Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao

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You won’t be able to stop eating this Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao – super soft steamed buns with a deliciously spicy breaded chicken, red onion, and cucumber.

korean chicken bao

We’ve already expressed how much we love Korean fried chicken – especially how great it turns out in the air fryer. But now we’ve gone and put it in a boa, and it’s threatening to break the internet.

Run, don’t walk, to the store to get some bao, or make it yourself (it’s not THAT hard).

Why You’ll Love It

  • Korean flavors: This recipe is a great introduction to the vibrant and diverse world of Korean flavors.
  • Healthier: Air frying the chicken reduces the need for excessive oil, making this Korean fried chicken a healthier option than traditional deep-frying. You’ll still get that satisfying crunch without the guilt.
  • Customizable: You can easily adjust the spiciness of the sauce or add different vegetables. If you can’t find bao, you can use a slider bun!

Ingredients You’ll Need

For the Chicken:

Ingredients for the chicken
  • Chicken Thighs – It’s best to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs that can easily be cut into smaller pieces.
  • Rice Vinegar – This gives the chicken a nice tangy flavor.
  • Soy Sauce – Use your favorite brand of soy sauce, I always prefer to use low-sodium to keep the saltiness down.
  • Ginger and garlic – Use fresh ginger and garlic, peeled and minced.
  • Salt & Ground Black Pepper – You can adjust the seasoning at the end to make it perfect for you.
  • All-Purpose Flour – The flour mixed with cornstarch helps give the chicken its crispiness.
  • Cornstarch – Cornstarch helps to crisp the chicken. You can use rice flour if you don’t have cornstarch.
  • Baking Powder – This also helps achieve maximum crispiness.
  • Bao buns – You can find these at Asian stores, usually in the freezer aisle.
  • Red onion – Use any onions you like, I like to add green onion as well.
  • Cucumber – Make matchsticks of a cucumber to help cool the flavors.

For the Sauce:

Ingredients for the sauce
  • Gochujang Paste – Gochujang paste is a key ingredient in Korean cooking and can be found in Asian grocery stores or online.
  • Ketchup – Use reduced sugar ketchup for a less sweet sauce.
  • Honey – Adjust the level of sweetness with more or less honey.
  • Soy Sauce – Use low-sodium
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Garlic – Minced
  • Garnish – Sesame seeds and green onions.

Equipment Information

  • Air fryer: I use this 4-quart basket-style air fryer. It’s large enough to fit a meal for 4-6. But some things need more space in the air fryer basket, so they cook evenly.
  • Kitchen tongs: It’s very easy to remove food from your air fryer with kitchen tongs. I use these kitchen tongs that are silicon coated so they don’t scratch the interior.
  • Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer. It’s so quick to open the basket and check the temp.
  • Mixing bowl: Medium sized. It just needs to be big enough to hold the chicken while you toss it with the sauce.
  • Sauce pan: Small. The sauce recipe only makes about 1/3 cup.
  • Whisk

Helpful Tips

  • Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Cook the chicken in batches if necessary, as overcrowding can result in uneven cooking and less crispy results.
  • If you like your Korean fried chicken extra spicy, increase the amount of gochujang paste. Conversely, if you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the gochujang or balance it with a bit more honey.
  • Chicken thighs are recommended for their juiciness, but you can also use boneless, skinless chicken.
  • For the most flavor, allow the chicken to marinate for at least 20 minutes. If time allows, marinate for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure to spray the air fryer basket well, before you add the chicken, You don’t want the coating to stick to the basket when you try to turn it over.
  • Be sure to use freshly steamed bao, which you can do in a steamer basket or the microwave.

How to Make Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

chicken marinating in a resealable bag

Mix the rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Shake to mix well. Add the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Step 2: Coat the Chicken

In another sealable plastic bag, mix the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. Transfer the chicken pieces into the flour bag (first shaking off excess marinade). Shake the bag to completely coat the chicken, then place the bag in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Make the Sauce

sauce ingredients in a sauce pan

Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken slightly.

Step 4: Air Fry

Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Shake the bag again to coat the chicken with flour. 

Spray the air fryer basket well with cooking oil. Transfer the chicken pieces to the air fryer basket, not touching if possible. Spritz the chicken pieces with oil. Air fry at 400ºF (200ºC) for 8 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over, spritz with more oil, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. The amount of time it takes will vary based on your air fryer and the size of the chicken pieces.

