Fire chicken with cheese

Cheese buldak 치즈불닭

Today’s recipe is super-spicy chicken, called buldak in Korean. The Korean word bul means fire, and dak means chicken, so you can call this “fire chicken.”

I first heard about this dish years ago, when I still lived in Korea. One evening I saw a truck on the street selling barbecued chicken. The guy had set up a homemade grill with real fire underneath, and was barbecuing huge chunks of chicken covered in a thick, spicy paste. With the flames and the smoke, it was a real festive sight, and there was a crowd of people gathering around, some to buy his chicken and some to just take part in the revelry.

He had a banner on the side of his truck that said “불닭” (buldak). I had never heard the name before, but between the spicy chicken and the fire he was cooking it over, it seemed like a great name to me. I bought some and brought it home to my family. It was fantastic!

These buldak trucks caught on: they would come out in the evenings, set up their makeshift fire pits, and grill spicy chicken over the flames. People would come out and take part in the fun.

I can’t set up a fire pit in my apartment, but my version is still plenty fiery! This buldak is spicy, a little sweet, and plenty soft and juicy. The crunchy rice cakes are my own variation and optional, but they give the dish a wonderful texture. If you want to make it less spicy, cut down on the hot pepper flakes, or use milder flakes. I use chicken breast in my recipe, but you could use chicken thigh, too.

I hope you love this recipe! Let me know if you try it!
buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into ¾ or 1 inch cubes
  • ½ cup Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup rice syrup (or corn syrup, sugar, honey)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese (optional), cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of sliced rice cake (optional)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup water



  1. Combine hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, ground black pepper, rice syrup, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Mix it well into a sweet and spicy paste.
  2. Add the chicken and mix well by hand.
    buldak with cheese (차즈불닭)
  3. Heat up a skillet with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the sliced rice cakes and fry them for a few minutes. Turn them over with a spatula once or twice until both sides are crispy and light golden brown.
    sliced rice cakes
  4. Place the marinated chicken into a heavy pan, preferably cast iron. Use the water to rinse the bowl and get the last of the sauce into the pan. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. If you use a normal frying pan, it will take 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭) buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  5. Uncover, stir and turn over the chicken with a wooden spoon. Add the rice cakes to the top of the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  6. Turn down the heat very low. Cover and let cook another 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using cheese, pre-heat the oven broiler.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, put the cheese over the top. Slip it into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.buldak in the oven
  8. Remove and sprinkle with the chopped green onion. Serve hot.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)

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  1. Hello Maangchi!

    I registered here to thank you for your awesome recipes! Thanks to Korean cuisine and your site I’ve discovered my love to cooking. As well as way to impress my Korean future-mother-in-law and gain some of her love. :) Now she’s excited she has some “material” to teach since her own daughter refuse cooking. :) I hope I won’t disappoint her when we will meet in Korea soon. So now, before I will go back to cooking my “치즈불닭” , I want to thank you one more time!

    You’re my hero!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Thank you so much for the nice words! Your mother-in-law will love you because you like to learn about Korean culture and food! But not all Koreans love spicy food. Ask your husband what kind of dishes she will like. Then make her favorite dish. I love spicy food but my mom is not a big fan of spicy food. : )

  2. aTrueRedHead Germany joined 8/14 & has 17 comments

    Hello Maangchi

    This looks like another delicious receipe for me to try. I just have one questions. The rice cakes you are using are not frozen, are they?
    I still have some frozen rice cake from the soup I made. Do I need to defrost and dry the rice cakes first (because of the use of hot oil)?

  3. Maangchi this one looks good!! (my mouth is watering already T.T) I better ask my mom to cook this right now for dinner! Thank you for sharing this simple recipe! I love you Maangchi!!

  4. Donnarz Iloilo,Philippines joined 12/14 & has 8 comments

    what kind of noodles maangchi can i use ? <3 :)

  5. kayluhh_hoffy United States joined 2/15 & has 1 comment

    This was delicious!!! Thank you, Maangchi!!!!

    See full size image

  6. iamrhart Namhae, South Korea joined 10/12 & has 12 comments
  7. iamrhart Namhae, South Korea joined 10/12 & has 12 comments

    This was my FIRST introduction to the “spicy noodles” in korea. after that, others have tried to make some videos about it too. Maangchi, you might enjoy it. Let me know if you try it, and where you got it from…i cant find any in VT.

  8. Made this for dinner tonight :)
    What do you think Maangchi?

    See full size image

  9. ddnorman Southern NH, USA joined 9/13 & has 75 comments

    Maangchi씨 안녕하세요!

    I have only had this once and I was totally caught off guard by the heat level! I had it at BonChon Chicken restaurant in Lowell, MA. Now I can make it at home! Yes!! Thank you for this recipe!


    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

      Dave, this is not buldak you made but had at the restaurant, yes? I’m already excited to see your own homemade buldak photo! : )

      • ddnorman Southern NH, USA joined 9/13 & has 75 comments


        That’s right! I had it at BonChon! The restaurant BonChon originates in Korea but has expanded to the US. In gact, I believe their headquarters is in NYC! They specialize in Korean style fried chicken. Now I can make from your recipe! 😁👍👍

        해피 토요일!

  10. RyanQVan joined 3/15 & has 1 comment

    Just made this today, tripled the recipe! Didn’t use a cast iron skillet because I don’t have one, but instead I used a nonstick wok. I had to turn it every 2 mins for 8 mins total, otherwise it would burn a little. Also, instead of sticking the wok in the oven I transferred everything to an aluminum pan and broiled for about 5 minutes until little brown spots appeared. Tasted great, thanks!

  11. Wow, I lived in Korea for almost 8 years and have never heard of this dish! It does look delicious, though. I’ll have to try it out!

  12. Hi Maangchi!!!!!!!! I love your blog! Is this recipe in your cookbook???? Also are you able to make chicken buldak with a crockpot?

  13. MoonYang joined 3/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, i dont have the oven so can i use microwave?

  14. iamrhart Namhae, South Korea joined 10/12 & has 12 comments

    This reminds me of buldak beokumyeon. It was very popular and my students would compere to see who could eat the most. Thanks for posting this recipe. Cant wait to try it.

  15. merrick232 USA joined 11/11 & has 2 comments

    Ah, this looks so good. Can you bake the chicken instead of cooking on the stove?

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