Print Options:

Hat Yai Fried Chicken

Hat yai fried chicken with Thai sticky rice and sweet chili sauce.

Hat yai fried chicken recipe with an irresistible crispy crust embracing the juiciest, most tender meat you've ever tasted. This easy recipe is full of flavor, with an authentic marinade made of palm sugar, fish sauce, salt, and a selection of traditional Thai ingredients.

Hat yai fried chicken served with sweet chili sauce and Thai sticky rice.

After making this, try one of these reader-favorites Thai chicken recipes: Kai tod, the kid-friendly Thai fried chicken, and Thai chicken wings. Serve with Thai sticky rice.

What is hat yai fried chicken

Hat yai fried chicken is a popular Southern Thai dish beloved for its crispy outer layer with tender marinated meat, often paired with sticky rice and a dipping sauce. With a fragrant blend of herbs and spices, it's a popular street food favorite in Hat Yai.

Southern Thai fried chicken

What makes this crispy fried chicken recipe stand out from others? A light and crispy crust that's simply irresistible, a topping of fried shallots, and a delicious blend of Thai spices.

One of the secret ingredients is tempura flour, in which the chicken pieces are coated before frying. It's a type of crispy flour that creates a crunchy outer layer while keeping the chicken inside tender, flavorful, and juicy.

Thai fried chicken, hat yai, with Thai sticky rice, fried shallots, and sweet chili sauce.

The love for Southern-style crispy chicken has crossed borders. From the busy streets of Bangkok to the food markets of the mountainous North, you'll encounter it wherever you travel in Thailand. That's right, Thai people absolutely love this style of fried chicken. And my little nephew, he even rated this recipe a whopping million out of ten!

The other secret ingredients to this delicious Southern Thai fried chicken recipe? It's all in the delicious marinade and the topping of crispy fried shallots.

Hey, if you love Southern Thai cuisine, don't miss out on the popular Thai roti and gaeng massaman neua. Two staples in the sunny region!

About the Thai-style marinade

Many fried chicken recipes stick to a basic seasoning of salt and pepper, but this Thai recipe takes a step forward.

Before the chicken meets the sizzling oil, it's marinated in a blend of herbs and spices.

Hat yai fried chicken with sweet chili sauce and Thai sticky rice in bamboo basket.

Thai families have their unique spice secrets, and that's the beauty of Thai cuisine. Thai food is all about finding that perfect flavor balance, it's an art of cooking as you go until you reach that point of 'This is it!'.

For me, a blend of pounded coriander seeds, coriander root, cumin, and black peppercorns are the perfect foundation. I add some garlic, salt, fish sauce, and palm sugar for a balance of savory and sweet.

Thai woman seated on a bamboo table, working with a granite mortar and pestle.

Rather than dominating the chicken flavor, this marinade complements the chicken's natural taste, and pairs perfectly with the crisp golden crust.

Crispy fried shallots

Typical for making hat yai fried chicken is garnishing it with crispy fried shallots. Without it, you can hardly call it hat yai chicken.

They bring a subtle crunch and a sweet aroma that goes well with the crispy chicken.

Simply sprinkle them over your final dish, and let them work their magic!

Before crispy frying, place sliced shallots onto paper towel and season them with salt.

This brings out their natural flavors and draws some of the moisture from the shallots, since the moisture can hinder the crisping process when frying.

Let them rest for a short while, and then dab them with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This ensures even browning and crisping.

Alternatively, you can sun-dry the shallots. Keep in mind that it requires more time and you need consistent sunlight. The end result will not be as crispy, but it's a healthier alternative.

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Top-down view of recipe ingredients showcased on a banana leaf; tempura flour, garlic, coriander root, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chicken, water, salt, palm sugar, and fish sauce.
  • Chicken - You can use any chicken part, but I advise against using chicken breast, since it could turn out too dry. For the best results, use chicken drumsticks, legs, chicken thighs, or wings.
  • Tempura flour - Having trouble finding tempura flour? Try using all-purpose flour or rice flour.
  • Fish sauce - Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Thai cuisine for adding umami and a salty flavor to our dishes. Soy sauce can be used as a substitute, but keep in mind that it doesn't replicate the umami flavor of fish sauce.
  • Palm sugar - Palm sugar is a healthy alternative for white sugar, bringing a gentle sweetness with a caramel-like flavor.
  • Salt - Enhances the flavor of the chicken and brings out the best in the marinade.
  • Coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander root - A mixture of these ingredients add different flavors from citrusy, to earthy, slightly nutty, and a mild spiciness.
  • Garlic
  • Ice-cold water - The secret for a crispy texture is using ice-cold water.

You can source most ingredients for this recipe at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.

Cooking instructions

Step 1: Thinly slice the shallots into even-sized pieces. Lay them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with some salt. This helps extract moisture. After 10 minutes, gently pat the shallots with another paper towel to remove excess moisture. Then, heat up oil in a pan, and fry the shallots until golden and crispy. Place them on a paper towel to let excess oil drain. We'll fry the chicken in that same oil to infuse it with shallot flavor.
Step 2: Toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns until fragrant or 20 seconds. Use a stone mortar and pestle to pound garlic, coriander seeds, coriander root, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns.
Step 3: Transfer the spice mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Tip: Use a mixing glove to blend the ingredients. Add tempura flour into the bowl, and slowly add ice-cold water while constantly kneading with your hand until you reach a sauce.
Step 4: If you use chicken legs, make two slices around the bone. Add the chicken to the marinade and thoroughly coat each piece with the marinade sauce. Transfer to your refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
Step 5: Deep-fry the chicken in the same oil as the shallots until golden brown and cooked through, flipping as needed. Heat your oil to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Flip occasionally. Check doneness with a thermometer; then drain on a rack or paper towels and let rest before serving.

kitchen tools

  • Wire rack and paper towels for draining excess oil
  • Colander for scooping up fried shallots
  • Mortar and pestle for pounding spices
  • Large mixing bowl for marinating
  • Kitchen thermometer (optional)
  • Kitchen tongs or slotted spoon
  • Deep frying pan

Tips for frying chicken

Ice-cold water is added to the marinade: This helps to tenderize the chicken, and carries the flavors of the marinade deeper into the meat. Using cold water in the chicken marinade is a traditional Thai method, passed down for generations.

