Chicken Kalguksu is a hearty Korean chicken noodle soup recipe that is comforting, healthy, and easy to put together. Made with chewy knife-cut noodles and soaked in a hearty chicken broth, this noodle soup is perfect for a cold day!
💭 What is Chicken Kalguksu?
Kalguksu is the Korean word for knife-cut noodles. Dak kalguksu, or chicken kalguksu, refers to the noodle soup dish that consists of a chicken-based broth. The noodles are simmered in a delicious chicken broth chock full of vegetables. It's essentially the Korean version of a chicken noodle soup.
Similar to Dakdoritang or soondubu, chicken kalguksu is the ultimate Korean comfort food - perfect for when you need a warm soupy dish to warm your soul.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Easy to put together – No hours of prep work needed. You can easily make a flavorful noodle soup in under 30 minutes.
Restaurant quality taste from home – By utilizing the key cooking techniques used to make top-tier chicken kalguksu, you can make a restaurant-quality noodle soup from the comfort of home
Healthy and nutritious – This recipe was specially developed by yours truly to be low-calorie and macro-friendly, so you can satisfy your noodle soup cravings while still staying in shape. This is a great healthy Korean recipe.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – Is It Healthy?
While Kalguksu is undeniably delicious, is kalguksu healthy?
Chicken Kalguksu is a very well-rounded dish packed with protein, carbs from the chewy noodles, and a nutritious chicken broth. A serving of Chicken Kalguksu is only 447 calories, with 37 grams of protein, 22 grams of fat, and 37 grams of carbs, following the recipe and portions below.
The key to making this dish help rather than hinder progress toward your fitness goals is portioning high-calorie ingredients mindfully and choosing the right proteins.
- Used 1 serving of kalgusku noodles at 150 calories
- Portioned 4oz boneless, skinless chicken thigh for a lean protein source
- Mindfully portioned the different components of the soup seasonings to be 90 calories
- Added an assortment of vegetables to add more nutrients to the dish and make it more satiating.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this chicken kalguksu recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
Chicken Thigh – I opted for boneless skinless chicken thighs since it has enough fat for the flavor but not too much so that it would make the dish unhealthy
Chicken Broth or Water – The base of the broth. You can use store bought chicken broth for something quick, or make your own chicken broth if you have the time and want something with phenomenal flavor.
Gochugaru (Optional) – To give the broth a slight kick. This will give the broth a slight red color
Kelp (Optional: for simmering) – Great for giving the broth an umami seafood flavor
Kalguksu noodles – Chewy knife–cut noodles that are the star of the dish
Chili crunch (Optional) – Gives the noodles a nice spicy kick
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Swap out the proteins – Mix in some seafood for a delicious seafood kalguksu dish
Make it spicy – To make a spicy-based broth, check out my Jang Kalguksu recipe
Make it less spicy – Omit gochugaru to have a non-spicy kalguksu
Add a poached egg – Add a poached egg to add a touch of creamy egg yolk to the dish
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the aromatics and chicken – Mince the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and carrots, and cut the cabbage into small pieces. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, removing any excess fat in the process. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Sauté the aromatics and chicken – In a saucepan, spray cooking oil and sauté the vegetables and brown both sides of the chicken pieces.
Toast spices – Once the chicken is seared and the aromatics begin to become fragrant, add in the gochugaru and let toast for about 2-3 minutes.
Make the broth – Add in the chicken broth and the remainder of the soup base ingredients. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
Prepare the noodles – While the soup is cooking, prepare the kalguksu noodles according to the package instructions and set aside.
Assemble the bowl – In a bowl, add in the noodles and pour the broth over. Top with scallions and chili crunch if using and enjoy your delicious chicken kalguksu!
💡 Expert Tips
Make your own chicken broth – I typically use store bought chicken broth because it's much easier. But making your own chicken broth is truly a flavor game-changer! Just simmer some leftover chicken bones with skin for an hour with scallions, garlic, ginger, and seaweed.
Using Seaweed for the broth – Simmering seaweed in the broth is a great way to infuse flavor into the broth while adding an abundance of nutrients without much calories. Learn more about the health benefits of seaweed.
Don't Overcook the Aromatics – Be sure to stir the aromatics while sautéing to prevent them from burning. Burnt aromatics will result in an unpleasant bitter taste.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Kalguksu are noodles made out of wheat dough and eggs. They are rolled and cut with a knife, hence the term knife-cut noodles. You can get them at most Asian grocery stores in the refrigerated noodle section.
Yes you can definitely freeze kalguksu noodles as long as they haven't been mixed in the soup yet. Just put them in a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer.
Kalguksu is also delicious with seafood and beef. Some restaurants, such as the famous Hangari Kalguksu in Koreatown Los Angeles, have a menu full of variations that you can look to for inspiration. If your goal is to cook a relatively healthier and lower-calorie recipe, I would recommend sticking with chicken or seafood.
To store, keep the noodles and soup separate, or the noodles will get overly soggy. You can pre-make the chicken soup and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
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- 1 teaspoon Gochugaru
- 1 cup Chicken Broth
- 1 Kelp (Optional: for simmering)
- ½ tablespoon Mirin
- 1 teaspoon Soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon Sesame oil
Kalguksu and Mix-Ins
- 1 serving Kalguksu noodles
- 1 clove Garlic
- ¼ Onion
- 4 oz Chicken thigh (Boneless, skinless)
- Julienned carrots
- Black pepper and salt (To taste)
- 1 teaspoon Chili crunch
- Scallions (For garnish)
- Begin by preparing the kalguksu noodles according to the package instructions and set aside.
- Mince the onion, garlic, and carrots and cut the cabbage into small pieces. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, removing any excess fat in the process. Weigh the chicken to ensure that it' at the desired weight. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- In a saucepan, spray cooking oil and sauté the garlic and onion and brown both sides of the chicken pieces.
- Once the chicken is seared and the aromatics begin to become fragrant, add in the gochugaru and let them toast for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the chicken broth and the remainder of the soup base ingredients except the fish sauce and sesame oil. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
- In a bowl, add in the noodles. Mix the sesame oil and fish sauce into the broth and pour the broth over the noodles. Top with scallions and chili crunch and enjoy your delicious chicken kalguksu!
What a comforting noodle dish