Korean spicy deep-fried chicken

Move over, Colonel and KFC. Your days are through.


Because Korean deep-fried chicken is taking your place!

Whilst not a ‘traditional’ dish (in that the history of the dish comes from the influence of the US in Sth Korea rather than from hundreds of years and generations of perfection), this is still a food that has been around in the country for certainly almost as long as I’ve been alive, and as such, every family has their own unique twist to how they make it.

This is a recipe that my mother somehow put together and has worked on during my lifetime – the flavours in the dish have morphed so slowly that I can’t really remember what it tasted like the first time I made it. However, the current method we use is just so popular with friends and family that I’m fairly sure my mother is happy enough to now leave it be!

But then again, this *is* my mother we’re talking about…

Anyway, on to the recipe!

Our ‘Secret’ Recipe – Korean spicy deep-fried chicken

Chicken Marinade Ingredients
3kg chicken wings
1 cup milk (can substitute with soy milk if lactose intolerant)
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
5 cloves garlic
1/2 finely grated brown onion

Chicken Coating Ingredients
3 tbsp Korean curry powder (Ottugi Korean curry powder is the one we use, I’ve tried other curry powders but it just doesn’t taste right)
1/2 cup potato starch
1  1/2 cup tempura flour

Tempura flour is a pre-mixed low-gluten flour that contains some seasonings and leavenings (the brand I use contains baking powder). You should be able to purchase this at any Chinese/Japanese/Korean grocery store. If you can’t find it, then substitute it with 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup corn starch, sifted together twice.

As far as Korean curry powder, I’ve only seen it stocked online or at Korean grocery stores – though your local Asian grocer might have it on the shelves if you’re lucky.

Sweet & Spicy Sauce Ingredients
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/3 cup tomato sauce (Western-style, not the Asian ones which taste completely different)
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire/Worcester Sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Important Cooking Notes:

The process to make this dish is rather long, but it important that you do not miss any of the steps as this will alter the final outcome. The difference between this dish and Western-style deep fried chicken is that it is twice-fried to give it an exterior that stays crisp and crunchy despite being left overnight in a thick, spicy sauce! Our family also prefers using a dry coating to any sort of batter, as this gives an extremely thin end coating and doesn’t compete with the flavourings of the chicken and the sauce.

Also, in case you are tempted to use larger portions of chicken – don’t. The small and fairly uniform size of chicken wings is what allows for fast and even cooking. There’s no rule that says you can’t use other cuts, but in that case, I take no responsibility for whatever happens to your cooking times and the potentially dry and/or undercooked meat you will have in the end.

The utensils you will need for this dish are:

  • deep-fryer (we use a wok which we use just for deep-frying)
  • wire cooking net (found in Chinese grocery stores and excellent for deep-frying) or a slotted spoon
  • a large, flat, metal strainer (found in Korean grocery stores), or a few large metal colanders lined with kitchen towels
  • mixing bowls
  • chefs knife, meat cleaver and chopping boards
  • a large, clean plastic bag
  • garlic press
  • grater
  • Measuring spoons & cups

1. The first thing that you need to do is prepare the chicken. Of course, if you buy pre-cut and prepared chicken wings then you’re fine, but I prefer to cut and trim them myself…just because 😛

A chicken wing has three sections – the ‘drumette’, the mid-wing and the wing tip. Use your meat cleaver to cut through each joint so that each wing is cut into three pieces.

2. Once your wing has been split into three pieces, cut off any thick chunks of skin from the wingette and mid-wing (there is usually 2-3 bits that can come off, you want the remaning skin to be just paper thin segments). Discard the removed skin and wing tips as they will not be used.

3. Cut three slits into each side of the drumette and mid-wing section – this will allow the pre-frying marinade to get right into the meat to keep it moist and impart a little flavour. Once you’ve prepared all the chicken wings, set aside for now.

