Daily Cooking Quest

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

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

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

Originally published on June 30, 2013. Updated on March 20, 2019 with new photos.

Ayam Ungkep - Indonesian Fried Chicken

5.0 from 7 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 8


  • 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 week. 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.


  • 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 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 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 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 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 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 says:

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

    • 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 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 says:

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

  • Tisha says:

    This looks incredible! And the flavors sound perfect

  • 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 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 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 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 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 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. :)

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