Spicy Gochujang Chicken

Difficulty Easy

Fiery, spicy-sweet, mouthwatering-delicious Gochujang Chicken Thighs. Super simple and versatile — everyone can make Korean BBQ chicken at home! Serve with lettuce wraps, rice, and kimchi for a fast weeknight meal. So fast, easy, and tasty — Korean BBQ chicken will become your new go-to recipe!

When I lived in NYC, my childhood friend Ju Yun taught me how to make Gochujang Chicken.

My Asian American pantry provided all the ingredients. A scoop of gochujang. A little soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. That’s all we needed to make the most delicious, spicy-sweet Korean chicken!

Spicy Gochujang Chicken was so easy and so good — it soon became a regular part of my cooking repertoire. Now, you can make it a part of yours, too!

What is Gochujang Chicken?

Gochujang Chicken is a versatile Korean chicken made with Gochujang or Korean fermented chili paste.

Gochujang is a basic pantry item in Korean cuisine. As a fermented food item, it’s deeply flavorful, rich, thick, and pasty. The taste is spicy-sweet with a deep umami-richness that’s unbelievably delicious and addictive.

The addition of Gochujang makes simple, grocery-store chicken thighs SO delicious!

Gochujang Chicken is a Korean BBQ classic. And so simple to make at home! A 5-minute marinade and basic pantry ingredients are all you need for this special and incredibly easy protein.

Typically, it’s grilled over charcoal for extra smoky flavor. Those crispy edges and smoky char are so tasty! But to make it easier to make at home, I’ve outlined 5 different cooking methods below.

tub of Gochujang on cutting board

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Thighs. I prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs for their juicy, tender flavor and ability to cook up fast. But technically, any kind of chicken will work — simply adjust the cooking time.
  • Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste. Look for it at Asian grocery stores. Or the international aisle of big box stores.
  • Garlic + Ginger + Onion. The flavorful aromatics.
  • Soy Sauce. Rich umami flavor + depth.
  • Sugar. Balances the heat level and creates those crunchy, caramelized bits.
  • Mirin/Mirim. Korean or Japanese sweet cooking wine. Sub with sake, rice wine, Shaoxing wine, sherry, or cooking wine if you don’t have it.
  • Sesame Oil. Fragrant, nutty deliciousness.

Instructions:

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Add chicken thighs and mix well. If you can, marinate overnight.
  3. Cook, choosing the method you like best. Enjoy!

Watch how to make it:

Pro Tips:

  • Marinate overnight for best flavor. Minimum 30 minutes, if you’re in a rush. But overnight marination provides the best flavor.
  • Adjust spice level. Check the packaging on your Gochujang container for spice level, which ranges from 1-5. I usually buy medium (3) but you can buy the spicy level you like best.
  • Watch carefully to avoid burning. Gochujang burns easily so keep an eye on the chicken as it cooks.
  • Get that char. The smoky char and crispy edges on the chicken taste SO good! If you can, choose cooking methods that can achieve the burnt crispy bits (Air Fryer, oven broil, BBQ grill).

5 Ways to Cook:

Over the years, I’ve cooked Gochujang Chicken (Korean Spicy Chicken) so many different ways! I’m highlighting 5 ways, while also listing their pros + cons. Choose the method that’s best for you.

1. BBQ Grill. When cooked on the BBQ grill, Gochujang Chicken takes on all that BBQ charred flavor.

  • PROS: flavor, fast cooking time, good for large batch cooking
  • CONS: clean up (sauce sticks to the grates), needs careful watching + flipping (it may burn), access to a grill

2. Non-stick skillet. When cooked on medium-low heat in a non-stick skillet, the chicken will be tender with charred, crispy edges.

