Yangnyeom Chicken's

Is Yangnyeom Spicy? A Guide to Korea’s Sweet, Savory, and Spicy Sauce

Have you ever tried Yangnyeom sauce? This popular Korean condiment brings an amazing blend of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors. The key ingredient that gives Yangnyeom its signature kick is gochujang, a traditional Korean red chili paste.

But just how spicy is Yangnyeom sauce? And what is this colorful concoction that makes Korean fried chicken so addictive? Read on, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Yangnyeom sauce!

What is Yangnyeom Sauce?

Yangnyeom Sauce

Yangnyeom sauce is a thick, sticky Korean condiment used to coat foods before frying or as a dipping sauce. It’s commonly paired with chicken, but you can also find Yangnyeom tofu, pork, and seafood.

The name “Yangnyeom” translates to “seasoned” or “marinated” in Korean. As the name suggests, Yangnyeom sauce is a complex blend of ingredients that gives the food a sweet, salty, and spicy flavor.

The sauce consists of:

  • Gochujang – Korean red chili paste
  • Soy sauce – For salty umami flavor
  • Rice syrup – For sweetness
  • Sesame oil – Nutty aroma
  • Garlic – Pungent aroma
  • Ginger – Spicy zing
  • Onions – Savory depth
  • Black pepper – A touch of heat

This combination of ingredients is what gives Yangnyeom sauce its characteristic balance of flavors. The sweetness and savoriness balance out the spice from the gochujang.

What Does Yangnyeom Sauce Taste Like?

Imagine taking a bite of chicken smothered in a sauce that’s simultaneously sweet, salty, nutty, and pleasantly spicy.

The first flavor you’ll notice is the sweetness and savoriness from the rice syrup and soy sauce. Then, you get hits of toasted sesame, garlic, ginger, and onion. Finally, your mouth starts to tingle thanks to the slow burn of the gochujang chili paste.

It’s an incredible blend of complementary flavors in one sauce. You get the classic Asian flavor trio of sweet, salty, and spicy all at once!

This balanced blend of flavors is what makes Yangnyeom chicken so addictive. The sauce perfectly coats each piece of juicy fried chicken without overpowering it.

What is Yangnyeom Chicken?

Yangnyeom Chicken's

Yangnyeom chicken is a popular Korean dish of fried chicken smothered in Yangnyeom sauce. It was created in the 1970s by a restaurant owner named Heekwon Yang, who wanted to soften the texture of crispy fried chicken.

To make Yangnyeom chicken:

  • Chicken pieces are seasoned, dredged in flour, dipped in egg wash, then double fried until extra crispy.
  • The fried chicken is then tossed in Yangnyeom sauce until fully coated.
  • It’s finished with a garnish of sesame seeds and scallions.

The result is fried chicken with a crispy exterior that gradually softens as the sauce seeps in. Each bite bursts with the sweet and spicy Yangnyeom flavors.

Yangnyeom chicken became so popular that Yang opened up his own restaurant chain called Pelicana Chicken. Today, you can find Yangnyeom chicken at restaurants worldwide!

Is Yangnyeom Sauce Spicy?

Now let’s get back to the main question – just how spicy is Yangnyeom sauce?

The level of spice comes from the main ingredient – gochujang, a savory and moderately spicy Korean chili paste.

To understand Yangnyeom’s spice level, you need to know how spicy gochujang is:

What is Gochujang?


Gochujang is a thick, sticky condiment made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and chili powder. It’s a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine, used to add sweet and savory spiciness to dishes.

The chili powder used in gochujang is made from Korean red chili peppers. These peppers register around 1,000 to 8,000 Scoville heat units on the spicy scale.

In comparison, a jalapeño pepper hits 2,500 to 8,000 units. So Korean red chili peppers are around the same level or slightly less spicy than jalapeños.

