椒鹽脆雞膝 (氣炸鍋) Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken Knees (Air Fryer) recipe is an addictive and delicious dim sum dish in Cantonese cuisine. The crispy chicken cartilages are air-fried, light, and non-greasy, with no excess oil. This keto-friendly deep-fried chicken knee is a favourite Chinese restaurant must, but you can make it at home in just 15 minutes!
> In This Post: Everything You'll Need For Air Fried Salt and Pepper Chicken Cartilages
After perfecting the recipe for Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Salt and Pepper Squid and Salt and Pepper Tofu, in the air fryer, making the delicious spicy season chicken recipe was on my mind! After all, fried crispy chicken pieces are one of the famous Chinese dishes to order any night of the week!
Check out this quick story summary of our recipe!
Salt and Pepper Seasoning Rub
The key to perfecting a wildly flavourful salt and pepper seasoning rub goes to one real MVP secret ingredient.
What is this secret ingredient for creating the best results in so many beautiful recipes in Chinese food?
- Ground white pepper enhances flavour, marries meats and poultry, removes fishiness, and spices up stir-fries. It is much different from black peppers, even though they come from the same fruit. It is also very different from Sichuan peppercorns, which are known for their slow-numbing mala profile, allowing one to enjoy the nuances of a heated dish.
- A teaspoon of white pepper will kick that juicy air fryer chicken knees up several notches.
Salt and Pepper mixture (椒鹽) in Chinese recipes is an explosive spice blend commonly used for deep fry crispy dishes.
The main characteristic of Chinese "salt and pepper" is its spicy and salty flavour.
Our salt and pepper seasoning rub is an easy recipe using only a few simple ingredients to yield a delicious and explosive combination of savoury and spicy profile.
This seasoning mix is later used to flavour the deep-fried protein.
If you love salt and pepper spices, why not try these salt and pepper popcorn chicken and air-fry them golden brown!
Cooking chicken without oil makes for an excellent protein dish that fits a ketogenic and low-carb diet.
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Chicken Knees -Chicken Knees cartilage is a delicious part of the chicken between the drumstick and chicken thigh with soft bones and little protein. Most Asian supermarkets and meat shops will already carry this cut of chicken bone cartilage. Chinese chicken knees are a great alternative to popcorn chicken with spicy salt. Enjoying a pint of icy cold beer with this crispy side dish is fantastic!
- Potato Flour or Rice Flour - the breading is one part potato flour and one part rice flour. This gives the best bite-sized chicken pieces that are perfectly light and crispy.
- Fresh Green Spring Onions or Cilantro - Fresh leafy green herbs are used as a garnish atop colourless dishes to create visual appeal and add texture and subtle flavour.
- Vegetable Oil or Cooking Spray - Use a neutral cooking oil spray for air frying.
- Shaoxing Wine - Adding Chinese cooking wine to the marinade adds depth and enhances the flavour.
- Light Soy Sauce
- Dark Soy Sauce
- Ground White Pepper
- Brown Sugar or Monk Fruit Sugar
Most dry goods ingredients, tools and supplies can be purchased at your local Asian grocery store or Amazon Online.
Salt and Pepper Spices
This Hong Kong style of crispy chicken is quite different compared to the 鹹酥火雞 Taiwanese Salt and Peppery chicken method. The Cantonese salt and pepper seasoning does not use Five Spice Powder, cinnamon or basil leaves.
- Fresh Garlic Cloves or Garlic Powder
- Brown Sugar or Monk Fruit Sugar
- Ground White Pepper - A secret ingredient that is much needed to liven the dish.
- Green Peppers or Red Bell Peppers - Finely chopped green and red bell peppers add colour and flavour to the salt and pepper seasoning.
- Jalapeno Peppers or Red Chili - Add some finely chopped jalapeno peppers or Thai bird's eye chilli for an extra kick of heat. Keep the seeds to make the salt and pepper chicken recipe extra fiery.
- Shallots or Yellow Onion - shallots and onions are aromatic, crispy, sweet, spicy and savoury, making your dishes come alive!
- Peppers Flakes - Dried red chilli flakes are a great substitute if you do not have any fresh peppers handy.
