The ultimate guide to juicy, crisp and crunchy Japanese fried chicken karaage.

Have you ever watched Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma? It’s an over the top and hilarious anime (based on a manga) that revolves around food and cooking battles. A couple of the episodes focus on chicken karaage, which both Mike and I love. Making chicken karaage and snacking on it while we watch has been one of our latest guilty pleasures.

chicken karaage |

What is chicken karaage?

Chicken karaage is Japanese fried chicken: bite sized, super juicy, intensely flavorful, with a crispy, cracker-y crunch.

How to make chicken karaage

  1. Cut down your chicken: Start off with cutting the chicken into bite size pieces. Make sure you cut all your pieces the same size. You don’t want thin pieces because they tend to be drier, so try to make sure they are kind of chunky and thick.
  2. Marinate: From there you’ll want to marinate them in soy sauce, sake, sugar, ginger, and garlic. It’s a pretty dry marinade so be sure to mix everything up evenly so that all the chicken pieces are coated. You want them to marinate for at least 30 minutes. I like to leave them in a cool spot in the kitchen so the chicken can come up to room temp. This helps it cook more evenly and quickly instead of cooking it straight from the fridge.
  3. Coat the chicken: After the chicken has marinated, you want to coat it in potato starch. You dont need to drain the marinade, since it’s pretty much a rub, so just go ahead and toss the chicken in the starches, being sure to coat evenly and shaking off the excess.
  4. Fry: From there you can either deep-fry, air-fry, or oven-bake. The choice is yours!

single fried chicken karaage |

Chicken karaage ingredients

  • Chicken – the main ingredient. skin on chicken thighs are best for juiciness and flavor. The skin adds an extra bit of crunchy deliciousness and fat and chicken thighs are tender and juicy
  • Light Soy Sauce – We need just a bit of light soy sauce for umami and salt. We just want a hint of soy, not too much. Use a light Japanese soy sauce for the most authentic flavor. We like Yamasa.
  • Sake – this helps to tenderize the chicken and balances the flavor of the soy sauce
  • Sugar – We’re going to add just a hint of sugar to highlight the umami of the soy sauce
  • Ginger – adds a warm, earthy undertone
  • Garlic – because we love garlic!
  • Starch – I like using potato starch for a coating that is light and crisp. The kind of starch you use for your coating is pretty important. More on coatings further down.

chicken karaage recipe |

What is karaage?

Karaage is a technique of Japanese cooking where an ingredient is lightly coated and deep fried. Most common is chicken karaage but you can also have things like ika karaage (squid) or geso karaage (squid tentacles).

chicken karaage recipe |

How is chicken karaage served?

Just like fried chicken, karaage is a staple in Japanese cuisine. You’ll find it just about anywhere:

  • home: lots of people make karaage at home as a main to serve with rice or as an appetizer
  • restaurants/izakaya: super popular at restaurants as part of set meals or at izakaya to have with beer
  • combini, supermarkets and depachika: you’ll always find chicken karaage at convenience stores, supermarkets, and the food halls on the bottom floors of department stores for people to buy and take home for bento, snacks, or dinner.

chicken karaage |

Air-frying/Oven Baking

If you’re air-frying or oven baking, you’ll need to spray the chicken with some oil. We like to use a simple oil mister bottle that we got on amazon so we can just use whatever oil we have on hand. Make sure there’s a good coating of oil on the tops of the chicken so it browns evenly, otherwise you might end up with chicken that’s not as golden.


For deep-frying, we’re going to do a double deep fry: once at a low temperature to cook the chicken through and then again at a higher temperature to get the chicken extra crispy and golden brown. Some tips:

  • Make sure you use a heavy bottomed deep pot to deep-fry.
  • You want a lot of headspace so the oil doesn’t boil and bubble over.
  • A kitchen thermometer is best, but if you don’t have one, you can check the temperature by putting wooden chopsticks into the oil. There should be a bunch of little bubbles that come out the end. The ones that come with your take out orders are perfect.
  • Gently add some pieces of chicken into the pot, being sure not to crowd, and fry until lightly golden. Drain on a wire rack and then turn up the heat and deep fry again until crisp and deeply golden.

double fried chicken |

What is the best type of coating for chicken karaage?