4. Mix up the marinade in a large bowl – milk, salt, pepper, sugar, ginger, garlic and onion. Stir to combine.

5. Add the chicken and turn a few times with your hands to ensure that the chicken is evenly covered. Allow to sit for 1 hour, then drain well for at least 15 minutes.

6. Toss together the potato starch, Korean curry powder and the tempura powder in the clean plastic bag, then add the chicken and toss it around to ensure it is evenly coated.

Preheat the oil to approx 160 degrees C. Dust off any excess flour from each chicken piece, then add a few pieces to the hot oil (being careful not to overcrowd as this will make the temperature of the oil drop and affect the cooking process). Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side to ensure even cooking.

7. Once the chicken has been deep-fried for about 10 minutes and is very lightly golden, use the slotted spoon to remove from the oil and place in your metal strainer/colander to cool. Try and keep the chicken pieces in a single layer – this avoids oil dripping from piece to piece during the cooling process, and also allows steam to escape so that the chicken coating stays crisp. Allow the chicken to sit and drain for about 10 minutes.

8. Increase the temperature of the oil to 180 degrees C, and fry the chicken for a second time for another 8-10 minutes, or until each piece is golden brown in colour (the picture below and to the right shows the colour difference between the first fry and second fry).

Once all the chicken pieces have been deep-fried for a second time, set aside on your metal strainer/colander.

9. While the chicken is resting, finely dice 1 1/2 onions and saute in a a frying pan with a little olive oil.

10. Once the onion is soft, add the ketchup (tomato sauce), sweet chilli sauce, water, Worcestershire/Worcester Sauce and chilli flakes. NOTE – add chilli flakes according to taste. If you’re a wuss when it comes to things hot & spicy, then you should reduce the amount to 1 tsp. If you love your chilli, you could even bump this up to 3 tsp (no more though, as this is a very strong sauce as it is). Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly thickened.

11. Once the sauce is ready, add a few chicken pieces at a time to the sauce and give them just a very thin coating of sauce – if there is too much, then it will overpower all the other flavours in the dish.

Plate up and enjoy with rice, banchan, and lots of pickles (which will be a post all of their own!)

As far as garnishes are concerned, you should stick with finely sliced spring onion or toasted sesame seeds…but it’s really not necessary, as once people catch a whiff of the amazing smell of this dish, I doubt you’ll have time to garnish before they start digging in!

As for those leftover wing tips? Well, why not give them to your friendly neighbourhood dog? I know Mr Woofy certainly wouldn’t say more to a few more such morsels :)

[tags]chicken wings, spicy, deep fried, Korean recipe, brothers, golden retrievers[/tags]


  1. These look amazing! I love Korean fried chicken and have to travel quite far to get the good stuff so a recipe is always welcome!

  2. Wow Ellie… I’m drooling… those look good… yum…

  3. Thank you so much! Wow this recipe looks great and I am going to make it. You are so generous to share.

    btw–dogs shouldn’t eat any sort of chicken bones…the bone can break in their digestive tract and then kill them. They looove the chicken bones though–so don’t let their appetite for them guide you. :)

  4. I was hungry, so I decided to revisit this post and feast with my eyes, to hold me off until lunch. I think it backfired, as I am hungrier than ever.

    P.S. Mr. Woofy is so cute!

  5. Fabulous – give me a stack of these right now please! KFC has no chance with these around.

  6. That chicken looks tasty!

  7. If I ever come to Australia, I’m going to track you down and demand that you make me these. Pretty please.

  8. Hi Ellie! I’m a long-time lurker (*waves*), too shy to identify myself until now, but I’m SO glad you’re back and didn’t give up despite the crap that happened. I have to say that your blog is one of my favorites (gorgeous photography)–thanks for not giving up!

  9. nice post, thanks for sharing!

