No offense to Colonel Sanders, but this spicy-sweet chicken crisped to perfection in a cast-iron skillet is our KFC of choice.

The unique properties of cast iron make it ideal for baking, sautéing, frying, slow cooking, and more.

Recipes that are designed for cast iron take into account slower heating times and longer heat retention. Where glass will keep your baked goods light, cast iron is the choice for when you want a screaming hot pan for searing or a terrific golden crust.

This Korean Fried Chicken, or, as it’s usually called, KFC, is magically delicious. You can play around with the amounts of garlic and ginger to make it perfect for your taste.

Korean Fried Chicken

Serves 4


  • 8–10 chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup sambal oelek, or to taste (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ⅔ cup cold water


  1. Toss the chicken thighs with the salt and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. To make the sauce, whisk together the minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sambal oelek, vinegar, and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, pour peanut oil into a 12-inch cast-iron pan, to 2 inches deep. Heat slowly over medium heat until it reaches 355°F/180°C. Arrange a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  4. To make the batter, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and cold water in a deep bowl.
  5. Working in three batches, dip the chicken thighs in the batter, let the excess drip off, and add to the hot oil. Fry, using tongs to turn the chicken as needed, until the chicken is golden, 6 to 8 minutes total. When done, place on the wire rack to cool.
  6. When all the chicken is fried, toss in the sauce and serve.

Sambal oelek (Asian chili paste) can be found in the Asian section of most markets.

Text and recipe excerpted from Cast-Iron Cooking © 2016 by Rachael Narins. Photos © Keller + Keller Photography. All rights reserved.

Rachael Narins

Rachael Narins, author of Cast-Iron Cooking, is a chef, culinary educator, and food writer based in Santa Monica. She is a graduate of the California… See Bio

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