If you ever look closely at chicken karaage, you’ll notice that the coating looks different from fried chicken coated with flour. This is because karaage is made using potato starch or katakuriko 片栗粉. The crust of chicken karaage looks a bit powder-y with little balls of crunchiness. It’s not as golden as regular fried chicken because the starches used don’t brown up the same way. Starches tend to give a lighter, yet crisper coating because there’s no gluten in it.

Look for coarse potato potato starch for extra crunchy chicken. Coarse starch has slightly bigger granules that make the chicken even crunchier.

First off, what is starch?

Starch is a white, tasteless powder made up of two molecules: amylose and amylopectin. When heated, the molecules cross link with each other to form a rigid, brittle network that holds its shape. This translates to a crispy, crunchy feeling when we eat it. Bonus, starch is gluten-free!

chicken coated with potato starch |

Potato starch

Potato starch, made from potatoes, has a fairly high amylose content (20-22%). The amylose content is what makes it crunchy/crispy. It’s really easy to find at the grocery store. Note: potato starch is not the same as potato flour!


Cornstarch, made from corn kernels, is probably the most common starch for thickening sauces, baking, and coating things for frying. Its fairly high amylose (25-28%) makes it a really good choice for a deep fry coating. I always include it as the default choice for coating Asian fried chicken because it’s probably in your pantry already.

chicken karaage recipe |

Coatings to avoid

Stay away from flour, rice flour, tapioca starch, and rice starch if you want a crispy crunchy crust that will stay crunchy.

Chicken karaage dips

Usually karaage is served on it’s own with a lemon wedge or some Kewpie mayo, but you can definitely serve up some dips too!

  • Kewpie mayo: The classic, just squeeze it right out of that iconic bottle!
  • Spicy mayo: mix 2 tbsp kewpie mayo with 2 tsp sriracha
  • Garlic mayo: mix 2 tbsp kewpie mayo with 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Ranch: mix 2 tbsp kewpie mayo with 1 tbsp buttermilk, 1 tbsp sour cream, 1 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, and pinch of garlic powder
  • Jalapeño ranch: mix the above with 1 jalapeños, reseeded and diced
  • Creamy parmesan: mix 2 tbsp kewpie mayo, 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan, 2 tsp milk
  • Honey mustard: mix 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp mustard
  • Honey lemon: mix 2 tbsp kewpie mayo, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, and a drizzle of honey

chicken karaage recipe |

What to eat with chicken karaage

Happy fried chickening!
xoxo steph

chicken karaage recipe |

Chicken Karaage

Bite sized, super juicy, intensely flavorful, with a crispy, cracker-y crunch.
Serves 4
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1" cubes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • High heat oil for deep frying


  • In a bowl, marinate the chicken in the soy sauce, sake, sugar, ginger, and garlic for 30 minutes at temperature, in a slightly cool spot. Letting the chicken rest at room temp means that the chicken won’t drop the temperature of the oil, which means that it’ll cook up crispier. Also, it’ll cook faster than if you cook it cold from the fridge. If you are air frying or baking, add a 1/2 tablespoon oil to the marinade.
    marinating chicken |
  • Place the potato starch and cornstarch in a bowl and, working in batches, toss and coat several pieces of chicken, making sure they are well coated. Alternatively, put the potato and cornstarch in a bag or container, add the chicken, and shake to coat. The chicken should be well coated and look fairly dry.
    chicken coated with potato starch |
  • Deep Fry Instructions (see notes for air fried and oven baking instructions)
    Prepare a wire cooling rack over a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet. Heat up 2 - 2.5 inches of oil in a deep heavy bottomed pot until it reaches 325°F. It doesn’t need to be too deep, it depends on the size of your chicken. Use a pair of tongs to gently add a couple of pieces of chicken to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry in batches until lightly golden, about 1 1/2 minutes.
    deep frying chicken |
  • Remove from the oil and let rest on your prepared wire rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken until all of it has been fried once.
    single fried chicken karaage |
  • Turn the heat up to 350°F and fry the chicken a second time around until deeply golden and crispy, another 1-2 minutes.
    double fried chicken |
  • Enjoy as soon as possible!
    chicken karaage recipe |


