This spicy Korean BBQ chicken recipe is perfect for spicy chicken lovers who want to go beyond the Buffalo sauce. Our homemade marinade will make your mouth water with a perfect blend of sweet, tangy and umami flavors and a bit of lingering heat in every bite.
The magic of this Korean spicy chicken recipe is all in the sauce. You can use this marinade as you would any other marinade or sauce. It’s so versatile and delicious, the sky is the limit.
We’ve created this recipe for the home cook that wants to whip up a restaurant-quality dish in their kitchen. After marinating, this recipe comes together very quickly and tastes better than takeout!
- Before searing the chicken, allow the excess liquid to drip off for several seconds. Too much marinade in the hot pan will cause it to burn and stick to the pan. A small amount of oil can also reduce the chances of burning.
- Want some extra heat? Add an additional tablespoon or two of Sriracha as part of the marinade or in the reserve sauce. Sriracha is the spiciest ingredient in the marinade and can be easily adjusted to taste. For even more heat, mix in some cayenne powder to the marinade.
- Prefer a stickier and thicker sauce? Whisk 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into the 1/4 cup of reserved marinade and mix to combine. Simmer over low heat for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
- When searing your marinated chicken, using a non-stick pan is the easiest way to prepare this dish. However, baking and barbecuing also have their own unique advantages.
Baking (alternate method): Follow steps 1-3, then place chicken on a lined a cookie sheet or in shallow pan at 375°F for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes before serving.
Grilling (alternate method): Follow steps 1-3, then grease grill grates and preheat grill to 375°F grilling for about 5-7 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Allow meat to rest 5 minutes before serving. The sugar content in the sauce will cause the chicken to burn or char quickly, it’s very important to grease the grates and make sure the chicken has an even thickness.
Substitutions And Variations
- Meat – In this recipe, chicken thighs can be substituted for chicken breast if you want a lower-fat option. Be sure to trim and flatten the chicken meat for even cooking. This marinade will also work well with shrimp, pork, or tofu. Red meat is not ideal in this recipe as the marinade does not have tenderizing ingredients to break down the fibers. Try our Beef Bulgogi Recipe for a spicy red meat dish.
- Gochujang – There is no perfect substitute for gochujang. But, it does come in a variety of spice levels and is relatively easy to find. Check your local Asian market, Amazon, or the international aisle of your local grocery store.
- Sriracha – Customize this recipe further by using your favorite hot sauce to bring in the heat.
- Light brown sugar – You can also use dark brown sugar in this recipe. The combination of molasses and white sugar lends itself perfectly in this spicy BBQ chicken sauce. You can also use honey in the same amount.
- Mirin – Mirin is actually a Japanese sweet rice wine. The sweetness helps to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce. Don’t get confused with rice wine vinegar which is very different. You can substitute sake, dry sherry, or pineapple juice.
- Ginger – You can swap the fresh ginger in this recipe for 1 tsp of powdered.
What goes with Korean BBQ chicken?
This recipe pairs well with many other foods. We love making rice bowls with the leftovers. You can also serve this chicken with noodles, quinoa, edamame, grilled pineapple, sweet potatoes, kimchi or your favorite stir-fried veggies. Garnish your spicy BBQ chicken with sesame seeds and green onion.
What is Korean BBQ marinade made of?
Typically, Korean BBQ marinade is a combination of soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and black pepper. Sometimes, acidic fruit juices are used to tenderize pieces of red meat. Korean food is known for using a balance of sweet, tangy, and savory umami flavors, making sure that one does not overpower the others.
Many variations of Korean BBQ have developed over the years and we love experimenting with new flavor combinations. This recipe is developed for the home cook that likes spicy food. Therefore, we use gochujang in our spicy marinade and pan fry the chicken for simplicity.
Gochujang vs. Sriracha
Technically speaking, gochujang and sriracha could not be more different. Gochujang is a thick, spicy, and sweet fermented chili paste. It has qualities similar to miso paste and comes in a variety of heat levels from mild to hot.
Sriracha, however, is more of a condiment. It’s thinner and has more of a garlic-enhanced spicy kick. It is intended to be used as a flavor additive on cooked food as opposed to an ingredient in the cooking process.
Storage and Re-heating
Cooked portions of this recipe can be stored 5-7 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw from frozen by placing in the refrigerator for one or two nights until ready to reheat.
- Microwave: Cover and use 30 second intervals until desired temperature.
- Skillet: Transfer to a skillet and cover, heating over low heat. Add a tablespoon of water or two if necessary to keep the heat evenly distributed until hot.
- Oven: Cover with tinfoil and heat at 350°F for about 10 minutes, checking frequently to ensure the chicken does not overcook and dry out.
We hope you enjoy our spicy Korean BBQ chicken recipe. Be sure to leave a star rating if you try this recipe at home! And, let us know any variations of this dish you may have made. If you like this recipe you’ll also enjoy our Kung Pao chicken recipe and our spicy lemongrass chicken.
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 12 inch non-stick or cast iron pan
- kitchen shears or sharp knife
- meat thermometer optional but recommended
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs fat trimmed
- ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup gochujang paste
- 3 Tbsp. sriracha or other hot sauce
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 3 tsp mirin or dry sherry
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger grated
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, remove any fatty or lumpy parts of the chicken. This will ensure the meat lies flat on the pan and cooks evenly. Pounding the chicken flat is another option that tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking.
- Combine marinade ingredients and whisk until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for dipping.
- Add chicken to marinade, mixing to coat all pieces evenly. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, let chicken sit for 15 minutes on the counter to come to room temperature. Preheat pan over medium high heat.
- Using tongs, pull pieces of the chicken from the marinade and allow excess to drip off for at least 10-20 seconds. This will reduce the possibility of burning the sauce.
- Place chicken thighs in the pan with plenty of room between pieces. Work in small batches if necessary and cook for 5 minutes undisturbed. You should see the chicken plump up and the edges of the meat pull away from the pan.
- Turn chicken and reduce heat to medium low, cover, and let cook another 3-5 minutes until it is browned and the internal temperature reads at least 165°F with an instant-read thermometer.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Sides: White rice, kimchi, quick-pickled veggies (carrots, cucumbers, radish), and potatoes.
- Garnishes: Toasted sesame seeds, chopped green onions, and sriracha sauce.