AMAZING Vegan Fried Chicken Recipe (2 Korean Sauces)

Vegan. Fried. Chicken.

Need I say more?

Probably not, but I will anyway. 😘

People always ask me what food I miss the most since going vegan and I’m not gonna lie–fried chicken is very high up there. In fact, the very last morsel of meat I ate was a fried chicken sandwich and since going vegan, while I don’t do it often, seitan chicken is the only seitan product I’ll eat.

This recipe for vegan fried chicken, however, contains:

  • No seitan
  • No vital wheat gluten
  • No highly processed fake meats

Moreover, this recipe isn’t for any ordinary or traditional fried chicken.

We’re going to make some KOREAN vegan fried chicken!! This vegan fried chicken will be:

  • Savory
  • Spicy
  • Sweet
  • Tart

Without further ado, let’s get to the BEST vegan fried chicken you’ll ever eat!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links for products I use and love. If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I may earn a small affiliate commission, perhaps enough to buy some extra gochujang or gochugaru 🙂

What Makes This Vegan Fried Chicken Korean?


If you’ve ever watched a Korean drama, you’ve likely heard of the phrase “chi-mek,” which is shorthand for “fried chicken and beer.” Fried chicken is no longer reserved for Korean palaces–it’s food for the masses. And I was definitely included in those “masses”–growing up, Korean fried chicken was, for a while, my favorite food, one that I requested at every single birthday.

But what makes fried chicken Korean fried chicken?

According to a writer for the New York Times, Korean fried chicken has a “thin, crackly and almost transparent crust.” Although today’s Korean fried chicken is quite a bit different from what it was back in the 15th century, fried chicken has been a part of Korean cuisine since the Goryeo Dynasty. With a golden brown and extremely crispy exterior, Korean fried chicken is served plain or “yangnyeom” style–coated in a sweet, savory, and/or spicy sauce, made of soy sauce, gochujang, or even Korean bbq sauce (why not?).

In my view, having eaten a lot of Korean fried chicken before going vegan, I would say the main differences between Korean fried chicken and regular fried chicken are the following:

  • Korean fried chicken tends to be crispier
  • Korean fried chicken has a distinctly savory flavor
  • Korean fried chicken is often coated in different sauces

If this is your first time ever having Korean fried chicken (even if this is a vegan chicken recipe), you are in for a TREAT!!

Key Ingredients and Notes on Substitutions for this Vegan Fried Chicken Recipe.

The following are the key ingredients for this vegan fried chicken recipe, including notes on potential substitutions:

For the “Chicken“:

Ok, first thing’s first: what are we using for the “chicken” in this vegan fried chicken recipe?

Oyster mushrooms.

I’ve tried a lot of different whole food alternatives to the real thing, and I’ve concluded that fried oyster mushrooms offer the closest thing to a “chicken-like texture” for purposes of vegan recipes. And yes, I’ve tried twice frozen extra firm tofu (and even have a crispy fried tofu recipe inspired by Korean fried chicken wings), jackfruit, lion’s mane mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, and mish-mashed combinations of the same, but to me, the best recipes for vegan fried chicken begin and end with oyster mushrooms.

I specifically steered away from “chick’n pieces,” seitan like products, or other processed meat alternatives because I want as many people to be able to make this as possible. Mushrooms are far easier to acquire (I hope…) than “Beyond Chicken” and don’t require advance preparation (making seitan looks terrifyingly difficult).

That said, if you’re having trouble finding oyster mushrooms, you can substitute with:

  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Lion’s mane mushrooms
  • Enoki mushrooms

Tip: I like to pick out oyster mushrooms that are a little soft and look a bit worse for wear. The “fresher” and “newer” looking mushrooms tend to be less flavorful and stiffer, making your vegan fried chicken very tough.

For the Marinade:

Like traditional fried chicken, some oyster mushrooms can be stringy, tough, and not altogether pleasant to chew. Moreover, we want to take every opportunity to infuse our “chicken” with as much flavor as possible, even before it’s coated with seasoned flour and cooked in hot oil. This ensures that every bite of your vegan fried chicken is a maximized flavor detonation.


