Our Japanese fried chicken recipe for karaage chicken makes incredibly juicy chicken pieces with a super crispy skin. Karaage is a technique that calls for marinating the chicken, before a light coating with flour, then twice-frying the chicken, and while it can be applied to any meat or fish, when people think of karaage, they think of Japanese fried chicken.
One of the things we love about fried chicken is that you can eat it year-round – fried chicken is fantastic with creamy mashed potatoes or spicy potato wedges in winter and pairs perfectly with summer salads in the warmer months, and this fried chicken recipe for Japanese karaage chicken is no exception.
In the colder months, this Japanese fried chicken calls for a side of korokke or deep-fried panko-coated mashed potato croquettes (recipe coming soon), while during warmer weather you’re going to want to tuck into some karaage chicken with this Japanese potato salad or Japanese style cucumber and cabbage salad.
If you’re a fried chicken and salad lover, you should also try this Belles Hot Chicken Nashville-style Southern fried chicken and our Burmese fried chicken recipe which makes a popular street food snack in Myanmar, which is brilliant with this Shan tomato salad or Burmese raw cabbage salad.
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Japanese Fried Chicken Recipe for Crispy Juicy Karaage Chicken
This Japanese fried chicken recipe will make you the crispy-skinned succulent chicken pieces that are available everywhere in Japan, from izakayas, where you can order for karaage chicken among other small plates of drinking food to soak up the booze, to convenience stores, where the chicken is sold in take-away cardboard containers.
One of karaage chicken’s biggest fans was the late Anthony Bourdain who confessed he was addicted to karaage chicken, which he said was something of a guilty pleasure. Bourdain said whenever he passed through Narita airport, he’d make a beeline for a Lawson convenience store, which are ubiquitous in Japan, and that he “never got on the plane without loading up on these bad boys”.
I, for one, prefer home-cooked karaage chicken and I love this Japanese fried chicken recipe which Terence has perfected. Getting a crunchy exterior involves three steps – first marinating the chicken, then coating it in flour, then twice-frying the chicken, and Terence has a pic below on what the first fry looks like.
Some tips from Terence on how to make this Japanese fried chicken recipe for crispy juicy karaage chicken.
Tips to Making this Japanese Fried Chicken Recipe for Crispy Juicy Karaage Chicken
Just a few tips to how to make this Japanese fried chicken recipe for crispy juicy karaage chicken, starting with the chicken. We use chicken drumettes for our karaage instead of boneless chicken thigh pieces.
We find that the drumettes stay really juicy compared to the chicken thighs and you get a great mix of crispy skin and moist dark meat in every bite.
If you do want to use chicken thigh pieces, don’t cut them too small; ideally, they should be at least 5 cm (2 inch) pieces or just cut each thigh into four pieces. We do not recommend chicken breasts as the texture can be chewy as they can dry out too much.
Our Japanese fried chicken recipe calls for potato starch as a coating. There are lots of different flour mixes in recipes out there for this dish but after a lot of delicious testing, we found that potato starch is the best at creating a crunch coating. Corn starch is also a good substitute, but all-purpose flour is a little too indelicate for our tastes.
Unlike a lot of Japanese karaage chicken recipes that either marinate the chicken for as little as five minutes or as long as an hour, we marinate our chicken for 20 minutes.
We have found that having a longer time to let the flour ‘glue’ to the chicken is more beneficial as you can give it an extra coating before deep frying.
While our cooking times and oil temperatures should result in fully cooked chicken, always use a deep fry thermometer to check for doneness. Chicken should be cooked to 74°C (165°F).
Have a baking sheet with a wire rack ready for the finished chicken pieces to drain on.
Japanese Fried Chicken Recipe for Crispy Juicy Karaage Chicken
- 500 g chicken drumettes
- sea salt - , to taste
- black pepper - , freshly ground, to taste
- ½ cup potato starch - , or corn starch
- vegetable oil - , for deep frying
- 2 cm ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- lemon slices
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Shichimi Togarashi - , Japanese seven spice
- Crush the ginger and garlic. Add this, the chicken and the rest of the marinade ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. Marinate for 20 minutes.
- Spread the potato starch and the salt and pepper on a tray.
- When the chicken has marinated, shake the marinade off the chicken to remove any ginger or garlic pieces. Roll the chicken in the potato starch mixture. Make sure all the pieces are fully coated before placing in the fridge for an hour.
- If you have leftover potato starch apply it to the chicken as the chicken will absorb the potato starch.
- Heat the oil to in a deep fry pan or deep frier to 165°C (330°F).
- Give the chicken pieces a light shake before adding carefully to the oil. Do not crowd the pan and cook in batches if you have a small pan. Cook for around 2 minutes, after which the chicken should have a very light brown colour. Place on a wire rack.
- When all the pieces of chicken have been cooked, remove any loose pieces of coating from the deep fryer as these may burn at a higher heat.
- Increase the heat to 180°C (355°F) and fry the chicken pieces again for a minute for each batch. The chicken should be a light golden brown with a crispy skin. Check that the chicken has reached 74°C (165°F).
- Serve with lemon wedges, Japanese mayo, Shichimi Togarashi and salad or rice.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Japanese fried chicken recipe for crispy juicy karaage chicken, as we’d love to know how it turned out for you.