Everything You Need To Make Crunchy Korean Fried Chicken

IMAGE Majoy Siason

Have you ever bitten into a piece of fried chicken and savored the sound of the crunch as you broke through the crispy skin to reveal the juicy, tender meat inside? 

This kind of chicken is only made even better when it's glazed with a supremely flavorful sauce or powder. There's only one kind of chicken that meets both of these descriptions at the same time: Korean fried chicken

The Korean-style of fried chicken dates back to the '70s and soared in the '80s, especially when in 1982, Pelicana Chicken began to toss its fried chicken in a sweet and spicy sauce, now called "yangnyeom" or seasoned chicken.

What made Korea's fried chicken different and technically unique from the American-style of cooking fried chicken is the way it's fried. It's not just fried once, but twice. This achieves two things: it ensures that the chicken is cooked through and that the chicken skin is audibly crispy on the outside.   


This technique of double frying fried chicken is the reason behind the chicken's incredible crunch. If you love Korean fried chicken, you need to learn all you need to know about this Korean frying technique. 

The perfect pairs to Korean fried chicken are pickled radish, ice-cold beer, onion leaks, and of course, rice!
Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Always season the chicken. 

No matter what chicken recipe you're making, you need to season the chicken even before you do anything else. This matters when you take a bite of just the meat and discover it has little to no flavor compared to the saucy outside. It's a disappointing moment that doesn't need to happen. Plus, it's a guarantee that no matter what is happening on the outside, it's going to be a tasty piece of chicken on the inside. 

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno

2 Toss chicken in cornstarch.  

There are two kinds of flour you can use to produce that incredible crunch you're aiming for: flour and cornstarch. Flour is the traditional and most common coating of fried chicken but for the Koreans, it's cornstarch. This ingredient swap might spell the difference between crunchy and super crunchy.

Here's why: both flour and cornstarch are starches. However, flour has another property that may limit how crunchy how your fried chicken skin gets: gluten. Since cornstarch is mostly all starch and doesn't contain gluten, it can produce a crispness that flour just can't match.

3 Heat the oil right. 

There really is one way to get that super crispy chicken skin on fried chicken: frying. Hot oil not only makes the water evaporate from the food you're cooking but it also does it at a high enough temperature that when that water goes, it gets golden brown and crispy delicious in its place. 


To get that oil at the right temperature, the most accurate way is by using a deep-fry thermometer but you can also eyeball this by frying a piece of bread or dipping your wooden spoon in the hot oil to see if it bubbles.


Is your oil hot enough?
Photo by Wikimedia Commons. Takeaway.

4 Double fry it. 

This may be the most important part of the recipe. Double frying your fried chicken requires patience because you have to fry it at a low temperature first before jacking up the heat to a higher one. The first fry is to cook it through and the temperature is just high enough to do that properly without browning it just yet. The second fry is the fry that achieves the super crispness that Korean fried chicken is known for. 

Why not try all three sauces with your Korean fried chicken? Simply triple your chicken recipe and you'll have enough for all three.
Photo by Zoe del Rosario

5 Eat it immediately. 

This may not need to be said but it must be insisted upon. Fried chicken is truly at its best when eaten right away. The crispness and the juicy tenderness is only available when your fried chicken is fresh from the fryer. 


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