Air Fryer Chicken Karaage
Lightly oil or use cooking spray on the air fryer basket. Place the coated pieces of chicken in the basket, with at least 1/4” of space in between pieces. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking spray. Cook at 400°F for 5 minutes, then flip and lightly spray with extra cooking spray. Cook for 5 more minutes at 400°F. If your pieces of chicken are large, you might need an extra minute or two. Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes, then air fry for an extra 5 minutes at 400°F to crisp it up.
Oven Baked Chicken Karaage
Heat the oven to 450°F. Oil or use cooking spray to fully coat a wire rack in a foil lined baking sheet. Place the coated pieces of chicken on the rack, with at least 1/4” of space in between pieces. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking spray.
Bake for 20 minutes, then flip, lightly coat with extra cooking spray and bake for an extra 5 minutes. The pieces of chicken should be golden brown, crispy, and cooked through.

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Karaage
Amount Per Serving
Calories 380 Calories from Fat 106
% Daily Value*
Fat 11.8g18%
Saturated Fat 3.2g20%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 559mg24%
Potassium 336mg10%
Carbohydrates 33.5g11%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 1.2g1%
Protein 32.7g65%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
japanese fried chicken karaage recipe -


  1. i can’t say i’m into anime (the farthest i’ve gone is “avatar: the last airbender” and i don’t really think that counts), but “food wars” sounds like a realllyy good place to start. and my brother always gets some form of fried chicken when we go out for japanese (it’s either chicken karaage or chicken katsu), so i’m sure he’d be happy if i made a batch of these when i go home for thanksgiving (if he deals with dishes, these are happening on day 1).

  2. 5 stars
    Loving this unique version of fried chicken! It sounds delicious!

    Dani |

  3. 5 stars
    that show sounds out of control. this chicken looks out of control. xoxo

  4. 5 stars
    MY. GOD. that looks SO GOOD. I’ve never had Chicken Karaage but I now need to.

  5. 5 stars
    Hahahha tentacle action, you already sold me on this anime. But this chicken looks amazing. I am already imagining the crunch i my mouth.

  6. L says:

    You know there are free online English scanlations of the manga, right? I mean, it’s best if you can buy the manga but not all manga are officially translated so the last resort are places like mangareader or mangahere. The manga is still ongoing and I’m totally impatient for the next chapter.

  7. 5 stars
    My husband would be over the moon if I made this for him! It looks incredible – so perfectly crunchy and delicious!

  8. Rachel says:

    5 stars
    I love this stuff at my local Japanese restaurant – thanks for the recipe!

  9. Wan says:

    5 stars
    Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian, I don’t even care – if it’s fried chicken, I wanna eat it! This looks amazing. I’ll definitely be giving this a try though probably without the sake. Hopefully that doesn’t change it too much.

  10. 5 stars
    Karaage is my chicken cryptonite and your photos of these crunchy juicy perfectly brown fried beauties have sent me over the edge … !! LOL re boobs and nakedness! Sounds like a pretty sweet show! ^__^

  11. Mikaela says:

    Read about karage many time in manga. Might try this one soon. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Thanks for the tip on Shokugeki no Soma. Do you know Oishinbo, the cooking manga of which about 8 volumes are available on Amazon? Wonderful!

  13. Alex Nguyen says:

    No, no, no, no, no. Food Wars is NOT a good place to start if you’ve never really been into anime. I watch anime quite frequently and I couldn’t get passed the blatant fan service of the show.

    If you want a good, funny, and knowledge filled cooking anime, watch Yakitate JAPAN!

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i LOVE yakitate! well, except that last season where it got a little weird…

  14. Nomaste says:

    5 stars
    This is so amazing! Perfect dish for a rainy night! :)

  15. Shannon says:

    Do you think this could be done in the oven somehow? I am scared of deep-frying things, so I am always looking for oven versions that get good results. Let me know!

