Asian Recipes/ Dinner/ Japanese/ Recipes

Crispy Chicken Karaage – Japanese Fried Chicken

02/02/2023

The BEST chicken karaage, marinated and air fried to perfection in just 10 minutes. It’s the crispy, crunchy Japanese fried chicken you know and love – without deep frying!

Crunchy pieces of tori karaage alongside a dish of Kewpie mayonnaise.

Why We Love This

This easy chicken karaage is crispy, crunchy and juicy – no deep frying required.  

You only need a fraction of the oil for this easy air fryer method. No need to measure oil temperature, just brush it on and cook until golden! 

Less oil means less mess and no waste – win win.

Enjoy these boneless chicken bites served hot or cold, as a bento box treat, or as the perfect partner for miso ramen or zosui rice soup.

Related:Chicken Katsu / Chicken Nanban

Dipping a piece of tori karaage into Japanese mayonnaise.

What is Chicken Karaage? 

Japanese fried chicken (also known as 鶏の唐揚げ or tori karaage) is a popular appetiser or snack made from boneless chicken pieces that are marinated, coated in flour and (usually) deep fried. 

Karaage refers to the cooking method of frying, while tori means bird (or chicken in the context of food). 

This style of Japanese fried chicken recipe was first created in the 1920’s and is now so widespread, you’ll find it served at ramen restaurants and izakaya in Japan, as well as at convenience stores and festivals. It’s a popular dish at Christmas time and to celebrate the New Year.

Did you know: Chicken karaage had no marinade originally. Over time it became more popular to be marinated first and then fried. This tatsutaage marinade and cooking style first originated near the Tatsuta river in Nara Prefecture. 

Some recipes call for a simple marinade of soy sauce and mirin, but we love the additional flavour of sake, rice wine vinegar and ginger flavours.

Karaage vs Tatsutaage – What’s the difference?

Both dishes side by side can look almost identical, and in some instances, they could be! According to some sources, here’s the main differences between the Japanese fried chicken varieties:

Karaage – (kara-age / tori no karaage / 鶏の唐揚げ)

  • May be marinated before frying (or not).
  • May be coated in just potato starch, or a mix of potato starch and flour.

Tatsutaage – (tatsuta-age / tori no tatsuta / 竜田揚げ)

  • Always marinated before frying.
  • Always coated in only potato starch.

Sometimes tatsuaage is even referred to as a type of karaage. Which is why today, our recipe is called karaage but done tatsutaage style. We’ll leave it up to you to call it what you like!

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken – Boneless chicken thighs work best as they absorb the flavour from the marinade and stay nice and juicy once cooked. Sub for chicken breast if you prefer. (If you do, add 2 tbsp of water into the marinade to keep the chicken juicy after frying)
  • Potato Starch – Japanese katakuriko will give you the crispiest result. Easy subs are cornflour / cornstarch or all purpose flour. 
  • Soy Sauce – Japanese style Kikkoman soy sauce works for this dish. You can also sub with tamari.
  • Cooking Sake – Sake can be expensive in some areas, so sub with Chinese rice wine if required. You can also omit, or replace the same amount with more mirin.
  • Mirin – Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine for cooking. Sub with an equal amount of sugar if you need.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar – Look for this in the international aisle at your local supermarket, otherwise head to an Asian grocer or buy online. If you don’t have this, you can substitute for apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, or white vinegar.
  • Ginger – Fresh ginger works best, sub with 1 tsp of minced ginger or ¼ – ½ tsp of ground ginger. You can actually freeze ginger (skinned and chopped into chunks, slices or finely minced) to use for a recipe like this. 
  • Vegetable Oil – Peanut, corn or canola oil have high smoke points which will allow you to fry the chicken without the air fryer smoking. You can also use a cooking spray to make it easier.
Ingredients laid out to make tori karaage.

How to Make Chicken Karaage

First, gather your ingredients: See recipe card below for measurements.

