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These delicious Korean 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 rice, or opt for low-carb cauliflower rice for a paleo meal. You will LOVE them!
And the next time you have the grill out, give this Korean bbq chicken recipe a try!
We could honestly talk about how good these Korean chicken thighs are until we're blue in the face! Actually, don't take our word for it – here's what recipe testers have to say:
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.~Jessie F.
Oh boy. The flavours were fantastic. I’m already plotting when I can make it again and we only just finished dinner.~ KC Simpson
- All aboard the flavor train: Between the slightly spicy and salty gochujang paste, the sweet honey, and savory soy sauce and sesame oil these Korean chicken thighs are a winning flavor combination. The spice from the fermented chili paste has a slight kick to it, but it's truly a dish the whole family can enjoy!
- Easy & inexpensive: This recipe has 4 steps and only 10 minutes of prep time, making it a great weeknight option. Not to mention, chicken thighs are usually less expensive than chicken breasts and many of the ingredients needed you likely have in your pantry or on the door of your fridge.
- Versatile: These chicken thighs can be served over rice or sliced and tossed on a salad for a lighter meal. If you're following a paleo diet, you can easily make your own gochujang or use a variety that is paleo-friendly. This is a delicious paleo option served over cauliflower rice! If your household is gluten-free, you can order gluten-free gochujang to make these Korean chicken thighs.
Is this a traditional Korean chicken thighs recipe?
This is a chicken thigh recipe that uses Korean flavors. To achieve the taste associated with Korean food, we use gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. It's a delicious combination.
What is gochujang?
Gochujang has been compared to a combination of sriracha and miso. Ingredients like dried chili powder, soybeans, and rice are fermented for months, to form a potent paste. It's spicy and slightly sweet.
Because of its strong flavors it's usually used with other ingredients, and often found in marinades, stir fries, sauces, soups, and stews.
7 ingredients are all you need to make this sticky, spicy-sweet chicken dish:
- Honey: 3 tablespoons of honey adds enough sticky-sweetness to balance the salty and savory flavors in this dish.
- Gochujang: Add 3 tablespoons of gochujang (homemade, store-bought, paleo, or gluten-free varieties will work perfectly) to give your chicken a distinct spicy, funky, salty quality.
- Soy Sauce: Add a tablespoon of soy sauce, or coco aminos if you're making paleo chicken thighs, or tamari if going gluten-free. This adds another layer of flavor and depth to the marinade.
- Sesame oil: Is there any better smell than sesame oil? Just a teaspoon will go a long way in adding a nutty and sweet component to the sauce.
- Ginger & garlic: Time to add a fresh zing to the chicken by incorporating 2 finely minced cloves of fresh garlic and a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger.
- Skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are a great cut to use for this recipe as they stay tender and juicy as the sauce caramelizes in the oven.
- Optional garnishes: To finish off the dish, you can optionally toss some sesame seeds and sliced green onions over top.
How to make Korean chicken thighs
This is one of those wonderful recipes that's so forgiving, it's really hard to muck it up. It's also a one-pot dish, which gets bonus points in our books! Follow these simple steps for delicious chicken every time:
- Make the glaze: In the baking dish you choose to cook your chicken in, put all of the ingredients for the glaze (honey, gochujang, coco aminos, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic) and mix.
- Marinate: Add the chicken thighs to the marinade and let them sit for 1-24 hours.
- Bake & broil: Once the chicken is done marinating, pop it in the oven to bake for 20 mins. Turn the oven to broil for another handful of minutes.
- Option to thicken the sauce: If you want a nice thick sauce, pour the marinade from the bottom of the baking dish into a pan and boil until it thickens up. Pour it over the chicken and continue to broil.
- Garnish & enjoy!
How to make these chicken thighs paleo/gluten-free?
One of the best parts about this recipe is how versatile it is. You can adapt this recipe to suit your household's needs as follows:
Korean paleo chicken thighs:
- To make this a paleo-friendly recipe, start by using a paleo gochujang paste. Gochujang has glutenous rice (and sometimes wheat) in it that ferments over time to add to the sweetness of the paste, so you will want to find a paleo-specific chili paste for these Korean chicken thighs or consider making your own.
- Consider if you want to serve your chicken as is, or if you want to serve it with something. A perfect vehicle or accompaniment to your paleo chicken thighs is this cauliflower rice.
Gluten-free Korean chicken thighs:
- For the same reason traditional gochujang isn't an option for those who follow the paleo diet, the wheat in the paste means a gluten-free gochujang is what you'll need instead.
- For a gluten-friendly marinade replace the soy sauce with tamari.
- Consider serving your Korean chicken thighs with a salad, roasted broccoli, cauliflower rice, or sweet potato fries.
More recipes using gochujang
What to serve with Korean chicken
Let's make it a whole meal! Alongside your Korean gochujang chicken, here's some other tasty sides sure to please the entire table:
- Ginger Rice or Cauliflower Rice
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Miso Tahini Butter
- Crispy Eggplant Fries
- Spicy Long Beans
- Asian Salad with sesame ginger dressing
- Avocado Cucumber Salad
And for dessert:
Can I use another cut of chicken other than chicken thighs?
You can definitely make this recipe using other cuts of chicken, like drumsticks or breasts. That said, since the thighs are a tender cut they will perform better in the oven as the gochujang sauce has time to caramelize and crisp up.
What can I use instead of gochujang?
You can use miso paste (made from fermented soybeans, so some of the flavors will be replicated) or sriracha, in a pinch!
How to store leftover Korean chicken thighs
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in your fridge for 3-4 days.
Can I freeze Korean gochujang chicken?
Absolutely! You can follow the recipe to step number 2 and then pop the chicken in the freezer. Thaw the chicken before baking when you're ready to eat it.
- In a medium-sized baking dish, mix the honey, gochujang, coco aminos, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic.3 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons gochujang – Korean chili paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger, 2 cloves garlic, 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Add the chicken thighs and mix them around in the marinade. Let the chicken marinate for 1-24 hours in your fridge.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken from your fridge and let it come to room temperature while your oven preheats. Bake the chicken for 20 minutes. Turn your oven to broil and broil the chicken for another 5-10 minutes, until the chicken starts to darken.
- OPTIONAL STEP: For a thicker sauce, pour the sauce from the baking dish into a small frying pan and boil it rapidly for 3-4 minutes, until it thickens. Baste the chicken with the thickened sauce and broil it for a few minutes, until it turns dark red.
- Serve the chicken with sesame seeds and sliced green onions on top.Sesame seeds and sliced green onions
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.