Spicy Korean Chicken Thighs in Gochujang Sauce - an intensely flavored chicken recipe made in a cast iron pan for extra crispy, juicy thighs and a finger licking marinade!
I clearly have a strong love for Korean food. Because this is my third Korean inspired recipe in six months and there are a half dozen others that haven't even made it to this little food blog. Give me anything spicy with flavors that make you go - that is amazing but I can't really pinpoint where that exact taste comes from and I'm sold!
I also love how I can always make a Korean inspired meal at home with just a few ingredients. I always have a tub of Gochujang lying around, some soy sauce, a little honey, ginger, garlic and chilli flakes for extra spicaayy and we are so sorted.
If you follow me on Instagram stories, you know I had a little kitchen disaster with these spicy Korean chicken thighs the other day. The entire pan of chicken just flew out of my hand and all over the kitchen. Not a pretty sight. And a wasted dinner. Which is why this recipe is actually making it to the blog two days later than it should have. Because I had to make it all over again!
Not complaining because this recipe is insanely easy. You just throw in all those ingredients to make a marinade you'll want to lick off your fingers, dunk the chicken in, leave it overnight and then in goes everything in your cast iron pan.
We obviously served this with those candies bacon green beans I posted last week because the combination is so irresistible. And you get some veggies in while you are at it, tossed in bacon of course. Yes it was an indulgent weekend.
But these spicy Korean chicken thighs are actually quite healthy. Most recipes will ask you to add a bucket load of brown sugar but I always love the taste of natural honey. These spicy Korean chicken thighs have a slightly barbecue like feel. Because the sauce has a sticky sweetness and it coats the chicken evenly. And when you make this in a cast iron pan, the skin of the chicken thighs gets crispy while the chicken stays nice and juicy. Just like a barbecue and this recipe makes enough pan sauce for you to be able to drizzle some over your rice if that's what you are having this with.
Before we go away, let's go over the nerdy details of Korean flavours.
What is Gochujang in these spicy Korean Chicken Thighs?
Gochujang is a hot pepper paste which is sweet, spicy and has a fermented taste that it gets from red chili, rice, fermented soybeans and salt. It can be quite hot but it adds volumes in terms of flavor to a recipe. You don't need to cook it and it can be easily used as a topping if you are making say a Korean Chicken Bowl. A tub of Gochujang can last you a few months and it can be used a substitute for a hot sauce in other recipes too.
What can I serve with these Korean Chicken Thighs?
I love serving Korean Chicken with rice or noodles because those can wrap up all that spicy sauce. But this time we served them with candies bacon beans to avoid loading up on carbs. And because those beans are amazing!
I've seen recipes using pear as a marinade for Korean Chicken but you don't add that?
There are some fruits like pears that can help tenderize the meat which is why you'll see Asian Pears being used in recipes. But since we are making chicken and marinating this overnight, I didn't feel the need to use pear and wanted the ingredient list to be short and simple.
Is this marinade similar to a Korean BBQ sauce?
Yes, very similar! You can expect the same flavors when you use this marinade.
Guys, bust out that cast iron pan that's been lying around and definitely try this recipe! You'll be amazed at the amount of flavor that only seven ingredients can bring to a recipe. And you'll be thanking me for making you try Korean at home!
More Chicken Dinners:
- Honey Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Veggies
- Spinach Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Creamy Lemon Chicken Scallopini
Spicy Korean Chicken Thighs in Gochujang Sauce
- 6 Chicken Thighs skin on, bone in
- 1 ½ tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- Toasted Sesame Seeds and Green Onions for topping
For the Marinade:
- ¼ cup light Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Gochujang spicy Korean chili paste
- 3 tablespoons Honey
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Paste
- 1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Chili Flakes optional
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add chicken and toss to coat the chicken. Marinate for at least two hours or overnight. If refrigerating overnight, take the chicken out half an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and add chicken thighs and all the marinade to it. Sear on high flame for 2-3 minutes on either side. Reduce the flame to low, add half a cup of water and cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes till the chicken is cooked through. Turn the chicken once halfway. Add more water if you'd like more sauce and simmer.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, top with sesame seeds, chopped green onions and serve immediately.
- Always use fresh wings. If you’re going to use frozen wings, let them thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. Pat them dry really well, this will remove the excess water.
- Knowing when the chicken is cooked: The internal temperature of cooked chicken should read 165F/73C. The most handy way to tell would be using a meat thermometer.
- The "fire" flavour comes from the Gochujang which is a staple Korean condiment. It is a fermented savoury chilli paste. It can be substituted with Sriracha or Thai red chilli paste.
- Serve along with some dipping sauce like a cheese dip, ranch dressing or a fry sauce!
More Korean recipes:
Slow Cooker Korean Pork Bulgogi
So delicious! I actually covered and cooked it in a 350 oven in my cast iron pan since I had my oven on anyhow. Instead of water, I added chicken broth that I had opened already and added about 1/4 cup of marinade I reserved. That marinade was the bomb! The chicken was moist and falling off the bone! I followed the marinade completely!
Great recipe. It worked out just perfect. I omitted the chili flakes and pepper because I cooked for little kids, but could have easily handled it with the extra pep.
Thanks for posting!
Glad you liked it!
Hi there my friend made this for a dinner I was at this weekend and it was incredible!!!! I want to make this and wondering if you've ever tried baking this in the oven?
Hey Christine, I haven't tried baking it in the oven but for Chicken Thighs 40-45 minutes in the oven at 200C should be enough to cook them well.
OMG, that was wickedly tasty, and so simple to make.
Thank you so much!
(I used minced ginger and garlic too, and added a splash of soy sauce several minutes before the end of cooking time.)
Sounds perfect! Glad you liked it Ona!
Hi Richa, I actually make the recipe. It was so good. Thank you. P.s. please people make the recipe and THEN comment. There are those of us who actually want to read your ideas. Richa and others go through a lot of trouble to show their efforts to give us ideas for dinner. Again thank you Richa.
Thank you so much Sherry! You are so sweet 🙂
Can you replace ginger paste and garlic paste with minced ginger and garlic? Excited to try this recipe!!
Absolutely! That would work just fine
Recipes Cave says
heather (delicious not gorgeous) says
i love how dark and caramelized these look! i'm thinking about how tasty it'd be with marinated bean sprouts and sesame oil rich spinach (:
That sounds amazing!
Heather Buentello says
Hey Richa~ These look amazing! I have plenty of gochujang and gochugaru at home for this. As a matter of fact, I have everything except the chicken. Lol.
Haha I hope you try it the next time you buy some chicken 🙂