Make crispy crunchy Korean fried chicken in an air fryer with this easy double air fry technique.
You’re 30 minutes away from the crispiest, crunchiest, tastiest chicken wings ever. Korean fried chicken, if you’ve never tried it, is an extra crunchy double fried chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. It’s like the best hot wings ever.
Our love of KFC*
*In this post, KFC = Korean fried chicken
Years and years ago in NYC, Steph and I discovered new-to-us Korean fried chicken and it was unlike anything we’d ever had before. Crispy, crunchy, spicy, sticky, and sweet; it was like a whole other level of chicken. We loved it so much we went on a quest to try every version in the city, from then-glossy chain BonChon to some strange third floor lounge in the fashion district overlooking a discount ticket seller where we were the only customers (spoiler, it was the best of 6-8 that we tried).
Korean fried chicken was so big in those days that David Chang did an east-v-west chicken feast; one whole Korean fried chicken vs one whole Old Bay southern buttermilk fried chicken, for an insane amount of money at the original Momofuku. You had to wake up at 8am on a certain day to get the reservation. We went to that too. (pictured above – for this post I asked everyone who was at that dinner what they remembered thinking and over a decade later, they all still shared the same verdict: David Chang should stick to southern buttermilk fried chicken, but the Asian sauces were really good).
These days KFC is everywhere, provided you live in a large city with decent Korean restaurants. It’s a classic Korean beer/late night snack food. But nothing really beats making it at home, fresh and hot.
What is Korean fried chicken?
Korean fried chicken is classically double fried extra crispy wings and drummettes that are then coated in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. It’s like buffalo wings amped up with the power of gochujang.
Air fryer Korean fried chicken
We’ve always loved the idea of making Korean fried chicken at home, but even with as much as we cook, deep frying is never fun, so we’ve never done it. Steph suggested using the air fryer, which I thought was a genius idea, and I developed this double air fry technique that produced a pretty darn crispy chicken that I think rivals the best of the best deep fried versions while being way healthier.
How to make Korean fried chicken
The secret of Korean fried chicken is the double frying. Double frying in the air fryer works just as well as it does with deep frying, but way easier. The secret is to coat your chicken after the first fry using a spray/mist of oil. It’s not totally necessary, but it really helps. To make Korean fried chicken in an air fryer:
- Coat the chicken. I coated the chicken first with oil to help with heat transfer, then salt and pepper, then corn or potato starch, which is what Asian-style chicken is classically made with for a lighter, crispier outer shell.
- Air fry the chicken. 400ºF for 15 minutes. There’s no need to preheat the air fryer.
- Make the sauce. While the chicken is air frying, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients, then heating it up to a very slight boil (or even just microwaving it for a minute).
- Flip the chicken. When 15 minutes is up, flip the chicken and continue air frying for another 5 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Double fry and sauce. After the chicken has cooled, spray it with oil again, then air fry it for the final time at 400ºF for 5 minutes. Remove and toss in sauce, then enjoy immediately.
Korean fried chicken sauce
The magical sauce that goes on Korean fried chicken is a mixture of honey, brown sugar, gochujang, and ketchup. Really: ketchup is a very important ingredient if you want to keep things authentic. It’s important to note that this is just one possible sauce – there are other sauces for Korean fried chicken out there, but this one (in America, at least) is the iconic one.
What is gochujang?
Gochujang is very slightly spicy fermented Korean paste that goes great in everything. We also use it for our sweet and spicy gochujang honey roast chicken and potatoes, our 10 minute spicy beef weeknight stir fry udon, and our kimchi stew with mochi egg recipe.. Traditionally it comes in tubs, but these days you can find it in much more convenient squeeze bottles in the Asian aisle of literally any grocery store.
What if I don’t have spray oil?
Spray oil is really good, cheap, and irreplaceable in the kitchen – especially if you have an air fryer. It’s not worse for you than any other kind of oil, as long as you know when to use it and its limitations. We like a nice high smoke point propellant free oil, but you can use any oil you want (except olive because of its low smoke point) and you can even make your own.
How deep fry Korean fried chicken
If you don’t have an air fryer (you should really consider getting one as they are great and cheap these days) you can easily do it the classic way: deep fry the chicken until golden brown, then remove and let cool a bit before dropping it back in for a few more minutes. Then toss in sauce, as usual.
Will this sauce work with any kind of fried chicken?
Yes! If you are feeling lazy, you can just make the sauce and toss it in grocery store or chain fried chicken. It won’t be as good or quite the same, but still pretty awesome.
How does it compare to delivery
Korean fried chicken is available as a delivery item in most major cities these days. While this might seem like more work than just ordering delivery, right after I made this chicken, we went out and tried a local version – hot and fresh – to compare and contrast. The homemade KFC was both tastier and crispier. There’s no comparison at all; this recipe is way better, and way healthier too.
I hope you get some properly good KFC in your life asap. Hot and fresh.
Coat the chicken with the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Toss with corn starch.
Spray the air fryer basket with oil or use a paper towel to wipe a thin coat of oil onto it. Arrange the chicken in a single layer and air fry the chicken at 400ºF for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is air frying, combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a brief boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
When the 15 minutes is up, flip the chicken and air fry another 5 minutes, then transfer the chicken onto a plate or rack to cool for 5 minutes.
After the chicken has cooled, spray the chicken with a very light coating of oil (optional), place the chicken back in the air fryer and fry another 5 minutes at 400ºF.
Toss in the sauce, making sure to get every nook and cranny. Enjoy immediately with wedges of lime and slices of green onion.