An Honest Review of Trader Joe’s New Chicken Karaage

There are few things more delicious than fried chicken. Chicken nuggets? Incredible. Chicken tenders? They rule. Chicken wings? Give me them drums, them flats, and some blue cheese dressing, and leave me in peace. But a different kind of fried chicken recently hit the freezer at Trader Joe’s: chicken karaage, a dish of marinated, crispy-fried chicken thigh chunks that’s popular in Japan (and anywhere with Japanese restaurants, tbh). Trader Joe’s is notorious for adapting international dishes for the masses—and sometimes they do it quite well. (Try their chana masala if you haven’t yet.) We grabbed a bag of these crispy chicken morsels and cooked them up in the ol’ toaster oven to see whether they deserve a spot in your cart or you should stick to takeout.

trader joe's chicken karaage review

New Product!

Trader Joe’s Chicken Karaage

Whether you like chicken karaage or you’re just looking for something a little more sophisticated than your average chicken nugget to add to your weekly dinner rotation, TJ’s chicken karaage is pretty damn great. The breading is a little zesty, almost citrusy, and the chicken—which is marinated in mirin, soy sauce, and garlic and ginger powders—is super flavorful. The dark meat chicken stays nice and juicy and absorbs the flavors in the marinade. The morsels have a rich, fatty flavor that everyone loved.

We did think the breading was a little off. It’s more like the breading on a McNugget than the breading on chicken karaage you’ll find at your local Japanese spot, but the flavor makes up for a textural divergence. The best part? The chicken comes with a packet of a creamy, savory, mayonnaise-based dipping sauce we loved. Hey, Trader Joe’s—bottle this dipping sauce ASAP!




About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • Good as a Karaage-inspired chicken nugget but a cut below Japanese restaurants.

  • I love this, but I don’t use the mayo they include and instead use kewpie mayo. It’s not quite as crispy as karaage you’d get at a restaurant, but I like it in its own way

  • Have you ever had Chicken Karaage? I’ve been eating it for a good 40 years. This tasted nothing like it. The only thing this had in its favor was that it was crunchy. It tasted and felt like processed chicken. I’ve had nuggets that were better. They should’ve left the bone in. The included mayo sauce was equally forgettable. I’m glad I only bought 1 bag.

  • It’s really quite average. Very bland chicken covered by too much batter served up a 99% mayonnaise dipping sauce that might have some lemon in it. I would honestly rather have chicken mcnuggets and whatever dipping sauces those might come with these days. If you are blown away by the TJ orange chicken, you’ll probably like this.