Sweet, sour, & spicy Korean fried chicken

Yangnyeom-tongdak 양념통닭

Hi everybody!
I wanted to update my recipe for yangnyeom-tongdak Korean fried chicken which I originally posted in 2011 after so many people requested it, even back then. Now millions of people have used and enjoyed the recipe and I’ve included it in my cookbook too. I’ve been making this for decades so I really wanted to make an improved HD video for the recipe with a few improvements I’ve developed over the years, as well as proper measurements. This new version is almost the same as the one in Real Korean Cooking, with just a tweak to the amount of flour used.

Yangnyeom means seasoned and tongdak means a whole chicken but it’s really just bite sized fried chicken, so sometimes we just call it yangnyeom chicken. The history of yangnyeom-tongdak is not long, starting in early 1980s. I remember when that kind of fried chicken was popular and I used to order it all the time for my family. I’d call up the chicken shop and they’d deliver delicious, hot, spicy, garlicky, and crunchy chicken to our house in less than an hour.

The chicken shops making yangnyeom-tongdak were usually franchises. All of them tasted similar, the only difference between this place or that place came down to 2 elements: batter mix and the sauce. I remember some of funny popular franchise names such as:

“Mother-in-Law’s Chicken” (Korean mothers-in-law are always nice to the sons-in-law): 장모님 치킨 (Jangmonim Chicken)
“Son-in-Law Mr.Lee’s chicken”: 이서방 치킨 (Lee Seobang Chicken)
“Pelicana Chicken”: 펠리카나 치킨 (Pelicana Chicken)
“Wife’s Parent’s House Chicken”: 처가집 치킨(Cheogajip Chicken)
“Very Large Chicken”: 아주커 치킨 (Ahju-keo Chicken)

One day on my way home from work, I stopped by our local chicken shop for take out. “Can you make and wrap 1 order of yangnyeom-tongdak for me?” I knew the store owner because he was my long time neighbor. He cooked the chicken right in front of me and I saw the entire process. I watched as he made the batter, fried it twice, and made the red garlicky sauce with ketchup and gochujang. My eyes burned into his hands. It looked so easy!

Later I made it at home. My children said, “It tastes exactly like the fried chicken place!”

My 2 children are grown-ups now and I asked them: “Do you remember the first time I made yangnyeom-tongdak at home, just like the fried chicken shop?”

Yes, they remembered! : ) That chicken was delicious and it’s the same chicken I’ve been sharing with all of you. Enjoy the recipe!


For 3 to 4 servings

For the sauce:

For a side dish, pickled radish (chicken-mu), optional


Fry chicken:

  1. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large heavy frying pan or pot over medium hight heat for about 10 to 12 minutes until it reaches 330-350ºF. I used my 12 inch pan but if your pan is smaller, work by batches. If you don’t have a thermometer, test it by dipping one piece of chicken in the oil. If it bubbles, it is ready.
  2. While the oil is heating, combine chicken, salt, ground black pepper, starch, flour, baking soda, and eggs in a bowl. Mix altogether well by hand.
  3. Add the coated chicken to hot oil one by one. Fry them for 12 minutes until the all sides of the chicken are crunchy, turning over with tongs.Yangnyeom chicken
  4. Take out the chicken with tongs or a large slotted spoon to wire strainer over a bowl to remove the excess oil.

Make seasoning sauce:

  1. Heat the 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir in garlic until light brown for about 30 seconds. Add the ketchup, rice syrup, gochujang, vinegar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and stir until bubbling. Remove from the heat.

Start the second fry:

  1. Let the oil heat up for 2 minutes over medium high heat until it reaches 330-350ºF.
  2. Fry the chicken one more time, turning over with tongs for about another 12 minutes until very crunchy.
  3. Reheat the sauce over medium high heat until it’s bubbling again. Add all the hot crunchy chicken and mix well with a wooden spoon and tongs.sweet spicy crunchy Korean fried chicken

Finish and serve:

  1. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and transfer to a serving plate. Serve with chicken-mu (pickled radish) if you have it.sweet spicy crunchy fried chicken

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  1. jaylivg Houston joined 7/10 & has 107 comments

    This was very delicious !! My husband loves it and he said he can eat korean fried chicken everyday ! LOL
    Although i didn’t use potato starch , instead i used corn starch , but it still comes out delicious and crunchy . Thanks Maangchi for another awesome recipe !