  10. Wow, it’s my first time visiting your blog and it’s amazing! You have really cool recipes with great pictures :) I just started a blog of my own… hopefully one day it’ll grow to be like yours 😳

  11. Sounds very elaborate to me. But yes can easily believe the end result would have to be scrumptiously deliciously tasty – to say the least. As all true blue chicken wing lovers will say unanimously – Korean Chicken, join the party! 😀 :mrgreen:

  12. I really love that you post step photos of how you did it. It looks great. Am linking to this!

  13. Ellie-oh! :mrgreen:

    Twice fried chicken?!?! What’s not to love about this. Once I figure out how to fry things much more properly… I am all over this recipe. om nom nom nom =)

  14. My mouth is watering – must…make…this!!

  15. @Su-Lin – My pleasure :) This recipe takes awhile to make but I hope you give it a try and enjoy it :)

    @Peter, Houston, TX – Thanks :)

    @C(h)ristine – Actually, Mr Woofy’s vet doesn’t have a problem with him eating raw chicken wings and necks, I’ve checked after a bout of paranoia, and he actually recommended chicken necks to chew on when he was a puppy to distract him from his desexing stitches!

    @Val – Aww, thank you sugar :)

    @Muneeba – The one advantage KFC has is that it’s faster and easier to make :) These are quite labour intensive and time-consuming!

    @Kevin – Thanks!

    @Wes – Of course! :)

    @Eileen – Thanks Eileen :) It’s definitely nice to be back, and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :) It’s very much appreciated!

    @Køkkener – My pleasure :)

    @Tianna – Thank you, honey! I’m sure that it will :)

    @Samantha – Hehe, yeah very elaborate :) There’s gotta be a lot of love go into this dish!

    @Fabulously Broke – Aww, thank you sugar :)

    @Tommy – Hehehe, I’d love to hear how it goes for you :)

    @zeep – I hope you do :)

  16. That looks awesome! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

  17. @Wendy – My pleasure :)

  18. You have NO IDEA how much I love you right now! Been wanting to make Korean Fried Chicken forever.

  19. @Jaden – My pleasure! I hope you like the recipe :)

  20. Weirddave says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this for a while now, since I stumbled across this recipe. I’ve been gathering the various ingredients, and after a trip to Han Ah Reum Saturday, I was ready. Tonight I made the wings.

    Magnificent! Thanks you for posting! Not the best wings I’ve ever eaten (close though), but far and away the best wings I’ve ever made.

  21. @Weirddave – I’m so glad that they turned out well for you! Thanks for taking the time to report back and telling me how it went :)

  22. This is the one main reason I can never be 100% raw vegan. The Korean chicken wings, and Korean food period. I love this recipe. I will try it this month, and hopefully it will look as wonderful as your picture projects. 😛

  23. Caroline says:

    Excellent! Quite a lot of work (my kitchen is still a disaster zone right now) but soooo worth it. Fantastic recipe, thanks!

  24. @kadee – I know that feeling! I’ve attempted becoming a vegetarian a few times before, but I miss Korean food so much that I’ve never been able to stick with it. It’s unfortunate but a fact that Korean cuisine is definitely not vegetarian/vegan friendly! Despite this, I’m glad to hear that you enjoy Korean food, and I hope that you enjoyed this recipe too :)

    @Caroline – LOL! Welcome to my world 😉 If I weren’t constantly cleaning my kitchen, it would look like a war zone within 24 hours 😛 I’m impressed that you went to the effort of making this elaborate fried chicken wing dish, but I’m so glad that you thought it was worth it!

  25. made these ellie absolutley lovely.. 😀

  26. @jonathan – Thanks hon! :) Glad you liked them :)

  27. crazyovergampunggi says:

    wow! i’ve been looking all over tha place for this recipe. in korean they call this (roughly) gampunggi. but of course the english name is another matter. thanks for putting this up! i’ll be able to make this at home. =) great job with the pics

  28. You are amazing…great recipes and photos. I’ve made twice fried Korean chicken with a different type of sauce and the two kids who ate them thought it was the best fried chicken!

    BTW, the scientific reason for the thin crispy chicken skin with this method is that the water from the skin evaporates during the period of “rest” between frying, rendering it so that it’s no longer slippery and slimy.

