Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage)

4.91 from 11 votes
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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!

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken on a plate

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!

Ingredients for Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage)

I love this Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (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!)
  • 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 not 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.
  • Neutral Oil Spray (I used avocado oil, but canola or vegetable oil will work as well!)

Optional Dipping Sauce

  • Mayo – 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!

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Cut the Chicken

The first step in making Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) 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!

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.

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 the Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) are crispy!

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

Spicy Garlic Mayo sauce ingredients on a table

Make the Dipping Sauce!

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!

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


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 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.

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!

If you liked this Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) recipe, check out some of the most popular fried chicken recipes on the blog!

If you tried this Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Chicken Karaage) or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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4.91 from 11 votes

Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken (Karaage)

Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Air Fryer Japanese Fried Chicken on a plate
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



  • 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


  • 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 and spray the chicken with the neutral oil spray.
  • 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.


Calories: 421kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 23gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 1221mgPotassium: 693mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 100IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This chicken was sooo yummy and juicy. Only very few restaurants in the Netherlands can nail this dish, so being able to make it even better than the places i’ve been to was a nice surprise. I ate the freaking whole batch with 2 persons when 4 easily could have eaten

  2. Please ignore my previous question – I’m just dumb. I used the duplicate button which obviously only changes the ingredients, not the instructions… Anyway, I’m curious about the outcome now, the other comments are promising. 🙂