-frying always creates a crispier texture for any deep-fried dishes. The first frying should maintain a low temperature (about 330˚F), par-cooking the chicken to cook evenly, so it takes longer than the second frying. The second frying is at a higher temperature (about 350˚F) and takes a short time to complete. It is to brown the chicken coating and to crisp it up.
- Korean fried chicken sauce: The crispy texture is one thing, but the flavor of the sauce is another. The addition of pureed onion and apricot preserve (or strawberry jam) in the sauce adds a layer of flavor that differentiates it from others.
Ingredients you’ll need
For the chicken coating:
- chicken party wings – fresh or frozen (thawed)
- pureed ginger – reduce the gamy smell and adds a hint of aroma
- rice wine
- salt and pepper – to season
- cornstarch – helps chicken to bind with the coating
- baking powder – enhances the browning on the surface
For the Korean fried chicken sauce:
- onion, garlic, ginger – savory ingredients
- Korean chili paste (gochujang) – adds flavor, heat and thickness to the sauce
- soy sauce – to season
- ketchup – adds the tanginess and helps the bright red color in the sauce
- rice wine – Korean sweet rice (mirim)
- rice vinegar – adds the tanginess in the sauce
- sugar – sweetener
- apricot or strawberry jam – adds a fruity delicious taste in the sauce
- corn syrup – brings a nice sheen to the sauce
How to make Korean fried chicken
- To season: Combine chicken wings, pureed ginger, rice wine, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl; toss well together and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Puree: Put diced onion, garlic, and rice wine in a mini blender and process until smooth.
- Combine: In a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and pour in the onion garlic puree; mix well.
- Simmer: Bring the sauce to boil over medium heat until it bubbles up and thickens slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Cool: Remove from heat and set aside to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Mix cornstarch and baking powder in a large plastic bag.
- Add the chicken wings and shake them well to coat. Shake off extra coating from the chicken wings.
- First fry: Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-low heat, to reach about 330˚F. Drop the chicken wings, shaking off the extra cornstarch coating, into the oil, and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes.
- The oil temperature shouldn’t be too hot and the chicken will fry slowly. If the oil bubbles vigorously, reduce the temperature.
Tips: Do the deep-frying in small batches so that you don’t crowd the pan. Too much meat in one batch can drop the temperature of the oil and won’t cook the meat evenly. After each batch is finished, skim off any floating debris with a mini fat strainer to keep the oil clean for the next batch.
- Second fry: When all the batches of the first deep fry are finished, raise the heat to medium, about 350˚F. Drop the chicken again into the hot oil and deep-fry until the coating turns a deep golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
- Adjust the heat if it browns too quickly. Shake off the excess oil from the chicken and place them on a wire rack to allow the remaining oil to drip off the chicken.
Brushing with sauce
- Brush: Using a pastry brush, apply sauce on the hot chicken wings.
- Alternately, you can pour the sauce over the chicken and toss them to coat. I prefer brushing so that I can control the amount of sauce per chicken.
- Garnish chicken wings with toasted sesame seeds or finely chopped nuts.
- As always, fried chicken tastes best when it is hot. You’ll want to enjoy the crispy and crunchy texture of of skin coating. It’s best to serve with a cold beverage, such as your favorite beer or soda.
- Often these crispy Korean wings are served with pickled white radish cubes.
- You can also serve this Korean fried chicken as a main dish. In that case, serve with rice and simple Korean side dishes.
How to reheat
Reheating in the oven is the best way to maintain taste and texture. Place the chicken in the preheated 400˚F oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until piping hot throughout, flipping halfway through.
This recipe was originally posted in January, 2012. I’ve updated the recipe with a minor change, new photos, and more information.
Other popular Korean dishes
Korean foods are trending. Get to know some of the most popular Korean recipes. Here are a few you can start with:
- Authentic Bibimbap
- Classic Beef Bulgogi Recipe (Korean BBQ Beef)
- Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Roll)
- 20-Minute Authentic Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cake)
- Authentic Pork Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)
How to Make Korean Fried Chicken (Chimaek)
- 2 1/2 lb chicken party wings
- 1 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim)
- 1/2 tsp pureed ginger
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- oil , for deep-frying
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, or finely chopped nuts
For gochujang yangnyeom sauce
- 1/4 large onion , diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim)
- 1 tsp pureed ginger
- 3 tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang), see note for a gluten-free gochujang
- 2 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium if possible
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp apricot preserve or strawberry jam
- 2 tsp rice vinegar, or white vinegar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
For the chicken seasoning
- Combine chicken wings, pureed ginger, rice wine, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl; toss well together and set aside for 10 minutes.
