This spicy Korean chicken is made with boneless chicken that’s quickly sautéed after being marinated in gochujang, a spicy Korean chili paste, and onion, garlic, and rice vinegar. Perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner or make-ahead lunches.
This spicy Korean chicken serves double-duty as an easy weeknight meal with leftovers making a superlative option for make-ahead lunches. The chicken is marinated in gochujang, a Korean chile paste. Although rest assured, it’s more tingly than outright and obtrusively spicy, with a pleasant level of heat that’s not enough to deter children (or any other heat-averse diners at your dinner table).–Angie Zoobkoff
Spicy Korean Chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch (25-mm) chunks
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 4 tablespoons store-bought or homemade gochujang sauce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 to 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons canned chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken, onion, 3 tablespoons gochujang, the garlic, vinegar, and sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal and place in the fridge, turning the bag occasionally, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Drain the chicken and discard the marinade. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Working in batches, add the chicken and cook, stirring as needed, until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. It may be necessary to add a little more oil or reduce the heat a little. Stir in the stock and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon gochujang and the sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. (Leftovers keep very well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and reheat well in the microwave in 30-second intervals until heated through.)
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I really liked this Spicy Korean chicken recipe for a way to make lunches in advance. I use gochujang quite a bit so it was nice finding a new recipe to use this ingredient. I made it for dinner and then pre-packed the leftovers for lunches which was great. I ate it cold and it still maintained its flavor.
After I made this, we had it for dinner with steamed rice and broccoli. It was delicious. I liked that it made enough leftovers to pre-pack some lunches. It ended up making 4 lunches. I steamed broccoli and mixed that with garlic, red chili flakes, sesame oil, and lemon. I packed the broccoli with the chicken and it was really good.
This recipe will make it into my files for Quick and Easy Chicken, Full of Flavor, and Spice.
It took me 10 minutes to get everything into a resealable plastic bag. I had the chicken in the refrigerator for 10 hours.
The 2 of us ate it for dinner on 2 different nights. We had it with rice, which proved to be a good match. The only thing that I would change about the recipe is I will use boneless, skinless chicken thighs the next time I make this. I prefer the dark meat because it doesn’t dry out the way that boneless breast meat does.
This is the most tender, flavorful chicken I have ever had! My son and I just loved it while my daughter thought it was a bit spicy but still ate it all.
Make sure that you select authentic gochujang sauce or paste for this recipe. Based upon my research, I selected Sempio brand because it is a popular Korean brand and it contains fermented soybeans and glutinous rice, which are the basis for an authentic paste. I am so excited to use the leftover gochujang in everything from meatballs to hummus to deviled eggs! This recipe was delicious over plain brown rice and a side of stir-fry zucchini. The following day, I used the leftover chicken and incorporated it into a vegetable fried rice with eggs.
This recipe yielded saucy, flavorful chicken pieces that were ready to use in a variety of applications. I went with the obvious rice-and-vegetable-in-a-bowl pairing, but leftovers went on salads and in tortilla wraps for lunch.
The gochujang provided most of the flavor and a dark red color. The sesame seeds were a nice visual on the surface but their subtle flavor did not create a huge impact. I think “spicy” is a generous descriptor here; keep the chili flakes close if you really are looking for heat. I liked that the marinated chicken was cooked at a high heat to really caramelize the sauce.
I think putting kebabs or whole muscle pieces of chicken on the grill with this sauce would be great, too.
Because the gochujang is such a dark red, it’s difficult to see the chicken change from pink to white, so you can’t really count on that visual to ensure everything is cooked through. As the recipe says, make sure to get the outside nicely browned.
I needed more broth to get all the bits that were stuck in the pan after cooking. I added 3 tablespoons for 6 tablespoons total. It definitely wasn’t too watery, but you can easily just heat for a little longer to reduce if it is.
I served with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, carrots, snap peas, green beans) and rice.
Originally published March 11, 2019
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
This spicy Korean chicken recipe is delicious and healthy and perfect for my lunch prep.
I doubled the recipe and marinated the chicken for 2 1/2 hours. I will definitely let it marinate overnight next time. The gochujang sauce is so delicious, I’d love for it to have more time to penetrate the chicken. I browned the chicken in my Dutch oven in 4 batches. Make sure you stir up the chicken as it browns so it collects the darkening oil at the bottom of the pan. This will provide beautiful color and keep the sauce from burning as you’re cooking.
I wouldn’t call the finished dish spicy so much as tingly. It does build a pleasant heat in your mouth, but there is no kick-in-the-pants, make-your-nose-run-and-your-eyes-water spiciness. This would be perfect for someone who loves Asian cuisine but shies away from spicy food. I paired this with a cauliflower rice recipe and let the juices from the gochujang chicken intermingle with the rice. Perfection!