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Chicken Karaage: The Crispiest Japanese Fried Chicken

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Do you want the crispiest fried chicken around? Then you’ve got to try this quick and easy chicken karaage recipe. Tender, juicy bite sized pieces of goodness perfect for weeknight meals.

hand using chopsticks to pick up chicken karaage

You haven’t had crispy fried chicken until you’ve had chicken karaage. Bite sized pieces of chicken thighs marinated in a sweet yet salty sauce, coated, and deep fried to perfection.

This has always been a winner in our house and I’ll bet it’ll be one in your home as well. I mean you can’t go wrong with deep fried right?

What is karaage?

Karaage is a frying technique. Classically this meant coating something in flour and deep frying. This recipe will use potato starch. A little more on this later. Most people think of chicken when you mention karaage, however you can also use the term for other cuts of meats as well.

chicken karaage on a cooling rack

How to pronounce karaage?

Karaage is pronounced ka-ra-ah-geh (you roll your “r” here).

Ingredients for chicken karaage

  • 3 tablespoons shoyu
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 pound chicken thighs, cubed
  • frying oil of choice
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • salt and pepper
chicken karaage ingredients

Let’s talk chicken. Skin on, boneless thighs are most commonly used for this recipe, however I prefer mine skinless. You can totally use a different cut of chicken, like breasts, if you prefer.

Be sure to cut your chicken into small, bite sized cubes. This helps keep the cooking time down and keeps it even.

Now the marinade. This is what helps develop that extra flavor in this dish. So much so that you don’t even need a dipping sauce. Side note if you really wanted dipping sauce Japanese mayo is quite yummy.

The marinade is made up of classic Japanese flavors: shoyu, sugar, sake, garlic, and ginger. You’ll want to marinate this for 20-30 minutes or just until the flavors start to penetrate the meat. You can opt to leave it overnight as well.

The traditional method of karaage did not marinate the meat. This technique was called tatsutaage. Nowadays these names seem to be used interchangeably.

black plate if chicken karaage

And the secret to the crispiest Japanese fried chicken: 

  1. Potato starch. That’s right katakuriko or potato starch just does wonders at giving a crunchy, crispy crust. If you can’t find potato starch you can substitute this for cornstarch.
  2. Double frying. It sounds just like the name suggests. The chicken pieces are fried, then removed from the oil, and then fried again. 

Now let’s talk about the frying oil. The oil will be heated to 350F. Most oils can tolerate this level of heat. I’d recommend a mild to no flavor oil for this. You can use vegetable, canola, or what I like to use is avocado oil. Really any oil you’d like would likely work here.

As you place chicken in the oil the temperature will drop slightly. Removing the chicken will allow the oil to return to its preferred temperature and then a second round of frying to lock in the crispiness can occur.

chicken karaage on a bed of shredded cabbage on a black plate

What to serve with chicken karaage?

You can often find chicken karaage served in bentos on a bed of shredded cabbage with a lemon wedge. Also sticky, white rice never fails.

How to store chicken karaage?

These are best eaten fresh, however if you manage to have some leftovers you can place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Can you freeze chicken karaage?

You could freeze the precooked chicken by placing in a zip top freezer bag. This will last 4-6 months.

How to reheat?

You can microwave to reheat, however you lose the crispiness doing so. You can opt to refry the pieces or use a toaster oven or conventional oven to heat through.

Try these other Japanese favorite dishes:

How to make chicken karaage?

For the chicken: Cube up chicken into bite sized pieces, about 2 inch cubes.

chicken for chicken karaage

For the marinade: To a large bowl add shoyu, granulated sugar, sake, garlic, ginger, and egg. Mix until well combined.

marinade for chicken karaage

Place chicken in sauce and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator.

chicken in marinade for chicken karaage

Set a pot over medium heat with the cooking oil of your choice and heat to 350F. Place a cooling rack or paper towels over a cookie sheet and set aside.

To another bowl add potato starch, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

For the batter: Remove chicken from the refrigerator. One by one add the chicken to the potato starch and toss to coat. Shake off excess potato starch and place on the cooling rack.

coating for chicken karaage

First fry: Once oil has reached 350F, add chicken and fry for about 2-3 minutes and flip midway. Once chicken has just become a light golden brown remove from oil and place on the cooling rack.

deep frying chicken karaage

Second fry: Allow oil to heat up to 350F, then place the chicken back in the oil and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack to drain excess oil. ENJOY.

chicken karaage on a cooling rack

Chicken Karaage

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Do you want the crispiest fried chicken around? Then you’ve got to try this quick and easy chicken karaage recipe. Tender, juicy bite sized pieces of goodness, perfect for weeknight meals.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons shoyu
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 pound chicken thighs, cubed
  • frying oil of choice
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. For the marinade: To a large bowl add shoyu, granulated sugar, sake, garlic, ginger, and egg. Mix until well combined.
  2. Place chicken in sauce and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Set a pot over medium heat with the cooking oil of your choice and heat to 350F. Place a cooling rack or paper towels over a cookie sheet and set aside.
  4. To another bowl add potato starch, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. For the batter: Remove chicken from the refrigerator. One by one add the chicken to the potato starch and toss to coat. Shake off excess potato starch and place on the cooling rack.
  6. First fry: Once oil has reached 350F, add chicken and fry for about 2-3 minutes and flip midway. Once chicken has just become a light golden brown remove from oil and place on the cooling rack.
  7. Second fry: Allow oil to heat up to 350F, then place the chicken back in the oil and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack to drain excess oil. ENJOY.

Notes

*Skin on boneless thighs are the most popular cut of chicken for this recipe. You can also use boneless skinless thighs or breasts if you wish.

*Potato starch can be replaced with cornstarch.

*Double frying gives the chicken the extra crunch.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 402Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 276mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 30g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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chicken karaage

By on August 7th, 2020

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Karaage: The Crispiest Japanese Fried Chicken”

  1. The family loved it! You’re giving me hope that I can actually cook! Haha. Thank you for all your yummy recipes!

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