Don't overcrowd your frying pan: Work in small batches to maintain a good oil temperature (350°F to 375°F or 175°C to 190°C in a frying pan) to ensure golden brown and crispy chicken.

For juicy and tender chicken: After frying, let the chicken rest on a wire rack to drain excess oil. While resting, the juices will have time to redistribute, which makes it more juicy.

For fast and even cooking: Making two slices around the bone of the chicken ensures even and faster cooking, plus the marinade can penetrate deeper into the meat.

Cool down before frying: Before frying the chicken, let the cold meat cool down to for 30 minutes, or longer if needed. This tip helps the chicken to cook quicker.

Marinate overnight: For the best flavor, marinate overnight or for a long time. This way, the flavors can penetrate the meat.

How to serve

This Southern Thai chicken is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, as a side, or as a main with Thai sticky rice. Pair it with one of my many dipping sauces like Thai sweet chili sauce and Thai dipping sauce for chicken.

In the Isan region, we love to combine hat yai fried chicken with spicy salads like som tum Thai (green papaya salad), Thai pork larb, and long bean salad.

Don't forget your garnishes: Top your fried chicken with crispy fried shallots and add a sprinkle of cilantro or freshly chopped green onions.

How to store fried chicken

Storing fried chicken can cause it to lose its crunch. Follow these tips to keep it tasty:

  1. Before storing, let the chicken cool down to room temperature.
  2. Transfer the meat to an airtight container.
  3. If possible, store it in a single layer. If not, place a layer of parchment paper between the chicken pieces.
  4. For the best taste, consume within 2 days.

How to reheat fried chicken:

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C), place the chicken on a baking sheet, and heat for about 10 minutes or until warmed through.
  • Air fryer: Reheat in an air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 3–5 minutes until crispy.
  • Frying: Fry the chicken briefly until it's crunchy.

Fun facts

Hat yai fried chicken can be found at numerous Thai street food markets, especially in Southern Thailand. To me, this dish is a symbol of our street food culture, showcasing how local ingredients can lead to flavorful creations.

This type of Thai fried chicken originated in Hat Yai, the largest city in southern Thailand with a mixture of cultures. It's also a major travel hub, connecting Thailand to Malaysia and Singapore

Frequently asked questions

How to store fried shallots?

After making crispy fried shallots, place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Allow them to cool down to room temperature and then transfer them to an airtight container like a glass jar. Store the container in a cool, dry place, but not in the fridge. They can be stored for a while, but it's best to enjoy them while they're fresh.

What oil is best for frying chicken?

The best oils for deep-frying chicken are oil with high smoke points, so they can withstand the high temperatures required for deep-frying without breaking down. Some good oil options for deep-frying are peanut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, and corn oil.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

No, tempura flour is typically made from wheat flour, which is not gluten-free. For a gluten-free alternative, you can look for a gluten-free labeled tempura flour. The rest of the ingredients are gluten-free, but for the fish sauce and palm sugar you should always read the packaging to be sure.

More Thai chicken recipes you'll love

Loved reading this hat yai fried chicken recipe? Please make my day by dropping a star rating and/or a comment below! Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Ratings 5 from 3 votes
Cooking Method
Time
Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 30 min Total Time: 50 mins
Servings 4
Calories 821
Description

Hat yai fried chicken has an irresistible thin, crispy crust and a well-balanced flavor profile, making it an ideal dish for the whole family.

Ingredients
  • 2 shallots (thin slices)
  • oil (for deep-frying)
  • 50 ounces chicken
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (roasted)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (roasted)
  • 2 coriander root
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons tempura flour
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice the shallots into even-sized pieces. Lay them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with some salt. This helps extract moisture. After 10 minutes, gently pat the shallots with another paper towel to remove excess moisture. Then, heat up oil in a pan, and fry the shallots until golden and crispy. Place them on a paper towel to let excess oil drain. We’ll fry the chicken in that same oil to infuse it with shallot flavor. 

  2. Toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns until fragrant or 20 seconds. Use a stone mortar and pestle to pound garlic, coriander seeds, coriander root, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns.

  3. Transfer the spice mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Tip: Use a mixing glove to blend the ingredients. Add tempura flour into the bowl, and slowly add ice-cold water while constantly kneading with your hand until you reach a sauce.

  4. If you use chicken legs, make two slices around the bone. Add the chicken to the marinade and thoroughly coat each piece with the marinade sauce. Transfer to your refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.

  5. Deep-fry the chicken in the same oil as the shallots until golden brown and cooked through, flipping as needed. Heat your oil to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Flip occasionally. Check doneness with a thermometer; then drain on a rack or paper towels and let rest before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4


Amount Per Serving
Calories 821kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 27.2g42%
Saturated Fat 5.9g30%
Total Carbohydrate 16.5g6%
Dietary Fiber 0.6g3%
Sugars 4g
Protein 60g120%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note
  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • You can use any cut of chicken, like drumsticks, thighs, or wings. If possible, avoid using chicken breast since it can become too dry.
  • If you'd like to serve with a dipping sauce, I suggest trying my Thai sweet chili sauce recipe or this dipping sauce for chicken.
Keywords: hat yai fried chicken, hat yai fried chicken recipe

Thank you so much for trying my recipe!