To that end, the marinade for this vegan fried chicken (Korean style) will include the following:

  • Soju. What is soju? Traditionally, soju was a rice wine, but nowadays, soju is made out of all sorts of grains: rice, barley, sweet potato, and even tapioca. Usually sold in green bottles at Korean BBQ restaurants, soju is kind of like “Korean vodka,” but a little sweeter. Soju will not only help with tenderizing any stringy pieces of mushroom, it’ll add intense and distinct flavor to your “chicken.” If you must substitute, I would use sake. If you want to avoid hard liquor, you can substitute mirin.
  • Soy Sauce. Soy sauce will inject another dose of massive flavor to your mushrooms. I prefer using soup soy sauce (a lighter colored soy sauce) so as to avoid excessively dark “chicken meat,” but honestly, you can use whichever soy sauce you prefer. You can, of course, also substitute with coconut aminos.
  • Seasoning. The name of the game is flavor (in case you missed the memo). As such, we’re going to add (a) onion powder, (b) garlic powder, and (c) MSG. If you don’t want to use MSG (or don’t have any), you can always substitute with nutritional yeast.

For the Batter:

  • Tempura Flour Mix. The best way to achieve the crispy, crunchy texture unique to Korean fried chicken is to utilize a Korean tempura flour mix. You can find a pre-made tempura flour mix at Korean or Asian grocery stores or online. If you cannot get your hands on a tempura flour mixture, you can substitute with 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup corn starch, 2 tablespoons sweet white rice flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt. If you don’t want a wheat-based flour blend, you can also substitute with an all purpose gluten-free flour.
  • Corn Starch. One way to ensure maximum “cronch” is to utilize extra corn starch. All purpose flour can be a little “bready,” which is why cutting the dry ingredients with corn starch will make your vegan fried chicken extra crispy. If you don’t have corn starch, you can always substitute it with potato starch.
  • Seasoning Blend. In addition to what you added to the marinade, this vegan fried chicken recipe calls for a dynamic blend of seasoning and spices, including smoked paprika, white pepper, black pepper, a little sugar, and even more onion and garlic powders.

For the Sauces.

  • Soy Sauce. The first sauce is a “ganjang” or “soy sauce” based sauce (“Soy Glaze”). As with the marinade, you can use whatever kind of soy sauce you like or coconut aminos if you want something soy free.
  • Brown Rice Syrup. For my sweetener, I like to use brown rice syrup, as it gives the sauces a very earthy, rich flavor. You can, however, substitute with maple syrup, agave syrup, or whatever kind of syrup you prefer.
  • Brown Sugar. To create a bit of caramelization, we also use a little bit of brown sugar. You can skip this ingredient altogether or substitute with turbinado, coconut, or date sugar.
  • Potato Starch. For the Soy Glaze, you will need a little potato starch to make it “glaze-y.” If you don’t have potato starch, you can substitute with corn starch, though it will be less glaze-y and more sauce-y.
  • Gochujang. The second sauce will be a spicy sauce and thus naturally starts with gochujang. If you don’t have gochujang, you can substitute with gochugaru. If you have neither gochujang nor gochugaru, you can make a sauce that is not called “gochujang sauce.” I don’t have the recipe for that.
  • Ketchup. Look. I know they weren’t serving Ketchup coated fried chicken to the Emperor of Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, but honestly… if Korea still had royalty, I wouldn’t be surprised if palace chefs added a bit of this tomato based elixir to their recipes! Ketchup provides a brightness and tartness that cuts through the richness of the fried batter and pairs so well with gochujang. If you don’t have ketchup, substitute with some tomato paste.

For Frying:

This is a vegan fried chicken recipe. Accordingly, there will be frying involved (see below for thoughts on air-frying). Frying inevitably entails some oil. What kind of oil?

My favorite oil for a vegan fried chicken is peanut oil. But honestly, any neutral oil with a very high burn point will do (e.g., canola oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, soybean oil), since you’ll be cranking the heat up to 400° F. This is NOT the time to use olive oil (which has a lower relative burn point)!

How to Make Korean Vegan Fried Chicken.

Marinate Your Oyster Mushrooms.

The first thing you’ll want to do is get your oyster mushrooms marinating in its flavor bath. To prepare your mushrooms, you want to divide them into chunks, about the size of chicken wings or chicken thighs. I used to get worried that I was making them too small, but I’ve discovered over time that the smaller the pieces, the easier and tastier they are to eat!