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      i haven’t tried it in the oven – i don’t think it would work well. you could do the marinade, crust it in panko and bake it. it won’t have the same crunch but you’d get the flavor at least!

  16. Tim says:

    With 1.5 inches of oil in a frying pan or pot, how do you measure the oil temperature (325 and then at 350).
    The deep fry thermometers i’ve seen require at least 2.5 inches of the tip to be submerged into the oil.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      you should be able to, depending on what kind of thermometer you have – i’ve used a bulb thermometer as well as a digital one with that amount. i’ve adjusted the amount of oil in the recipe!

  17. Kate says:

    5 stars
    Oh wow! This looks insane good. I’ll be making this at least once this week. Probably more.

  18. Watched all 24 episodes of Shokugeki no Soma. Wonderful! Thanks again for the lead.

  19. Tyler Craine says:

    5 stars
    I always wanted to know how to make this! o>o

  20. raj says:

    5 stars
    This is awesome! I saw that episode of Food Wars and thought those karaage looked amazing. I stumbled on your blog today from a “top 25 food blogs” list and when I saw you had a karaage recipe, I had to try this.

    It came out pretty good! I’ve never deep fried anything before, but I just followed the directions and it was very easy, and the karaage looked just like the ones in the picture.

    Thanks for the recipe! I love your blog – awesome recipes and photography! Super cool that you watched Food Wars too!

  21. clee says:

    ME TOO! I love Shokugeki no Soma (needs another season to see what happens though!) and after that particular episode about Kaarage I had to try it even though I’ve never had that type of fried chicken before. I tried making it with corn starch with worked pretty well, but I’ll try your recipe next with potato starch! Sounds Oishii!

  22. Caroline says:

    I love shokugeki no soma! I just caught up on the manga last night! When the anime came out my boyfriend teased me cause it was so over the top compared to my usual taste

  23. Devin says:

    I’ve watched all the episodes of Food Wars months ago. I happened across your blog and know it’s my destiny to taste juicy karaage!

  24. christina says:

    ha ha. the second season of food wars starts in July! I am happy to have found your blog

  25. Will says:

    I’m a huge food wars fan myself and I tried it with lettuce just as Soma suggested on the show and it was delicious.

  26. Sarah says:

    I just finished the first season of this show – and clicked on the link because of the chicken karaage episode, only to realize the inspiration for this post! My favorite food blog and favorite (food) anime, how could they not be related in one way or another. Now I want to go home and start the second season, while making some chicken karaage.

  27. Heidz says:

    5 stars
    Omggggg! My boyfriend and I have been searching for the closest recipe to our local sushi shop that sells amazing karaage. THIS IS IT! Thanks so much for the perfect recipe. We’ve made it a few times now soooo delicious!

    1. Stephanie says:

      oh yay! so happy you guys like it :)

  28. Nadine says:

    Would this still work without the sake and with cornstarch in place of potato starch?

    1. Stephanie says:

      it would, but the chicken won’t be as crispy. the potato starch is essential :)

  29. Hailey says:

    I don’t have Sake but i do have Shaoxing wine. Would this work as a substitute?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi hailey,
      it’ll have a slightly different flavor, but it will definitely work!

  30. Nick Faulise says:

    I notice that some kaarage has a white, chunky, crispy, dust like finish on it. How do you get it that way and not just a solid coating?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi nick,
      it’s the way the coating sticks to the chicken, in some spots more potato starch will clump up and adhere and in other spots, it’ll just be a sort of dusting. potato starch on its own, you’ll find, tends to be clumpy so depending on how wet your chicken is in places will determine if it’s a solid coating or not. give your chicken a good shake after coating if you want to avoid a solid coating and toss very gently. hope that helps!

  31. Anna says:

    This looks amazing but I don’t have potato starch in the house. Would corn starch work?

    1. Stephanie says:

      yes, but it won’t have the same kind of crispiness. in a pinch, it’ll definitely work!

  32. Julie says:

    5 stars
    I am DROOLING! this looks so tasty!

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