Japanese-Style Fried Chicken Thighs (Gluten-Free Karaage) Recipe

Light and crispy Japanese fried chicken. Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Butterflying and scoring the chicken thighs makes for better absorption of the marinade and more even cooking.
  • The marinade combines classic karaage ingredients with American buttermilk for added tenderness.
  • A double-dredging of potato starch makes the chicken extra crisp.

Karaage is Japanese-style fried chicken made with a flavorful soy-based marinade. It comes out light, crispy, and full of flavor. If you've never cooked with potato starch, this recipe will convince you that you must keep it in your pantry at all times. Once you've tried this, you will never make fried chicken any other way.

Recipe Facts



Active: 45 mins
Total: 12 hrs
Serves: 3 to 4 servings

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  • 1/2 cup (120g) buttermilk

  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons (33g) gluten-free soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon (14g) Asian sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon (13g) light brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) fine sea salt

  • 6 medium chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds or 1kg)

  • 3 cups (552g) potato starch

  • Rice bran oil or peanut oil for deep-frying


  1. Put buttermilk, ginger, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.

  2. Lay one chicken thigh skin side down on a cutting board, with the bone running vertically, and use a sharp paring knife to cut down the center to the bone, from top to bottom. Gently slide the knife horizontally to the left to butterfly the meat, being careful not to cut all the way through it. Carefully open the flap and lightly score the meat in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through the meat. Repeat on the right side of the thigh. Add the thigh to the bowl with the marinade and repeat with the remaining 5 thighs.

  3. Mix the thighs and marinade together, coating each piece thoroughly. Transfer the meat and marinade to a large zipper-lock bag, press out as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Put the bag in a shallow bowl in the refrigerator and marinate for 12 to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally to distribute the marinade evenly.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a wire rack on another baking sheet. Put the potato starch in a large bowl.

  5. Remove one chicken thigh from the marinade, brushing off any pieces of garlic, ginger, or scallion, and add to the potato starch. The marinade clinging to the chicken will help the starch adhere to the meat. Roll the thigh in the potato starch, coating it thoroughly, then put it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining thighs. Then, beginning with the first thigh, dredge each one a second time in the potato starch and return it to the parchment-lined pan.

  6. Set a large cast iron skillet on the stovetop and add 1 1/2 inches of oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375°F (190°C). Once the oil has come to temperature, add 2 or 3 chicken thighs to the skillet, depending on its size (be careful not to crowd the pan), and fry for about 8 minutes, until the bottom sides are golden brown. Flip the thighs and cook for another 8 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown on the other side. Transfer to the rack set over the baking sheet and slide into the oven to keep warm. Fry the remaining chicken thighs, transferring them to the oven as they are done. If not serving immediately, turn off the oven and prop the oven door open a crack so that the thighs remain warm and crisp.

  7. Put the fried chicken on a platter and serve family style, with your favorite accompaniments.

Special equipment

baking sheets, parchment paper, wire rack, large cast iron skillet or chicken fryer, instant-read thermometer

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
833 Calories
49g Fat
45g Carbs
57g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 833
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 49g 63%
Saturated Fat 13g 64%
Cholesterol 285mg 95%
Sodium 771mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 57g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 91mg 7%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 1146mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)