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Crispy Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken

This air fryer Korean Fried Chicken Recipe makes crispy buttermilk fried chicken tossed with a spicy and sweet Korean inspired gochujang sauce. Learn how to make this delicious chicken in an air fryer quickly, without the mess and fat of deep frying.

air fryer Korean fried chicken on a wooden cutting board with lettuce and rice

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Korean fried chicken is a mouthwatering way to make fried chicken, with an amazing sweet-spicy-sticky sauce. The Korean gochujan sauce is the key to dish because it is responsible for its addictive taste.

I first tried Korean fried chicken in the Korea town area of New York City a few years ago. I loved it, but I never tried to make it at home because making fried chicken at home always seemed too complicated – until I got an air fryer.

Fried chicken is one of the best things to make in the air fryer! It is crispy and delicious and gives you all the crunch of crispy fried chicken without the grease, mess and calories of deep frying.

Whether it is southern style fried chicken, Nashville hot chicken or this Korean fried chicken it is crispy and crunchy. This recipe isn’t a no effort meal because it takes a little bit of time to soak and bread the chicken but it is so worth it!

top view of Korean fried chicken drumsticks

Why You Will Love Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken

  • It is both sweet and spicy, which is delicious when combined with the crunchy coating.
  • The gochujan sauce that coats the chicken is sticky and has a great umami flavor that is distinctive.
  • This chicken is versatile. You can serve it as an appetizer or as a main dish with rice and a salad. Add it to a slider bun and make it a sandwich or put in a lettuce wrap for a Korean ssam meal.
  • Using the air fryer means it is easy to make at home!

Korean Fried Chicken

Traditionally Korean fried chicken is double fried, which makes it extra crispy. This means it is actually deep fried twice.

So this recipe isn’t traditional, because both because it is air fried, not deep fried, and it is only air fried once. But it is still plenty crispy!

Gochujang Sauce

Gochujang paste is a fermented Korean red chili paste that is the main ingredient in the sauce for this recipe. Many local grocery stores stock it and I have no trouble getting it at Wegmans. If your grocery store doesn’t stock it you can always order it online or check a local Asian market.

gochujang sauce ingredients
Ingredients for gochujang sauce

The remaining ingredients for the sauce are standard pantry staples you probably already have at home: sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, honey and garlic powder.

Once you make the gochujang sauce it will keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator. It also makes a great BBQ sauce for chicken and pork dishes for a fun, unique flavor.

fried chicken top view

Korean Fried Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken – I like to use chicken drumsticks or thighs for this recipe.
  • Buttermilk – Soaking the chicken in buttermilk before air frying helps tenderize the chicken while still keeping it juicy.
  • Flour – The air fryer doesn’t lend itself to heavy breading. The flour combines with the buttermilk to make a crusty coating on the chicken.
  • Spices – Paprika, salt, pepper
  • Spray oil – The air fryer uses less oil than deep frying, but this recipe needs some oil or your chicken won’t be crispy! Don’t use a commercial spray oil like Pam, these contain preservatives that can damage the air fryer basket. Use regular oil in a spray bottle. I like to use avocado oil or olive oil for fried chicken.

How to Make Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken

1. Soak the Chicken

Put the chicken in a big bowl and add buttermilk to just cover the drumsticks. Put the bowl in the refrigerator and let the drumsticks soak for anywhere from 12-24 hours.

ingredients for fried chicken
Korean fried chicken ingredients

2. Make the Gochujang Sauce

At some point while the chicken soaks make the gochujang sauce. To make it simply whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Then check the consistency of the sauce.

gochujang sauce in a bowl
Gochujang sauce

You want it to be a runny so that will coat the chicken. If it is too thick then whisk in some more water. Refrigerate the sauce while you make the chicken.

3. Bread the Chicken

Mix the flour, paprika, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish or plate. Take one of the drumsticks out of the buttermilk and roll it in the flour mixture, making sure to coat it completely.

coating the drumsticks in flour
Breading the chicken with flour and spices

Put the drumstick on a wire rack and coat the remaining pieces. Let the chicken sit on the rack and dry for 10-15 minutes. This drying time helps give the chicken a nice crispy coating.

chicken drumsticks drying on a rack after flouring
Chicken drying on a rack

4. Air Fry the Chicken

Set the air fryer to 380 degrees F and let it preheat for 3 minutes. I don’t always preheat my air fryer, but when making something with a crispy coating preheating is important.

Once it is preheated spray the bottom of the basket with the spray oil. Then add the chicken, being careful not to overcrowd the drumsticks. Only add as many as will fit and still allow air to circulate.

fried chicken in air fryer
Chicken in the air fryer

Use the spray bottle to spray the chicken in basket with the avocado oil. Set the air fryer at 380 degrees F for 13 minutes. After about 10 minutes check on the chicken and make sure there are no burnt spots.

