Karaage is Japanese-style fried chicken. It is a popular appetizer or side dish served at Japanese restaurants. Light and crunchy bite-sized pieces of chicken are the perfect way to start your meal or enjoy alongside a bowl of ramen.
I can never resist ordering karaage when I’m at a Japanese restaurant. This homemade version tastes just like the restaurant version.
To make karaage, you will need boneless chicken thighs, oil for frying, marinade and starch coating.
Marinade: sake, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger
Coating: potato starch, salt and pepper.
Peanut oil is preferred but canola oil will also work.
Karaage is traditionally made with chicken thigh meat because the dark meat stays juicy even after the chicken is fried twice.
Unlike American-style fried chicken which is coated with flour, the chicken is coated in potato starch. Potato starch can be found at Asian grocery stores or online. The potato starch produces a more delicate, but very crispy coating.
Karaage Coating (Potato Starch vs. Corn Starch vs. All Purpose Flour)
Traditionally, karaage is coated in potato starch. Potato starch yields a delicate, light and crunchy coating.
I’ve seen recipes use a blend of potato starch with flour. This will also work but the outer coating will be thicker and heavier, similar to American fried chicken. I prefer the delicate coating so I stick with potato starch. However, if you want the chicken to stay crunchy longer, then you may want to consider doing a flour starch blend because the heavier crust will stay crunchy for a longer period of time.
If you can’t find potato starch anywhere, you can also use corn starch as a substitute. Similar to potato starch, corn starch yields a lighter, crispy coating.
How to Make Karaage
- The chicken is first marinated. I recommend marinating for at least 1 hour but you can marinate for several hours or overnight.
- The chicken is then coated in potato starch, salt and pepper.
- The chicken is then fried until lightly browned at around 325F. Once cooked and lightly browned, the chicken is removed.
- The temperature of the oil is then raised to about 365F. The chicken is fried again briefly until it develops a dark golden brown coating. The second fry helps the chicken coating become extra crispy.
More Asian-Style Fried Chicken Recipes
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
- peanut oil for frying (can substitute with canola oil)
- 1 lemon sliced into wedges (for serving)
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dry sake
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 3/4 cup potato starch
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- In a medium bowl, add all marinade ingredients. Whisk until evenly mixed. Add in chicken and stir until chicken is evenly coated in marinade. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place into fridge to allow chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour. You can marinate for several hours or overnight as well.
- In a separate medium bowl, add all coating ingredients. Whisk to evenly mix and break up any potato starch clumps.
- When chicken is ready, roll a piece of chicken in starch coating. Shake off any excess starch. Set chicken aside. Repeat with remaining chicken until they are all coated.
- Add about an inch of oil to pot being used for frying. Bring oil up to 325°F. Leave thermometer in oil so you can monitor and make sure the temperature stays constant through frying process.
- Once oil has reached desired temperature, add about 4 pieces of chicken. Let chicken cook for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from hot oil and place onto a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with remaining chicken, cooking in small batches. Make sure to monitor the temperature of the oil to keep it around 325°F. The oil temperature will drop as you add more chicken in there so you may need to adjust the heating setting. Make sure oil does not drop below 300°F.
- Once all the chicken is done, use a strainer to strain out any crumbs left in the oil. Then raise the heat level to bring the oil temperature up to 365°F.
- Once oil has reached desired temperature, put 4 pieces of chicken back into the pot. Fry for about 1 minute or until chicken is a dark golden brown. Remove chicken from oil and repeat with remaining chicken, keeping the frying to small batches.
- Serve chicken while it is hot. Squeeze lemon wedges over chicken before eating. You can also serve with soy sauce for dipping.
- Adapted from NY Times Cooking
- Potato starch can be found at Asian supermarkets or online.*
- If you can't find potato starch, you can substitute with corn starch.
- If you are not serving the chicken right away, you may want to consider using a blend of starch and flour. The flour will give the chicken a heavier coating that will stay crunchy a little longer than the starch only coating. More details about this in the post.
- *Some of the product links contained in this post are affiliate links. Much like referral codes, this means I earn a small commission if you purchase a product I referred (at no extra charge to you).
- Because not all of the potato starch batter will stick to the chicken and it is difficult to determine the amount of oil absorbed during cooking, no nutrition information is provided for this recipe.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.