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Korean Fire Chicken Sandwich

Featuring spicy Korean fire chicken sandwiches, topped with melty cheese.

Bold, fiery, and irresistible, the Korean Fire Chicken Sandwich is a toasty sandwich packed with savory seared chicken and melty cheese. This recipe is so simple to prepare, the hardest part is mixing the sauce. If you love spicy and cheesy, this is the sandwich for you!

Do I have your attention? Imagine chicken pieces, marinated in a rich blend of Korean chile flakes, honey, and garlic, seared to perfection, then generously smothered in gooey melted mozzarella, all nestled within a toasted hoagie roll.

With each bite, you’re greeted with a blast of spicy, savory, and cheesy goodness that leaves your taste buds ablaze.

This juicy cheese buldak sandwich is spicy and sweet.

Why This Recipe Works

The secret lies in the spicy Korean marinade. Combining a copious amount of Korean chile flakes (gochugaru), honey, and chile paste (gochujang) creates a savory blend of heat and sweetness, infusing the chicken with layers of complex flavors.

This recipe is inspired by cheese buldak, a Korean dish made with fiery chicken in a skillet and topped with copious amounts of mozzarella cheese. One of the best examples of buldak you can make at home was created by Maangchi.

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These are the ingredients for the Korean fire chicken marinade.

Ingredients for Marinade

Here are the key ingredients used to make the marinade for the Korean fire chicken sandwich. Please be sure to check the recipe card for the full list and quantities:

  • Gochugaru (Korean chile flakes): You can’t substitute these coarse chile flakes – they’re the heart and soul of the flavor. Gochugaru brins that fruity, smoky goodness that’s a non-negotiable staple in Korean cooking. You can purchase some online here.
  • Gochujang (hot pepper paste): This thick, spicy, and savory paste is another staple for Korean cuisine and cannot be substituted. Gochujang can be purchased online here, or in stores.
  • Honey: Traditionally rice syrup takes the spotlight, thick and toasty in flavor. But for me, honey or maple syrup is where it’s at for this recipe. Rice syrup tends to be a little too thick, and too prone to burning when you’re cooking up a storm of fire chicken on the griddle.
  • Fresh Garlic and Ginger: Stick with fresh ingredients and skip the powders. Grating the garlic and ginger makes a world of difference for this recipe.
  • Soy Sauce: Just a splash adds some needed sodium and umami.
  • Neutral Oil: Pick your choice of canola, vegetable, avocado, or grapeseed oil. Plenty of options in the pantry, just steer clear of anything with too much flavor, like olive oil or coconut oil.
Mix the fire chicken marinade ingredients together and stir in the chicken.

How to Make Fire Chicken Sandwiches

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, mix together the Korean chile flakes, honey, hot pepper paste, minced garlic, ginger, neutral oil, soy sauce, salt, and cracked black pepper. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix, ensuring they are well coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge, covered, for at least 1-2 hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Toast the Bread: Heat the griddle to a medium heat. Spread mayo on the inside of the hoagie rolls. Toast the rolls on a griddle over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside.
Toast the hoagie rolls on the griddle first to make sure they are ready for sandwiches.
  1. Cook the Chicken: Heat a griddle over medium-low heat and add a little oil. Place the marinated chicken on the griddle, spreading it out evenly. Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side until almost fully cooked. Divide the chicken into 4 portions and top each with grated mozzarella. Allow the cheese to melt, using a lid or dome if necessary.

    NOTE: Make sure the chicken has cooked to a safe temperature of 160-165°F. There will be carryover cooking as well.
Add the marinated chicken to the hot griddle and let it sear for a few minutes.
Sear the Korean fire chicken until it's almost fully cooked through.
  1. Assemble the Sandwich: Using a spatula, transfer the cheesy chicken onto the toasted hoagie rolls. Close the sandwiches and wrap them tightly in parchment paper. Let them rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Don’t forget to have fun with toppings! Our favorite is diced green onions, which pairs perfectly with these flavors. Anything fresh and bright will balance out the dark, rich flavors of the chicken and cheese.

Divide the cooked fire chicken into small piles and top with mozzarella cheese.

Variations

There are plenty of options to customize your Korean fire chicken sandwich… even by making something that’s not a sandwich! Check out some of our suggestions:

  • Substitute chicken thighs with boneless chicken breasts for a leaner option.
  • Try making Korean fire chicken tacos! These can be completely prepared on the griddle as well.
  • Experiment with different cheeses such as cheddar or pepper jack for a unique twist. Even crumbled blue cheese tastes great if you love that spicy flavor with the funk.
  • Add sliced avocado or pickled vegetables for added freshness and texture. Try Pickled Red Onions or Pickled Jalapenos.
  • Top it with a creamy sauce such as Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing or BBQ Ranch Dressing.

Important Tips

  • Cook the chicken on medium-low heat to prevent burning and ensure even cooking. Use a melting dome or the grill lid to aid the cooking along.
  • If the marinade sticks to the griddle, sprinkle a little water to loosen it up.
  • Allow the assembled sandwiches to rest before serving to enhance the flavors. I highly recommend wrapping them in parchment paper for a few minutes before serving.
Unwrap your Korean fire chicken sandwiches and top with green onions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I adjust the level of spiciness?

Absolutely, the easiest way would be to reduce the amount of Korean chile flakes and chile pepper paste in the marinade.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

The chicken can be marinated in advance, up to overnight. Cooked chicken can be stored in the fridge and reheated the next day, topped with cheese for a tasty sandwich.

Thank You For Trying Our Recipe!

We’re here to bring people together with bold flavors, using spice and flames to ignite the food and friendships.

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Featuring spicy Korean fire chicken sandwiches, topped with melty cheese.

Korean Fire Chicken Sandwich

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Bold, fiery, and irresistible, the Korean Fire Chicken Sandwich is a toasty sandwich packed with savory seared chicken and melty cheese.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Sandwiches 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds of chicken (thighs or breast), cut into 1” cubes
  • ½ cup Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ¼ cup hot pepper paste (gochujang)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 green onion, chopped

Instructions

Notes

  • Cook the chicken on medium-low heat to prevent burning and ensure even cooking. Use a melting dome or the grill lid to aid the cooking along.
  • If the marinade sticks to the griddle, sprinkle a little water to loosen it up.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Chicken & Poultry
  • Method: Griddle
  • Cuisine: Sandwich, Dinner, Lunch
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