Monika’s Molecular Meals: Kimchi & Buttermilk-Brined Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

By Monika Knapp | 17 November 2021 1451 views
gluten free fried chicken

Flavorful & Crispy Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Kimchi & Buttermilk-Brined Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

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Let me be the first to say that I did not come up with the idea of brining chicken in kimchi liquid on my own.

Although I will admit I WISH I did… I first heard about it over on Serious Eats.

And while brining your chicken in kimchi liquid might seem unconventional… believe me, it’s actually a FANTASTIC idea!

Kimchi not only adds a lot of flavor to this chicken marinade (garlic, ginger, gochugaru, among a whole lot of other delicious things)… it’s also great for your gut health and digestion!

And instead of deep-frying this chicken, we’re baking it.

Yes, it IS possible to make a delicious “fried” chicken in the oven!

So on top of all of the great gut health benefits you get from the kimchi… you also get the benefits of *not* frying this chicken.

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After a buttermilk & kimchi brine, this chicken is dredged in GF cornflakes, drizzled in an optional hot honey sauce, and topped with scallions.

Serve it with grilled corn, more kimchi on the side, rice, coleslaw, or just eat it on its own. 

(Believe me, it’s hard NOT to once it comes out of the oven.) 🙂

And if you decide to serve this at a summer BBQ… a lunch with friends… or just to your family… don’t be surprised when they LOVE it and ask for the recipe!

Here’s how it’s done:

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Kimchi & Buttermilk-Brined Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

FTH’s Kimchi & Buttermilk-Brined Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Equipment Needed: Oven, nonstick baking sheet or regular baking sheet and parchment

Recipe Time: 5 hours +/- 15 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken thighs (4 hours of this is brining time)

Serves: 6


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 cup buttermilk, homemade or store-bought
  • 3/4 cup of liquid drained from a jar of kimchi, either homemade or store-bought (if going the store-bought route, I like Mother-In-Law’s kimchi)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cups finely crushed gluten-free corn flakes (see Recipe Notes)
  • 3 Tbsp gluten-free flour
  • 4 whole scallions, 2 finely chopped, 2 sliced on a bias
  • 2 T gochugaru or freshly ground black pepper (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp honey, preferably local/less processed
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • More Kosher salt as needed
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1) Make the brine.

Combine the buttermilk, 1/2 cup of kimchi juice, salt, egg, garlic, and ginger in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss. 

Transfer to a 1-gallon plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to overnight (the longer the better).

2) Dredge the chicken and bake!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the corn flakes, flour, scallions, and gochugaru/black pepper in a small bowl. Remove 3 Tbsp of brine from the bag and add to the dredge.

Take a piece of chicken out of the bag, allow excess liquid to drip off, and dip in the dredge, pressing both sides gently.

Move the chicken to your baking sheet (lay down a piece of parchment if yours isn’t nonstick), and repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.

When all chicken is on the sheet, brush each piece on top with the extra virgin olive oil.

Transfer the sheet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, then flip and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part.

3) Make the (optional) hot honey sauce.

While the chicken cooks, make the hot honey if you’re going that route:

Simply combine the honey, melted butter, remaining 1/4 cup of kimchi juice, and a couple large pinches of salt. Taste and adjust as needed.

(Note: If the honey you use is very thick, you may need to warm it up first so all the ingredients properly combine. To do this, place a small pot of water on your stove, and fit a bowl on top of the pot—the bowl should fit on the pot but not directly touch the water in it. Pour the honey into the bowl and warm over medium heat until you can easily stir it. Then make the sauce.)

When the chicken is done, sprinkle with the remaining scallions.

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You can dip the pieces in the hot honey or drizzle the honey on top if you like, and then it’s time to dig in. 


Recipe Notes

  • I didn’t know this before making this recipe, but apparently not all corn flakes are gluten-free! Some contain malt, which comes from barley and so may contain gluten.
  • Gochugaru is the flaky red pepper used to make kimchi, and it goes really well with this chicken. However, if you don’t have any, you can just use freshly ground black pepper instead.
Monika’s Molecular Meals: Kimchi & Buttermilk-Brined Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Do You Know How Easy It Is To Make Buttermilk (And Butter!) At Home?

Something that used to always happen to me was that I would buy a container of buttermilk for a particular recipe… since I don’t generally keep buttermilk on hand in my kitchen…

And then I never used whatever was leftover after that one recipe.

Fortunately, now I never buy it because I make my own at home!

(So it cuts down on waste, as well as my grocery bill… plus I don’t have any more guilt about having to throw away unused, spoiled buttermilk!)

Buttermilk is the byproduct of what happens when butterfat (actual butter) separates from cream, and so if you decide to make buttermilk at home, you’ll get some beautiful homemade butter to enjoy too. 🙂

Here’s how I make my cultured butter at home:

Add 3 cups of cream and 3 Tbsp of preexisting buttermilk or kefir to a large mason jar or fermentation container.

Cover with a fermentation lid or plastic wrap with a small hole poked in it, and let sit on your counter until thickened, about 12-24 hours.

Refrigerate for an hour, then add to the bowl of a food processor with a large pinch of salt. Process for 3-4 minutes, or until the butter begins to separate from the buttermilk and it starts to look like cottage cheese.

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Strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, then pour the buttermilk into a container. Yay, you just made buttermilk!

To finish the butter, place what’s leftover in a small bowl and “wash” it by rinsing it with ice cold water and massaging the butter.

(This gets rid of any extra buttermilk that would make your butter go rancid faster than normal.)

Continue washing the butter until the water runs clear, which may require 3-4 changes of water.

Move the butter to a container, and proceed to use liberally on everything (at least, that’s what I do).

It’s that simple to make homemade buttermilk and butter!

Did You Know Kimchi Can Cause Weight Loss, And Actually PREVENT Obesity?

I’ve been eating kimchi for years, and I didn’t even find this out until just last week:

It has been reported that the consumption of kimchi causes weight loss; prevents constipation  and colon cancer; reduces serum cholesterol (Park et al. 2006); and exerts beneficial  antistress principles (Lee and Lee 2009).

And that’s because  kimchi contains S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), a compound that your body naturally produces… and that’s also used in the treatment  of depression. 

Kimchi also contains L. plantarum, a probiotic nutrient that has been linked to antiobesity effects, including body weight loss and reduction of abdominal fat volume.

I mean… wow.

No wonder I can’t get enough of the stuff!!

So, to get those great benefits, you can start eating more kimchi… and using it in more recipes, like this delicious fried chicken.

However, I know kimchi isn’t for everybody… it doesn’t take a ton of time to make at home, but it does require some prep… and I will admit it tastes quite funky.

(That’s because traditional kimchi contains raw oysters, and napa cabbage is also chock-full of phytonutrients that can give off an almost-sulfuric smell… )

Fortunately, there are other ways to incorporate the same exact nutrients found in kimchi… and experience similar benefits…

… like weight loss, lower risk of obesity, and more energy…

And how to get more of these “fat-burning nutrients” like L. plantarum into your diet naturally… (without going to the trouble of making your own kimchi at home, or eating jar after jar of funky fermented foods)…

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[This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on July 27, 2020.]