Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlets (Air Fryer, Stovetop)
Crunchy alert! These Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlets (炸雞排) are seriously one of the best things from Taiwan! With a super crumbly and crispy coating, these chicken cutlets are deeply savory and come in GIANT sizes. Stovetop, air fryer, paleo, whole30, and with keto choices. Surprisingly easy to make…you can make these tonight!
For a similar version with smaller bites, you’ll also love my Taiwanese popcorn chicken!
Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets are probably one of my favorite street foods from the night markets. In my college years, I often travel to Shilin night market several times per week to buy dinner and I can’t leave without getting fried chicken. 😀
The chicken cutlets are perfectly seasoned, deeply savory, and super addictive! Today, I’ll show you how to make this famous Taiwanese street food at home easily without deep frying.
What are Taiwanese Chicken Cutlets?
Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets are a super crunchy and savory snack. The cutlets are famous for their gigantic sizes (sometimes as big as a whole face) with a crunchy coating.
The chicken cutlets are pounded to super thin and then seasoned with a special salt and pepper spice mix. It’s the same seasoning I used in my salt and pepper tofu air fryer recipe.
To give the cutlets a lighter, crispier, and crumbly coating, Taiwanese-style fried chicken uses coarse sweet potato starch that has larger granules than regular starch. This makes the chicken taste even crunchier.
Taiwanese-style chicken cutlets are also popular in Taiwanese bento boxes, too!
What Makes Taiwanese Style Chicken Cutlets So Good?
Let me just say that this is one of my favorite childhood (and adulthood) savory snacks. Here are some reasons why they are so good:
It’s super thin – the chicken breasts are lightly pounded to 1/4 -inch thin so that they cook faster and stay juicier.
The breasts are tender – because they are thin chicken cutlets, they are seasoned perfectly on all sides.
The outer exterior is super crunchy – Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets use a coarsely grinded sweet potato starch (product link in recipe card) that gives the cutlets a crumbly and extra crunchy coating.
The special spice mix – if salt and pepper seasoning sounds boring to you…let me tell you it’s because you haven’t tried the Taiwanese version. 🙂 It’s a must-have spice mix that gives Taiwanese fried chicken a very distinct (yet super good) flavor. The good thing is that you can easily make them at home by following my recipe below. 🙂
Ingredients to make authentic Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlets
- Chicken breasts
- Fine sea salt
- White pepper
- Black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Five spice powder (cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise, white pepper)
- A little bit of baking soda (this makes the chicken breasts tender)
- White sesame oil (or light sesame oil, avocado oil)
- Coarse sweet potato starch (or Thick granule sweet potato starch)
The white sesame oil (also known as light or untoasted sesame oil) is my personal touch. It gives the chicken a light sesame fragrant without being overpowering. Avocado oil will work just as well.
The coarse sweet potato starch is a signature ingredient to make traditional Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets. The starch has larger granules and not as finely grind. This makes the coating extra crunchy and crumbly. I order them on Amazon (link in my recipe card). You can use it for many things, including fried pork chops.
If you want to keep it low carb, use panko pork rinds as a work around (product link in recipe card). You can also use the regular tapioca or arrowroot starch. The flavor will taste authentic but the exterior coating won’t be as crumbly. They are still super yum though. 🙂
How to make Taiwanese style chicken cutlets?
- Halve the chicken breasts and lightly pound them to ¼-inch thick
- Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. Best 1-hour.
- Paleo/Whole30: Dip in egg-wash and dust with the starch
- Keto: Dip in egg-wash and dust with panko pork rinds
- Stovetop: Pan fry about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the flip side
- Air fry: Air fryer at 400F for 10 minutes total. Flip after 5 minutes.
My friends will tell you that a glass of super cold beer is the best way to enjoy these yummy fried chicken cutlets! 😀 Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets are a savory snack. They are also common items in bento boxes. Some of my favorite pairings are:
- Chinese garlic green beans
- Gai lan recipe in garlic sauce
- Sauteed asparagus in miso butter sauce
- Shirataki noodles with “peanut” sauce
- Shirataki fried rice with garlic chips
- Japanese potato salad
- Sauteed Taiwanese cabbage
- Snow pea leaves in garlic sauce
- Chinese mustard greens in ginger sauce
Tips to make the best Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets
- Keep the chicken breasts thin – pound them to ¼-inch even thickness
- Marinate for 30 minutes – 1 hour
- Use coarse granule sweet potato starch – this gives the exterior coating extra crumbly and crunchy
- Want a little spicy? Add cayenne pepper powder, Korean gochugaru power, or Japanese chili powder (Shichimi Togarashi) to the dry spice mix
- Air fryer and stovetop instructions
- The Keto workaround included in the recipe notes
Taiwanese Fried Chicken Cutlets (Keto, Paleo, Air Fryer, Stovetop)
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp five spice powder
- ¼ tsp ginger powder
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp white sesame oil, or avocado oil
- 4-6 tbsp avocado oil, or avocado oil spray for air fryer basket
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup coarse granule (thick) sweet potato starch, see notes for alternatives
- Halve the chicken breasts and lightly pound them to ¼-inch even thickness.
- In a bowl, combine the dry spice seasonings from salt to ginger powder. Set aside ½ tsp + ¼ tsp of the spice mix in a separate small bowl for serving.
- Season the chicken with the remaining spice seasoning mix, coconut aminos, baking soda, and white sesame oil. Coat them well on all sides and marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Best 1-hour.
- Whisk the eggs with 2 tbsp water. Dip the chicken cutlets in the egg wash then dip in the sweet potato starch. Use your hands to gently press the starch into the chicken to help it stick well.
- Preheat the avocado oil, start with 3 tbsp and add more if needed, over medium to medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Test the temperature with a wooden chopstick, if it shows bubbles around the chopstick when inserting it into the oil, the temperature is hot enough.
- Over medium heat, pan fry the first side for 3 minutes and the second side for 2 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through. The coating color won’t be as golden as the regular fried chicken because the special kind of starch used. Repeat the process and pan fry them in separate batches.
For air fryer:
- Preheat the fryer at 400F for 5 minutes. Spray the basket with a coat of avocado oil. Depending on the size of your basket, place the cutlets in the fryer with some space in-between. Spray some oil over the cutlet. Air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the cutlets and spray a little more oil and air fry for 5 additional minutes.
- Transfer the cutlets to a large serving plate. Sprinkle with the reserved spice mix. Serve it street food style – a whole chicken cutlet, placed in a bag, that you can hold and bite, or cut them to pieces and eat with chopsticks. Serve hot.
- To make it low carb, use panko pork rinds to replace the starch. If you want to use the regular tapioca or arrowroot starch, the flavor will taste the same but the exterior coating won’t be as crumbly.
- Want a little spicy? Add a little cayenne pepper powder, Korean gochugaru power, Japanese chili powder (Shichimi Togarashi) to the dry spice mix.
- The white sesame oil (also known as light or untoasted sesame oil) is my personal touch. It gives the chicken a light sesame fragrant without being overpowering. Avocado oil will work just as well.
- The coarse granule sweet potato starch is a signature ingredient to make traditional Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets. The starch has larger granules and not as fine ground. This makes the coating extra crunchy and crumbly. You can use it for many things, including fried pork chops.
- If use panko pork rinds, the net carb will be around 2g per serving.