Sweet Korean Paleo Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower Rice
These delicious Korean Paleo Chicken Thighs are marinated in a sweet and smoky chili paste called gochujang and make an easy and healthy weeknight meal. Serve them with a side of low carb cauliflower rice. You will LOVE them!
Winner winner, chicken dinner! Do you see those sweet, juicy, Korean paleo chicken thighs right there? You want to make those.
This recipe has become my go-to quick and easy weeknight dinner for the past few weeks. I've made this same recipe with chicken breasts, drumsticks, and chunks of chicken, but boneless thighs win. The thighs manage to stay juicy and tender long enough for the sauce to start to caramelize and turn extra sweet.
I've made this Korean paleo chicken using a Korean chili paste called gochujang. Fermented chilis give it the most fantastic, slightly smoky flavor. It's also not nearly as hot as fermented chili paste might sound.
I buy gochujang from a little market up the road; most well-stocked supermarkets should carry it as well as any Asian food store.
I have to be honest; I only tried gochujang for the first time about a month ago. Since then I've become obsessed and am already on my second jar. I polished off the first jar after making this Korean paleo chicken thighs recipe on repeat for two weeks straight. It's seriously that good.
Update: Since sharing this recipe nearly two years ago, I've gone through 487 jars of gochujang. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. I have cooked with tons of gochujang since and made this recipe more times than I can count.
Here's what you need to know about these paleo chicken thighs: they're super easy to make. Honestly, I no longer measure any of the ingredients. I eyeball everything and they always turn out. I supposed it helps that there are only six ingredients in the sauce.
They always have that sweet/ spicy/ smoky winning flavor combo. Seriously, is there anything better in the world than that combination. It gets me every time!
How do you guys feel about cauliflower rice?
I first started making cauliflower rice bout six months ago, and I couldn't believe how much it is like the real thing. I mean, it's not EXACTLY like the real thing. If you were to ask my handsome man, he'd tell you it's not anything like real rice. But then, he loves rice.
I've never been a huge fan of rice, so the subtle differences don't bother me at all. It reminds me of slightly overcooked rice that's missing the bite it normally has.
Even if you don't eat a paleo diet, it's hard not to love how healthy it is for you. A cup of cauliflower has only 25 calories and is full of vitamin C, K, and folate along with tons of other good for you vitamins and minerals. Plus you get to cross off another serving of your daily veggies. Big-time win.
I normally count on 2 cups of uncooked cauliflower rice to be the perfect size for a dinner side. That's for one person (me!) since there's always a pot of basmati on for my guy.
If you want, you can freeze uncooked riced cauliflower in individual portion sizes. I do this as it makes my life so much easier and I'm less likely to cave into convenience and eat regular rice. I have to warn you though, once you freeze cauliflower it becomes very cauliflower-y when you thaw it. And I don't mean in a good way. I don't mind it much, but if you're even a little on the fence about cauliflower rice, stick to making it fresh.
Back to these Korean Paleo Chicken Thighs …
Please promise me you'll make them. They have been such a hit with my family and I'd love for your family to fall in love with them, too.
Normally, when I make them I serve them exactly as they are here. Sometimes I'll switch things up and make roast potatoes instead of the cauliflower rice. Once in a while, I'll make a big salad and serve the chicken sliced over top of the salad.
If you're looking for more delicious ways to use the rest of your jar of gochujang, try these recipes: Smoky Gochujang Korean BBQ Chicken, Grilled Gochujang Pork Chops with Mint Watermelon Salad, Gochujang Pulled Pork Korean Pizza, or Crock Pot Korean Gochujang Pork. They are all amazing!
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Easy to make paleo chicken dinner recipes:
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- 20 Minute Cashew Chicken Zoodles
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Skewers with Coconut Cauliflower Rice
- Asian Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner
- Spinach Lemon Cauliflower Rice Risotto with Spicy Garlic Prawns
- Italian Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
- Sweet and Spicy Paleo Chicken Fingers
Sweet Korean Paleo Chicken Thighs
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- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons gochujang – Korean chili paste, see notes
- 1 tablespoon coco aminos, sub soy sauce if not paleo
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Sesame seeds and sliced green onions, to serve
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
- Sea salt, to taste
- In a small bowl, mix the honey, gochujang, coco aminos, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Add the chicken thighs and mix so they are coated in the sauce. Let the chicken marinate for 1-24 hours in your fridge. Note: If you don't have time to marinate the chicken mix all the marinade ingredients then pour it over the chicken after you add it to the baking dish.3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons gochujang – Korean chili paste, 1 tablespoon coco aminos, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Line an 8×11 baking dish with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pour the chicken and all the marinade into the prepared baking dish and move the chicken around, so it is in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning a few times. The chicken will be cooked through at this time but to get a nice dark red chicken you can broil it at 425 degrees for another 10-15 minutes, this is how I like it best. If you aren't able to control the temperature that your oven broils at, make sure to keep a close eye on it and reduce the cooking time so the honey in the marinade doesn't burn.
