Korean Spicy Chicken Breasts (and thighs too) marinated in my sweet n’ spicy Gochujang sauce then baked until caramelized. It is simple, easy and incredibly yummy!
Wait.. did I say BAKED?? YES… you heard it right. I bake this wonderful spicy gochujang marinated Korean Spicy chicken in the OVEN. And YES, it comes out super tasty, tender and MOIST. And I tested it with both chicken breasts and thighs and it works for both!! You can see all the pictures below ⬇️.
Now, this Oven Baked Korean Spicy Chicken recipe came into being because I was feeling lazy…thinking of pan-frying it and realizing how I HATE all the splatter 💥it makes when I cook my gochujang chicken in the frying pan. 😬😬Of course, you can always grill it but as I said, I was feeling lazy..
So, for a while now, I have been wanting to develop recipes where the flavors are authentically Korean but maybe the overall cooking was simpler and more modernized… because there’s just something about baking in the oven that I think makes cooking more enjoyable and less stressful (yes, even for me). You don’t have to baby it while it cooks and if you do it right, it comes out consistently good every time.
Origins of Korean Spicy Chicken (or MaeunDakBulgogi)
One story says that in the early 60’s Spicy DakBulgogi (chicken bulgogi) was first served at a small restaurant in Chuncheon. The restaurant had a hard time sourcing pork so they decided to use chicken meat but use similar seasoning so that guests would feel less disappointed. BTW, Chuncheon is an area where they grew a lot of chicken back then so chicken was quite cheap and readily available. And you can read how people of Chuncheon created Chuncheon DakGalbi .
Usually, Dakbulgogi 닭불고기 is made with roughly chopped or cut up chicken meat (usually dark meat) in gochujang and then BBQ grilled on an open flame. Then it is served with various ssam material and people eat it just like how you would eat Kalbi or Bulgogi with all the fixin’s. Oh, BTW, I also have a non-spicy chicken bulgogi version if you’d like.
Instead of using chopped up chicken though, I wanted to try cooking a whole breast or thigh in this recipe. And I know most recipes will either do Breast or Thighs but not both. Well, but you know for us, my husband likes breast but I like thighs..so I like cooking both if possible. So there you go – follow my recipe and you can cook both breast and thigh at the same time!! But first things first..
How to Tenderize Chicken Breasts or Thighs
- wrap chicken (breast or boneless thigh) in plastic wrap (leaving enough room to spread all around)
- pound it with a heavy pan or pot (I have an all clad pot that I use) or use a meat mallet or even just pound with your fist (hit that chicken!!)
- once you pound about 2-3 times (don’t be shy, you need to really POUND IT), the breast or thigh should be nice and flat – BTW my poor fearful dog Spock 🐕have disappeared into the other room…🤣
- See how thin a thigh has gotten!
You can skip this and just cut the chicken pieces horizontally if you don’t want to pound it.
How to bake Perfect Juicy Chicken Breasts
- The key to baking perfectly juicy chicken breast is to bake it at HIGH temperature for LESS time. Bake at 425°F (218°C) for 17-18 minutes for good size chicken breasts (about 8 x 4 inch breast, cut crosswise into 2 thinner cuts). For smaller sizes, reduce baking time by 2-3 minutes and remember to take the smaller pieces out of the oven sooner than the bigger ones.
- Broil for 1 minute in the end to add even more caramelization. This is not necessary but I do it because I just love caramelized meats.
- Check doneness of the chicken by pressing the thickest part with a tong or a spoon. If it doesn’t spring back at all then it’s not cooked. If it springs back like rubber then it’s overcooked. It should go down a bit but have slight resistance and a spring. This is something I learned at culinary school. It’s hard to explain in words but just keep practicing with meats, and you will soon develop a feel for how much meat is cooked.
- Cut chicken breast (esp. if you have big ones of 8 x 4 inch or bigger) horizontally across to make thinner pieces.
For chicken thighs, you can just cut the thick parts and kind of fan it out. ***Alternatively, you can pound the chicken to even out the thickness and make it more tender. Read above for more details.
- Make gochujang marinade. Add all sauce ingredients: chopped garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, gochujang, rice wine (mirin), sugar, sesame oil, Korean red chili pepper and black pepper. Mix until well blended.
- In a mixing bowl, add chicken and the marinade.
- Massage the chicken a bit with the marinade to make sure they are evenly coated. Cover and marinate for 2hrs to overnight in the fridge.
- Cut 1/2 an onion into thick slices. Chop green onions.
- Heat oven to 425°F (218°C).
