Daily Cooking Quest

Home / All Recipes / Indonesian / Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

A smart fried chicken dish - the bird is first braised in stock to get flavorful and juicy meat, and deep fried for a short time to get crispy skin.

When Indonesians mention ayam goreng (fried chicken), what we really mean is ayam ungkep, and you can use the term interchangeably.

Ungkep translates to braising, and the name reflects the fact that what we fry is not raw chicken, but chicken that has been braised in a pot of broth filled with spices.

Since the chicken is fully cooked once braised, the deep frying (goreng) is simply to give the chicken a crispy skin and doesn’t take long at all.

Ingredients for Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken
Ingredients for Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

Perfect fried chicken dish for busy people

Many Indonesians prepare ayam ungkep in really large batches during the ungkep (braising) process.

My Mom used to braise multiple birds in the biggest stock pot she owns, then she will strain the cooked chicken, and portion them into separate freezer bags. Over the course of several weeks, she will regularly thaw one bag at a time, deep fry, and serve us some fried chicken. Don’t you think this is such a smart thing to do?

Of course, if you want to follow her and prepare multiple batches, please be sure to scale up all the ingredients.

Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken
Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

Save the flavorful broth for your bubur ayam

Every time I cook ayam ungkep (Indonesian fried chicken), I will be left with a pot of very flavorful spiced broth. What I do is I strain this to get a clear broth, and save it to serve with my bubur ayam.

I especially like this approach when I get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, so I simply need to prepare some plain congee (bubur), ladle the flavorful chicken broth over the plain congee, and top with shredded rotisserie chicken.

Or, if you are somehow sick of eating fried chicken (Is this even possible?), you can serve the braised chicken and the flavorful broth with a bowl plain congee too!

Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken
Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

What can I serve with ayam ungkep?

Although the most common way is to enjoy ayam ungkep for lunch/dinner with a plate of steamed white rice and a side of sambal terasi/sambal bajak, this Indonesian fried chicken shows up as one of the side dishes in many Indonesian rice dishes, such as:

Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

5.0 from 20 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8

Print Recipe


  • 1 chicken (about 1 kg), cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 lemongrass, bruised
  • 5 kaffir lime leaf
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut water
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 100 gram shallot
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 inch galangal
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Place chicken, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, spice paste, and coconut water into a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes until chicken pieces are well cooked. Drain the chicken pieces so they are dry to prepare for deep frying.
  2. [Make aheead]: If you want to store the chicken and serve them some other time, store them now. They keep well for several days in the fridge or can be frozen for up to 1 month. If frozen, please thaw the chicken first before deep frying.
  3. [Save the broth]: You can strain the braising broth and serve it with bubur ayam (chicken congee).
  4. Heat enough oil in a pot for deep frying. Add chicken pieces and fry until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes is enough since the chicken is already cooked.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • Leonie Leonie says:

    Anita, do you mean coconut milk? Or fresh coconut juice? I'm not sure if I could substitute the coconut water from the box that I see in the stores in the US. I'm used to coconut milk in recipes though. Terima Kasih

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Leonie, you can use the coconut water since that is what fresh coconut juice is called in Indonesian (i.e. air kelapa). Cheers!

  • Jenny ong Jenny ong says:

    Hi anita, Chance upon this site just recently. Cooked yr opor ayam numerous times. Always not enough for 2nd round. Thank you for yr great yummy recipes. In this recipe ayam ungkep what can we do with the drained liquid?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Jenny, I always do double batch whenever I make ayam ungkep. They disappear like magic trick in my house ;) Actually, if you love opor ayam, you can use the drained liquid to cook opor ayam too. Just measure the drained liquid + enough coconut milk to get about 3 cups of liquid, and cook with 1 ayam kampung (free-range chicken), or about 8 drumsticks.

