How to make chicken Karaage with Tim Anderson

Find out how to make the ultimate chicken Karaage, aka Japanese chicken thighs. The perfect sharing food.

Tim Anderson how to make chicken karaage
(Image credit: Future)

This chicken Karaage how-to recipe comes from MasterChef winner Tim Anderson. They are what Tim describes as Japanese soul food, made with crisp, seasoned batter and succulent chicken thighs.

One of our favourite Japanese recipes and the perfect sharing food, chicken Karaage is an easy recipe to try at home. At Tim Anderson's restaurant, Nanban in London, they serve chicken Karaage simply with lime juice, to add a little freshness without overpowering the flavour of the marinade itself. Tim's recipe serves four people, so scale up or down if you want more or less. 

Most of the ingredients you can buy in your local chain supermarkets except for two staple components of this dish: mirin and dashi powder, which you will have to look in Japanese food stores or online for before making.

Preparation: The key to successful chicken Karaage is making sure you marinade your chicken thighs for as long as possible before. We suggest marinating them up to 1 hour to 48 hours before making. The longer you marinate, the more flavour your chicken will have.

We also recommend using a deep big pot or a deep fat fryer if you have one to deep fry your chicken karaage. The sides of your pot should come up much higher than the level of your oil, so if it does bubble up it shouldn't overflow.

It is also important to have a cooking thermometer so you can make sure your oil reaches an exact temperature of 160°C, as this will make sure your Karaage has a delicious golden brown crust and the chicken is super juicy.

Watch Tim Anderson make these succulent, Japanese-inspired chicken thighs


  • 4 chicken thighs, boneless and skin on
  • oil, for deep-frying100ml sake

For the marinade:

  • 3tbsp mirin
  • 3tbsp vinegar
  • 3tbsp lime juice
  • 2tbsp sriracha or similar hot chilli sauce
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 4 shallots or 2 banana shallots
  • 15g ginger (peeled weight), thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

For the seasoned flour (optional):

  • 250g cornflour
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp dashi powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp dried ginger

How to make chicken Karaage

Step 1

chicken karaage

For the marinade, whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until no big chunks remain (it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth).

Step 2

chicken karaage

Cut the chicken thighs into pieces no bigger than about 3cm at their thickest point – most thighs will yield 4 pieces, but you should get 5 or 6 out of bigger ones. The main thing to bear in mind is that they need to cook quickly, before the crust begins to burn. Basically, you should err on the side of small.

Step 3

chicken karaage

Coat the chicken pieces in the marinade and leave in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 48 hours.

Step 4

chicken karaage

For the seasoned flour, simply combine all ingredients until the seasonings are well distributed.

Step 5

chicken karaage

Coat the chicken in the flour mix.

Step 6

chicken karaage

To cook, heat at least 1l oil in a deep saucepan and heat to no higher than 170ºC. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting any excess drip off, and dredge in the cornflour or seasoned flour, ensuring that all the nooks and crannies are well coated – this will help maximise crust and minimise burning.

Carefully drop the chicken into the oil in small batches, checking the temperature periodically to ensure it is between 160 and 170º, and fry for 6-8 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, use it: the chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 65ºC.

Step 7

chicken karaage

If you don’t have a thermometer, use a knife to cut into the biggest piece of chicken at its thickest point. If it’s pink, back into the oil it goes.

Step 8

chicken karaage

If it’s not pink, it's time to serve your chicken Karaage. 

Alternative ways to cook chicken Karaage

How to make chicken Karaage in the oven

If you want to make chicken Karaage without all the oil and deep fat frying, follow these simple steps to cook this wonderful recipe in the oven.

  1. Prepare your chicken as normal up until it goes into the deep fat fryer.
  2. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
  3. Put your chicken pieces onto a baking tray.
  4. Put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and  immediately serve with a slice of lime or kewpie mayo.

How to make chicken Karaage in the air fryer

Another option is to make this recipe in everyone’s favourite food gadget: the air fryer. Follow these steps:

  1. Prepare your chicken as normal up until it goes into the deep fat fryer.
  2. Preheat your air fryer to 200 °C.
  3. Place your chicken pieces into your air fryer basket and spray a little bit of oil over them.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Take them out and check them by putting a sharp knife through one and pulling it out to see if the knife is hot. If it is hot, your chicken karaage are ready to eat.
  6. If not give them another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from air fryer and serve immediately with a slice of lime or kewpie mayo.

How to store chicken Karaage

Once cooled, store Karaage in the fridge for up to three to four days and freeze for about 4 months. If the fried chicken has been left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, it will need to be binned according to EatingWell.

Simply just make sure to store your fried chicken is in an airtight container or cover them well with cling film. The more protected they are the better.

How to reheat chicken Karaage

With the help of EatingWell, we have all the solutions for reheating our favourite Japanese recipe.

If you want to reheat your Karaage in the oven, preheat your oven to 200°C and place the pieces on a baking sheet. Bake for around 15-20 minutes, so that they are warm on the inside but crisp on the outside. The exact baking time will depend on the size of your pieces.

If you want to differently do it in an air fryer, preheat your air fryer to 190°C. Place your chicken pieces into your basket and air fry them on each side for 2 minutes. They should be warm on the inside too and crispy on the outside.

If microwave is your preferred option, although it should be noted that it will not bring the crisp back to Karaage, it is still possible. To get the best results, place a paper towel on a microwave safe plate and put the fried chicken on top. Microwave for 30 -second intervals, flipping each side til the chicken has warmed up.

If you reheating your chicken karaage from frozen, the rule is to not let it defrost before cooking. This will cause the chicken to thaw and release moisture and degrade. Instead cook them from frozen by preheating your oven to 190°C. Place the pieces onto a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes until each piece is completely reheated. If you feel some pieces may need longer to get that desired crispy effect, stick them in for a few more minutes.

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A passion for cooking authentic Japanese dishes
Tim Anderson
A passion for cooking authentic Japanese dishes
Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson is an American-British chef, who specialises in Japanese food and gastronomy. Currently executive chef and owner of Nanban, with branches in Brixton and Convent Garden and author of five Japanese cookbooks, his career took off when he won MasterChef in 2011. Since then, he has developed a career as not only a professional chef, but a restaurateur, a writer and radio and TV personality, where he has featured as a panelist on BBC Radio 4 The Kitchen Cabinet, and has contributed to articles in The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, The Telegraph, Newsweek, and Vittles. 

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Christina Geggus
Junior Food Writer

Christina Geggus is Junior Food Writer at and enjoys writing about lifestyle, food, and recipes. After completing her Master’s in Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University and her undergraduate degree in Communication & Society and Global Studies alongside receiving an NCTJ diploma, Christina has always set her sights on a career in journalism.

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