Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich with Kimchi Mayo

Difficulty Medium

If you love Korean Fried Chicken, you’ll love Korean Fried Chicken Sandwiches! A spectacular fried chicken sandwich featuring tender, juicy chicken marinated with buttermilk and kimchi brine. A combination of potato starch and regular flour keeps the breading crispy and crackly. A generous slather of Kimchi Mayo keeps things exciting and flavorful. Topped with lettuce, butter pickles, and soft brioche buns — this is the most epic chicken sandwich!

What is a Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich?

Everyone seems to love Korean Fried Chicken. In this recipe, Korean Fried Chicken is stuffed into a sandwich. Korean flavors are added to every part of the cooking process: the wet brine, dry batter, and final assembly.

Inspired by Kenji Lopez-Alt, I created a simpler version of his inspiring, chef-y recipe. The wet batter contains salty, umami-rich kimchi juice. Like pickle-brined fried chicken where the pickle juice acts as a flavorful wet brine, kimchi juice works the same way. The kimchi brine flavours and tenderizes the meat.

A quick dredge in a 50-50 ratio of potato starch + all purpose flour creates the ultimate crunchy and crispy batter. A flour mixture that’s more crisp and light than regular flour alone, the texture is satisfyingly crunchy and shatters with every bite!

Finally, an easy but flavorful Kimchi Mayo is added to soft brioche bun. Top with classic butter pickles and soft bibb lettuce.

The end result is a crispy chicken sandwich that’s truly unique. A Southern buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with an exciting Korean American twist!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs are good for juicy, tender fried chicken that doesn’t dry out. If you prefer chicken breast, pound it out with a mallet or rolling pin for even thickness.
  • Kimchi Juice. Pour off a little bit from the jar of kimchi in your fridge to brine and tenderize the chicken. So flavorful and delicious! You’ll only need 1/2 cup. *Works like pickle brine to flavor and tenderize the meat.
  • Buttermilk. A classic ingredient that tenderizes the chicken and creates that shaggy, crunchy texture when deep-fried. Thick, tangy, and rich buttermilk is essential!
  • Potato Starch + Flour. A 50-50 ratio of potato starch (can be swapped with corn starch) and regular all purpose flour creates the best texture. So crispy and crunchy!
  • Gochukaru. Korean dried chili flakes. Can be swapped with mustard powder or cayenne, if you don’t have it.
  • Black Sesame Seeds. For added crunch and flavor.

For serving:

  • Kimchi Mayo. A mixture of kimchi and mayo. Squeeze out as much kimchi juice as possible so it’s creamy and thick.
  • Brioche Buns. Buttered and toasted, of course! Potato buns are also a good choice.
  • Pickles. Flat, sandwich-style or butter pickles are classic.
  • Butter Lettuce or Green Cabbage. Adds freshness and crunch. Both work great and I often alternate between the two. Butter lettuce is soft and tender. Shredded green cabbage is more firm and crunchy.

How to make Kimchi Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches

  1. Marinate chicken. In a large bowl or large Tupperware container, make buttermilk mixture by coming buttermilk and kimchi juice. Add chicken thighs. Mix until well combined. Marinate for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Dredge chicken thighs. In a large bowl, add potato starch, flour, gochukaru, black sesame seeds, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add chicken thighs, one at a time, and dredge on both sides. The batter should stick to the chicken in a shaggy, rough-looking coat. *If it looks too smooth, dredge again: dip into the buttermilk brine and back into the dry batter once more.
  3. Deep fry. Deep fry the chicken thighs in the hot oil until crispy and crackly. Add one piece of chicken at a time and make sure not to crowd it!
  4. Make kimchi mayo. In a small bowl, add drained, chopped kimchi, mayo, and sriracha, if using.
  5. Assemble. Toast and butter the buns. Wash and pat dry the lettuce leaves. Assemble the sandwiches with lettuce, butter pickles, the chicken, and a generous amount of the kimchi mayo.
  6. Serve. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Watch how to make it:

PRO Tips:

  • Marinate chicken thighs overnight. Like any brine, time is needed for the flavor to soak into the meat.
  • For extra craggy batter: add 1-2 Tbsp of the brining liquid to the flour dredge and gently mix to combine. This will create shaggy, craggy bits that will stick to the chicken in thick shards.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken! When deep frying, make sure not to crowd the chicken! Fry in batches so the oil temperature doesn’t dip too low and create oily, soggy chicken.
  • Double-fry the chicken. Although optional, double frying creates a super crispy batter that does not get soggy. The first fry will be about 4-5 minutes. The second fry should be for 1-2 minutes.

Essential Tools:

Check out how to deep fry at home for more details.

  • Dutch Oven. The best deep-frying vessel. The cast iron evenly distributes the heat. The high sides ensure minimal splashing.
  • Thermometer. Keeps track of the oil temperature.
  • Wire rack + Sheet Pan. Transfer the fried chicken to a wire rack fitted over a sheet pan. Keeps the chicken crunchy, as the air circulates over and under.

FAQ:

Can I make this ahead of time?