  • Nancy Nancy says:

    Hi Anita, great recipes! I’ve been referring to your recipes to cook indonesian food for a year now, they always turn out great! Thank you! By the way, I always use the drained liquid in my version of bubur ayam. Just cook plain porridge, ladle the drained liquid, add shredded chicken, roast peanuts, kecap manis, kecap asin + bawang goreng. Perfect for breakfast! Yum!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Oh wow, it never crosses my mind to use the drained liquid with bubur ayam! Thanks for teaching me a new trick Nancy. :)

  • plant.well plant.well says:

    These seasonings sounds SO delicious! I love the lemon grass and coconut water combination! Sounds heavenly.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Since coconut milk is common in Indonesian dishes, and most still make coconut milk from fresh coconut, a lot of time we have plenty of fresh coconut water too. Because of that, we love using coconut water when braising, and the dishes always taste better anyway than using plain water. :)

  • Jillian Jillian says:

    These look amazing! Your pictures are amazing and I feel like I can smell this recipe right through the screen! These are a must try!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks Jillian. Please give this fried chicken recipe a try. I'm sure you will love it. :)

  • Tisha Tisha says:

    This looks incredible! And the flavors sound perfect

  • Julie Carlyle Julie Carlyle says:

    I definitely need to make this!! I love visiting Bali and eating all these yummy dishes. I can't wait to make my own! I've also pinned it so I don't forget to make it :) Thanks for sharing. ~ Julie

    • Anita Anita says:

      I know I should appreciate the scenery more whenever I visit Bali, but I always seem to be chasing delicious food more than the temples or the beaches, haha. :)

  • michele h peterson michele h peterson says:

    I've been wondering what to do with a box of coconut water i have so thanks for this recipe! The combo of chicken, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, spice paste, and coconut water sounds delicious and the broth would be amazing.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Indeed the broth tastes awesome, Michele. If you are not up to making rice porridge/congee, you can also use the broth to make chicken soup.

  • Oktavialina L Hani Oktavialina L Hani says:

    Hi Anita, i just tried your Ayam Ungkep recipe last night, it’s really delicious it reminds me of my favorite street vendor in Indonesia, i been staying in manila for almost 2yrs now, just right when i feel homesick I discovered you!!!! So Thank you!!!! Anyway keep the drained liquid in the fridge, and plan to try to make opor ayam like you said, do i need strain the liquid or i can just use it rightaway and just add coconut milk like you said? And i just put the chicken pieces like that? Or .. hope you will reply me soon heehe thanks again! 💛

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Oktavialina, straining the liquid is better though not a must, then add coconut milk and the chicken pieces, and cook until the chicken is tender to get chicken opor. Of course, adjust salt and sugar to your taste. :)

  • Krissy Allori Krissy Allori says:

    Yum! This is so good. I love the lemongrass flavor the most.

  • Marlynn | Urban Bliss Life Marlynn | Urban Bliss Life says:

    I love cooking in batches like your mom, and this looks like a great recipe to do that. What a smart way to cook chicken!

    • Anita Anita says:

      My Mom has a ton of cooking tricks up her sleeves. I've been slowly learning all sorts of neat stuff from her over the years. :)

  • Annissa Annissa says:

    What an interesting variation on fried chicken! This looks so much more tasty than the American version. Love those herbs and spices.

  • Anjali Anjali says:

    I love all of the spices you incorporated into this recipe - gives the dish such a rich, delicious flavor!

  • Denay DeGuzman Denay DeGuzman says:

    This special fried chicken recipe looks fantastic! I can almost taste and smell the deliciousness just from the images. I'm looking forward to making this next week!

  • Silvia Silvia says:

    Hi Anita, tried the recipe. Delicious! Now I’m trying to follow your suggestion with the remaining broth for opor ayam. I suppose I don’t need to prepare the spice paste again except to add some candlenut, coriander seeds & cumin?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Silvia, correct. You can use the broth to prepare opor ayam. Just make sure that if the remaining liquid is less than 3 cups, please add coconut milk so the total is 3 cups. And yes, feel free to add more candlenut, coriander seeds, and cumin to suit your taste. Most of the time, it's not even necessary, but if you want, I would say about 1 tsp coriander seeds, and about 1/2 tsp cumin should be enough. As for candlenut, it highly depends on how thick you want the opor sauce to be, so add more if you prefer thicker sauce, and is totally fine to omit if you love thin sauce.

