korean food/meat/recipes/snacks

Spicy Korean Fried Chicken Recipe

Posted July 9, 2014 by Stephanie
spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

The first time I had KFC (Korean fried chicken, not Kentucky) was in New York about seven years ago. I led Mike on a merry chase around the city visiting random Korean joints that smelled deliciously of deep fried goodness. Our chicken adventures took us to shady, hard to find karaoke bars and actual Korean chains from Korea. At first Mike thought I was a little obsessive, but after that first bite into that sweet and spicy double fried crunch, he was a little obsessed too.

spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

These little popcorn bites aren’t technically Korean fried chicken – I didn’t fry them twice. Nope, these guys are basically popcorn chicken (I LOVE popcorn chicken) tossed with spicy Korean chili seasoning. They’re super crunchy due to a triple dip – flour, then buttermilk, then flour again.

spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

It’s the middle of Summer and I know you guys are all salads and popsicles all day, but guys, this chicken is worth hanging out at the stove. It’s crispy, spicy, bite-sized, and delicious. It tastes good right out of the oil or after it’s cooled down to room temp. It even tastes good cold, especially when you dip it into some homemade spicy ranch.

spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com

I collaborated with Season with Spice for this post! They have some truly awesome spices!

Spicy Korean Fried Chicken Recipe
serves 4

  • 1 tsp korean chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch pieces

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp korean chili flakes
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon spicy Korean chili seasoning, or to taste

Mix the chili flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mix well, so all the pieces are seasoned. If you have the foresight, do this overnight. If not, a good hour should do the trick.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, chili flakes, pepper and garlic powder. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl. Set up a large dish or tray (big enough to lay out the chicken pieces in one layer). Dip the chicken pieces into the flour mix, then the buttermilk and back into the flour mix. Double coating ensures extra crispiness. As you coat, lay your coated pieces on your dish/tray. Let the chicken rest while you wash up. Resting lets the flour and buttermilk crust up for extra crunch.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. In a deep-sided pot, heat up 2 inches of oil (I like to use grapeseed, rice bran or sunflower) over medium to medium high heat until it reaches 350°F. Fry the chicken pieces, being careful not to crowd the pan, until deeply golden brown and crispy, about 5-6 minutes. Drain the chicken on your prepared rack. Continue frying until all the chicken is cooked. Toss in a bowl with the spicy Korean chili seasoning and enjoy with spicy ranch dressing.

Spicy Ranch Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon spicy Korean chili seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

spicy popcorn chicken recipe - www.iamafoodblog.com


  1. Love this and the last shot is awesome! Got to try out korean fried chicken, I am slightly obsessed with kara-age!

    1. steph says:

      mmmm karaage is SO GOOD!

  2. YEEEESSSSSS This looks incredible! I wonder if this recipe would work with (GASP) tofu?

    1. steph says:

      gasp! it WOULD!! the gasp would be because it would INCREDIBLY delicious with tofu!! :D

  3. cynthia says:

    I am MESMERIZED by that last shot, Steph! In addition to all the other ones, because um, fried chicken. Korean fried chicken has been on my to-do list for so, so long — yours looks phenomenal. (And LOVE Season with Spice!! They’re the best!)

    1. steph says:

      thanks cynthia!! fried chicken is so photographic, it’s easy to make pretty ;)

  4. I have never seen KFC at restaurants in my area. I want to try it! Thanks for posting this recipes so I can!!

    1. steph says:

      hope you get a chance to try it out janel!! thanks for dropping by!

  5. molly yeh says:

    this looks incredible!!!!!!!!!!!! so NOT on my wedding diet, but totally worth an exception :)

    1. steph says:

      wedding diet!??! what wedding diet!?!? you’re GORGEOUS! xoxox

  6. OMG, KFC popcorn chicken. Whutttt. Amazing.

    1. steph says:

      i like popcorn chicken because…it’s like popcorn. so easy too pop in your mouth!! way better than pesky fried chicken with bones :D

  7. Fried chicken is definitely summer food too! It is what you eat before all the popsicles and whatnot. And especially with the spicy Korean seasoning. Had no idea traditional KFC is double fried too. However, are Korean chili flakes different than regular chili flakes??