  1. Place chicken thigh pieces in a medium bowl and add the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, cooking sake, rice wine vinegar, ginger and mirin). Marinate on the bench for 10 minutes, or cover and pop in the fridge to marinate for longer (up to overnight).
  2. Brush and coat the bottom of the air fryer basket with vegetable oil (or cooking spray). Pre-heat your air fryer at 200°C / 400°F for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Coat the marinated chicken pieces in potato starch and place into your air fryer. Tip: Only coat as many pieces as will fit in one layer of your air fryer basket or wire rack, and cook in batches to make sure they stay nice and crispy. 
  2. Brush the tops of each chicken piece generously with vegetable oil until you can’t see any more starch, then close the lid and air fry for 4 minutes.
  3. Flip each piece over, brush tops with more vegetable oil and cook for a further 4 minutes. Tip: Stop here or cook for an extra minute or two for an extra brown and crunchy finish.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Marinade – For extra flavour, marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight. Take it out at least 30 mins before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Coating – Make sure the potato starch coating is nice and thick so it doesn’t come off as you flip the pieces while cooking. If you notice any areas of white starch showing while cooking, give it an extra dab of oil to get it nice and crispy.
  • Oil – No need to re-baste the bottom of the air fryer basket between batches. Just once at the start is plenty.
  • Chopsticks – Keep your hands clean and use cooking chopsticks to coat the chicken in the potato starch and transfer into the air fryer. Always use a clean pair of chopsticks for serving.
  • Leave Space – Don’t overcrowd the air fryer and try to cook all your chicken pieces at once. It’s better to leave plenty of space between each piece to allow it to crisp up nicely, even if you need to cook over multiple batches to do so. 
  • Cooking Time – Cooking time will be less as you cook more batches, since the air fryer will be nicely heated up. Keep an eye on the chicken as you go to avoid over cooking.
  • Storage – Leftover chicken karaage will last for 2-3 days in the fridge stored in an airtight container.

FAQs

What should I serve with chicken karaage?

For a simple meal, serve it with a wedge of lemon and a small bowl of Kewpie mayo and/or shichimi togarashi. (For something a little different, serve them with small bowls of sriracha mayo or sriracha aioli!)

Otherwise, it goes great with tonkatsu sauce, a simple cabbage salad with sesame dressing, wafu salad, or a side of takuan pickles or kinpira gobo, or you could make a Japanese style burger with karaage instead of beef!

Add them to your next bento box with a portion of sushi rice or onigiri, Japanese potato salad, kimchi or hand-rolled sushi.

What’s the best way to reheat it?

The best way to reheat karaage fried chicken is in the air fryer for 3-5 minutes at 160°C / 320°F. This will keep the coating crispy without drying out the chicken. No need to add extra oil! 

If you’re in a rush you can reheat them in the microwave, but you’ll probably lose the crispy crunch.

Can I freeze Japanese fried chicken?

Japanese fried chicken is best enjoyed hot and crispy once fried, or eaten cold the next day in a bento. We don’t recommend freezing it.

Variations

Plate of tori karaage with kewpie mayonnaise and lettuce.

Try these amazing recipes next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Crispy pieces of Japanese fried chicken.

Crispy Chicken Karaage – Japanese Fried Chicken

The BEST chicken karaage, marinated and air fried to perfection in just 10 minutes. It’s the crispy, crunchy Japanese fried chicken you know and love – without deep frying!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner, Snack
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 18 Pieces
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $10

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 500 g boneless chicken thighs approx 3, skin removed, diced into 6 or 8 pieces each. If using chicken breast, see notes.