  • Mun Mun says:

    Hi, can i just clarify, why some used asam instead of cocnut water? I am actually very confused! are we able to put both asam and coconut water or just either or? and lastly can we opt the kaffir lime leaves ?? look forward to your reply!!!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Mun, are you referring to ayam ungkep recipe from other sites? Mine doesn't use any asam (tamarind) to prepare ayam ungkep, but if you want to, I don't see why you can't add both asam and coconut water. But please, if you want to follow my recipe, just prepare it as is, without adding any asam.

      If you don't have any kaffir lime leaves, you can omit them. Your ayam ungkep will just be slightly less fragrant, but the dish should still be delicious.

  • Ian Rowland Ian Rowland says:

    Dear Anita, thank you for all of your recipes! Your site is my go-to for all Indonesian recipes. So many to choose from, the ingredients are relatively easy to find (or you give swap-outs), and they all work. After a long time in Java, we are now back in the UK, so it is great to give our children, who grew up in Indonesia, a taste of what they regard as 'home'. Especially nice to have recipes for Javanese recipes like lodeh, ayam ungkep and wingko babat. Now all I need is sate godhog, ingkung kuali, gandul, garang asem and pindang serani;). Matur nuwun sanget. Salam dari Inggris, Ian

  • Zahra Zahra says:

    Hi Anita, can I substitute 1 inch ginger and garlic with ginger/garlic powder? Also what can I use as a substitute for galangal? Thank you

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Zahra, you can try using 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic to substitute for fresh ginger and garlic. You can replace galangal with ginger, or omit entirely.

  • Rahilah Rahilah says:

    Hello Anita, after boiling and straining the chicken pieces, I did a taste test and find them lacking in salt. Would it be necessary to add some salt to the chicken pieces before frying them? Thank you.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Rahilah, my family love the salt level so I don't usually add more salt when frying the chicken. If you think they need more salt, I think sprinkle the chicken with some salt after frying should work better compared to adding salt before frying.

  • Daphne Teo Daphne Teo says:

    Hello Anita, is there Ayam ungkep that does not require frying the chicken

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Daphne, you can stop at the braising stage and skip the frying step. Or, if you want a bit of crispiness, you can do a pan-fry, or a shallow deep-fry using a frying pan.

  • M M says:

    Anita, some recipe ask for candlenut, any difference in taste? If I use candlenut, can I still use the remaining braising liquid for porridge or opor?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi M, yes, you can add candlenuts if you want to. The nuts act as thickener so you end up with a slightly thicker sauce. Unless the amount of nuts use is measured in cups as opposed to simply say 5 pieces, you should still be able to use the braising liquid for porridge or opor.

  • Philip van den Berg Philip van den Berg says:

    Selamat Anita. You say in your instructions that after braising the chicken they can be frozen for up to 1 week. That does not seem right. By the way, your recipes are absolutely beautiful. The Indonesian cuisine is the best in the world. Maybe I am biased but I love it. Terima kasih.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Philip, you are right! The braised chicken can be frozen for up to 1 month. I will update my recipe card. Like you, I think Indonesian cuisine is the best too. :)

  • Liza Liza says:

    What a yummy recipe! I always love learning about new techniques and flavors on your blog, and this fried chicken is amazing. Loved reading about how your mom freezes the braised chickens in big batches - brilliant idea!

  • Tara Tara says:

    Oh wow! I love that the chicken is braised in a pot of broth with spices first before frying. So so much flavor and it looks incredible.

  • Jacqueline Meldrum Jacqueline Meldrum says:

    That spice mix must have so much flavour!

  • kushigalu kushigalu says:

    I am going to make this tonight. Sounds just fantastic. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: