We love tacos in our house and these Spicy Korean Chicken Tacos are one of our regulars. Cooked in a very simple but seriously tasty gochujang sauce, it’s so easy to make and perfect for during the week.
The best spicy chicken tacos you’ll ever have
While we will eat these at any time, often it’s during the week, when I want something on the table quick. I know you like that idea too and I can guarantee these spicy Korean chicken tacos are not only quick but also delicious and totally morish.
The chicken requires no marinating and is loaded with umami flavour from things like garlic, soy and gochujang (a fermented chilli paste that I feel everyone should have on hand) – the list goes on.
Flavourful chicken and fresh veggies like shredded lettuce or cabbage, carrot and slices of cucumber, all wrapped up in warm, toasty tortillas and topped with gochujang mayo – these are going to be your new favourite taco dinner.
These spicy chicken tacos have been a favourite on the blog for years and now they’re looking fresh and beautiful with new pics and some minor changes to the recipe that we’ve come to love – aka that gochujang mayo!! This stuff is so good.
So what makes these tacos Korean-style?
These tacos use ingredients essential to Korean cooking like sesame oil, soy sauce, spring onions and gochujang (more about that below) along with everyday ingredients you know and love.
- Gochujang paste: If you’ve never tried gochujang, please do. This is not just chilli paste. Gochujang is a sweet and spicy fermented paste made up of chilli powder, glutinous rice, soybeans, garlic, onions, salt among others. It’s flavour central.
- Chicken: I use chicken breast as it’s just my favourite but feel free to use thighs which will add even more flavour. They should be skinless and boneless.
- Spring onions: You might also know these as green onions or scallions. Long thin onions, that look like mini leeks, these have loads of flavour.
- Garlic and ginger: Both of these are used often and generously in many Asian cuisines including Korean.
- Sesame oil: A rich flavour that I’m pretty sure I could put on anything and everything.
- Soy sauce: Use light soy sauce for this – not dark or sweet.
- Rice wine vinegar: This is used just in the gochujang mayo and can be replaced with white wine vinegar if you don’t think you’ll use up a bottle of rice wine vinegar.
- Sugar: Just a little sweetness adds balance to this recipe.
- Kewpie mayonnaise: This is also used in the mayonnaise recipe. Kewpie is a Japanese mayo and if you haven’t had it, you need to try it. You’ll want to put it on everything henceforth.
- Finally warm tortillas and fresh salad is the perfect way to serve these up
If you haven’t heard of umami, it’s the strong savoury taste that has really only been recently accepted as the “the fifth taste” (the others being the well known sweet, salty, sour and bitter). Umami is things like cheese, mushrooms, garlic, soy sauce, meats (especially cured meats), miso – think things with rich, earthy and intense flavours.
Summing all that up, these Spicy Korean Chicken Tacos are perfect little umami handfuls.
More about the gochujang in this recipe
This chilli paste is used regularly in Korean cooking and has so much flavour. I feel everyone should have it in their fridge at all times.
Some are hotter than others, so test it before adding and then adjust the amount according to your taste. Gochujang adds intense flavour, along with spiciness but it all sits on a bed of shredded lettuce, carrot and long thin strips of cucumber, which all help to cool things down.
If you want to cool it a touch more, use the Kewpie mayonnaise on it’s own rather than making the spicy mayo.
How to make Korean chicken tacos
- The first step is to cut the chicken, across the grain, into chicken “tenders” (photo 1)– something roughly the size and shape of chicken tenderloins.
- Next, saute the chicken until golden on both sides (photo 2).
- With the chicken set aside, saute the onion, garlic and ginger (photo 3) for a minute, then add the sauce ingredients (photo 4).
- Finally, add back the chicken and cook until the sauce is thick and coating it.
Tips for perfect tacos
- Don’t cut the chicken too thick. You’ll want it to be about 1cm thick or so, so all the pieces cook evenly.
- Cut the chicken across the grain to keep it perfectly tender to bite through.
- The chicken should be just barely cooked through when you set it aside. This will prevent it overcooking once you add it to the sauce.
- Cook the chicken in batches. This ensures the chicken gets golden and caramelised as opposed to steaming if it’s overcrowded in the pan.
So that’s all the chicken tips and really there isn’t anything else to it. These tacos are easy to make. The flavour comes from that wonderful sauce that takes about 3 minutes to make and don’t forget the amazing gochujang mayo on top.
This Korean chicken is also incredible in these bao buns (Chinese steamed buns).
So if you’re after a quick and easy weeknight dinner for your family, you can’t go wrong with Spicy Korean Chicken Tacos. They’re also great for serving a crowd.
If you try this spicy Korean chicken tacos recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you and it helps other readers too! You can also take a photo and tag @sugarsaltmagic on Instagram.
More recipes you’ll love
- Duck bao
- Chicken Fajita Nachos
- Baja fish tacos
- Korean Beef Tacos
- Easy Flatbread with Turkey and Basil Pesto
- Pesto Chicken Calzone
- Homemade Taco Seasoning
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Spicy Korean Chicken Tacos
FOR THE GOCHUJANG MAYO
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (8 tsp / notes 1)
- 1 tablespoon gochujang paste (4 tsp / notes 1)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 spring onions (green onions / scallions), very finely chopped (nearly ½ cup)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger (4 tsp / notes 1)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (8 tsp / notes 1)
- 750 g chicken breast, cut into tenders (1.6 pounds)
- 12 small soft taco tortillas
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 medium carrot, julienned or shredded
- 1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
- togarashi spice (optional, for serving)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
FOR THE GOCHUJANG MAYO
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, gochujang, vinegar and sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.
FOR THE CHICKEN
- Mix together the sauce ingredients – soy sauce, gochujang, brown sugar and sesame oil and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken and cook, turning every so often, for 6-7 minutes (depending on how thick the pieces are) until just cooked through and turning golden on the outside.
- Set aside, then repeat for the remaining chicken.
- With all the chicken set aside, turn the heat down to medium. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion to the pan (add a little oil if needed). Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until it’s fragrant and starting to soften (don’t let it burn or the garlic will become bitter).
- Add the chicken and the sauce mixture to the pan. Continue to stir fry for another couple of minutes until it thickens and is hot through.
- Heat the tortillas according to the packet or you can heat them on a grill or over a flame (being very careful not to burn yourself).
- To assemble start by placing some shredded lettuce, carrot and cucumber on the tortilla, follow with some chicken mixture then gochujang mayo. You can sprinkle with some extra sliced spring onion and / or togarashi spice.
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