Korean fried chicken is a classic favorite, and by using an air fryer, you can make it much healthier with the same great flavor and texture. The chicken is fried with a crunchy breading and dipped in delicious spicy gochujang- based sauce that is sweet and spicy makes for a delicious dish that everybody loves.
While it is definitely delicious, is Korean fried chicken healthy?
Korean fried chicken can be a very unhealthy dish given its high fat content from double frying - a traditional serving of Korean Fried chicken can run at 940 calories with only 21 grams of protein and a whopping 84 grams of fat and 30 grams of carbs.
With an air fryer, you can make Korean chicken wings the healthy and easy way. Air frying requires significantly less oil, which is a major source of the calories from Korean fried chicken. Made with air fryer, a serving of this dish is 340 calories, with 21 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 30 grams of carbs.
Healthy Korean Fried Chicken Calories and Nutrition Facts - How To Make It Healthy
Given the usage of breading and oil for Korean fried chicken, Korean fried chicken is not the healthiest meal. But there are ways to make a healthier version of it. Using the air fryer significantly cuts down the oil usage and fat content of the dish, cutting the calories by almost ⅔s.
To preserve the integrity of the dish, I only took out the oil usage - all other ingredients remained the same. Here I show the nutrition facts of a 1 pound of wings Korean fried chicken mixed with a delicious gochujang sauce cooked using the traditional method:
For a 4 piece serving, the calorie content is exorbitantly high. This is largely driven by the heavy usage of hot oil in the deep frying method - each wing itself runs at 235 calories.
Using an air fryer, the same 4 piece serving of chicken is only 340 calories, with 21 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and 30 grams of carbs, with each wing at 85 calories. This method only eliminates the oil – all other ingredients remain the same. This is a much more macro and calorie friendly way to make the dish without sacrificing any flavor.
Chicken: Can use either wings or drumsticks. Thighs would work too but would need to adjust the cooking time to be longer
Dry Marinade: Used to season the chicken before frying. I used a combination of salt, pepper, curry powder, ginger, garlic powder, and paprika. The curry powder is the secret ingredient that will give the chicken an extra burst of flavor.
Breading: I used an egg to help the batter stick and used cornstarch, flour, and panko bread crumbs to create the breading. For best results, use a 50/50 ratio of corn starch and flour.
Sweet and Spicy sauce: Used the traditional Yeangnum spicy sauce, with a gochujang base. Gochujang is a Korean chili sauce that bibimbap is traditionally served with. You can buy it at your local Korean market, asian grocery store or online.
You will also need soy sauce, mirin, ketchup, sugar, garlic, ginger, and water.
If spicy is not your thing, you can also use a soy garlic marinade.
Garnish: I used sesame seeds and green onion to garnish the korean fried chicken. This is more for visual rather than taste purposes.
Step by Step Instructions
Marinade the chicken with spices - If needed, pat the chicken wings and drumsticks dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, combine the dry marinade ingredients together. Then mix the chicken wings and drumsticks in the spice mix thoroughly.
Set up the breading station - have 3 bowls out - one with the egg, one with a mixture of cornstarch and flour, and one with panko bread crumbs.
Use the dredge method to bread the chicken - Spray the chicken with oil spray. Dip in the flour/cornstarch mix, then the egg mixture to that the coating sticks, then the panko breadcrumbs to give it an extra crisp. Do this repeatedly for each of the chicken pieces.
Air fry the chicken - Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray and add into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Set the air fryer to 400F and fry for 15 minutes.
Make the sauce - While the chicken is being fried, mix the sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, mix together for about 2-3 minutes, then turn off the head.
Air fry other side - When done, spray any empty looking spots, flip, and air fry for another 15 minutes.
Sauce the chicken up - Coat the chicken in the sauce to give it a nice glaze.
Serve and enjoy - Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion and enjoy your delicious, slightly healthier Korean fried chicken!
Marinade the chicken ahead of time – This will optimize the flavor of the chicken
Line the parchment paper on the air fryer – This will make cleaning the air fryer significantly easier. In most cases, it will just be a matter of throwing out the parchment paper.