  29. @crazyovergampunggi – My pleasure :)

    @helen – Thanks for the explanation :)

  30. Great Recipe.
    It’s the best recipe i tried this season.
    More Power!!!!

  31. hi ellie,
    i am a bit late in posting this but, i wanted to make this never having tried it before, for my boyfriends birthday. i was wondering, do i have to leave it in the sauce overnight or do i just cover it in the sauce and then dish up?

    hope you reply 😳

  32. @juliet aquino – Glad you enjoyed it :)

    @elle – I would definitely cover in sauce just before serving as you want to serve this dish hot rather than cold :)

  33. I have just discovered this blog while searching hodduk on google. Everything on here makes me want to cry. 😯
    Please come to Philadelphia, I will be eternally grateful

    • Aww, don’t cry :) Philly is a bit far for me to travel, but hopefully you can use the hodduk recipe that I have here to bring you a little closer to Seoul :)

  34. I’m so going to make these. Thanks so much for the recipe Ellie! :)

  35. These look define! Just one question though. You list tomato sauce as an ingredient but then call in ketchup in the instructions. Which one is it since they are quite different here in the states. Can’t wait to make these as I am the “Wing Lady” at all of my neighbors parties!

  36. 😳 Actually I meant DIVINE! Wish they had grammar check!

    • Ahh, blast these geographical differences! Please use whichever is ‘tangier’, which for us Aussies is the supermarket-bought tomato sauce/ketchup (we use the terms interchangeably) that you put on hot dogs etc :)

  37. This is my first time here after accidentally finding this site. This is a keeper. Think I’m going to be coming back here.
    My best friend’s wife is a professional cook and seeing as I’m a bachelor with a short list of recipes written with erasable pen on my fridge door, this is what I need.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate it :) I know a lot of the Korean recipes here can seem fairly time consuming (like this one) but I do hope that you give them a try :)

  38. After looking for a good Korean fried chicken recipe, I decided to try this one. Yours looks the most appealing plus the ingredients are more exotic.

    Like you said, asian markets will not have that curry. My first batch had indian curry. The next day, I went to a Korean market solely for that curry. It does taste good with both, but I do prefer your recommended curry.

    I am not an onion person at all. My first batch had too much taste of onion for me. My second batch without onion was more to my taste.

    My first batch was an experiment, which was still good even though I messed it up. Stupidly, I missed that 160 C and 180 C and used F. It did not turn out as crunchy but was good. Next day, I did the proper conversion 160C(320F) and 180C(360F)

    Instead of using chicken wings, I used four large boneless skinless breasts sliced for both days. The measurement of breading was perfect for the chicken breasts.

    My second day of using the correct temperature had slightly different frying times. The first fry was fine with 7-8 minutes. The second fry only required 2-3 minutes. Anything more for the breasts will brown it more than what is appealing.

    Another note is the sweet chili sauce. If you get the filipino UFC brand, it has fewer flakes than many other brands. It may be best to taste it to your liking.

    Overall, I do not see a need to check other recipes. This recipe is a keeper. Kids will like it. You may want two versions of sauce; sweet for the kids and super spicy one for adults.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Made the recipe with wings, after going out and buying a fryer. A fryer is so much easier and less messy. These are the best wings I ever had by far. Even eating them cold the second day, I loved them. Absolutely delicious.

  39. I’ve been drooling over this recipe since I saw it and have had it bookmarked for way too long! I finally found the curry powder and want to try making them soon :) Just a quick question- is the sweet chili sauce the thai sweet chili sauce (like mae ploy)? I also have a Chinese bottle of “sweet chili sauce” in my fridge that is very different and just wanted to know what your recipe calls for. Thanks!

  40. Thanks for your quick response!! :) Tried making the wings tonight along with another recipe for korean fried chicken and yours was way yummier by far! Mixing the two sauces together (the other was gochujang based) was actually pretty tasty too :) Thanks for a great recipe!

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