Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

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The only karaage recipe you'll ever need. Learn two methods of frying that produce moist, flavorful, boneless, skinless Japanese fried chicken with a super-thin coating that's incredibly crispy and crunchy. Serve with lemon or lime wedges.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Additional Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Servings:
4
Yield:
4 servings

Is Karaage the Best Fried Chicken?

When we talk about the greatest fried chicken recipes of all time, karaage has to be at or near the top of that list. This Japanese fried chicken is crispy, juicy, and intensely flavorful, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that there is no skin or bones involved. However, not all karaage recipes are created equal, and the awesomeness is very much dependent on how and what you coat your chicken pieces in.

What Is the Secret to Crispy Karaage?

For me, the secret to impossibly crispy karaage is pure potato starch. While I'm not known for my extensive, and exhaustive, recipe testing, I did many, many tests and experiments, using pretty much every possible combination of starch options; wheat flour, rice flour, cornstarch, et al., and potato starch was the winner. By the way, do not accidentally buy potato flour, which is not the same thing, and will not work the same. If you can't find potato starch, which you can, I think cornstarch is the next best option.

Above and beyond the coating starch, the marinade also varies from recipe to recipe, but most contain what I've used here, give or take a splash of mirin, and you shouldn't hesitate to experiment with different ratios. No matter what you use, I think a 2-3 hours marinade is perfect, but like I said in the video, anywhere from 1 to 10 hours is considered appropriate. No matter how long your soak, I hope you find some potato starch, and give this incredible fried chicken a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons sake

  • 1 tablespoon mirin

  • teaspoon sesame oil

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • ½ teaspoon white sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 cup potato starch

  • 1 quart canola oil, or as needed

Directions

  1. Mix garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sesame oil, black pepper, cayenne, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.

  2. Place chicken in the marinade and mix until thoroughly and evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 10 hours.

  3. Set up your dredging station: Place a wire rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Add potato starch to a wide, shallow bowl.

  4. Remove chicken from the refrigerator. Stir to coat with marinade. Toss 2 or 3 pieces at a time in the potato starch until evenly coated. Shake off any excess starch and place chicken on the wire rack. Repeat to dredge remaining pieces.

  5. Tap the rack on the baking sheet to remove any loose chunks of starch, then transfer the baking sheet and rack of chicken to the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

  6. Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  7. Without crowding, lower chicken carefully into the hot oil in batches. Fry, tossing occasionally, until cooked through and the outside is crunchy and browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken.

    fried chicken pieces with a lemon wedge on a blue plate
    Karaage Japanese Fried Chicken. Chef John

Chef's Notes:

If you can't find mirin, you can use sake plus an extra teaspoon of white sugar. You can use cornstarch instead of potato starch, but don't use potato flour! It's not the same as potato starch.

For crispier, darker karaage that's made in two steps and great for a party, try the double-fry method! Follow instructions to Step 6. Fry chicken as directed in step 7, but only fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool to room temperature. Finish by frying at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 2 more minutes. Chicken can be refrigerated until the second fry.

Editor's Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. The exact amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

2263 Calories
226g Fat
32g Carbs
29g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 2263
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 226g 289%
Saturated Fat 30g 150%
Cholesterol 118mg 39%
Sodium 921mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 29g
Potassium 370mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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