For the sauce
- Put diced onion, garlic, and rice wine in a mini blender and process until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and pour in the onion garlic puree; mix well. Bring the sauce to boil over medium heat until it bubbles up and thickens slightly, about 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
For the deep-frying
- Mix cornstarch and baking powder in a large plastic bag. Add the chicken wings and shake them well to coat. Shake off extra coating from the chicken wings.
- For the first fry: Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-low heat, to reach about 330˚F. Drop the chicken wings, shaking off the extra cornstarch coating, into the oil, and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes. The oil temperature shouldn’t be too hot and the chicken will fry slowly. If the oil bubbles vigorously, reduce the temperature.
- For the second fry: When all the batches of the first deep fry are finished, raise the heat to medium, about 350˚F. Drop the chicken again into the hot oil and deep-fry until the coating turns a deep golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Adjust the heat if it browns too quickly. Shake off the excess oil from the chicken and place them on a wire rack to allow the remaining oil to drip off the chicken.
- Brush or coat with sauce: Using a pastry brush, apply sauce on the hot chicken wings. Alternately, you can pour the sauce over the chicken and toss them to coat. Garnish chicken wings with toasted sesame seeds or finely chopped nuts. Serve these wings with your favorite cold beverage.
Today, I made this recipe (well without the jam, sugar, corn syrup, but with a little honey since the sauce sounded too sweet on paper). It was my first time making fried chicken.
It was not good…
It was the best! So yummy, I loved the crispy gingery coating of the chicken (I added a bit more to the coating) and the sticky sauce, so good.
At first, I was worried at your first response but soon, I was relieved to learn that you think this is the best. Thanks for trying my recipe and leaving a comment. Hope this helps other readers, too.
It was a small joke the way I wrote it down. I really enjoyed the recipe I made, and I also think it will also be great with the corn syrup, jam and extra sugar (which I did not test).
I really liked the thick sauce and I am thinking of using this one for grilled cheese sandwiches and other delicious foodies (maybe hamburgers?) which benefit from such a thick sweet, sour, spicy, umami sauce.
Looks delicious especially the photos, will have to try th recipe later! I also did a recipe post that I hope you’ll be able to comment and read: http://nyamwithny.com/nyam-recipes-yangnyeom-chicken/ I find yangnyeom chicken quite a staple in Korean food, what else is your favourites among Korean chicken that you like to cook?
I just wanted to say KAMSAHAMNIDA because this has been a big success with my husband and his friend. I’m French and I live in Japan and my husband is Korean. Apart from pulgogi my sister-in-law gave me the recipe for, I didn’t have many recipes in my “Korean” bag. I can’t eat spicy or maybe just kimchee but I wanted to find a recipe that my husband would like and spicier than what I usually do. This was excellent according to him 😉 I had to buy some more chicken wings for the next day as there was some left over sauce and he wanted to have it again. That’s how I know he’s not lying lol
By the way I also tried the tofu and egg pudding + the pan fried Korean tofu and those too were a hit. Thank you so much!! Now off to pick a new recipe to try tonight for my friends!
I just found your blog tonight, looking for Korean wings! I am in the US so am wondering if the frying temp is Farenheit or Centigrade? I SOOO want to make these but don’t want to screw up your recipe without having some clarification. Please advise, ASAP!
The temperature is Celsius. Farenheit would be 350 degree.
Hi Holly! I was on the hunt for a Korean wings recipe because I’ve never tried it before and I came here to find one. This looks perfect! Can’t wait to make it!! 🙂
I just started following your blog and I think it’s absolutely wonderful! Your chicken recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it out. I just posted a video on my version of Korean Chicken Wings with sesame seeds and Thai chili peppers! It’s a really inexpensive, easy, recipe to make too 🙂
Can’t wait to see your other recipes + try them out.
I have been using your recipe for KFC for ages now, and just wanted to say that it is the BEST! My partner even thinks it is better than any KFC he has had before (in restaurants)!
We are travelling to KL in July and were wondering (albeit a very strange request) if you knew of any good places that have KFC over there?
Hi Bianca, I’ve seen one restaurant near Ampang point called kokodak (꼬꼬닭) but haven’t tried. Thanks for the comment. I am so glad that you and your partner loved my recipe.
This is the very nice recipe I try it… yum
Hello there! I absolutely love your recipes! Tried a few and they tasted awesome. May I know if there is any substitute for corn syrup? Thank you ^^
You can skip the corn syrup. It is used to add a little lust.