Step 5: Sauce the Chicken

air fryer korean chicken p8

When the chicken is done, transfer it to a bowl and toss to coat with the sauce.

Step 6: Steam the bao

Bring water to boil in a wok or steamer pot. Carefully place a steamer basket with the bao in it on top of the pot of boiling water. Make sure the water is not touching the bao. Cover and steam them for 8 to 12 minutes. Alternatively, you can put them in the microwave following the instructions on your packet.

Step 7: Assemble

Now put together the bao one by one. Add some chicken with plenty of sauce, then add in some onion and cucumber.

How to Store & Reheat

Storing

Fridge: To store leftovers, it’s best to have the Korean fried chicken separate from the bao so it doesn’t get soggy. So only assemble the ones that you know you will eat right away and leave the rest to be stored separately for later. allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container. Properly stored, it will remain good for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating

Air Fryer: For the best results, reheat Korean fried chicken in your air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F , and then cook for 4-6 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through. This will help maintain the crispy texture.

Steam the boa the same way you did the first time, either on the stove top or in the microwave.

Korean fried chicken bao

What Side Dishes to Serve?

You can serve some really easy side dishes with your main dish cooked in the Air Fryer. Sometimes, you can cook them together in the air fryer to make it even faster.

Some of our favorite side dishes to serve include:

Here are 28 more air fryer side dishes to try

Questions About the Recipe

What is the difference between Korean fried chicken and traditional fried chicken?

Korean Fried Chicken is typically double-fried, resulting in an extra crispy exterior. It’s also known for its unique sauces, such as gochujang or soy garlic, which give it a distinct flavor profile.

What is gochujang and where can I find it?

Gochujang is a Korean fermented red chili paste. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores, international sections of supermarkets, or online. If unavailable, you can use Sriracha or red pepper flakes as a substitute.

Can I reheat bao in the microwave?

While you can use the microwave to reheat bao, it’s best to make sure there is a steam element. We get a paper towel wet and ring it out. Place the damp paper towel over the plate of bao and put it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

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Korean fried chicken bao

Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao

Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao is a tasty steamed bun filled with spicy Korean fried chicken, onion, and cucumber.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating and Resting Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 530 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

For the chicken:

  • 1 pound (454 g) chicken thighs cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) fresh ginger minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (31 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (16 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking powder
  • 8 bao
  • 1/2 cucumber sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 slice red onion cut into fourths

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons (32 g) gochujang paste
  • 2 tablespoon (30 g) ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon (42 g) honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon (7 ml) soy sauce low sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 ml) rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced

Instructions
 

  • Mix the rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper in a sealable plastic bag. Shake to mix well. Add the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.
  • In another sealable plastic bag, mix the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder.
  • Transfer the chicken pieces into the flour bag (first shaking off excess marinade).
  • Shake the bag to completely coat the chicken, then place the bag in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
  • After 20 minutes, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Shake the bag again to coat the chicken with flour.
  • Preheat the air fryer at 400ºF (200ºC) for 5 minutes.
  • Spray the basket well with cooking oil. Transfer the chicken pieces to the air fryer basket, not touching if possible. Spritz the chicken pieces with oil so that there isn’t any dry spots.
  • Air fry for 8 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken pieces over so that you don’t know the coating off, spritz with more oil, and cook for another 5-7 minutes. The amount of time it takes will vary based on your air fryer and the size of the chicken pieces.
  • When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F(75°C), transfer it to a bowl and toss to coat with the sauce.
  • Steam the bao in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water or steam it in the microwave according to package instructions.
  • Assemble the bao with chicken, onion, and cucumber.

Notes

  • Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Cook the chicken in batches if necessary, as overcrowding can result in uneven cooking and less crispy results.
  • If you like your Korean fried chicken extra spicy, increase the amount of gochujang paste. Conversely, if you prefer a milder flavor, reduce the gochujang or balance it with a bit more honey.
  • Chicken thighs are recommended for their juiciness, but you can also use boneless, skinless chicken breast for a leaner option. Adjust cooking time slightly, as chicken breast tends to cook faster.
  • For the most flavor, allow the chicken to marinate for at least 20 minutes. If time allows, marinate for up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure to spray the air fryer basket well, before you add the chicken. You don’t want the coating to stick to the basket when you try to turn it over.
  • Be sure to use freshly steamed bao, which you can do in a steamer basket or the microwave.

All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.

Nutrition

Calories: 530kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 26gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 880mgPotassium: 378mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 171IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Chicken
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