After you’ve broken down your mushrooms into pieces, add all the ingredients to the marinate. Give the mushrooms a good stir with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated. Then, place them in an airtight container and let them sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. If you’ve gotten your hands on some particularly tough mushrooms, let them sit for up to 4 hours.

marinating oyster mushrooms

Prepare Your Breading Station.

While your mushrooms are marinating, you can prepare your breading station. For this vegan fried chicken recipe, I like to dredge my mushrooms in the dry ingredients, then coat them in batter, dredge them a second time, and finally drop them in extremely hot oil. Some Korean vegan fried chicken recipes simply coat the mushrooms in a wet batter.

I tried that method, too, and I just got some fancy mushroom tempura.

We don’t want mushroom tempura. We want vegan fried chicken. Hence the double dredge.

Luckily, the breading station comes together quite quickly and easily:

Whisk together the tempura mix, corn starch, sugar, and spices. Take 1/3 cup of that mixture and place it in a separate bowl. To that, add some soju until it has the consistency of pancake batter. And that’s it! Your breading station is complete!

Fry Your Vegan Fried Chicken.

checking temperature of frying oil with thermometer

To fry your vegan fried chicken, you want to add enough oil to your frying pan so that your “chicken” will not burn if it touches the bottom of your pan. Speaking of frying pan, I prefer to use a deep cast iron pan or a Dutch oven. Bring your oil to 375° F and for this, I would recommend using a thermometer. While all the various tricks of the trade can work for ordinary fried chicken, for Korean fried chicken, you want to make sure you’re using a hot enough oil to maximize crunch.

Once your oil is at the right temperature, dredge your mushrooms first by coating them completely in the flour mixture. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies–this is how you create flavor and crispiness! Then, dip it in your wet batter, followed by another dredge in the flour mixture. Then, drop the mushroom in the hot oil.


Now, in order to make sure your oil doesn’t get too cool, you will have to work in small batches. Do not overcrowd your pan–this will result in soggy vegan fried chicken, which will make you very sad. I do not want you to be sad. It will take more time, I know, but it’ll be worth it.

Cook your vegan fried chicken for about 3 minutes, flipping if necessary, until they are evenly golden brown. Remove them from the oil and set them on a cooling rack to drain any excess oil (yes, you can use a paper towel and yes, this will undermine some of the crispiness, so do so at your own risk). Repeat until you have fried all the mushroom pieces.

Once all the oyster pieces have been fried rice, you can set them aside to cool. If you’re making these for a dinner party, you can even store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Simply bring the vegan fried chicken back to room temperature about 30 minutes before service, because this vegan fried chicken recipe requires a second fry! Allowing the vegan fried chicken to cool completely helps with evaporating any residual liquid, optimizing our crunch factor.


Once your once-fried vegan fried chicken is at room temp again, bring your cooking oil up to 400° F before giving them a double-fry. This second fry doesn’t need to be as long as the first one–they should be good to go after about a minute. Set them on a cooling rack to drain before saucing them.

Make Your Sauces.

My favorite way to eat this vegan fried chicken is without any sauce. I’m telling you–the marinade and the breading is just that good. But, this is, after all, a Korean vegan fried chicken recipe, so we’re going to prepare 2 extremely easy sauces to go with it: (a) a Sweet Soy Glaze and (b) a Sweet and Spicy Sauce.

Sweet Soy Glaze.

For the Sweet Soy Glaze, simply whisk the soy sauce together with the brown rice syrup, brown sugar, minced garlic, potato starch, and a little water. When your vegan fried chicken is just about ready to serve, heat the liquid up over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently (to avoid clumps). Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until it thickens into a glaze.

Sweet & Spicy Sauce.

For the Sweet & Spicy Sauce, just whisk together the gochujang, ketchup, and brown rice syrup with a little water. When your vegan fried chicken is ready to serve, brush a little of the sauce on right before enjoying.

brushing sweet & spicy sauce onto vegan fried chicken

Video: Watch Me Make Vegan Fried Chicken (Korean Style)

Storing and Reheating Your Vegan Fried Chicken.