  2. philm00x Winter Park, FL joined 1/11 & has 2 comments

    My wife and I just tried this at home tonight, and it was AMAZING! Although, we used chili sauce instead of hot pepper paste because we couldn’t find it, but the flavor was just outstanding. Hot enough but not tongue-numbing, and you could still taste the flavor of the spices. We are definitely going to use this recipe more often!

  3. Shimako Romania joined 1/11 & has 3 comments

    I’m curious,why does the chicken has to be fried two times?if you fry it once for a longer period of time don’t you get the same result?
    I don’t have much cooking experience so I’m sorry if I asked something obvious ^^

  4. Sandy Bell Jordan joined 12/10 & has 14 comments

    Maangchi’s chicken looks delicious

  5. Andrea Italy joined 1/09 & has 19 comments

    Dear Maangchi, sunday morning here, I am sitting here with a cup of coffee, reading the news, then I open your website and see this amazing recipe. Plus at the end of the recipe you greet us in Italian, what do I want more…?
    Kamsahamnida for all your videos, 감사합니다!

  6. mokpochica Michigan joined 1/09 & has 89 comments

    Yay! I sent my husband a link to this recipe last night and to my surprise he called me about an hour later asking “What is rice syrup” because he was already at the Korean store buying the ingredients. He made the recipe last night and it was awesome. We were both happy as clams eating it. I think hubby had been craving this since seeing it advertised at a restaurant during our trip to Chicago on New Year’s Day, so he was especially happy.

    I remember another Chicken place that always makes me laugh—Smoper Chicken. The sign was a green smurf. I remember how funny I thought it was when I finally figured out that Smoper was the Korean way to write Seu-muh-peu, the Korean approximation of Smurf. I have a picture of their storefront somewhere in my albums…

  7. shedorvin KY joined 10/09 & has 3 comments

    Thank you for posting this recipe. It is one of my favorites from my time in Korea. The restaurants always served this chicken with little cubes of white radish. How do I make that?

  8. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11 & has 120 comments

    All done and eaten. Absolutely amazing. This is the best chicken dish I have ever eaten! For those afraid of the hot pepper paste – don’t be – it is actually quite mild. Thanks Maangchi for the best chicken recipe on earth!

  9. Tequila Malaysia joined 7/10 & has 15 comments

    Uses corn syrup again! Gotta be extra careful this time. hehe…
    My son loves fried food. Will try this recipe once I manage to get all the ingredients. Thanks for sharing it with us. :D

  10. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11 & has 120 comments

    I am making this right now – so far the recipe is perfect (as are all of the things I have cooked by Maangchi so far). I can’t wait to eat it! The Korean lady at the Korean market laughed when I handed her a shopping list with ingredients in Korean (copied from here) and asked her for help!

  11. garpu Seattle joined 4/09 & has 5 comments

    Question about frying chicken from when I made your other recipe…when you’re frying it and it bubbles like it’s frying, but sticks to the bottom, does that mean the oil is too hot? (The chicken bits didn’t stick when I put the first batch in.)

    Can’t wait to try this one!

  12. Mikura New Haven, CT joined 6/09 & has 8 comments

    You posted this just in time for the upcoming Super Bowl. Now I know what I’m going to make for it….thanks for the recipe!

  13. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11 & has 120 comments

    Would it be okay to have this with kimchi and other vegetable sides from your recipes? The chicken looks amazing and I am going to make it tonight. It will be my third recipe of yours which I have cooked – the other two were perfect and everyone loved them! My first time cooking Korean.

  14. BxlSprout Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10 & has 46 comments

    Maangchi’s chicken looks absolutely delicious! I know it would taste wonderful made with vegetarian chick’n or wheat gluten. Mmm! Thanks for perfecting and sharing your recipe.

    • BxlSprouts Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10 & has 3 comments

      Finally I’ve done it! :) Maangchi and friends, I’ve just put Maangchi’s sauce over a batch of oven-roasted gluten (wheat meat) for an easier and lower-fat method than deep-frying produces. It smells heavenly. Replying now, a little early before trying the finished dish, as my little ones are napping :)

  15. Jenneida Bronx, New York joined 5/09 & has 4 comments

    The sauce almost looks like a dipping sauce my boyfriend’s family uses for gyoza but they use Tabasco sauce and no syrup. This looks so good I can see this recipe in my house in the future ^_^ Thank you for the recipe

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