    1. steph says:

      oh i totally agree! fried chicken is definitely summer food…most ppl don’t wanna make it though hahaha

      korean chili flakes (gochugaru) are different – they’re sweet, smoky, spicy and coarsely flaked. it’s what they make kimchi with! you can substitute with regular chili flakes, but it won’t be quite the same.

  8. Sophie says:

    I’m with Athena — inquiring vegetarians want to know :) Would tofu would be good like this? I don’t miss meat often but sometimes when I think about eating wings in Koreatown with my sister in New York, I get a little misty-eyed. You photographed this beautifully, Steph! Especially love that shot second from the bottom!

    1. steph says:

      yes, yes, yes to TOFU!! :D

      you could even skip out on the battering part and just deep fry then toss.

  9. I’ve never had any Korean Fried Chicken and realizing this makes me kind of sad… But hey, now that you’ve posted this recipe, it might be the time to welcome KFC (well at least the popcorn version) into my life. Oh and that last shot; BOOM! You never cease to amaze me, Steph! xoxo

    1. steph says:

      thanks sini!!

      this is nothing compared to real KFC though. you’ve got to try it someday!

  10. Jonathan says:

    I LOVE YOU! This is my all time favorite snack. GIMME!

    1. steph says:

      thanks jonathan!! sending you ALL the spicy popcorn chicken :)

  11. tara says:

    This looks freaking amazing! I’m going to put it on everything, salads AND popsicles! OK, just the salad. And dipped in ranch.

    1. steph says:

      ooh, yes, on a salad!! that’s genius. and the ranch. it’s not traditional, but it’s SO good!

  12. Cindy says:

    As a half-korean girl and lover of all things fried chicken…this is totally singing my song!!

    1. steph says:

      :D thanks cindy!! xoxo

  13. Gene Cox says:

    Brilliant! I love popcorn chicken as well. Just never thought of doing it Korean style.

    1. steph says:

      i don’t think i know anyone who doesn’t love popcorn chicken :)

  14. Huyen says:

    Hi what is the flour mix?

    1. steph says:

      it’s listed above in the recipe

  15. Haley Musial says:

    I think I just gained 20 pounds ….. of happiness!

    1. steph says:

      heehee. thanks haley!!

  16. I have so been wanting to try Korean food. I have to travel at least 2 hrs to the nearest possible restaurant, but it is on my list. I am jazzed to have a recipe for this chicken dish. Yahoo!

    1. steph says:

      korean food is worth traveling 2 hours for! but it’s also super fun to make at home :)

    1. steph says:

      :D shut!

  17. KFC! heehee! love it. i just had korean fried chicken in hawaii at this hee-larious but deeply popular denny’s like place called Zippy’s – they are ultra famous for their chicken. popcorn style though? just throw em RIGHT in my mouth! (love those action shots, by the way!!) xo

    1. steph says:

      yes!! the whole point of popcorn chicken. being able to just throw it into your mouth :)

  18. PassTheKnife says:

    Spicy and crunchy– the best way to eat chicken! I’ve got to agree with the rest of the commenters.. that last shot is fantastic!

    1. steph says:

      thanks so much!!

    1. steph says:

      thanks laura!! xoxo

  19. Todd Burton says:

    Just stumbled on your food blog – one hell of a way to start! This chicken looks amazing, I’m going to have to give this one a try.

  20. B says:

    u think i can bake this KFC?

    1. steph says:

      I haven’t tried baking it – it may work, but you won’t get as much crispiness.

  21. Viveca says:

    What do you usually do with all the oil after you fry the chicken?
    As much as I’d love to try fried chicken from home, it sounds like a lot of oil to part with for one recipe.
    …Unless I go on a deep fry marathon!


    1. steph says:

      Go on a deep fry marathon!
      Usually I just discard the oil. I know it’s a lot of oil, so generally when I know I’m going to deep fry I’ll do more than one thing. Also, if you use a deep, deep tall pot, you won’t have to use as much oil, but you will need to fry in very small batches so the oil temp doesn’t change too much when you add the chicken in. Make sure you don’t fill the oil too hot though, because it can overflow!

      Hope that helps!

  22. I just discovered Season with Spice. I am currently putting zesty lime salt on everything. Also loving the Japanese 7 spice and Kafir lime leaf powder. I am wondering how the Spicy 7 Spice Blend would work here in place of the Korean Spicy Seasoning…1 to way to find out :)

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