Sticky Gochujang Chicken

Gochujang chicken with an irresistible sticky sauce. Crisp, succulent bites of chicken satisfy all takeout cravings in this 30-minute recipe.

Gochujang chicken and green beans in a shallow bowl ready to enjoy.

This Gochujang chicken recipe combines the sweet and savory flavors of gochujang with succulent morsels of chicken that are coated and pan-fried fried until golden and crispy.

If you like Korean Fried Chicken, you’ll love this sticky, spicy chicken coated with a glossy gochujang sauce.

Numbered photo collage of the first 4 steps for making gochujang chicken.
Numbered photos of the last 4 steps for making gochujang chicken.

Why you’ll love it:

  • It has the effect of a deep-fried takeout dish while actually being a healthy chicken stir fry.
  • The heat level is great for kids, making it lip-smacking for the whole family.
  • Super quick and simple to make, and it’ll go beautifully with a bunch of different Korean and Asian sides. 
  • Easy mid-week dinner option with ingredients you can pick up in a jiffy.
  • This mildly spicy gochujang chicken recipe is also a real crowd-pleaser and is great spread out on a platter in the center of a big table.

Gochujang chicken ingredients 

Here are a couple of pointers on the ingredients in this dish:

  • Chicken thighs. This cut of chicken is juicy and full of flavor. You can do it as a gochujang chicken breast recipe for a slightly lighter version but it’s important to note that, due to the lower fat content, it’s likely to be less tender than the thigh meat.
  • Gochujang: this is a sweet and spicy Korean red pepper paste made with fermented rice, sugar, fermented soy and spicy red peppers. Here is a link to gochujang on Amazon so you can explore what some labels look like, but get it in your grocery store for much cheaper.
  • Cornstarch (a.k.a corn flour). The cornstarch coats the chicken and insulates it with a yummy crust, keeping it super juicy inside.
  • Unsalted chicken broth. You can either make your own or purchase a good quality unsalted version. This ingredient really contributes to the lovely savory balance.
  • Avocado oil. This is the perfect oil to use as it has a high smoke point, so it won’t burn as quickly as other oils. It’s also pretty flavor neutral, so it won’t impact the taste intention of the dish. Peanut and sesame oil also stand up well to heat.
  • Brown sugar and honey. These contribute to the balance in the overall flavor profile. Use sustainably sourced palm sugar as an alternative. 
  • Soy sauce. Delivers the umami and salty goodness of this dish.

Best Gochujang Substitute

The most authentic gochujang replacement is a combination of miso paste and sriracha, with a little sugar.

Gochujang is not a hot sauce, it’s a sweet, spicy, slightly funky paste made with fermented rice and soybeans as well as chilli peppers. If you use a hot sauce like sriracha or sambal oelek as a 1:1 gochujang substitute, your dish will be spicier and more acidic than intended. Hot sauces contain vinegar, and gochujang does not. You’ll be missing out on the sweetness as well as the rich umami flavor of the fermented rice and soy beans as well.

A container of gochujang paste to show the label.

For a truly close gochujang substitute, for every tablespoon of gochujang called for in a recipe, swap in:

  • 1/2 tablespoon of miso paste, 1/2 tablespoon of sriracha, plus 1/2 tsp sugar.

How to Make It

This incredible gochujang chicken recipe involves a couple of simple steps. You start off by coating the chicken in cornstarch and then frying that off in shimmering hot oil. 

Next, you’re going to whip up the spicy gochujang sauce, and you’re pretty much there. 

  1. First off, toss the chicken with cornstarch and salt so that you coat everything evenly. 
  2. Heat the avocado oil until very hot and cook the chicken in a single, even layer and leave them to cook, without moving them around, until deeply golden underneath. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the broth, brown sugar, honey, gochujang, and soy sauce. Set this all aside.
  4. Push the chicken to one side of the skillet. Cook the garlic in the empty part of the skillet for about 2 minutes or until it’s soft. 
  5. Add the sauce and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Stir through the lovely chicken to coat, simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened. You will know the chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF
  6. Top with green onions and serve.

What to serve with Gochujang chicken

This lovely sweet and sticky chicken dish goes really well with steamed rice or a bowl of Korean fried rice. 

Traditionally, you’d serve this up with pickled radishes, kimchi, and a spicy cucumber salad. It’s just as good with a salad of lush lettuce with chopped-up cucumber and carrot. 

Make ahead instructions 

This dish is pretty quick to whip up and has very little prep time as it is, but if you really want to tighten up the cook time, here’s what you can do:

  • Coat the chicken in cornstarch in advance. That way, it’s ready to cook when you are. Just remember to bring it to room temperature before doing so.
  • You can combine the broth, brown sugar, honey, gochujang, and soy sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.
  • If you’re serving this dish with steamed rice, cook it the day before and reheat it in the microwave when you’re ready to serve. 

