Korean-style sticky chilli chicken
Crunchy yet succulent baked chicken pieces in a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce – prepped and cooked in under 30 mins.
Image credit: Chris Terry
Korean-style sticky chilli chicken recipe
I first had Korean-style sticky chilli chicken from a takeaway, and it was love at first bite! I was determined to make my own version at home which was not only baked rather than fried to save on the calorie count, but still had the wow-factor of the crunchy textured chicken coated in a delicious sweet, sticky and spicy sauce.
The cornflour coating helps the chicken to quickly crisp up on the outside, whilst remaining succulent in the middle, and the sticky sauce has the unique spicy, savoury taste of Korean gochujang paste, complemented by a handful of ingredients to make the ultimate tasty sauce.
In this post
What is Korean-style sticky chilli chicken?
Korean-style sticky chilli chicken is a popular dish which consists of crispy fried chicken coated in a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce. My version of this recipe does not use a deep frying technique- it’s not always easy for a home cook to take on deep-frying so this version makes the cooking process more simple, but also has the added benefit of allowing you to enjoy the dish with a lower calorie count than the deep fried version.
My husband and I have tried it both ways, and we both felt that the baked version absolutely lived up to the deep-fried version without feeling like a compromise.
What is gochujang, and where can I get it?
Gochujang is a Korean fermented red pepper paste which has a unique sweet, spicy umami flavour. Different brands can vary wildly in how spicy they are, but also the depth of flavour. I have found that the more authentic tubs which can be found in Korean supermarkets, some more mainstream supermarkets, and online, taste much better than small jars which I have picked up in some UK supermarkets.
I bought some back from a holiday in Malaysia, and found that the same brand was sold in one of the big UK supermarkets. As this ingredient has grown hugely in popularity in the UK in recent years (thanks Nigella!) it has become more widely available. If you can’t source it locally you can find it online at Amazon.
What ingredients do I need to make Korean-style sticky chilli chicken?
Skinless chicken thigh fillets: You can buy chicken thigh fillets from the supermarket or ask your butcher to prepare them for you. Chicken thigh fillets tend to keep more succulent and moist under their crispy coating than chicken breast would during the temperature used in the cooking of this dish, however you can substitute them for chicken breasts if you prefer. Chicken thigh fillets will not have any skin on them or bone in them. It is easy to trim away any excess fat from the thigh fillets as you cut them up during preparation.
Cornflour: Cornflour, also known as cornstarch, is a very fine, white flour-like powder made from corn kernels. It’s a really useful ingredient to have on your kitchen shelves because it can be used to thicken up sauces and gravies (I will often use it in dishes such as beef and Guinness stew).
Cornflour is also naturally gluten-free which can be great for anyone with a gluten intolerance or coeliac disease (although of course if you are making this recipe for someone who cannot eat gluten then you need to ensure that the soy sauce and gochujang are also gluten-free.) Cornflour works perfectly here as a way to add a crisp coating to the chicken without affecting the flavour of the overall dish.
Low-calorie cooking spray: I usually use spray oil for frying in a pan, but I find low-calorie cooking spray an ideal product for getting good coverage over a dish which is going in the oven. For a dish like this where you are trying to achieve a crispy texture, personally I prefer the low-calorie cooking spray, but you can substitute this for oil spray if you prefer, just ensure that all the chicken is sprayed or it may affect the final result.
Spring onions: Spring onions add a little pop of bright green to liven up the dish when you serve it, but also a little bit of freshness and acidity which complements the chicken perfectly. You could also use snipped chives, or chopped coriander as a garnish.
Garlic and root ginger: Both ingredients add so much flavour-wise. I use fresh garlic and ginger 99% of the time when I am cooking, but if I am really pushed for time I will opt for the pre-chopped versions in a jar, and in a meal like this where there are lots of other flavours, this substitution would still leave you with a delicious tasting final result.
Dark soy sauce: As well as salty flavour, dark soy sauce helps to make the colour of the final dish rich, dark and inviting looking.
Honey: Honey not only adds sweetness, but also stickiness to help the sauce cover and stick to the chicken, giving it that satisfying sticky glaze.
Rice wine: Rice wine is commonly used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine for marinades, stir-fries, sauces and more. It has a distinct flavour and does contain alcohol. This is another ingredient which you will find is readily available in the supermarkets. If you do not consume alcohol, you can substitute this for rice vinegar, although if you do so, then leave out the additional apple cider vinegar.
Gochujang paste: See above ‘what is gochujang and where can I get it’.
Apple cider vinegar: This can be substituted for white wine vinegar or rice vinegar.
Soft dark brown sugar: This adds to the sweetness and the colour of the overall dish.
Toasted sesame oil: Just a little sesame oil adds a unique flavour to dishes, and this also helps to coat the chicken and adds to the glossy sheen.
What equipment do I need for Korean-style sticky chilli chicken?
- Sharp knife, for trimming and cutting up the chicken
- Large baking tray: You want to ensure that the chicken is spaced well to allow it to get crispy, if it’s tightly packed it won’t come out crispy.