  • PROS: flavor, accessibility (all you need is a non-stick skillet)
  • CONS: long cooking time, clean up (sauce splatters everywhere), needs careful watching + flipping

3. Instant Pot. Let the Instant Pot do the work for you. Saucy + intensely flavored.

  • PROS: easy clean up, very saucy (if you like sauce), fast, no careful watching required
  • CONS: no crispy edges, doesn’t taste barbecued, accessibility (you need an Instant Pot)

4. Sheet Pan. Broiling on a foil-lined sheet pan makes it easy + convenient.

  • PROS: easy clean up, accessibility (all you need is oven + sheet pan), good for large batch cooking
  • CONS: not as flavorful as non-stick skillet or grill (but still pretty good), needs careful watching (it may burn)

5. Air Fryer. Easy + convenient with all the BBQ flavor of a grill but very little mess!

  • PROS: flavor (the most flavorful option!), easy cleanup, good for small batch cooking
  • CONS: accessibility (you need an Air Fryer), not good for large batch cooking
Instant Pot with plate of chicken in the corner

Serve with:

There are so many ways to enjoy this easy, versatile protein. Some suggestions:

  • Korean BBQ. Add lettuce/perilla leaves + ssamjang for a complete meal.
  • With Rice + Kimchi. That’s all you really need for a satisfying meal.
  • Rice Bowl. Delicious with cucumbers, cilantro, avocado, Kewpie mayo, sriracha.
  • Noodle Bowl. Add to Spicy Soba Noodles for a delicious, easy meal!
  • Sandwiches. Add pickled daikon + carrots + cilantro and stuff into a baguette for Korean-inspired Bahn Mi.
  • Salad Bowl. Add to your favorite salad for an exciting, spicy-sweet upgrade.
  • Tacos. Yes, Gochujang Chicken Tacos are SO GOOD!
  • Nachos. Chop and layer on top of tortilla chips + shredded cheese. Add salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and a healthy sprinkling of cilantro + chopped jalapeno.

FAQ:

How do I store Gochujang?

Gochujang comes packaged in a plastic box or glass jar. After opening, keep refrigerated. Make sure it’s tightly sealed so it doesn’t dry out. Gochujang paste from a plastic tub contains a liner. Don’t throw away the liner! Instead, tear off the liner halfway and keep it in place. Whenever you need gochujang, partially remove the gochujang liner, take a scoop, then place the liner back on top.

How long does Gochujang last?

Check the expiry date of your gochujang container. But technically, it should last a long time — about a year. Make sure to keep it tightly sealed and store in the fridge.

More recipes with Gochujang:

More Korean recipes with chicken:

rectangular platter with sliced gochujang chicken

5 Ways to Cook: Spicy Gochujang Chicken

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Fiery, spicy-sweet Gochujang Chicken thighs. Versatile, easy, and incredibly delicious Korean spicy chicken! A Korean BBQ basic that you'll love!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
marinating time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 people
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup Gochujang, Korean fermented chili paste
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil

Instructions
 

  • Add gochujang, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sesame oil in a large bowl. Mix with a spoon until combined. Add chicken. Mix thoroughly, making sure each chicken piece is coated with sauce. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
  • NOTE: depending on thickness, the chicken may require more cooking. Check for doneness before serving.

BBQ Grill:

  • NOTE: when grilling on the BBQ, add an additional 1 Tbsp oil (any neutral kind works) into the marinade. This will help with sticking.
  • Heat grill on high heat and oil the grates very well.
  • When the grill is fully heated, lower the heat to medium. Grill the chicken thighs, turning as necessary, until browned and cooked through. There should be crispy charred edges but watch carefully so it doesn't burn too much. Discard remaining marinade ingredients.
  • Transfer chicken to a platter. Optional: garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  Enjoy!

Non-Stick Skillet:

  • Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat. When the skillet is fully heated, add 1 Tbsp oil (any neutral kind works). Gently slide chicken thighs into the oil, being careful as the oil will sputter and pop.
  • NOTE: Arrange the chicken in the skillet evenly in one layer, barely touching each other with a little space in between. Depending on the size of the skillet, you may need to cook the chicken in several batches.
  • Cover and lower heat to medium low until chicken looks firm and cooked on the edges, about 6-8 minutes. Uncover and cook on the other side, adding more oil if needed, for another 6-8 minutes. Turn and flip as necessary until browned and cooked through. There should be crispy charred edges but watch carefully so it doesn't burn too much.
  • Transfer chicken to a platter. Optional: garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  Enjoy immediately!

Instant Pot :

  • Put chicken and all of the marinade into the Instant Pot. Spread chicken evenly into one layer. Make sure not to mound chicken in the middle, as this will lead to uneven cooking.
  • Cover and lock the lid in place. Cook on Manual function (high pressure) for 8 minutes. When the timer beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Then, release the rest of the pressure manually.
  • Transfer chicken to a platter and drizzle generously with sauce. You can shred the chicken or serve as whole thighs. Garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Serve with additional sauce at the table.

