The BEST Korean Fried Chicken (Dak Gangjeong)

Difficulty Medium

Who can resist a heaping platter of the BEST Korean fried chicken? A thin, crackly batter for maximum crunch. A spicy, sweet sauce flavored with soy sauce, garlic, and chili flakes. Otherwise known as KFC — this Korean bar staple will leave you licking your fingers!

In North America, there’s a bit of a Korean Fried Chicken craze.

The flavors are so different and exciting. The texture is impossibly light and crispy. Make it once and see what the hype is about!

What is Korean Fried Chicken?

Korean Fried Chicken is a popular South Korean drinking food, snack, appetizer, or main dish.

KFC is often served with beer in Korean bars and restaurants. The combination is so popular, it’s got a name of its own: Chimaek (Chi = short form for chicken. Maek = short form for maekju, the Korean word for beer .

How is it different from American Fried Chicken?

  1. DOUBLE FRYING. Korean Fried Chicken is fried twice for maximum crunch and crispiness. Double frying the chicken renders out the fat, resulting in chicken that is impossibly crunchy.
  2. THIN, CRACKLY BATTER. Koreans use potato starch for a non-greasy, light, and impossibly crunchy coating. American Fried Chicken tends to have a thick, heavy batter from the combination of buttermilk and flour. But Korean fried chicken wings are lightly coated with a thin layer of potato starch batter instead.
  3. SAUCE. Sauce is a big deal and there are lots of different kinds. The sauce is either tossed with the chicken or brushed on, right before serving, to ensure the chicken stays crunchy.

Different KFC flavors:

A delicious, exciting part of eating Korean Fried Chicken is the variety of flavors and textures.

The two most popular flavors are sticky Soy Sauce and Garlic (Dak Gangjeong) and spicy Gochujang (Yangnyeom Chicken).

Other common flavors: Snow (cheese powder), Honey Butter, and Buldak. Plain (no sauce) KFC is also popular with a mild curry flavor.

My recipe is a sticky and saucy Soy Sauce and Garlic Korean Fried Chicken (Dak Gangjeong). An irresistible balance of umami-rich soy sauce, aromatic garlic and ginger, and heat from dried chili flakes!

Stays perfectly crispy and crunchy with just the right amount of heat from the chili flakes. The BEST recipe!!

platter of Korean fried chicken, on wood background

Ingredients:

There are 4 components to KFC: 1) Marinade, 2) Batter, 3) Glaze, 4) Garnish.

1) Marinade:

  • Chicken Wings. I recommend a mixture of chicken wings and drummettes. Look for meaty pieces!
  • Garlic Powder + Ginger Powder + Curry Powder. The seasoning. Adds so much flavor! The curry powder, especially, makes a subtle difference. The combination removes the gamey smell of chicken for a clean-tasting final dish.

2). Batter:

  • Potato Starch. A dry batter, in the form of potato starch, ensures the crispiest, crunchiest texture! Compared to regular all-purpose flour, potato starch produces a lighter, crispier, almost brittle texture. Look for potato starch at your local Asian grocery store. Corn Starch is an acceptable substitute.

3). Glaze:

  • Corn Syrup. An essential ingredient for creating that hard, crispy coating that’s iconic for Korean fried chicken wings (also known as “candy” wings). I’ve tried subbing with maple syrup, agave, honey, and regular sugar and the texture doesn’t come out quite right. Corn syrup works like shellac that is both flavorful and super crunchy.
  • Chinese chili flakes. For heat. Different from Italian dried chili flakes, it’s more vibrantly red, aromatic, and spicy.
  • Soy sauce + rice vinegar. The sauce base. Don’t use low-sodium soy sauce – it won’t taste the same!
  • Garlic + Ginger. The essential aromatics.
  • Oil. Prevents the sauce from becoming too thick and gloppy. Makes it easier to coat the chicken.

4). Garnish:

  • Green Onions + Cilantro. An aromatic garnish is a classic, essential topping to KFC. Cuts through the greasy, heavy nature of fried chicken. For the traditional route, stick with only finely shredded green onion.

Instructions:

1. Marinate chicken wings. Preferably overnight but even 30 minutes works.

2. Add potato starch. Add right before frying to achieve that super crispy texture. That’s what makes it so crispy and crunchy. (You can substitute with corn starch but regular flour will NOT produce the same result.)

3. Deep fry 1st time. Deep fry the chicken wings in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer to a sheet pan. The chicken will be golden and crispy looking.

4. Deep fry 2nd time. The second fry will result in darker, golden-brown wings and a crunchier coating.

5. Make the sauce. Coat the chicken wings in the sauce. Garnish and serve. Enjoy!

PRO TIPS:

  • Set up a deep frying station. To make frying easier at home, use a cast iron dutch oven with high walls so there’s no splatter and for even, stable heat. Clip on a candy thermometer to better gauge the oil temperature.
  • Double-fry the chicken wings. Deep frying the chicken might seem excessive or even overkill but it’s essential for achieving the right overall texture!
  • Use oil with a high smoke point. Use oil with a high smoke point for best flavor and texture. I recommend peanut oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.
  • For the glaze, fry aromatics first. Releases the fragrance and intensifies the flavor of the garlic and ginger.
  • Korean Fried Chicken is the BEST party food! Perfect for game days, movie nights, BBQs, Oscar Night, and for whenever friends come over. Serve with cold beer, Kimchi Fries, or Kimchi Queso Fundido for a snackable feast!

FAQ:

Can I make KFC with regular chicken (not wings)?

Yes, Korean Fried Chicken can be made with regular chicken. For best flavor and texture, I recommend smaller-sized chicken with bones and skin. The smaller pieces and inclusion of skin and bone will ensure extra juicy and crispy fried chicken. My recommendations:

  • Chicken wings and drummettes
  • Chicken thighs and breast (with skin and bone) cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
  • Chicken drumsticks. Look for smaller ones!

If you prefer boneless, skinless chicken — I recommend chicken thighs. Chicken breast can also work but it can be dry. FYI, boneless skinless chicken won’t get as crispy.

I don’t recommend regular or large-sized chicken thighs and breasts. They are too big and won’t achieve the right texture.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, Korean Fried Chicken can be made several hours before serving and still remain crispy and crunchy. Serve at room temperature or reheat on a parchment-lined sheet pan at 350F until warm. Garnish and serve.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers at room temperature, loosely covered. Reheat in an air fryer or oven at 350F. Good for 1-2 days.

Or, for longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat in an air fryer or oven at 350F. Good for 3-5 days.

More Korean Inspiration:

Korean Fried Chicken, drumette

The BEST Korean Fried Chicken (Dak Gangjeong)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A thin, crackly batter for maximum crunch. A spicy, sweet sauce that will leave you licking your fingers. The BEST Korean Fried Chicken recipe!!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Appetizer, Booze Food, Party Food, Snack
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 as snack
Calories

Equipment

  • candy thermometer
  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Cooling Rack + Sheet Pan

Ingredients
  

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 lb chicken wings
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder

Frying ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup potato starch or corn starch

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (Peanut or Vegetable oil)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Chinese chile flakes from Asian Grocer (depending on taste)
  • 1 inch ginger minced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup

Garnish:

  • sesame seeds
  • 2 green onion chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro chopped

Instructions
 

Instructions:

  • Marinate chicken. Place chicken wings in a large bowl. Add garlic, curry powder, and salt. Mix throughly. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight. If cooking right away, do not refrigerate but keep at room temperature.
  • Add potato starch. Right before frying, add potato starch and mix thoroughly with hands. The potato starch should stick to the chicken wings in a thin coating. Feel free to pat the starch onto the chicken wings firmly with hands.

Prepare for deep frying:

  • Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Set aside.
  • Attach a thermometer to the side of a deep, cast iron Dutch oven. Another alternative is a regular pot with high sides. Add 2-3 inches of cooking oil with a high smoking point. (I use vegetable oil.) The goal is to add enough oil for the chicken wings to float in the pot and not stick to the bottom.
  • Deep fry 1st time. Wait until the oil temperature reaches 380F. Then, add the chicken wings in batches until golden and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. The temperature will initially dip but keep the oil temperature at 350F for the rest of the cooking time. Drain wings and set aside.
  • Deep fry 2nd time. The temperature of the oil will not dip down as much as the first fry. Fry the (already-fried) chicken wings in batches until they are darker and golden-brown in color, about 8-10 minutes per batch, at 350F. The wings are done when they look shrunken and compacted with a very crispy coating. Drain and set aside.

Prepare the sauce:

  • Add corn syrup, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a measuring cup. Mix throughly with a spoon and set aside.
  • Prepare the minced garlic and ginger. Set aside.
  • Make glaze/sauce. Heat a wok or deep stock pot over medium-high heat and add oil. (I use oil from deep frying but be careful, it's hot.) When hot but not smoking, add chili flakes, garlic, and ginger. Mix around with a spatula or wooden spoon until fragrant and crispy looking, about 1 minute.
  • Add the corn syrup mixture and mix until the sauce bubbles vigorously, about 2-4 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Add the chicken wings. Transfer deep fried chicken wings to the wok, directly on top of the sauce. Toss with a spatula or wooden spoon until each wing is coated in sauce.
  • Garnish and serve. Transfer to a platter and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion and/or cilantro Serve with ice cold beer!

Notes

Korean Fried Chicken can be made with regular chicken. For best flavor and texture, I recommend smaller-sized chicken with bones and skin. The smaller pieces and inclusion of skin and bone will ensure extra juicy and crispy fried chicken. My recommendations:
  • Chicken wings and drummettes
  • Chicken thighs and breast (with skin and bone) cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces.
  • Chicken drumsticks. Look for smaller ones!
If you prefer boneless, skinless chicken — I recommend chicken thighs. Chicken breast can also work but it can be dry. FYI, boneless skinless chicken won’t get as crispy.
I don’t recommend regular or large-sized chicken thighs as they are too large.

Nutrition

Serving: 0gCarbohydrates: 0gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgPotassium: 0mgFiber: 0gSugar: 0gVitamin A: 0IUVitamin C: 0mgCalcium: 0mgIron: 0mg
Keyword Korean Fried Chicken
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
All Recipes, Appetizer, Chicken, Deep Fry, Dinner with Friends, Game Day Food, Holiday, Korean, Main, Potluck

25 Comments

  1. First time I’ve ever made Korean fried chicken & it was better than any I’ve had at restaurants. Corn syrup not readily available in Australia so I used rice syrup instead. So delicious & will make again & again. Liz

  2. 5 stars
    My BF and I made this a few weeks back and about lost our minds over it. It’s too good for this world. I cooked the sauce too long so we joked that these were candy coated wings but even then, they blew our minds. Add the presentation with that vibrant green cilantro and crunchy white sesame? Seriously, I feel like I’m in a dream just staring at it. It’s my birthday this weekend, and guess what we’re making to celebrate?
    As always, thank you for sharing your amazing recipes with us, Lis! Our lives are richer for it!

  3. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! The crispiness + sticky sauciness here to me makes the perfect fried chicken 🙂 .

  4. Is radically different ,reflecting an Asian frying technique that renders out the fat in the skin, transforming it into a thin ,crackly and almost transparent crust.

  5. is the wings skinned? or do you cook it with the skin on?

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  9. these were AWESOME! definitely a crowd pleaser. Any way that you could fry them and then freeze them so u can make large batches a head of time just without the sauce? or will it lose its crunchiness. thanks!!

    • I have never tried frying and then freezing them ahead of time. But let me know if you find success with this method. If I want to make them ahead of time, I’ll do the first fry the day before. Then on the day of, I’ll do the second fry and the sauce. Hope this helps and good luck!

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  12. Would this work as chicken tenders?

    • Hi! Yes, it should work for chicken tenders but I don’t think you’ll need to cook as long. I’ve never tried it this way so the only danger is that the wings will dry out faster than with the bone and skin that come with the wings. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  13. For the corn syrup which is better light or dark??? I can’t wait to make this recipe.

  14. These are the best wings EVER! We have brought them to our offices and everyone loves them! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. This is delicious! I just made it and it came out fabulous! Thank you!

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  18. this looks amazing lis!! if i am making this for kids who do not like any spice i can just remove the chili flakes right?

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