Gochujang can be found in mild to very spicy varieties. The spiciness depends on:

  • Amount of chili powder – More powder = more heat
  • Length of fermentation – The longer it ferments, the deeper the flavor and spice level
  • Added ingredients – Extra garlic and ginger increase the intensity

Yangnyeom Sauce Spice Level

Now back to the Yangnyeom sauce. Since it contains a moderate amount of gochujang, the sauce registers at around 1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units.

So Yangnyeom sauce is mildly to moderately spicy, less hot than something like a Korean gochujang or sriracha chili sauce on its own. The sweetness helps offset the slow burn.

The spice level is mild enough that those sensitive to heat can still enjoy it. But it packs enough punch to deliver that addictive tingle.

Popular Variations of Yangnyeom Chicken

Yangnyeom Chicken

There are many fun variations of Yangnyeom chicken to try:

Double Fried Yangnyeom Chicken

This version amps up the crispy texture by frying the chicken twice. The chicken gets an initial fry then a second quick fry right before saucing.

Kkanpunggi Yangnyeom Chicken

Kkanpunggi refers to ultra crispy and thin fried chicken. It’s tossed in Yangnyeom sauce for maximum crunch.

Cheese Yangnyeom Chicken

The fried chicken gets topped with melted mozzarella or cheddar cheese right after saucing! The creaminess balances the spice.

Green Onion Yangnyeom Chicken

Chopped green onions are used as a garnish. They add freshness and texture.

Peanut Yangnyeom Chicken

Crushed peanuts get sprinkled on top to add nuttiness.

Feel free to get creative and make your own twists on the classic recipe!

What to Eat With Yangnyeom Chicken

Here are some tasty sides that complement Yangnyeom chicken:

  • Pickled radish – Cuts through the richness
  • Rice cakes – Soak up the sauce
  • White rice – Balances the flavors
  • Beer – Cuts the heat

Pairing your chicken with pickles, rice cakes, or cold beer helps balance the sweet and spicy flavors.

Make Your Own Yangnyeom Sauce

Want to get a taste of authentic Yangnyeom flavor at home?

Here’s a simple 5-ingredient Yangnyeom sauce recipe to try:


  • 1/2 cup gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 2 tablespoons rice syrup or honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced


  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients together.
  2. Whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  3. Use as a sauce for frying foods or as a dipping sauce.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

You can increase or reduce the amount of gochujang depending on your desired spice level.

Now you can enjoy the flavors of Yangnyeom anytime! Kick up your homemade fried chicken, fries, or wings with this sweet and spicy Korean sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions About Yangnyeom

Still hungry for more Yangnyeom knowledge? Here are answers to some common questions:

Is Yangnyeom the same as gochujang?

Nope! As we learned earlier, gochujang is just one ingredient in the Yangnyeom sauce. While both are spicy and sweet Korean condiments, gochujang is a fermented chili paste while Yangnyeom is a sauce blend.

Is Yangnyeom unhealthy?

Yangnyeom chicken is deep fried, so eating it often may not be the healthiest choice. But you can make healthier versions by baking chicken instead of frying, using reduced sodium soy sauce, and limiting the oil.

Is there vegetarian Yangnyeom?

Yes! Instead of chicken, use crispy fried tofu, mushrooms, or eggplant as the protein. You can also find vegan Yangnyeom sauce recipes made without fish sauce.

What’s the difference between Yangnyeom and Buldak?

Buldak is another popular spicy Korean fried chicken. But while Yangnyeom sauce has balanced sweetness, Buldak chicken uses only chili powder and salt for an intensely fiery flavor.

Can kids eat Yangnyeom chicken?

Yangnyeom chicken may be too spicy for very young children. But you can adjust the sauce to be kid-friendly by using less gochujang or adding more rice syrup to increase the sweetness.


With its complex blend of spicy, sweet, salty, and savory flavors, Yangnyeom sauce makes for finger-licking good Korean chicken. Moderately spicy but full of umami depth, this sauce highlights the flavors of any fried dish.

Want to try whipping up your own batch of Yangnyeom? Use this guide to get started on exploring the sweet and spicy world of Korean cuisine! Let me know how your Yangnyeom chicken turns out.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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