- Line a tray with parchment paper or tin foil. Drizzle vegetable and sesame oil on the tray. Place chicken on tray. Spoon some of the oil on top of each chicken pieces.
- Bake Breasts in oven for 17-18 minutes (for thighs, you may want to cook 2 minute longer but always check doneness) then take it out of the oven when done. You can just stop here or set oven to Broil and put chicken back into oven and broil for 1 minute for extra caramelization. Let it cool.
- Sprinkle fresh chopped green onions, sesame seeds and optionally add aromatic greens like Ssukgat (chrysanthemum leaves) or Kkaetnip (Perilla) on top of the chicken. These greens will add a perfect brightness to your plate.
These are Ssukgat (chrysanthemum leaves) from my garden!
Serving suggestions for Korean Spicy Chicken
- Serve with some Carrot Fried rice that my mom used to make for our foreign guests. Sauté some finely chopped onions and carrots in oil then add rice and stir-fry a little longer. Season with salt and pepper. For people who think white rice is too bland, this is a great option. BTW, this picture has my Oven Baked Korean Spicy Chicken Thighs with a marinade that was blended in the blender which means no chopping necessary.
- For a healthier LOW CARB option, serve on a bed of Kale salad. I used a store bought mix that had Kale, Brussel sprouts, red and white Cabbage and more. Pre-toss the salad mix in a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Then add a small amount of Korean Radish Salad for extra flavor. It was sooo good!
Well, there you have it! I started out thinking I would just do a simple plate of Korean Spicy Chicken and how I ended up with 3 different meals of both chicken breasts and thighs..I’ll never know. 😝👨🍳 Hope there’s at least ONE you want to TRY!!
If you have tried this or any other recipe on my blog then please rate the recipe (☆☆☆☆☆ at top right of the recipe card) and leave me a comment to let me know how you like it! Every 5 star helps me a lot and I also love to hear from you! 😍
Korean Spicy Chicken with Gochujang (Oven Baked/BBQ)
- 1 lb chicken (boneless skinless breast or thighs)
Spicy Chicken Marinade
- 2 Tbsp gochujang (korean red chili paste) - use GF Gochujang for Gluten Free version
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce (jin ganjang - sempio, kikkoman)
- 2 Tbsp cooking sake or mirin (substitute white wine + sugar)
- 1 Tbs p garlic (chopped)
- 1 Tbsp ginger (grated)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 Tbsp green onions (chopped)
- 1 tsp Korean red chili powder (gochukaru)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp green onion (chopped)
- 1 pinch sesame seeds
- Cut chicken breast (esp. if you have big ones of 8 x 4 inch or bigger) horizontally across to make thinner pieces. For chicken thighs, you can just cut the thick parts and kind of fan it out. ***Alternatively, you can pound the chicken to even out the thickness and make it more tender. Read above for more details.
- In a mixing bowl large enough to hold the chicken, make gochujang marinade. Add all sauce ingredients: chopped garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, gochujang, rice wine (mirin), sugar, sesame oil, Korean red chili pepper and black pepper. Mix until well blended.
- Optionally, cut 1/2 an onion into thick slices. Chop green onions.
- Marinate for 2 hrs to overnight in the fridge.
- Heat oven to 425°F.
- Line a tray with parchment paper. Drizzle vegetable and sesame oil on the tray. Place chicken and add onions to tray.
- Bake in oven for 17-18 minutes. Take it out of the oven. You can just stop here or set oven to Broil and put chicken back into oven and broil for 1 minute for extra caramelization. Let it cool for couple minutes.
- Sprinkle fresh chopped green onions on top of chicken. Serve chicken, onions with rice, some flavorful greens like Ssukgat (chrysanthemum leaves) or Kkaetnip (Perilla) will work wonderfully.
Tips & Notes:
- Gluten Free version - use gluten free gochujang to make it gluten free
- If your breasts are large (8 oz or larger) then cut it horizontally into 2 thinner pieces OR pound it down to even thickness.
- Do NOT overcook chicken breasts. Check doneness of each piece and take out smaller pieces sooner.
- Recipe also works for thighs - Cook thighs a little longer (20 min or so).
- Sodium level - the sodium level is quite high because it calculates all of the marinade but as you know, lot of the marinade is discarded
- Serving Suggestions
- serve this with white rice and some fragrant greens like Perilla or Ssukat. Or have it with ssam (lettuce wraps)
- serve with quick fried rice and salad
- serve on top of salad. a crunchy salad mix or a more robust mix like kale and brussel sprouts work well. Lightly dress the salad with some olive oil and lemon juice.
- Freeze leftover uncooked or cooked chicken.
- Add leftover chicken bulgogi to fried rice.