If you've ever visited an izakaya (Japanese tapas bar or gastropub), you've probably seen karaage on the menu. Considering the high quality of chicken raised in Japan, it's no wonder that reasonably priced and plentifully available karaage is very popular not only with locals but with foreign visitors as well.

Even though Japanese people know fried chicken, popular chains such as KFC being well established in the country, and they recognize that the two are distinct, many would be hard pressed to explain the difference between the two.

Karaage vs. Fried Chicken

So then, what is the difference between karaage and fried chicken?

To get an answer, we consulted an authority in the matter, Yasuhisa Teppei, chair and chief director of the Japan Karaage Association:

The main difference between fried chicken and karaage is whether you season the flour or season the meat.

Yasuhisa Teppei, Chair and Chief Director, Japan Karaage Association

So, if the chicken meat is seasoned first, then coated with flour, it's karaage. If the chicken meat is coated with a flour containing seasoning in it, then it's fried chicken.

However, interestingly enough, the strict division between the two is fading away...

Karaage is a peace-loving dish, so the fence between karaage and fried chicken is gradually disappearing. You add flavor to fried chicken through seasoning (seasoned flour), but recently, some restaurants have been marinating their meat to make it softer. Meanwhile, (commercially sold) karaage mix is basically seasoning. You could say that (fried chicken and karaage) are using each other's strengths to feather their nests.

Yasuhisa Teppei, Chair and Chief Director, Japan Karaage Association

Japan Karaage Association Chairman's Special Karaage Recipe

Yasuhisa Teppei was kind enough to share his favorite karaage recipe with us for you to try at home!


  • Chicken meat
  • Stamina Gen Tare seasoning sauce
  • Flour
  • Corn starch
  • Katakuriko potato starch
  • Coarsely milled pepper
  • Oil (preferably canola)


  • To make moto-abura (base oil), fry chicken skin slowly in oil at low temperature (below 320°F) and remove it before it blackens.
  • Cut chicken meat into easy-to-eat pieces (larger pieces are juicy, smaller pieces are easier to eat)
  • In a bowl, combine Stamina Gen Tare seasoning sauce and chicken. (The ratio should be 0.34 oz of sauce for 3.5 oz of chicken. If you lift up the meat and the sauce doesn't drip, that's the right amount. If you have too much sauce, you'll end up with burnt black karaage, so be careful).
  • Mix in pepper as desired
  • Blend the ingredients in the bowl, massaging the meat very thoroughly (until you get tired).
  • Let it sit in the refrigerator between 30 mins. and 24 hours (you can reduce this time by massaging the meat thoroughly as mentioned above)
  • Mix katakuriko, flour and corn starch in a 5:4:1 ratio (or 7:3 if you don't use corn starch) and fill the bottom of a stainless steel tray with this blended mix.
  • Coat the chicken meat with this flour mix. (Try to make it as light a coat as possible, using a colander to remove any excess flour
  • Fry the meat in the base oil (Keep the oil temperature as close as possible to 356°F. The ideal color is a golden brown. If you lift up each piece once and return it to the oil, you can obtain a double-frying effect and make your karaage more crispy.)
  • You're done!


By - Ben K.