- While the chicken is cooking, prepare the cauliflower rice. Working in batches pulse the cauliflower in your food processor until it resembles rice. If you don't have a food processor, you can grate or finely mince the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower rice to a large frying pan over medium heat and add ¼ cup of water. Cover the pot and let the cauliflower steam for 6-8 minutes, or until it is soft. Remove the cauliflower from the heat and season to taste with sea salt.1 large cauliflower
- Serve the chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onions and some cauliflower rice on the side.Sesame seeds and sliced green onions
I’ve made this several times and it’s excellent.
Today, I any going with pork loins. The only addition I made was adding Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru) to kick it up. Mmmm.
This was a little too spicy for me, but the flavor was delicious. Is there a way to mail ain’t he flavor but reduce the heat? I was worried reducing the amount of gochujang paste would affect flavor.
I’ve found that some gochujang paste is more spicy than others. If you reduce it, you could add a little more coco aminos and sesame oil to boost up the flavor.
I just whipped this up and it was DELICIOUS! I used Thai red curry because it’s what I had on hand. Still turned out so yummy.
Could Kimchi paste be substituted?
We haven’t tried it but it sounds delicious!
Hands down the best chicken recipe I can remember making. It brings the heat and sweet and made me think I was eating at a restaurant. This will be added to my normal dinner rotation.
Your link to the gluten-free gochujang is no longer active. Do you have another link for that?
Hi! Yes, we found this gluten-free gochujang as a replacement.
Have you tried freezing this chicken in the sauce and reheating it for an even quicker meal?
I haven’t but I suspect that it would work well!
Oh boy. The flavours were fantastic. I’m already plotting when I can make it again and we only just finished dinner. I did use a bit less honey because I ran out but the flavours were still fantastic although the sauce was probably a bit thinner.
Love this recipe. I make it a lot.
I do have a question. – does the nutrition info include the cauliflower rice?
Yes, it’s for both. 🙂
All I could find in a pinch was go chu jang sauce. Can that be used in place of the paste or paste is better?
I haven’t tried the sauce but I suspect that it wouldn’t have quite as much flavor and will be a little thinner. It should work, but it might not coat the chicken quite as well. If it’s quite thin, you may want to try boiling it for a few minutes to thicken it up before using it. 🙂
go chu jang sauce is the sauce made of go chu jang, vinegar, sugar and some other ingredients. As I am Korean, in my opinion, you shouldn’t use go chu jang sauce as the substitute of go chu jang. I am quite sure the taste and flavor would turn out quite differently.
These are AMAZING! So glad I found this recipe. That sauce is magical. I Meade a double batch…I may just make an extra batch of the sauce and use it for a dipping sauce. Yum!
would I be able to cook this in the airfryer ? Would you recommend cooking mostly all the way in the oven then putting in air fryer for a few mins to let it crisp up?
thanks! can’t wait to try the recipe!
You could definitely try that. Let us know if the air fryer version works for you!
Confused…it says bake @ 425° then broil at 425°?
Sorry for the confusion! It’s just changing where the heat is coming from. When baking, the heat comes from the bottom. When broiling, it comes from the top and is what you want to get the darker caramelized bits on top of the chicken. If you can’t control the temperature your oven broils, just keep a super close eye on the chicken when you broil it.
After the chicken was in the marinade our oven broke. I used boneless skin-on thighs and did them in the Sous vide 167/2, marinade and all. Then ice bath 30 minutes, thickened the juices from the bag and OH MY!!!! Absolutely delicious!
Love this recipe and make it on a regular basis. Never fails and very easy to make.
Fantastic recipe. Made this tonight; the marinade/sauce is a perfect balance. Will save it and make it again. Thanks!
Would I be able to make this in a crock pot?
I suspect that you could. The sauce might be a bit thin but you could always thicken it by simmering it on the stovetop to reduce it.
OK so far so good… I’ve got the chicken in the marinade in the fridge. But now I’m wondering… How about grilling us on the barbecue? I mean would that make it even more unbelievably delicious?
Love BBQ! Just keep an eye on the temp to make sure the sugars in the sauce don’t burn before the chicken fully cooks. 🙂