Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage)


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July 20, 2022

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Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) was a highly requested recipe after the Chicken Karaage video! Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) is one of my favorite ways to make fried chicken – the chicken is super juicy and flavorful from the soy-sake marinade, and the potato starch makes for a crispy crust. This highly requested Air Fryer version came out so delicious and crispy!

Each bite is dipped in a spicy garlic mayo sauce – you’re going to love this one!

Watch the Air Fryer Chicken Karaage Recipe Video Below!

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken on a plate

Ingredients for Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage)

I love this chicken karaage recipe because only a few ingredients will make crispy, juicy chicken. Firstly, here are the ingredients you will need!

  • Chicken Thighs (I use skinless but you can keep the skin on as well!)
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Sake
  • Sesame Oil
  • White Pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Potato Starch
  • Neutral Oil Spray (I used avocado oil, but canola or vegetable oil will work as well!)

INGREDIENTS TIPS

SAKE
I haven’t found a substitute for sake that I love, as I find that it has a distinct flavor profile that is hard to replace in a recipe. You can try sherry, mirin, shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, or even chicken stock, but I would highly encourage you to use sake if you can.

WHITE PEPPER
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)

POTATO STARCH
This is a KEY ingredient in this recipe, as it is what makes for the unique crunch! I get mine from 99 Ranch but I’ve also seen it sold on Amazon. The bag may be labeled ‘potato starch’ or ‘katakuriko’. If you cannot find this, you can sub with tapioca flour or cornstarch – you can drizzle a little bit of marinade into the flour or starch to create some craggily bits.

JAPANESE MAYO (KEWPIE)
My favorite mayo is Japanese mayo or Kewpie – it’s different from ‘regular’ mayo as it uses only egg yolks (versus the whole egg) and rice vinegar. This means the mayo is richer, thicker, and has a sweet, tanginess to it that is irresistible! I love to have a bottle of this in my pantry at all times. You can sub with regular mayo if you don’t have it on hand – this will be used for the optional spicy garlic mayo dipping sauce!

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 2″ pieces. The larger pieces will ensure the chicken does not come out dry in the air fryer due to the longer cooking time. Make sure all the pieces are cut to similar sizes so they cook evenly.

Chicken cut into 2 inch pieces

Next, place the cut chicken thigh into a bowl with soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, black pepper, salt, grated garlic and ginger. Mix well with your hands and let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge (overnight for best results and flavor).

Marinated chicken in a bowl with soy sauce, sake, garlic, and ginger

Coat the Chicken In Potato Starch

Potato starch (Katakuriko) is the key to great Japanese Fried Chicken! The potato starch gives the chicken a deliciously light crust vs. cornstarch or flour. Here is a brand that I look for in my Asian market.

After the chicken is marinated, coat the chicken in the potato starch and pack in the dredge so it sticks to the chicken. You don’t want to see any bald spots on the chicken!

Chicken thigh coated in potato starch

Air Fry the Chicken

When air frying chicken, you still need some oil for the batter to get crispy. A neutral oil spray will be your best friend. I used avocado oil spray, but any neutral oil spray will work such as canola or vegetable oil.

First, spray the air fryer basket tray with a layer of oil to help prevent the chicken from sticking. Carefully lay down the chicken pieces into the basket tray, then give the top of the chicken a generous spray of oil. Cook the chicken at 350F for 10 minutes.

chicken thigh getting sprayed with oil in an air fryer

Double Fry the Chicken

After the first “fry” in the air fryer, the chicken pieces should look a little crispy as shown below. Give the chicken pieces a flip then another spray of neutral oil. Then air fryer a second time at 400F for another 8-10 minutes until they are crispy!

Chicken karaage cooking in an air fryer

This was the final result – look just how incredibly crispy that chicken is! You can also watch the video for audio evidence as well šŸ™‚

Chicken karaage in an air fryer
Close Up of chicken karaage in an air fryer

For the dipping sauce, make sure you are using Japanese mayo which is made from only from egg yolks vs. typical American mayonnaise which uses the whole egg. The brightness from the lemon really elevates this dipping sauce to compliment the crispy, savory chicken.

Mix the ingredients well and serve with the freshly “fried” Chicken Karaage!

Spicy Garlic Mayo sauce ingredients on a table

If you liked this Chicken Karaage recipe, check out some of the most popular fried chicken recipes on the blog!

Close up of air fryer chicken karaage on a plate with lemon

RECIPE TIPS

PACK IN YOUR DREDGE (But not too thick)
Make sure your chicken has no bald spots and is well coated, but there is no need to pack the chicken in like when regular frying. Refer to the dredging picture above (this is what you’re going for)! This will be enough to give it that air fryer crunch without all the oil!

NEUTRAL OIL SPRAY
Neutral oil spray is a MUST here. You need a little bit of oil spray to allow the batter to “fry” in the air fryer. When air frying, periodically look for dry spots on the chicken and give them another spray of oil if needed.

LEMON JUICE
This is optional but I like to squeeze a little lemon juice over the karaage before eating. I find that the lemon juice gives a nice brightness and acidity that balances nicely with the fried chicken. Give it a try if you haven’t done this before!

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken on a plate

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage)

Chicken Karaage, or Japanese Fried Chicken, is coated in potato starch and double air "fried" to perfection! My spicy garlic mayo sauce is a perfect spicy, lemony compliment to the crispy chicken
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Marinating Time 1 hr
Servings 4

Ingredients
 
 

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken thigh cut into 2" pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 tbsp ginger grated
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • neutral oil for frying; I used avocado oil
  • lemon wedge optional

Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tbsp Japanese mayo
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cut boneless chicken thigh into 2" pieces.
  • Marinate with garlic, ginger, light soy sauce, sake, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Take 1 cup of potato starch (katakuriko) and dredge chicken. Make sure to coat the chicken well ensuring there are no bald spots. Shake off any excess potato starch.
  • Using a neutral oil spray, spray the tray of your air fryer basket with a layer of oil. Carefully place the chicken down on a single layer of the basket.
  • Air Fry the chicken at 350F for 10 minutes. Give the chicken a flip, then spray the other side with more neutral oil spray. Air fry again at 400F for another 8-10 minutes until golden and crisp.
  • OPTIONAL: Mix together Japanese mayo, sriracha, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper for an amazing spicy mayo dipping sauce.
  • OPTIONAL: Squeeze fresh lemon juice over chicken before serving.
Keyword chicken, fried chicken
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