Gochujang Chicken

Fiery, spicy-sweet Gochujang Chicken Thighs. A versatile Korean classic everyone can make at home!

When I lived in NYC, my friend Ju Yun taught me how to make Gochujang Chicken Thighs in my Hell’s Kitchen walk up.

Except for the chicken, everything else came from the pantry.  Well, my Korean American pantry, that is. A big scoop of Gochujang. Soy sauce for added flavor and depth. Some sugar and sesame seed oil.  That’s it!

Mmmm.  Nothing tasted as good as those tender chicken thighs coated in spicy sauce over rice.  The fiery, spicy-sweet flavor tasted like home.

After Ju taught me her taste-and-go recipe, Gochujang Chicken became a regular part of my cooking repertoire. Now, you can make Gochujang Chicken a part of yours, too!

What is Korean Gochujang Chicken?

Gochujang Chicken is a versatile Korean chicken with a gochujang based, spicy-sweet marinade.

At Korean restaurants, this dish goes by different names. I’ve seen it called Dak Chulpan (chicken cooked in a hot pan) or Dak Bokkeum (chicken stir fry). Dak Galbi is similar in taste and flavor but it’s not really the same as it contains more vegetables. I’ve also seen it listed more generically as Korean Spicy Chicken!

Either way, it’s a classic with a distinctive spicy-sweet Korean flavor. Plus, those crispy, charred edges that are the best part of Korean BBQ!

tub of Gochujang on cutting board

What do you serve with Gochujang Chicken?

The most basic way to serve Spicy Korean Chicken: with rice + kimchi and/or steamed vegetables.

But there are so many ways to enjoy this classic, versatile protein.

Some suggestions:

  • Korean BBQ. Add lettuce/perilla leaves + ssamjang for a complete meal.
  • Rice Bowl. Add to your favorite rice bowl. Delicious with cucumbers, cilantro, avocado, Kewpie mayo, sriracha.
  • Noodle Bowl. Add to Spicy Soba Noodles for a delicious, easy meal! (pictured below)
  • 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.

Ingredients:

Except for the chicken, all the ingredients are from the pantry. The marinade is deeply flavorful with that perfect spicy-sweet balance. I recommend marinating overnight for best flavor.

  • Chicken. Any kind of chicken works (breast, wings, drumsticks, etc.) But for ease and speed, my recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They cook up fast while staying tender and juicy.
  • Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste; a pantry staple.
  • Garlic + Ginger + Onion. The flavorful aromatics.
  • Soy Sauce. Rich umami flavor + depth. (Do not use the low sodium kind!)
  • Sugar. Balances the heat level and creates those crunchy, caramelized bits.
  • Mirin. Korean sweet cooking wine.
  • Sesame Oil. Fragrant, nutty deliciousness.
rectangular platter with sliced gochujang chicken

Other Korean chicken dishes you may love:

How to Make Korean Gochujang Chicken:

Over the years, I’ve cooked Gochujang Chicken (Korean Spicy Chicken) so many times! I’m highlighting my favorite 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)
Instant Pot with plate of chicken in the corner

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 clean up, good for small batch cooking
  • CONS: accessibility (you need an Air Fryer), not good for large batch cooking
rectangular platter with sliced gochujang chicken

Spicy Sweet Korean Gochujang Chicken

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Fiery, spicy-sweet Gochujang Chicken. A versatile Korean classic!
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

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.
    chicken thighs in stainless steel bowl with gochujang marinade and spoon
  • 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!

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.
Keyword Gochujang Chicken Thighs
Air Fryer, All Recipes, Chicken, Gochujang, Instant Pot, Korean, Main, Sheet Pan, Weeknight Meals

19 Comments

  1. Bob Spector

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

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

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  5. 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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  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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  13. 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! : )

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

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