Korean Spicy Chicken (Paleo & Gluten-Free)

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If you love a little heat kick with your poultry, this Korean spicy chicken is a must-try recipe. It’s inspired by the popular KFC (Korean fried chicken) and is gluten-free and paleo-friendly.

Korean spicy chicken recipe - paleo, gluten-free, less sugar version.

This dish is a total winner and will please both chicken and chilli lovers. It’s inspired by the ever-so-popular Korean Fried Chicken (a different kind of KFC), which is crispy deep-fried chicken smothered in a spicy sauce made with gochujang paste (more on this one later).

This recipe is a healthier version. A) I’m not deep-frying the chicken in unhealthy vegetable oils, and B) my chilli sauce is made with much cleaner ingredients and less sugar.

The taste is still A-mazing, and although a little spicy, it won’t make you break out in a sweat. It’s a mild and warm kind of spicy, very flavourful and on par with the original Korean-style chicken recipe.


How To Make Korean Spicy Chicken

Korean spicy chicken (inspired by KFC - Korean Fried Chicken) - paleo, gluten-free, low-sugar recipe

Using Korean Red Pepper

First, you have to make the sauce. Traditionally, gochujang paste is used as a base. It’s a savoury, spicy, and pungent fermented condiment made from Korean red pepper – also known as gochugaru – plus glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. 

It’s actually not so bad, especially as it uses fermented soy, but the problem is that many commercial brands of this paste also contain MSG and other added flavours and colours.

Instead, I am using Korean red pepper instead of the paste and adding other ingredients to mimic the flavour. You can find Korean red pepper in most Asian grocery stores and online on Amazon here.

It has smoky, fruity-sweet notes, with a hot kick but it’s not too spicy in my opinion. For chilli lovers, the heat is similar to New Mexico or Poblano peppers, Indian Kashmiri red pepper is also quite similar.

Korean spicy chicken sauce

Korean red pepper is a great addition to your pantry as it can be used to make kimchi or can be added to stir-fries and stews. You can use regular chilli powder as well but make sure to adjust the amount depending on how hot your powder is. Korean red chilli powder is mild.


Other Ingredients For Korean Chicken

The rest of the ingredients are pretty accessible and once you have everything you need, the recipe is very easy. If you’re shopping on Amazon, I like this brand of fish sauce and this Tamari sauce.

I used chicken thigh meat as it’s more affordable but you can easily make this recipe with chicken wings or drumsticks (you could bake the meat in the oven first and then toss it through the sauce), or you can make kebabs with chicken breast meat, grilled on the BBQ and brushed over with the sauce.

Grilled prawns or pork chops will also go well with this spicy Korean sauce. Basically, it’s super versatile and you can always make a bigger batch to store in the fridge.


More Healthy Asian Chicken Recipes

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Korean fried chicken

Koren Spicy Chicken – Paleo Style

  • Author: Irena Macri
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Korean


Enjoy a little heat and lots of flavour with this Korean spicy chicken that is paleo, gluten-free and low in sugar. Serve with cauliflower rice, steamed Asian greens or a salad. Regular rice or rice noodles for non-paleo sides.


  • 600 g / 1.3 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

For the spicy sauce

  • 1/2 small red onion, roughly diced
  • 2cm long fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly diced (about 1 tablespoon grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly diced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tamari sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon mirin or rice wine (optional)
  • 3 teaspoons Korean red powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Chopped spring onions/scallions


Season the chicken with a little sea salt and set aside.

Add the sauce ingredients to a blender or a food processor. Blend together until fairly smooth, then scrape into a small saucepan. If you don’t have a blender, grate the onion, ginger and garlic and mix well with the rest of the ingredients.

Add the sesame seeds to a clean frying pan. Heat over medium heat. Toast for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until the seeds brown slightly. Remove to a bowl.

Heat a dollop of coconut oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side.

In the meantime, place the pot with the sauce over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. This will thicken the sauce and cook some of the ingredients such as onion, garlic and ginger, making those flavours more subtle.

Once the chicken has cooked on each side, add the sauce over the top and stir through. Cook together for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times. The sauce will caramelise and get even more sticky. Finally, sprinkle with some of the sesame seeds and stir through. Then top with green onion and the rest of the sesame seeds.

Serve with cauliflower rice or white rice if you wish and some greens.


The spicy sauce in this recipe uses Korean red pepper but you can use another type of mild red chilli powder. Make sure it’s mild! Otherwise, reduce the amount to 1-2 teaspoons.


  • Serving Size: 200 g of chicken
  • Calories: 401
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Sodium: 1899.7 mg
  • Fat: 15.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.5 g
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 43.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 188 mg
Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. Here at Cooked & Loved you will find simple, delicious recipes worth sharing. From new dishes to old-time favourites with a twist, this is the food I cook and love. More about me here. Sign up for my newsletter here.

PS. Some posts contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

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  1. Hi Irena!

    This will be our meal for tomorrow! I have all ingredients at home (except fish sauce and corean red pepper) and it sounds fast and easy to prepare. I will make some broccoli and aubergine als a Seide and cauliflower rice and Tell you hör it was!

  2. It was delicious. My husband said three times: This is extremely delicious! We will have this more often.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe, thanks! I’ll have to hunt down the Korean red powder for next time, but paprika and a bit of chill flakes worked well. Amazing! And so easy to prepare!

    1. Thanks Linda! I’m glad you made it just as well without the Korean red powder. Good to know it tasted delicious anyway.

  4. I marinated my chicken in the sauce for the day, then grilled them on the bbq. I did sub homemade gochujang for the tomato paste, and they were so tasty. Thanks for a great recipe!

  5. This is an absolute winner and has become one of our favourite Chicken dinners!
    I first got the recipe from your newsletter and tracked down the Korean Chilli paste while touring in our caravan in an Asian store in Tamworth. It is so easy to cook (even in the caravan)and we have it with Cauliflower rice and some green veg on the side….yumyum… so good! Thank you for the recipe!

  6. This was absolutely delicious!! I made double the sauce (thank god!) to use on other things this week. I’ll be spooning this on about everything!

    1. Good idea, Meg! I imagine it would go nicely with other protein and even in salad dressings or in a stir-fry.

  7. Finally bought the Korean chili powder on Amazon to make this. The higher quality chili powder grown in Korea (not China) was pricey, but it was worth it! Already making it again!

  8. Hi there. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. I made this just now and it was finger lickin good! My husband could not get enough.

  9. Do you have to add a T. of cornstarch so that it will thicken? I didn’t think sauces thickened without cornstarch or flour?

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