If there are burnt spots reduce the heat to 370 degrees F and continue cooking. Otherwise continue to cook at 380 degrees F until the 13 minutes is up.

fried chicken in air fryer part way through cooking
Chicken part way through air frying

After the cooking time is up flip the chicken over and spray it with more avocado oil. Then set it to air fry for another 7-8 minutes, this time at 370 degrees F.

Check the chicken periodically and continue to air fry until the drumsticks are golden brown and the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.

Repeat the air frying process for any remaining pieces of chicken.

5. Add the Sauce

When you are ready to serve the chicken pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat it. Serve garnished with green onions and sesame seeds.

air fryer Korean fried chicken drumstick

How to Serve

There are lots of ways to serve air fryer Korean fried chicken. You can just serve it as finger food, even though the sauce makes it a little bit sticky! I like to serve it with rice or with Asian coleslaw.

A traditional Korean way to serve it would be in a lettuce wrap, which is called ssam. Line a lettuce leaf with some rice, Asian slaw and chicken meat. Then spoon some extra sauce over the top and serve the wraps.

ssam lettuce wrap made with Korean fried chicken

How to Store

Because of the addition of the sauce this recipe doesn’t store very well. The crispy coating gets soggy if it sits in the sauce too long. So only add the sauce as you serve the chicken.

If you have leftover chicken without sauce you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheat it by putting it in the air fryer at 300 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Then add the sauce and serve.

Variations and Tips

  • You can make this with other chicken parts such as wings, thighs or boneless breast pieces. The cooking times will vary for different types of chicken.
  • Don’t skip letting the chicken sit on a rack after breading. This ensures the chicken has a nice crispy coating.
  • Don’t crowd the chicken in the air fryer basket! If the air can’t circulate the chicken won’t brown well.
  • Cooking time depends on your air fryer. If in doubt use less cooking time, keep checking and add more time until the pieces are crispy.

FAQ

What do you eat Korean fried chicken with?

Popular side dishes to serve with Korean fried chicken are kimchi, pickled radish and pickled bean sprouts.

Is air fryer fried chicken healthy?

Air fryer fried chicken is healthier than deep fried chicken. It uses less oil and has less fat and calories.

closeup of Korean fried chicken legs

Find More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

Yield: 8

Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken

air fryer Korean fried chicken drumstick

This air fryer Korean Fried Chicken Recipe makes crispy buttermilk fried chicken tossed with a spicy and sweet Korean inspired gochujang sauce.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Soaking Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 35 minutes

Ingredients

Fried Chicken

  • 8 Chicken drumsticks, skin-on
  • 4 Cups of Buttermilk, enough to just cover the chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • spray oil, avocado oil preferably

Gochujang Sauce

  • 1/2 cup gochujang paste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Put the chicken drumsticks in a medium bowl and add buttermilk to just cover the legs. Let them soak in buttermilk for 12-24 hours. Make sure the chicken pieces are submerged.
  2. While the chicken legs marinade make the Gochujang sauce. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. The sauce should have a runny consistency so it will coat the chicken. If it isn't runny whisk in more water until it is. Refrigerate the sauce while you make the chicken. The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
  3. When you are about ready to air fry the chicken, mix the dry ingredients in a shallow dish.
  4. Dredge soaked drumsticks in flour mix, making sure it is completely coated. Put the breaded chicken on a wire rack and repeat with all the remaining pieces. Let the chicken dry for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the buttermilk and flour to form a crust on the chicken.
  5. Set the air fryer to 380 degrees F and let it preheat for 3 minutes.
  6. Prepare the air fryer basket by coating it with spray oil. Don't use commercial spray oil since it can damage the finish on the basket. Use a mister or other spray bottle for oil. Put as many drumsticks in the basket as fit without crowding. There needs to be room for the air to circulate so the chicken becomes golden brown and crispy. Spray the chicken in the basket with the spray oil.
  7. Set the air fryer to 380 degrees F for 13 minutes. Check the chicken after 8-10 minutes and make sure there are no burnt pieces. If there are reduce the heat to 370 degrees F. When the 13 minutes are up flip the chicken, then reduce the heat to 370 degrees F and air fry for another 7-8 minutes, checking periodically until drumsticks are golden brown and internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. Repeat the process for the remaining pieces of chicken.
  8. Pour sauce over air-fried chicken while still hot and garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Notes

  • You can make this with other chicken parts such as wings, thighs or boneless breast pieces. The cooking times will vary for different types of chicken.
  • Cooking time also depends on your air fryer. If in doubt use less cooking time, keep checking and add more time until the pieces are crispy.
  • Don't skip letting the chicken sit on a rack after breading. This ensures the chicken has a nice crispy coating.
  • Don't crowd the chicken in the air fryer basket! If the air can't circulate the chicken won't brown well.
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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    8

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 135mgSodium: 1594mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 1gSugar: 33gProtein: 31g

    Nutrition facts are estimates.

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    air fryer Korean fried chicken on a wooden board
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    By on May 6th, 2021

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