Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) recipe

November 04, 2023
Bite-size chicken karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) is juicy, flavorful, and very tasty, from the soy-ginger marinade.

karaage chicken recipe

What is Chicken Karaage?

Chicken Karaage (から揚げ ) is a popular Japanese deep-fried chicken that comes in bite-size.
Chicken pieces were marinated in ginger and soy sauce, then dredged in potato starch and deep-fried to perfection!

Karaage or Kara-age (two words) is a Japanese word that means deep-fried.
Hence any deep-fried food, without any flour coating, will also be known as Karaage!

In these days and age, Karaage usually refers to bite-size Japanese Fried chicken.
Bite-size chicken karaage is perfect for bento lunch boxes.

crispy chicken karaage

What is the difference between Japanese Karaage and other fried chicken?

For most fried chicken, the flavoring comes from the batter or the sauces.
For example Kentucky Fried Chicken, the flavors come from the spices and herbs mixed into the batter.

As for Korean fried chicken, the chicken pieces were dredged in flour mixed with salt and black pepper.
The flavor of Korean fried chicken is in various sauces that are added and coated after the chicken is fried.

The flavor of Japanese chicken karaage comes from when the chicken pieces are marinated in ginger and soy and then coated in potato starch or corn starch before deep frying.

How to make Chicken Karaage?

The full recipe can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Chicken

chicken thigh fillet
For chicken karaage, it is best to use chicken thighs (fall into the dark meat category!).
Chicken breast (breast meat) is considered white meat and tends to be dry as we will be deep frying twice.
I love to use boneless chicken thighs.

If you buy skin-on chicken thighs, I suggest you remove the skin and set it aside.
Remove any fatty bits off the chicken thigh and give these chicken thighs, a quick wash.

Cut the chicken into 4 for bigger pieces or 6 for smaller pieces.

Step 2: Marinate chicken pieces.

Place cut-up chicken pieces in a large bowl, preferably a glass bowl.

Fresh grate ginger
Grate ginger.

Add mirin
Add mirin

Add soy sauce
Add soy sauce

Add apple cider vinegar
Add apple cider vinegar

mix and marinate chicken
Marinate chicken pieces for at least 4 hours.

Best to marinate overnite.
Remember to keep them refrigerated.

Step 3: Prep before frying Chicken Karaage.

Remove marinated chicken thigh from the refrigerator 2 hours before deep frying.
This step is essential to make sure that the cold marinated chicken is at room temperature.

Pat dry the marinated chicken
Pat dry the marinated chicken pieces on kitchen paper towels.

dredging the marinated chicken meat starch
Do this in batches, just before dredging the marinated chicken meat into the potato starch or corn starch.
Shake off any excess flour.

Step 4: Flour.

corn flour

I did some experiments on the type of flour used to fry chicken.
This is my quest for the best karaage recipe that will give me delicious crunchy Japanese style fried chicken.

Trial #1- using corn flour.

Corn flour does not give chicken karaage much of its famous crispiness.

Trial #2- using potato starch.

I find that using potato starch (some may call this potato flour), is no different from corn flour.
Still, this delicious chicken karaage is not as crunchy as I envisaged that one could find in any Japanese restaurants!

Note that tapioca starch is not the same as potato starch!

Trial #3 - a mix of potato starch and cornflour in equal parts.

The result was the same, not as crunchy!

Making a mental note here, my next attempt is to add some rice flour to the corn flour.
I will update this page when I cook my next batch of chicken karaage.

Step 5: Deep fry Chicken karaage.

fry chicken karaage
I used a cast iron pot to fry chicken karaage.
Cast iron pots retain heat better than any other pot that I have.
Alternatively, use any heavy-bottomed pot to fry these pieces of chicken.
Add cooking oil to the cast iron pot.

And if you have a thermometer, use it.
The best temperature to fry these chicken pieces is when the oil temperature is 175 C or 350F.

a) First fry

first fry
Carefully lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil.
Best to use tongs or chopsticks for this step.

chicken turn golden brown
Once the chicken has turned light golden in color, remove the par-cooked chicken onto a wire rack.
Continue frying the remaining of the chicken.

b) Second frying

Re-fry chicken pieces
Once all the chicken pieces have been cooked for the first time, we are ready to fry for the second time.
Re-fry chicken pieces until they are deep golden brown.

Double frying will make the chicken crispy on the outside, yet moist on the inside.

how to make karaage

What goes with Chicken Karaage?

Serve chicken karaage with salad with roasted sesame dressing or Japanese mayonnaise mixed with Shichimi togarashi and lemon wedges.

FAQ on Chicken Karaage

What is the minimum time to marinate chicken pieces?

For the best result and to enhance taste, it is highly recommended to marinate cut-up chicken pieces for at least 4 hours before frying.

Can you replace potato starch with tapioca flour?

Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are not the same.
Always check the labels.

How can I keep any leftover chicken karaage?

Japanese chicken karaage is best eaten immediately.
However, if you have any leftovers, best to keep them in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Note that overnight chicken karaage will not be as crispy as freshly fried chicken.

Can I use an oven or an air-fryer to make my chicken karaage?

Anything deep-fried and unhealthy is always nice and delicious.
I have yet to try using an oven to make my chicken karaage, and when I do, I will be sure to update my findings here.

japanese style fried chicken

Video on How to Cook Japanese Chicken Karaage.