What Is Korean Fried Chicken?

Allison Boelcke

Korean fried chicken, also traditionally referred to as yangnyeom chikin, is a Korean dish in which chicken pieces are lightly coated and fried until the outside is crispy and the inside meat is cooked through. Although other cuisines have their own versions of fried chicken, the Korean style tends to have a thinner, crispier outer coating because it is fried in a method that cooks off the fat from the chicken skin. It may be eaten plain or tossed in a sweet soy-based sauce or spicy chile-based sauce. The dish tends to be served as an appetizer or snack, rather than as a main dish, and is often accompanied with pickled radishes and Korean style beer, which is brewed from rice, or soju, a Korean liquor similar to vodka that is made from rice.

Korean fried chicken should be liberally seasoned with salt and pepper.
Korean fried chicken should be liberally seasoned with salt and pepper.

Cooks tend to prefer using small pieces of chicken when preparing Korean fried chicken. The frying method is generally not designed for use with larger pieces of chicken because the meat may not be fully cooked by the time the outer coating reaches the preferred color and texture. Separate small pieces, such as wings and drumsticks, are often used to make the recipe outside of Korea, while in Korea, entire small chickens may be fried and then cut into separate pieces afterward. This is due to chickens in Korea often being smaller than in other areas throughout the world, particularly the United States.

Korean fried chicken typically has a thin batter consisting primarily of roughly equal parts water and flour, with a small amount of cornstarch. Unlike other cuisines’ fried chicken recipes, neither the chicken itself nor the batter tends to be seasoned prior to cooking. The chicken pieces may be lightly coated in flour to allow the batter to adhere, and then are dipped lightly into the batter to form a thin layer.

The oil temperature recommended by many Korean fried chicken recipes tends to be approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.6 degrees Celsius). To achieve its signature thin, crispy, and nearly transparent skin, the chicken usually goes through two cycles of frying, which is thought to give the inside meat more time to cook without making the outside overly crunchy. It is first fried for approximately 10 minutes, then removed and allowed to drain and cool slightly for approximately three minutes. The chicken is usually fried once again for approximately another 10 minutes or until the outside is lightly golden with a smooth, thin texture and the chicken is cooked through. The chicken is generally lightly seasoned with salt and pepper once it’s done frying, and may be tossed in a soy or chile-based sauce before serving.

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Discussion Comments


I had Korean fried chicken (KFC!) in Korea and it was far more sweet than the Korean fried chicken I've had in the US. I think different cooks and restaurants actually use different sauces. Or it might be a regional thing as well.

I don't prefer the sauce for my fried chicken to be overly sweet. I like it a little sweet and a little spicy.


@SarahGen-- No, you don't need a deep fryer. You can fry the chicken in a pan. Just make sure that you have enough oil in the pan to coat the chicken pieces entirely. And make sure to fry them twice.

I actually think that frying the chicken twice for ten minutes each is a lot. I do fry them for ten minutes the first time, but only about five minutes the second time. I suppose it also depends on how large the chicken pieces are. I usually use very small wings. So the frying time can vary. When the chicken is reddish brown, it's ready.


I've noticed that fried chicken is an appetizer in many cuisines unlike American cuisine where it's usually the meal itself. I've ha Korean fried chicken and Indian fried chicken before. Both were very delicious and both were appetizers served before a meal or with drinks.

I would like to make Korean fried chicken at home because there aren't any Korean restaurants nearby. And moreover, some Korean restaurants don't offer this on their menu. I don't have a deep fryer though and I doubt that my chicken will have the right consistency without it.

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