All of the elements can be made ahead of time except for the fried chicken. I recommend deep frying right before serving for best texture.

Why is there no sauce in this Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich?

Korean fried chicken is enjoyed both saucy and plain (non-saucy). For this recipe, I decided to make a non-saucy version to highlight all the crispy crunchiness of the batter. I found that adding a sauce made the chicken soggy and wet

Where can I find Gochukaru?

Gochukaru is Korean dried chili flakes and can be found at the Korean market. If you don’t have it, substitute with with cayenne or mustard powder. Make sure to halve the amount, as they are both spicier than Gochukaru. Notes are in the recipe card below.

Where can I find kimchi juice?

When kimchi ferments, it releases juices. If you have a jar of kimchi in your fridge, pour off some kimchi juice. The older the kimchi, the more juicy it will be.

If your kimchi is freshly packed, there won’t be much juice at all. If that’s the case, wait a few weeks for your kimchi to age and release enough liquid.

More fried chicken recipes:

korean fried chicken sandwich on cutting board

Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich with Kimchi Mayo

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
The BEST Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich! Kimchi juice + buttermilk brine PLUS potato starch makes the crispiest buttermilk fried chicken sandwich ever!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 8 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Fusion Food, Korean
Servings 6
Calories 857 kcal

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • candy thermometer
  • Cooling rack
  • sheet pan
  • Metal spider strainer

Ingredients
  

Marinade:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup kimchi juice (preferably from old, well fermented kimchi)
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6-8 oz each)

Batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes) (can be subbed with 2 Tbsp cayenne or mustard powder)
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp salt

Kimchi Mayo:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Hellman's)
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, chopped (drained)
  • 1-2 Tbsp sriracha (optional)

Additional Sandwich Ingredients:

  • 4 brioche buns
  • 8 sandwich pickles (the flat sliced kind) (2 for each sandwich)
  • 8 butter or gem lettuce leaves (2 for each sandwich)

Instructions
 

Marinate Chicken:

  • Combine buttermilk and kimchi juice in glass food container. Add chicken thighs and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Deep Fry Chicken:

  • Set up a deep frying station: Place a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet, for transferring fried chicken. Clip a candy thermometer to a cast iron Dutch oven. Fill with 3 inches of oil. Heat on medium high heat until 350F.
  • While the oil heats, add batter ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk with a fork.
  • To create craggy chunks, add 1-2 Tbsp of the buttermilk brine to the flour mixture and gently mix with your hands. The flour will take on a chunkier texture this way.
  • Remove chicken thighs from brine. Dredge both sides with flour mixture. Gently add dredged chicken to hot oil (when it reaches 350F), making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Fry chicken thighs in batches, until cooked through, about 6-8 minutes total. Flip the chicken about halfway through. When finished, they should be golden and crispy looking. Remove from the hot oil and transfer to the cooling rack fitted over a baking sheet.
  • Optional but highly recommended: After the chicken has been fried, fry a 2nd time for 1-2 minutes each. That extra frying time will ensure the crispiest, crackly chicken!

Kimchi Mayo:

  • Mix ingredients in a bowl and set aside. This can be made ahead of time, up to 1 day in advance.

Assemble Sandwiches:

  • Toast brioche buns and add kimchi mayo to both top and bottom buns. Assemble sandwich, starting from the bottom: brioche bun with kimchi mayo, pickle, fried chicken, lettuce, top bun with kimchi mayo. Serve with additional kimchi mayo on the side.
  • Note: the recipe calls for 6-8 chicken pieces for 6 servings. If you'd like, you can serve the extra 2 pieces for big eaters. They can double up their chicken pieces in 1 sandwich.

Video

Notes

*Chicken breast can be substituted for this recipe. Simply pound down 6 ounce chicken breasts evenly before marinating.
PRO Tips:
  • Marinate chicken thighs overnight. Like any brine, the flavor needs to soak into the meat.
  • For extra craggy batter: add 1-2 Tbsp of the brining liquid to the flour dredge and gently mix to combine. This will create shaggy, craggy bits that will stick to the chicken in thick shards.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken! When deep frying, make sure not to crowd the chicken! Fry in batches so the oil temperature doesn’t dip too low.
  • Double-fry the chicken. Although optional, double frying creates a super crispy batter that does not get soggy. After deep frying the first time, fry for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 857kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 39gFat: 45gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 16gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 219mgSodium: 1768mgPotassium: 1407mgFiber: 9gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 10751IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 292mgIron: 9mg
Keyword Korean Fried Chicken, Sandwich
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2 Comments

  1. Can you use potato starch instead of flour for the fried chicken batter?

    • Yes, you definitely can! I’ve tried it with potato starch and it comes out more thin and crispy instead of thick, like a typical fried chicken sandwich. Potato starch will also yield a slightly powdery finish, like Taiwanese Fried Chicken. If you want a combination of both worlds, try half potato starch and half flour — that’s delicious too. For the sake of keeping a simple recipe, I listed regular All Purpose Flour. But I like the half and half combination best, actually. Happy eating!

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