Korean fried chicken

Korean fried chicken, or “chikin” as it’s known in Korea, is not just a dish; it’s a cultural phenomenon that has captivated the taste buds of food enthusiasts worldwide. This culinary delight is a perfect blend of crunch, flavor, and tradition, making it a standout in the world of fried chicken.

The Origin and Evolution

The story of Korean fried chicken begins in the aftermath of the Korean War. American troops stationed in South Korea introduced the concept of fried chicken, which was then adapted to suit Korean tastes and ingredients. The first Korean-style fried chicken was simpler, seasoned with salt, pepper, and other basic spices. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that Korean fried chicken began to evolve into the dish we know today.

In the 1970s, the introduction of cooking oil in large quantities allowed fried chicken to become a more common dish in South Korea. The 1980s saw the birth of the yangnyeom chicken, a version coated with a sweet and spicy sauce that quickly became a favorite. This innovation marked a significant turning point, transforming fried chicken from a simple meal to a complex and flavorful experience.

 Korean fried chicken
Korean fried chicken

The Cooking Process

What sets Korean fried chicken apart is its unique cooking process. The chicken is typically double-fried, which results in an incredibly crispy exterior while keeping the meat inside juicy and tender. The first round of frying cooks the chicken through and starts the crisping process. The chicken is then allowed to rest for a few minutes before being plunged into the hot oil again. This second fry is what gives Korean fried chicken its signature crunch.

The Coating and Flavors

The coating of Korean fried chicken is light and thin, often made from a mixture of flour, cornstarch, and sometimes rice flour, which contributes to its distinctive texture. After frying, the chicken is usually brushed with a sauce. The most popular flavors include:

  • Soy Garlic:

  • A sweet and savory combination with a hint of garlic.
  • Sweet and Spicy:

  • A sauce made with gochujang (Korean red chili paste) that offers a balance of heat and sweetness.
  • Honey Butter:

  • A recent trend that combines the richness of butter with the sweetness of honey.
 Korean fried chicken
Korean fried chicken

The Cultural Impact

Korean fried chicken is more than just food; it’s a social activity. It’s common to find groups of friends or families gathered around a table filled with chicken, beer (a pairing known as “chimaek”), and various side dishes. This communal aspect has helped propel the popularity of Korean fried chicken, making it a staple in Korean nightlife and beyond.

The Global Spread

The international fame of Korean fried chicken can be attributed to the global spread of Korean culture, often referred to as the “Hallyu” wave. Korean dramas and K-pop have played significant roles in introducing Korean fried chicken to a broader audience. Restaurants specializing in Korean fried chicken have popped up all over the world, from the streets of New York to the alleys of Southeast Asia.

Ingredients: Korean fried chicken

  • 1.4 kg (3 pounds) of chicken, cut into pieces (wings, drumsticks, or boneless thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons of minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of potato starch or corn starch
  • Cooking oil for deep frying (rice bran oil recommended)

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce or ketchup
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Optional Garnish:

  • Roasted sesame seeds
  • Finely chopped green onion
  1. Preparation:

    • In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces with rice wine, minced ginger, sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well to ensure each piece is seasoned.
    • Coat the chicken evenly with potato starch, ensuring a light but thorough coverage. Set aside.
  2. Frying the Chicken:

    • Heat a generous amount of oil in a deep saucepan or fryer until it reaches 175°C (347°F).
    • Carefully place the chicken pieces into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
    • Fry the chicken until it’s golden brown and cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes for the first fry.
    • Remove the chicken and let it rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to settle and the coating to firm up.
    • Return the chicken to the oil for a second fry, which will last another 12 to 15 minutes. This double-frying technique ensures a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.
  3. Making the Sauce:

    • While the chicken is resting, prepare the sauce by combining tomato sauce, gochujang, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and sesame oil in a saucepan.
    • Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy.
  4. Coating the Chicken:

    • Once the chicken has been fried to perfection, toss it in the sauce until each piece is well coated.
    • If you prefer a less messy option, you can also brush the sauce onto the chicken using a pastry brush.
  5. Garnishing and Serving:

    • Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions over the chicken for an added touch of flavor and presentation.
    • Serve hot and enjoy with a side of pickled radishes or a cold beer for the full Korean experience.

Best Korean Fried Chicken (Dakgangjeong) Recipe - How to Make Korean Fried  Chicken (Dakgangjeong)


What is Korean Fried Chicken?

Korean Fried Chicken, known as ‘chikin’ in Korea, is a version of fried chicken with a crispy coating and juicy meat. It’s distinguished by its unique double-frying process and the sauces used, which can range from sweet and savory to spicy and tangy

How is Korean Fried Chicken different from regular fried chicken?

The main differences lie in the double-frying method that renders a crunchier exterior and the variety of sauces that coat the chicken, offering a balance of flavors not typically found in Western-style fried chicken.

What parts of the chicken are best for making Korean Fried Chicken?

You can use a whole chicken cut into pieces, or specific parts like wings, drumsticks, or boneless thighs. The choice depends on personal preference and the desired outcome.

Can I make Korean Fried Chicken in advance?

Yes, you can marinate the chicken 1-2 nights before cooking. Some steps, like creating the wet batter, can also be done a few hours in advance to save time.

What are the key ingredients for the sauce?

The sauce typically includes ingredients like gochujang (Korean chili paste), honey, soy sauce, garlic, and sometimes ketchup or tomato sauce for a balance of sweetness, spiciness, and umami.


Korean fried chicken stands out in the global culinary scene for its unique preparation, diverse flavors, and cultural significance. It’s a dish that tells a story of adaptation, innovation, and globalization. Whether enjoyed in a bustling Korean market or a cozy restaurant abroad, Korean fried chicken remains a testament to Korea’s rich culinary heritage and its ongoing influence on the world’s palate.

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