Storage instructions 

Wait for the chicken and it’s sauce to cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, pack it in an airtight container. The chicken will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.

You can absolutely freeze any leftovers as well. I prefer to bake or air-fry the leftovers to get that crisp texture back.

Gochujang Chicken variations 

  • Try making this sauce with baked chicken wings for a finger-licking snack.
  • This dish has a kid-friendly medium heat, but there are spicier versions of gochujang marinades. To make it spicier, add ½  Tsp red chili flakes, or to taste.  I love extra heat in my spicy gochujang chicken, as the spiciness is a perfect counterpoint to the sticky sauce, but I omit it for the kids.
  • You can swap out the chicken for shrimp or fish to make a seafood version of this. Of course, you won’t need to cook the shrimp for quite as long.
  • Try tofu as a vegetarian protein option with your gochujang sauce. 
  • Use toasted sesame seeds as a garnish.

FAQs

What does gochujang taste like?

The taste of gochujang can be described as spicy and sweet, with a little bit of funk (like miso paste) from the fermented rice and soybeans. It is a thick paste (thicker than tomato paste).

Should gochujang be refrigerated?

Once you have opened the packaging, store your gochujang in the refrigerator, sealed. 

Is Gochujang spicier than sriracha?

Gochujang is only about half as spicy as sriracha. The sweet and funky flavors in gochujang come through as much as heat, whereas sriracha has a biting heat and acidity.

What is the best substitute for gochujang?

To capture the sweet, spicy, umami and slightly funky flavors, the best gochujang substitute is a combination of miso, sriracha and sugar. See the exact ratio in the article above.

Can gochujang be eaten directly?

Yes, you can use gochujang by itself (raw, without cooking it) as a sweet, spicy condiment if you like.

Pro tips and tricks

  • Do most of the cooking on the first side to ensure a crispy, golden exterior. Don’t flip it until it browns nicely on the first side (the second side won’t brown as much). The total time isn’t exact; just watch the color.
  • If you want to double the recipe, cook the chicken in two batches first and transfer both batches to a plate while you make the sauce in the pan. 
  • Key to good browning is: pan-preheated, preheated oil preheated, and dry chicken.
  • You can transfer the browned chicken to a plate before you add the garlic to the pan. Finish the sauce like this on its own (letting it reduce and thicken) before you add the chicken and simply toss to coat. This will ensure the chicken’s crust stays crispy (but you’ll have another dish to wash). 

Other Korean recipes you won’t want to miss

Gochujang chicken and green beans in a shallow bowl ready to enjoy.

Gochujang Chicken

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 4
Dinner
Korean
Keyword Gochujang Chicken

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 lb chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • tsp kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil or other cooking oil
  • cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp gochujang
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 green onions sliced

Instructions
 

  • Toss chicken pieces with cornstarch and salt to evenly coat. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add chicken in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until deeply golden on the bottom. Flip and cook another 2 minutes (don’t worry about cooking it through yet).
  • Meanwhile, whisk together broth, brown sugar, honey, gochujang and soy sauce and set aside.
  • Push chicken to one side of the skillet. Cook garlic in the empty part of the skillet until soft, about 2 minutes. Add sauce mixture and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir through chicken to coat. Let it come to a simmer and cook until thickened, 2-3 minutes more. Chicken should reach 165ºF inside. Top with green onions.

Video

Notes

    • Best chicken to use: Use chicken thighs for tender and succulent chicken. Chicken breasts dry out too quickly.
    • Cooking tip: The pan should be preheated and the oil should be shimmering hot to get that golden brown crust on the chicken pieces.
    • Want more heat? Increase the spice level by adding 1/2 a tsp of red pepper flakes. Without them, this dish is a mild-medium heat. You can taste the finished recipe and add the red pepper flakes the end if you aren’t sure.
      •  
    • Gochujang substitute: For every tablespoon of gochujang called for, substitute 1/2 tablespoon of miso paste, 1/2 tablespoon of sriracha, plus 1/2 tsp sugar. OR substitute just sriracha, but use half the quantity (as it is spicier).

Nutrition

Calories: 507kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 20gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 824mgPotassium: 354mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 22gVitamin A: 239IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Gochujang Chicken

Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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Jill
Jill
6 days ago

5 stars
Okayyyy this is so delicious I just can’t even. Used all honey instead of brown sugar but didn’t change anything else.

Peter
Peter
6 days ago

5 stars
Such a good recipe. Had never tried gojujang but bought some just for this and now I’ll be making it over and over until the container is empty haha

maestro
maestro
14 days ago

5 stars
Just as a heads up, there is a misconfiguration in your WordPress install. The normal website presents the WP Admin bar at the top. If you click on the customization things, it still makes you log in, but I’m pretty sure that this is unintentional.

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