Air fryer Korean fried chicken is my new obsession. Just like the original deep fried chicken recipe, this Korean fried chicken recipe delivers morsels of chicken that are crunchy, crispy, spicy, and sweet.
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There’s nothing else like Korean Fried Chicken (KFC)
If you’ve never had it, find a Korean restaurant stat. Or make this easy Korean fried chicken recipe! If you like spicy-savory-sweet foods, you won’t be disappointed.
What makes Korean Fried Chicken special?
I’ve been crushing on Korean food for years. I love the super spicy preparations, tangy-spicy kimchi, and all those little banchan side dishes you get at Korean restaurants.
But more than anything, I love gochujang, the fiery Korean fermented chili paste that adds a kick to many Korean dishes.
Gochujang really shows off its addictiveness in Korean Fried Chicken. In the traditional dish, pieces of chicken are marinated and dredged in starch (flour, cornstarch, or potato starch usually) and then double fried.
Once fried, the crunchy pieces of chicken are tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce made of gochujang, honey or sugar, garlic, and a few other ingredients.
The result is finger licking goodness. It is a sticky, crunchy, spicy, sweet pile of chicken that you won’t be able to stop eating.
Can you really make delicious Korean Fried Chicken in an air fryer?
Absolutely. I love classic KFC, but I don’t like to eat deep-fried foods too often, and I really don’t like to mess up my kitchen deep frying foods at home. This is my favorite air fryer recipe that I’ve made.
Cooking Korean fried chicken in the air fryer was the perfect solution. And best of all, you can have it on the table in 30 minutes easy.
To get the classic golden brown, crispy, crunchy crust, I dipped my chicken first in egg and then in cornstarch. Frying it in the air fryer was quick and easy. Best of all, my stovetop didn’t end up coated with splatters of oil.
What kind of chicken do you use?
While Korean restaurants in my neighborhood usually use bone-in chicken pieces, I like to use boneless, skinless thighs and cut them into bite-sized pieces. That way you get more of the crunchy, sauce-drenched coating.
Once the chicken is air fried to a perfect golden brown, it is tossed with the sweet-spicy sauce and then garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions. I’ve also seen it garnished with roasted peanuts and sliced chiles, which is also delicious.
My whole family loves my air fryer version of Korean Fried Chicken. It is spicy, but even my 11-year-old son was immediately hooked (but we do eat a lot of spicy food. If your family is sensitive to spice, tone it down by using less gochujang in the sauce.)
What goes well with Korean Fried Chicken?
I usually serve this dish as an entrée with steamed rice and broccoli or another green vegetable.
It also makes a great snack or appetizer for a party. Pair it with Korean-style pickled vegetables and a cold, crisp lager- or pilsner-style beer. It makes the perfect game day or party spread.
What Ingredients do you need for Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken?
You’ll be surprised how few ingredients are needed for this flavorful air fryer chicken:
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Corn starch
- Gochujang (see below for where to buy)
- Honey (you can substitute brown sugar)
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Scallions or green onions (optional)
What is gochujang and where do you get it?
The only specialty ingredient in this recipe is gochujang and it totally makes the dish. Gochujang is a fermented condiment made from hot chiles, rice, soybeans, and salt. It’s thick, dark red, and spicy, but also full of intense umami and a hint of sweetness.
I buy my gochujang in tubs at a local Korean market (East Bay locals, head to Koreana Plaza on Telegraph and 27th in Oakland. It’s amazing!) It is also available in larger Asian markets or online.
Like miso paste or soy sauce, gochujang lasts a long time in the refrigerator, so go ahead and buy a good-sized tub of it.
You can also use gochujang to make my Gochujang Chicken and other scrumptious Korean dishes.
What is different about Korean Fried Chicken?
American fried chicken is typically made by dunking chicken in a batter, often made with buttermilk, flour, and seasonings. The pieces are then fried in hot oil until crisp and golden brown.
Korean fried chicken is made by seasoning chicken pieces and coating them in a starch like potato starch or cornstarch. The pieces are then fried in oil until lightly golden brown.
But Korean fried chicken pieces are double fried, fried a second time until they are deeply golden brown. That is why Korean fried chicken is so crispy.
Finally, Korean fried chicken is tossed with a sauce, usually a spicy-sweet sauce made with the Korean fermented chile paste gochujang.
Can you make this by deep frying the chicken on the stovetop
For sure. Korean fried chicken is typically double fried to make it extra crispy.
To do it using this recipe, simply leave out the egg and dredge the marinated chicken pieces in the starch directly.
Heat a pot of vegetable or peanut oil, about 2 or 3 inches deep, in a Dutch oven or wok on the stovetop over high heat. You want the oil to be very hot, but not smoking.
Drop the starch-dredged chicken pieces in the hot oil and cook, turning a few times, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer the pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.
Once all the pieces of chicken have been fried, it’s time to fry them again! Drop the pieces into the hot oil and cook until they are deep golden brown and very crisp.
Tips for making Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken
- I usually like to line my air fryer basket with the rounds of parchment paper that has holes cut in it. This isn’t 100 percent necessary, but it makes the process a whole lot easier and less messy.
- You can marinate the chicken overnight if you like. It will only get more flavorful.
- You can also make the sauce ahead. Make it as long as a few days ahead and keep it covered in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before tossing it with the cooked chicken.
- Don’t toss the chicken with the sauce until just before serving. This way the coating on the chicken will stay nice and crunchy.
For the chicken
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup cornstarch
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons gochujang
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Line the air fryer basket with parchment paper (see note).
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, and pepper and tos to coat the chicken. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes. If you want to marinate the chicken for longer, cover and refrigerate it for as long as overnight.
- Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.
- Put the cornstarch in a separate shallow bowl.
- Dunk the chicken pieces first in the egg and then in the cornstarch to coat. Arrange the coated chicken pieces on the parchment paper in the air fryer.
- Once all of the chicken is coated and arranged in the air fryer (you will likely have to do this in 2 batches), spritz or brush the chicken with a bit of cooking oil.
- Air fry the chicken at 400ºF for 8 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over, spritz or brush with a bit more oil, and then cook for another 7 minutes at 400ºF.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, gochujang paste, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic until well combined.
- When the chicken is finished air frying, transfer it to a medium bowl and toss with the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions, if desired.
1. When I cook things like this in the air fryer, I like to use the round sheets of parchment paper with holes in them that are made for use in steamer baskets or air fryer baskets. This makes turning the pieces easier and also cuts down on cleanup. If you don't have those, use regular parchment paper and cut it into strips. Arrange the strips over the bottom of the air fryer, leaving space between. Arrange the chicken pieces on the strips.
2. To deep fry the chicken instead of air frying it, simply leave out the egg and dredge the marinated chicken pieces in the starch directly. Heat a vegetable or peanut oil, about 2 or 3 inches deep, in a Dutch oven or wok on the stovetop. Drop the starch-dredged chicken pieces in the hot oil and cook, turning a few times, until golden brown on all sides.
Amount Per Serving Calories 459Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 214mgSodium 1558mgCarbohydrates 42gFiber 2gSugar 17gProtein 36g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.