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. skruzich kansas joined 5/16 & has 5 comments

    Made it for the first time today, i wasn’t about to pay 12 bucks for a pound of rice flour, so i got me a bag of 2.00 rice and ground up the kernels into flour. Worked just fine.

    I did not complete the whole batch since i am teh only one in my house and i’m not going to even try to eat 3 lbs of chicken. I used chicken breasts cut into cubes of various sizes.

    Fried up good first round about 5 min to fry since my chicken was smaller pieces.
    Then i made up the sauce and then refried enough for me to eat until golden.
    Was pretty crispy.

    Sauce is too sweet for me. First of all, not good for that much sugar in my diet as i am diabetic. Going to have to modify sauce to less sugar. PLUS It just is too sweet for my tastes. I’m from Georgia and southern barbq down there is mustard based sauces when we grill and make pork barbq. I Think instead of rice syrup, i’ll be using mustard. Probably use mustard powder and mix it up into a hot mustard and add that instead of the rice syrup.
    I think if i do use any sweetener, i would use blackstrap molasses. Guess i’m going to hvae to get creative here.

    I Won’t pay as much for potato starch as i did the other day, its obscene how much they charge. I’ll just be making my own starch from shredding potatos for hasbrowns and drying the starch that settles at the bottom of the bowl. Get dual use of potatos that way and produce a needed ingredient for basically no cost since i usually just throw starch water away.

    • skruzich kansas joined 5/16 & has 5 comments

      Ohh btw i forgot to say i refridgerated the half fried chicken, to which when I want some more i’ll just second fry the chicken again and then mix sauce. it should fry up very crispy still even though its been in the fridge. Good way to freeze up a large batch and then portion out to individual sizes and drop into a fryer and finish it up. good for a quick meal

  2. Sunghwa Little Rock, AR, USA joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello, Maangchi!

    I tried this recipe yesterday, as part of a (late) Mother’s Day/Parents’ Day dinner. I was really nervous because I am an amateur at cooking, and my mom has been cooking all kinds of food for a long time, especially Korean food. I only put the sauce on half the batch (and saved the leftover) because I was hesitant. But it turned out she loved it! She was very impressed with the sauce, and when I told her that ssalyeot was part of the recipe, she was very surprised! She said it was the best chicken she’s tasted so far–very crunchy and savory–and that I could go ahead and put the sauce on the rest of the chicken.

    Thank you so much!! I’m glad I was able to treat her with this delicious recipe! :)

  3. Sam.C UK joined 4/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!

    I just made this today using chicken wings. I used a deep fat fryer which is even smaller than your skillet so had to do it in 4 batches!

    Taste was yummy and so sticky! Although using wings means you need a bit more sauce I seasoned the plain ones with aromat and smoked paprika but I’ve yet to try them :)

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    See full size image

  4. Fany joined 12/15 & has 20 comments

    Hi Maangchi, Here, where I live I can’t find sweet rice flour, what should I use instead? A regular rice flour or something else?

  5. Katzen125 Gulf Shores joined 9/14 & has 3 comments

    Hello Maangchi,

    I’m planning on making yangnyeom-tongdak for dinner one night and was wondering what are some good side dishes to make with it?

    Thank you for your tasty recipes and fun videos!

  6. Pluto Malaysia joined 1/15 & has 4 comments

    I’ve just started learn cooking. And I’m so excited
    excited. Today is my 1st attempt at deep fried dish. I used only 1 pound of chicken drumstick. The coating was quite watery maybe because of large egg. To correct it I measure another batch of each flour and add in again. The final result was fantastic, for someone who just learn to cook. Even I have coughed now yet I can’t resist to try one. Thanks Maangchi! For u are the one who started my cooking passion

    See full size image

  7. bunraf joined 6/15 & has 7 comments

    I preferred honey to rice syrup.. and it tasted good too.. But I thought I use too many sauce to the chicken..

    See full size image

  8. RVD Woodinville, WA joined 1/14 & has 2 comments

    I made this today! It was delicious!!!

    See full size image

  9. harpalyce New Jersey joined 3/15 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi! I’ve never been much for spicy foods and to be honest, watching your videos and seeing the love you have for cooking and for sharing your food with the world made me want to leap out of my comfort zone of savory & mild, into your world of beautiful bright red spiciness!
    Tonight I took the leap and made this recipe (minus the frying) and I just had to tell you how much I LOVED it! The sauce is simply amazing and I honestly, can’t get enough (I jarred the left overs for later). I didn’t have enough corn syrup or honey though, so I used a half and half mix of the two to make the 1/3 cup. You have inspired me to take off from baby steps to a full run, and I have never been more delighted to have found your website and youtube. I fully intend on purchasing your cook book as I can not see my kitchen existing with out it. Much love and gratitude from NJ!

  10. kmom Los Angeles joined 1/15 & has 3 comments

    I can see why this was your most popular dish. I made it recently and it was fantastic. I used bite size pieces of chicken tenderloin coated in cornstarch sautéed in vegetable oil. The sauce was so easy to make yet extremely flavorful. Thank You Maangchi!

  11. Karina777 Almaty, Kazakhstan joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! (^___^)/ You help me a lot. First, I’m 14 years old and I learn to cook. I’m from Kazakhstan and I learn English. You help me to cook tasty dishes and I can understand English at the hearing, thanks to you)) My Mom wants to thank you^^ Your recipes are amazing (⌒‿⌒) We cook Korean dishes and they’re so good)) We eat them with pleasure ( ˘▽˘)っ♨ Thank you a lot!!! ヽ(o^―^o)ノ

  12. Neal0707 Manila joined 10/14 & has 2 comments

    Hi maangchi!

    I have been searching this website to master the korean cuisine and this is the first time I post my comment. My relatives love my korean fried chicken. And also I made this for the bible study event and they said it’s very crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

    Thank you!

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

      It sounds like you make super delicious chicken! “I made this for the bible study event ..” That’s a really great idea. Everybody will be so inspired by the chicken they will study the bible even harder. : )

  13. Dana Adelaide, Australia joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    I’m allergic to tomato so i can’t have tomato sauce/ketchup is there any recommendations for a substitute or do you have to use tomato sauce/ketchup?

  14. EmBinKay doha - Qatar joined 6/14 & has 1 comment

    Rice syrup instead of what we put in the mix ☺

  15. Triple C Iowa joined 4/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you for the recipe. I made it for my family’s Easter picnic today and they loved it! I only changed two things: 1. Instead of using chicken chunks with bones, I used only breast meat cut up into bite sized pieces. 2. I brined the breast meat in salt, sugar, and worcestire sauce to keep it from drying out after cooking it in such high heat. Also, instead of coating the chicken with the sauce, I took a separate bowl for dipping so the outside would stay crisp until picnic time.

    Again, thank you very much for the wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try more! Take care pretty cooking lady!

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