Sheet Pan:

  • Position oven rack so that it's on the top most rack, about 3-4-inches from the heat source.  Preheat oven to BROIL.   Let the oven heat for at least 10 minutes.  
  • Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Add chicken thighs to the sheet pan in a single layer.  They should all fit comfortably with some space in between.  Broil until partially cooked with little charred spots on the top, about 5-6 minutes, depending on thickness
  • Flip the chicken.  Broil until completely cooked with little charred spots on the top, another 5-6 minutes, depending on thicknessMake sure to watch the chicken carefully – the sauce burns easily.  
  • Transfer chicken to a platter. Optional: garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  Enjoy immediately!

Air Fryer:

  • Preheat the Air Fryer at 400F for 5 min.
  • When the Air Fryer has finished preheating, add a piece of parchment paper to the basket. It should fit the bottom of the basket and go up the sides a little. Make sure it doesn't touch the heating element at the top! Or it will catch on fire!
  • Add 2-3 chicken thighs to the parchment paper, evenly spaced apart. Cook at 400F for 5 minutes. Flip thighs. Cook at 400F for another 5 minutes until cooked through with crispy, charred bits. Flip thighs again, to the first side that was cooked. Cook at 400F for 2 minutes for that crispy, charred BBQ flavor.
  • Transfer chicken to a platter. Optional: garnish with chopped green onion and/or cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.  Enjoy immediately!

Video

Notes

*For the Air Fryer method, the cooking time really depends on the thickness of the chicken thighs and/or legs.  For average chicken thighs, I recommend 5 minutes per side.  If they are unusually large, 6 minutes per side works better.
Additional Tips:
  • Marinate overnight for best flavor. Minimum 30 minutes, if you’re in a rush. But overnight marination provides the best flavor.
  • Adjust spice level. Check the packaging on your Gochujang container for spice level, which ranges from 1-5. I usually buy medium (3) but you can buy the spicy level you like best.
  • Watch carefully to avoid burning. Gochujang burns easily so keep an eye on the chicken as it cooks.
  • Get that char. The smoky char and crispy edges on the chicken taste SO good! If you can, choose cooking methods that can achieve the burnt crispy bits (Air Fryer, oven broil, BBQ grill).
 

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 Gochujang Chicken Thighs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Air Fryer, All Recipes, Chicken, Gochujang, Instant Pot, Korean, Main, Sheet Pan, Weeknight Meals

17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Another great recipe!! LIS YOU ARE THE GOAT 🫶🏻🙌🏻 Everything was just perfect. I halved the recipe for 4 ck thighs and it was delish. I also added 1 block of firm tofu to the same marinade and it was amazing. Make sure to add a pinch of fine sea salt to the tofu after it’s been tossed in the marinade. I only marinated everything for 30 mins and there was so much flavor!! I roasted everything in the oven for 25 mins then broiled at the end for 5 mins. Make sure to place the onions on the bottom of the ck and tofu to prevent them from burning from broiling at the end. Thanks Lis!!

  2. Bob Spector

    Thanks for the delicious idea.
    Long my your memories and your friends sustain you.

  3. How about if I just have bone-in chicken? How long would you cook?

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  6. Hi there! If wanted to use chicken breast instead of thighs, would you keep cooking time the same at 5 minutes in the Instant Pot?

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  9. Briana Leung

    Thanks for this easy and delicious recipe! I have been making this every week. I do use the mini Instant Pot with half the amount of chicken thighs and notice that I get the “burn” signal every time. Is there something you recommend to remedy this? Thank you again!

    • Hi Briana! I’m so glad you are enjoying this recipe! To remedy the “burn” signal when making 1/2 portion, try adding water. I would suggest 1/4 – 1/2 cup water. If there’s too much liquid at the end, you can remove the chicken and then sauté until it’s the desired consistency. Let me know how it works out!

  10. Was worried that it would not pressurize, sauce was kind of thick and not much liquid. Waited to post until it came to pressure (it did, yay). Now to wait 13 minutes to see if I have yummy chicken.

  11. Oh man….I’m totally going to make this in my Instant Pot!!!! And love all the memories, reading your words made my memories flood back. Oh that church parking lot! : )

  12. Love connecting with your words and dishes! So glad you have found an outlet to share!!

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