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Korean Spicy Chicken Bulgogi with Gochujang

Spicy Korean chicken is flavored with gochujang, a fermented red chile paste that is spicy and full of umami. This Korean chicken recipe is easy to make either on the barbecue grill or in a grill pan on the stovetop.

I got the inspiration for this spicy Korean chicken recipe from three women I met at a hippie hot springs resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They were two thirty-something sisters and their mother, who was visiting from Korea. Three times a day they would descend on the lodge’s communal kitchen, filling the building with mouthwatering smells. This spicy and addictive gochujang chicken is my attempt at replicating the dishes they turned out.

An Easy 6-Ingredient Marinade

The marinade is easy to make with just a few ingredients:

  • Gochujang
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Honey
  • Sliced onions
  • Minced garlic
grilled chicken in spicy gochujang sauce with mint and lettuce leaf wraps

With only six ingredients, the marinade takes less than five minutes. The chicken can marinate for just 30 minutes, or as long as 8 hours. Grill the chicken on the barbecue, cook it in a grill pan on the stovetop, or even bake it in the oven.

gochujang chicken is wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves with fresh mint and chilies

Gochujang Chicken in Crisp Lettuce Leaves with Herbs and Chiles

Slice the chicken into strips and serve them on a platter with fresh herbs (I usually use mint, but you can add or substitute other herbs like basil or cilantro) and sliced red chiles. Bundle the chicken, herbs, and chilies into crisp lettuce leaves and eat the wraps with your hands.

You can buy gochujang at Korean or Asian markets or order it online. If you like even more of a kick, add a tablespoon or more of Korean red pepper flakes.

Pass a dish of gochujang thinned out with a bit of sesame oil at the table. Or offer a dish of ssamjang, a Korean dipping sauce made with gochujang, sesame oil, and other ingredients.

I also love gochujang stirred into a bowl of Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric!

Yield: Serves 4

Gochujang Chicken

spicy korean gochujang chicken wrapped in crisp lettuce leaf with fresh mint and chiles

This spicy Korean chicken gets its kick from gochujang, which is a fermented red chile paste. It is loaded with umami and gives loads of flavor to the marinade. Brands vary widely in spiciness level, so start with a modest amount taste it before you add any raw meat to the marinade and decide if you need more.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons gochujang (fermented red pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • For serving
  • 1 head butter lettuce or other wide-leafed lettuce, leaves separated but kept whole
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 to 3 hot red chilies, thinly sliced
  • Ssamjang or additional gochujang thinned with a bit of sesame oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, soy sauce, gochujang, honey, and sesame oil and stir to mix well.
  2. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  3. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade if desired. Add the chicken and cook until browned on the outside and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Remove from the grill and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. If you reserved the marinade, put it (including the onions) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for at least 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken a bit.
  6. Slice the chicken pieces into strips and transfer them to a platter. Drizzle the reduced marinade over the top, if using.
  7. Serve with the lettuce leaves, mint, chilies, and dipping sauce.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 387Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 11gCholesterol 208mgSodium 2069mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 1gSugar 14gProtein 44g

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12 thoughts on “Korean Spicy Chicken Bulgogi with Gochujang”

  1. I love your pictures and recipes, they are mouth watering. Would love for you to share them with us at foodieportal.com. Over at foodieportal.com we are not photography expert snobs, we are just foodies, so pretty much all your pictures will get accepted.

    Reply
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  3. Thanks for this recipe. I have a container of Gochujang and have been looking for recipes. My son lives in Seoul and tells me it is ubiquitous over there. I love its liquoricey taste.

    Reply
  4. Just wanted to say, I was a little dubious about how this would turn out. I usually just stick to beef or pork-related korean recipes but I thought I’d give it a shot considering the recipe was simple enough. And you know what? It was absolutely delicious. The only thing I did different was use a skillet and then throw it in the broiler for a couple of minutes at the end. Just wanted to say thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    • Hi James, If you bake it in the oven as the recipe directs, keep the marinade with the chicken to bake (so just dump the whole thing into a baking dish.) Then you will have sauce. If you are grilling, you could reserve the marinade and then heat it up in a saucepan and reduce it by boiling it for 10 or 15 minutes.

      Reply
  5. Hi, I’m really excited to try this recipe out…
    One quick question, when the recipe calls for soy sauce, are we talking Korean soy or Chinese dark soy sauce?
    thanks!

    Reply
  6. I just made this and am disappointed, because it turned out really soupy, way too much liquid.
    Not sure how to prevent this from happening again.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Sienna! I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way you hoped. There are a couple of ways you could fix this. One, you could cook it for the full time uncovered. This way the marinade would reduce much more during baking. Two, you could put the marinade in a saucepan (after baking the chicken) and reduce it on the stovetop. You can also cook this recipe on a grill, which is the most traditional way and gives you that nice charred glaze you are seeking.

      Reply

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