Air Fryer Gochujang Chicken Thighs

Difficulty Easy

The easiest, spicy-sweet, mouthwatering-delicious Air Fryer Gochujang Chicken Thighs! Make this simple and versatile Korean chicken dish in 30 minutes with Korean chili paste and tender, flavorful chicken thighs. Pop into the air fryer for easy and convenient cooking. Or cook in the oven, non-stick skillet, instant pot, or bbq grill. So fast, easy, and tasty — it will become your new go-to recipe!

Air Fryer Gochujang Chicken Thighs

As far as Korean food goes, Gochujang Chicken is an underrated dinner for busy weeknights. A 5-minute marinade with a handful of ingredients. Accessible, easy-to-find chicken thighs — Gochujang Chicken is also incredibly delicious and so easy to put on the table!

I’ve been making this popular and versatile Korean chicken for years. Adding Gochujang or Korean red chili paste adds an intense savory flavor with a spicy-sweet edge. When cooked, the juicy chicken thighs have BIG flavor with a little bit of heat. YUM!

A spicy chicken recipe for everyone to put on their dinnertime rotation. With 5 ways to cook — choose your favorite method: Air Fryer, oven boil, BBQ, pan-fry, and Instant Pot.

Experience the flavors of Korean barbecue with tender chicken thighs coated in fiery, spicy sauce.

A Korean BBQ classic with crispy edges and smoky char that are so tasty! And that fiery, spicy-sweet flavor! Not surprisingly, it’s a popular favorite for home cooks, too.

Why should you make Korean Gochujang Chicken?

  • 5-minute marinade
  • Quick cook time
  • 5 ways to cook!
  • Tasty. Gochujang Chicken Thighs are crisp, juicy, exploding with exciting, spicy, sweet flavor. A favorite protein for a reason!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Thighs. Skinless, boneless chicken thighs are ideal for their juicy tenderness. They cook up fast! If you prefer, chicken breasts work too.
  • Gochujang. Korean chili paste. Gochujang is an essential pantry item in Korean cuisine. And the building block of many Korean recipes. 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. Look for it at the Korean grocery store. Or the international aisle of big box stores.
  • Garlic + Ginger + Onion. The flavorful aromatics. Don’t skimp on the amounts!
  • Soy Sauce. Rich umami flavor + depth.
  • Sugar. Balances the heat level and creates those crunchy, caramelized bits. Adds a little sweetness! Sub with maple syrup, honey, or agave if you prefer.
  • 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.
tub of Gochujang on cutting board

Instructions:

  1. Make marinade. In a large bowl, add the marinade ingredients and mix well.
  2. Marinate chicken. Add chicken thighs and mix well. Make sure all the chicken pieces are well coated. If you can, marinate the chicken pieces overnight.
  3. Cook. Choose one of the cooking methods below: Air Fryer, Sheet Pan, Instant Pot, Non-stick Skillet, or BBQ grill. Cook the marinated chicken until golden brown on the edges and cooked through with crispy, charred edges.
  4. Serve. Garnish with green onions or cilantro, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds if you like. Slice into strips or serve whole. Serve with steamed white rice, kimchi, and steamed vegetables. 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.
  • Check 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).

Variations:

  • Chop into cubes. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. So crisp and juicy!
  • Put on a skewer. Like Miso Chicken Skewers, cooking chicken on a stick makes all the corners crispy and golden brown. So good.

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. Air Fryer. Easy and convenient with all the BBQ flavor of a grill but very little mess! To make, place in the bottom of the air fryer basket and cook.

  • 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

2. Sheet Pan. Broiling on a foil-lined baking 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)

3. 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

4. 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

5. 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

Serve with:

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

  • Korean BBQ. Serve with lettuce wraps and ssamjang for a fast and easy meal. Serve with other Korean side dishes. Some suggestions: Korean Cucumber Salad, Korean Potato Salad, and Romaine Lettuce Salad.
  • Rice + Kimchi. Serve with white rice, brown rice, or even sticky rice. With a side of kimchi, that’s all you need for a satisfying meal.
  • Korean-inspired Rice Bowl. Make an easy Bibimbap with spicy chicken. Add 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.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftover chicken in the fridge, in an airtight container.

More recipes with Gochujang:

More Korean chicken recipes:

rectangular platter with sliced gochujang chicken

5 Ways to Cook: Korean 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 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
marinating time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 people
Calories 386 kcal

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: 0gCalories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 46gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 745mgPotassium: 752mgFiber: 1gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 123IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 2mg
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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