For the marinade:

For the coating:

  • 1 cup potato starch sub with cornstarch or all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  • Place chicken thigh pieces in a medium bowl and add the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, cooking sake, rice wine vinegar, ginger and mirin). Marinate on the bench for 10 minutes, or cover and pop in the fridge to marinate for longer (up to overnight).
    ¼ cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp cooking sake, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp mirin
  • Brush and coat the bottom of the air fryer basket with vegetable oil (or cooking spray). Pre-heat your air fryer at 200°C / 400°F for 2-3 minutes.
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Coat the marinated chicken pieces in potato starch and place into your air fryer. Tip: Only coat as many pieces as will fit in one layer of your air fryer basket or wire rack, and cook in batches to make sure they stay nice and crispy. 
    1 cup potato starch
  • Brush the tops of each chicken piece generously with vegetable oil until you can’t see any more starch, then close the lid and air fry for 4 minutes.
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Flip each piece over, brush tops with more vegetable oil and cook for a further 4 minutes. Tip: Stop here or cook for an extra minute or two for an extra brown and crunchy finish.

Video

YouTube video

Recipe Notes

  • Chicken Breast – If you want to swap the thighs for chicken breast, add 2 tbsp of water in with the marinade which will help keep the chicken nice and juicy after frying.
  • Marinade – For extra flavour, marinate the chicken in the fridge overnight. Take it out at least 30 mins before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Coating – Make sure the potato starch coating is nice and thick so it doesn’t come off as you flip the pieces while cooking. If you notice any areas of white starch showing while cooking, give it an extra dab of oil to get it nice and crispy.
  • Oil – No need to re-baste the bottom of the air fryer basket between batches. Just once at the start is plenty.
  • Chopsticks – Keep your hands clean and use cooking chopsticks to coat the chicken in the potato starch and transfer into the air fryer. Always use a clean pair of chopsticks for serving.
  • Leave Space – Don’t overcrowd the air fryer and try to cook all your chicken pieces at once. It’s better to leave plenty of space between each piece to allow it to crisp up nicely, even if you need to cook over multiple batches to do so. 
  • Cooking Time – Cooking time will be less as you cook more batches, since the air fryer will be nicely heated up. Keep an eye on the chicken as you go to avoid over cooking.
  • Storage – Leftover chicken karaage will last for 2-3 days in the fridge stored in an airtight container.
  • Add Flavour – Add a tsp of curry powder or ¼ tsp of black pepper, or a splash of sesame oil into the marinade. 
  • Protein – Swap the chicken for firm white fish pieces, prawns, pork or tofu.
  • Dipping Sauces – Serve with kewpie mayo, ponzu sauce, yakitori sauce, gochujang mayo, bibimbap sauce or goma dare.
  • Make it a Meal – Serve it on top of noodle dishes like tsukemen, tantanmen or curry udon. We love it with a side of gyoza dumplings!
  •  

    Nutrition

    Nutrition Facts
    Crispy Chicken Karaage – Japanese Fried Chicken
    Amount per Serving
    Calories
    96
    % Daily Value*
    Fat
     
    5
    g
    8
    %
    Saturated Fat
     
    1
    g
    6
    %
    Trans Fat
     
    0.02
    g
    Polyunsaturated Fat
     
    1
    g
    Monounsaturated Fat
     
    2
    g
    Cholesterol
     
    27
    mg
    9
    %
    Sodium
     
    208
    mg
    9
    %
    Potassium
     
    153
    mg
    4
    %
    Carbohydrates
     
    8
    g
    3
    %
    Fiber
     
    1
    g
    4
    %
    Sugar
     
    0.4
    g
    0
    %
    Protein
     
    5
    g
    10
    %
    Vitamin A
     
    22
    IU
    0
    %
    Vitamin C
     
    0.3
    mg
    0
    %
    Calcium
     
    9
    mg
    1
    %
    Iron
     
    0.4
    mg
    2
    %
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
    Crispy Chicken Karaage - Japanese Fried Chicken

    Browse all our most popular Japanese recipes

    Japanese mochi, matcha green tea ice-cream. okonomiyaki, gyoza and chicken katsu dishes, with the words "Click here for Japanese recipes" overlayed.

    No Comments

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating




    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.