Tried the sauce with shrimp today – really good! Love the idea of adding strawberry jam! Genius!
This sounds good and would like to make it! Is there another ingredient that I can use to substitute the Korean chili paste? I have Asian grocery stores in my town but none carry the Korean chili paste.
Unfortunately the Korean chili paste is the most important ingredient in this recipe, therefore I can’t recommend any substitute. Sorry!
Hi! I tried this recipe today and must I say, it was fantastic! I love the way the spiciness is well complimented with the sweetness and my friends were left wondering where that awesome taste came from!
this being the first Korean recipe I tried, I wanted it to be good and it went beyond my expectations 😀
I tried the recipe last night, and it was finger licking good! It’s spicy and sweet, and I just love it. But I don’t used the rice wine, and I don’t think there’s a problem.
Thanks to you my dinner overwhelmed with joy 🙂
Oh, one thing, If I want it to be more spicy, what should I add?
after checking few of your recipes i realize koreans frequently used rice wine. i have a bit of problem about that since i’m a muslim. so is there anything that i can used to replace rice wine?
The alcohol in the rice wine is subtle and will be evaporated during cooking, but you can leave it out if it not accepted to your diet. It won’t change the flavor that much.
I tripled this recipe for dinner tonight. As we sat down to eat, by picky 12-year old daughter said, with disgust, "I don't like chicken wings." I insisted that she take at least one bite, and then she proceeded to eat more than 10 wings, sucking all of the sauce from the bones and asking if there was any extra sauce. "These are the BEST chicken wings I've ever had!!" she said. Between the 7 of us, we finished all but a few of the 6 lbs of wings. I just have enough for my lunch tomorrow. Now I can't wait to try your other KFC recipe!
Thanks Mandy. I glad that you tried with baked chicken. It will be healthier option and still delicious.
I made the sauce tonight with baked chicken and it was so delicious!! Thank you so much for this recipe, it will be great to keep this up my sleeve for parties and entertaining!
Thanks Faye. I like KL and I am happy to know there are some people in KL who like my blog.
I like the maple syrup idea. Thanks for suggesting the dark soy sauce with maple syrup combination. That will make quite nice glaze.
This particular recipe is for chicken so you shouldn't have a problem.
You can omit the rice wine in most Korean dishes.
For the pork dishes, if the pork is the main ingredient, there is nothing you can do about it except I often suggest with other types of meat for those who can't have pork.
You can find rice cakes in most Korean grocery stores these days either fresh or frozen.
Seems to be delicious
I do not eat pork because it is forbidden religious (I am a Muslim)
Is it possible to find a way to have rice
I want to learn Korean cooking but I want to
substitute alcohol and pork?
Alcohol and pork is forbidden.
Make mine extra spicy, please. Nice recipe – I love the strawberry preserves. It does sound a little strange at first, but mentally tasting it, it seems like a perfect fit. An interesting version might be to substitute some maple syrup for the preserves, and substitute dark soy sauce for the lighter (maple syrup and dark soy sauce are a great combo, I've recently learned). Anyway, thanks for this.
That looks amazing ! I've been following your blog since my studies in US – I just returned to KL for a job and its so funny that I found out you have moved to KL 🙂
Your recipes are great.
Luckily I live in Malaysia now that I can access kampong chicken here. I remember chicken was not that flavorful nor tender in HK. Look for organic chicken in Oliver's or Great at pacific place.
Looks delicious! Great idea to skin the chicken…I'm going to try that next time. This is making me even more hungry! haha. Thanks for sharing =)
this looks excellent. will have to try it, but where on earth did you find chicken that looks so tender and rich in Hong Kong? the supermarkets we go to (taste, and one i can't remember the name of in Tai Koo's Cityplaza) have horrible stiff chicken!
Thanks Joanne. They are indeed good.
Thanks for the compliment, Lindsey. They are on the sticky side but the sauce is so finger licking good.
Thanks ReNee. They are good and hope you can give it a try.
That photo of the cow is gorgeous. I loveeee photos of cattle for some reason. BUT your chicken looks great!!! I'm going to give your recipe a go! Thanks for sharing.
These look so sticky and good! Can't wait to give them a try!
OH my goodness….it is 8 am…and I want to go make these little lovelies…RIGHT NOW!!! I can't wait to try them!!! Thank you for sharing!
The KFC certainly looks like a piece of art! Wonderful directions and photos. I can imagine how finger-licking good they are! :d