Fry the chicken in a single layer – Not doing so will result in not fully fried chicken. Make sure to lay in a single layer with some space in between. You may have to do multiple batches depending on how many chicken wings or drumsticks you are frying.
Use an egg to dredge the chicken – This is an age old trick that makes the batter stick to the chicken much more cleanly.
Substitutions and Variations
Soy garlic korean fried chicken – If you prefer a different, non spicy flavor, soy garlic korean fried chicken is another favorite. Just make the chicken following the instructions in this recipe and dip it in a soy garlic sauce instead. To make soy garlic sauce, combine 2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 2 cloves minced garlic.
Eat original style korean fried chicken – Skip the sauce and enjoy the chicken plain! It will still be plenty flavorful from the dry marinade we added before frying.
Make boneless – To make boneless, use skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts and cut into small pieces. Cut the air frying time to about 8-10 minutes per side.
Make a Korean fried chicken sandwich – Fry a chicken thigh and sandwich in between a bun for a delicious spicy Korean fried chicken sandwich.
Omit the cornstarch and just use flour – This will result in a more bread-like exterior.
Omit the panko – If you don’t have panko, feel free to skip. The panko adds an extra crispy coating to the chicken wings, but you will still be able to get a delicious exterior with cornstarch and/or flour.
Use potato starch – Traditional Korean recipes often use potato starch. You can also use this if you’d prefer this over cornstarch and flour.
Omit the cornstarch and just use flour – This will result in a more bread-like exterior.
Omit the flour and just use cornstarch – This will give a crispy outer golden exterior, but the breading will be relatively scant.
Air fried chicken can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days, although I would recommend eating it within 1-2 days for optimal texture. Check out this article for more information on how to store air fried chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make chicken crispy the air fryer, use a mixture of cornstarch and flour, dredge the chicken in egg, and cover with panko bread crumbs. Ensure that the chicken is so that the chicken is extra crispy.
Yes, air fried chicken is significantly healthier compared to traditional deep fried chicken due to needing to use much less oil. Using oil spray cuts about 70% of calories largely from the fat content from oil.
Yes, you will need to use cooking oil spray in an air fryer to achieve the crispy fried texture. Cooking oil spray has significantly less calories compared to traditional cooking oil.
Yes, you can put flour on your chicken in the air fryer. Flour is great for adding breading to the chicken. I would use a 50/50 ratio of flour to cornstarch to achieve a bready but crispy texture
Yes, cornstarch works in the air fryer. Cornstarch makes for a crispier consistency compared to flour. Combine with flour for a perfect Korean fried chicken.
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Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken
- 1 Air Fryer
Chicken and Dry Marinade
- 1 lb Chicken Drumsticks and Wings (Use boneless thigh or breast for boneless pieces)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- ½ teaspoon Curry powder
- ½ teaspoon Ginger
- ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- 1 Egg
- Avocado oil spray (Or other high smoke point oil)
- ¼ cup Cornstarch
- ¼ cup All Purpose Flour
- ⅓ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Sweet and Spicy Gochujang Sauce
- 1 clove Garlic
- 2 slices Ginger
- 2 tablespoon Water
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon Mirin
- 1 tablespoon Gochujang paste
- 2 tablespoon Ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Honey
- Sesame seeds
- Green Onion
- If needed, pat the chicken wings and drumsticks dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, combine the dry marinade ingredients together. Then mix the chicken wings and drumsticks in the spice mix thoroughly.
- Have 3 bowls out - one with the egg, one with a mixture of cornstarch and flour, and one with panko bread crumbs.
- Spray the chicken with oil spray. Dip in the flour/cornstarch mix, then the egg mixture to that the coating sticks, then the panko breadcrumbs to give it an extra crisp. Do this repeatedly for each of the chicken pieces.
- Spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray and add into the air fryer basket in a single layer. Set the air fryer to 400F and fry for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is being fried, mix the sauce ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, mix together for about 2-3 minutes, then turn off the head.
- When done, spray any empty looking spots, flip, and air fry for another 15 minutes.
- Coat the chicken in the sauce to give it a nice glaze.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion and enjoy your delicious, slightly healthier Korean fried chicken!