In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, they can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 days. To reheat them, you can stick them in an air-fryer for about 5 minutes at 400° F. You can also stick them in the microwave for about 2 minutes, but they will no longer be very crunchy. I would not try refrying them, as both the soy sauce and the gochujang will burn and turn quite bitter.

If I were you… I’d just eat them cold. They’re delicious! Or stick them between two pieces of bread and have yourself a vegan fried chicken sando!

close up shot of vegan fried chicken being pulled apart

Frequently Asked Questions.

Can I use an air-fryer to make vegan fried chicken?

Yes. Simply follow all of the same instructions but in lieu of using a pan for frying the vegan fried chicken, generously mist the breaded pieces with cooking spray. Add some cooking spray to the bottom of your air-fryer as well. Place the pieces, in one layer, in your air fryer (preheated, if necessary–mine doesn’t need that) at 400° F for about 10 minutes.

Can I use gluten-free flour for the flour mix?

I know I already answered this question above, but I’m predicting many of you missed it so I’m answering it again! The answer is “yes”! Use an all-purpose gluten free flour blend, together with the other ingredients I recommend for a homemade tempura batter mix.

What is a good vegan substitute for fried chicken?

As I stated earlier, to me, the best substitute is the oyster mushroom. It provides a great chicken-like texture when pulled apart, excellent mouthfeel, and also does a good job of holding onto the flavors of the marinade and breading.

Recipe Card


Vegan Fried Chicken (Korean Style)

Joanne Molinaro
Vegan fried chicken, but with a Korean twist!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 people


For the marinade.

  • 1/4 cup unflavored soju
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp msg
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

For the vegan fried chicken.

  • 1 lb oyster mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cup Korean tempura flour mix
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tbsp soju
  • 4 cups oil (for frying)

For Soy Glaze.

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 2 tbsp water

For Sweet & Spicy Sauce.

  • 2 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp water

For garnish.

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped scallion greens


  • Make the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients. Set aside.
  • Prep the oyster mushrooms by pulling them apart into smaller pieces–about the size of real chicken wings or chicken thighs. Then, pour the marinade over the mushrooms. Using your hands, toss the mushrooms so they are evenly coated with the marinade. Then, place them in an airtight container and into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  • While the mushrooms are marinating, prepare the dredge by whisking together Korean tempura flour mix, corn starch, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and black pepper in one large bowl.
  • Then, take 1/2 cup of the dredge and place in a separate bowl. To this second bowl, whisk in about 3 to 4 tablespoons of soju–whatever is needed to reach a pancake batter like consistency.
  • Bring your frying oil up to 375° F. When your oil is at temperature, coat the marinated mushroom pieces first in the dry dredge, then in the wet batter, and then once more in the dry dredge, before dropping in the oil. Make sure not to crowd the pan, as this will significantly lower the temperature of the oil.
  • Cook the mushroom pieces until they are golden brown (about 3 minutes), flipping as necessary. Remove and place on a cooling rack to drain excess oil. Finish cooking the rest of the oyster mushrooms and allow them to cool to room temperature.
  • While your vegan fried chicken is cooling, make the sauces. First, combine all the ingredients for the soy glaze by whisking them together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup.
  • Pour the contents into a small pot over low to medium heat until it comes to a boil (around 3 minutes), stirring regularly. Once it reaches a boil, continue stirring but lower the heat to the lowest possible setting. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens into a glaze. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • For the Sweet & Spicy Sauce, simply whisk together all the ingredients and set aside.
  • Once the vegan fried chicken has cooled to room temperature, bring your frying oil up to 400° F. Then, add the vegan fried chicken to your oil and cook for about 1 minute. Remove and set aside on the cooling rack for about 5 minutes.
  • Set aside 1/3 of the vegan fried chicken–these will remain unsauced. Place another third in a deep bowl, together with the Soy Glaze. Toss until they are evenly coated.
  • Finally, use a brush to coat the remaining third of the vegan fried chicken with the Sweet & Spicy Sauce.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and scallion greens before serving.
Keyword vegan fried chicken
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Questions & Comments

March 28, 2024

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  1. Lisa says:

    Hi! This looks fabulous. Just wondering if I can air fry it to lower the fat content. My heart surgeon and I would be so grateful. 😊

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