- Baking paper: I use stainless steel trays and find that using a layer of baking paper under the chicken is the best way to prevent it from sticking to the tray- as you are not using much oil, the chicken is prone to sticking to the surface of the baking tray
- Small saucepan: The sauce will come together perfectly in a small saucepan, if you use too large a pan, it may overboil and reduce too much.
- Medium-sized bowl for mixing: You will need this to thoroughly mix together the sauce and the chicken.
What can be served with Korean-style sticky chilli chicken?
-Jasmine rice: this has a subtle flavour, and a dense, slightly sticky texture. You could use basmati rice instead.
-Fresh green vegetables: Green beans, sugarsnap peas, asparagus and broccoli all pair well with this dish.
-Stir-fried vegetables: Stir-fried onions, peppers, courgette, baby corn, pak choi and julienned carrot make a great healthy side dish.
How to store Korean-style sticky chilli chicken:
I pretty much guarantee that you will not have any leftovers of this delicious dish, but if you do, you can store it in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
FRIDGE: The leftover chicken should be placed in a reusable, clean airtight container. Alternatively it can be stored in bowl tightly covered with cling film, just make sure that this is airtight. You can then store it in the fridge for 3-4 days.
FREEZER: Place the leftover chicken ideally in a reusable, clean airtight container that is freezer safe. Make sure to label the container with the date that it went into the freezer. This can then be stored for up to 3 months When you are ready to eat the chicken, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Alternatively you can use a microwave on a defrost setting – just follow the microwave instructions.
How to reheat Korean-style sticky chilli chicken:
Make sure that if you have taken the leftovers out of the freezer, that they have fully defrosted before trying to reheat.
-Stovetop: Place the leftover chicken in a frying pan (with a little spray oil) over a medium heat and stir-fry until heated through. If the chicken seems to be drying out you can add a few splashes of water to keep it moist. If you are not confident about checking whether chicken has adequately reheated, then use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 75ºC (165ºF).
-Microwave: Place the leftover chicken into a microwave safe dish and cover with a microwave safe lid or clingfilm (leave a small gap, or pierce clingfilm so that steam can escape). Heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until heated through (again, you can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken if you are not confident about checking this). Avoid overheating as the meat will become tough. The steam will be hot so allow the chicken to stand for 1-2 minutes and then remove the lid or clingfilm carefully to avoid being burnt.
Does this recipe have any allergens?
Yes this dish does contain ingredients that cause common allergens.
- Soy sauce: This contains both soy and wheat. You can substitute soy sauce with tamari.
- Sesame oil: Contains sesame. Substitute for another type of oil such as vegetable, sunflower, rapeseed or olive.
- Gochujang: The ingredients in gochujang can vary depending on brand. Please check the list of the ingredients on the packaging for allergen information.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT: KOREAN-STYLE STICKY CHILLI CHICKEN
Why hasn’t my chicken gone crispy?
Cornflour and cooking spray/oil coating: In order for the chicken to crisp up it needs to be coated with both the cornflour and cooking spray or spray oil. When you mix in the cornflour, make sure it is evenly distributed over the chicken pieces, and when you spray it, make sure that each piece of chicken is covered.
Spacing out the chicken pieces: The chicken pieces need to be spaced apart and not touching in order to be able to crisp up. If you do not have a large enough baking tray then simply divide the chicken pieces between two baking trays.
The heat of the oven: Not all ovens are accurate, and this recipe requires a high temperature in order to get that nice crisp coating. You can buy a specific oven thermometer if you want to check that your oven temperatures are accurate.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thigh fillet?
You can switch for chicken breast if you prefer, although you might find that the chicken is slightly drier and less juicy on the inside than it would be if you were using chicken thigh.
What is gochujang and where can I get it?
Gochujanf is a Korean fermented spicy red chilli paste with an intense sweet-hot-salty flavour, it is now available in most supermarkets and online. See above for more information.
How spicy is gochujang?
Different brands of gochujang can vary significantly in their spice level. Gochujang has a complex flavour profile so it gives a lot more than just spicy heat. If you want to be cautious then you can halve the amount of gochujang in the recipe and try the sauce before adding any more.
Is there a substitute for gochujang?
Gochujang has a distinct and unique flavour, so omitting or swapping it in this recipe will change it significantly. The sauce is still tasty without the gochujang, so if you want to avoid any spicy heat then you can leave out the gochujang entirely to make just a crispy sticky chicken.
How does this recipe work if I am following Slimming World?
This recipe is a bit of a treat and therefore does carry a few syns, however making your own at home will without a doubt save on syns from ordering this from a takeaway. Overall, the syns for this vary from 7-8 syns per portion (depending on the brand of gochujang). The syns in this meal come from:
Cornflour: 1 syn per tablespoon
Honey: 2.5 syns per tablespoon
Rice wine: 0.25 syns per tablespoon
Gochujang: between 0.5-1.5 syns per tablespoon depending on brand
Dark brown soft sugar: 3 syns per tablespoon
Sesame oil: 2 syns per teaspoon
Please note that these syn values are correct at the time of writing, but may be subject to change. It is advised that you use your own Slimming World materials to ensure that you accurately calculate these values yourself.