- Kosher Salt and Sea Salt - Adding salt to food enhances the taste of food and makes it more aromatic.
- Sichuan Peppercorn (optional) - A little ground Sichuan Peppercorn powder adds a tongue-numbing sensation to the spice rub. This is optional but play around with how you like to bring the heat to your salt and pepper seasoning flavour profile.
Have you considered making salt and pepper chicken nuggets or short ribs? Asians love these fatty cartilage crunches with a little bit of meat, making this snack worthy unique dish to impress the guests!
What Is The Secret To A Crispy Coating?
The critical ingredient to crisp air-fried chicken knees with salt and pepper seasoning is potato starch or rice flour!
Coating your protein with potato starch makes all the difference in making the crispiest crunchy pieces with every bite.
It is night and day compared to plain old all-purpose flour for deep frying!
Potato starch has a bit more grit and, when deep-fried, creates little balls of crunchiness. It is lighter yet crispier and crunchier!
Follow this easy tip, and I guarantee it is the best recipe for a crunchy crust!
Should Chicken Knees Be Seasoned Before Cooking?
Is marinating chicken cartilage necessary? On its own, soft cartilage is bland; therefore, marinating with simple marinade before cooking helps bring out the meat's natural flavours and texture.
Marinating for at least 20 minutes is recommended. Marinate the chicken meat overnight in the refrigerator in an air-tight glass container.
Dredge and coat each piece of chicken with crispy breading evenly. Shake off any excess flour.
First, wash the chicken knees and pat dry with a kitchen paper towel.
Marinating for at least 20 minutes is recommended.
While the chicken knees are marinating, prepare salt and pepper spice mix and the crispy batter.
Prepare salt and pepper mixture by dicing jalapeno peppers, red bell peppers, shallots or onions and mince garlic cloves.
Grind Sichuan Peppercorns, dried red chillies, and whole white peppercorns in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Grind to a powder.
Add diced vegetables, aromatics, salt, and ground white pepper to a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
Alternatively, if you do not want to hand chop all the simple ingredients, you can also use a good-quality food processor. Here are my picks for the Best Food Processors!
Add and combine rice flour and potato starch in a shallow bowl.
Dredge and coat each piece of poultry cartilage with crispy breading evenly. Shake off any excess flour.
How To Air Fry Chicken Knees
Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
Use air fryer parchment paper and line the bottom of the basket for easy clean-ups.
Place chicken knees in a single layer in the air fryer basket and spray with cooking oil or use an oil mister.
Double fry the chicken for an extra crispy texture.
Set to a lower temperature the first time, frying at 375F for 6 minutes.
Carefully transfer chicken knees from the air fryer with tongs or a slotted spoon.
Add cooked chicken knees and salt and pepper mixture to a large bowl. Toss and mix well. Ensure each piece of chicken is evenly coated.
Return the seasoned chicken bites to the air fryer and fry for the second time at 400F for another 5 minutes for smaller pieces or 6-7 minutes for thicker nuggets.
Insert an instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken and check that the internal temperature of the meat is at least 165F.
Air fry until golden brown.
Work in small batches ex. If making a large double batch, air fry half the chicken and repeat the process with the leftover chicken meat!
Serve these crispy chicken knees on a serving plate lined with a few kitchen paper towels to soak up excess oil.
Let the chicken rest for a few minutes.
Now that you know how to make this Hong Kong Style Salt and Pepper Chicken Knees recipe, you can also try these other popular Cantonese dishes.
- Salt and Pepper Tofu
- Salt and Pepper Air Fryer Pork Chops
- Salt and Pepper Squid
- Salt and Pepper Crispy Chicken
- Salt and Pepper Shrimp
- Salt and Pepper Cauliflower
The flavours are equally explosive, and every bite is addictive! These are just a few easy recipes immediately come to mind as excellent pairings!
Serve these crispy chicken bites that are not deep-fried in a lot of oil as a quick healthy meal protein dish. It is an easy way to impress your guests. They will think it's from their favourite Cantonese restaurants.
What To Serve With Salt and Pepper Chicken Knees Dim Sum Style
Crispy fried chicken knees are flavourful garlicky, and savoury. It is best to balance out a bowl of white jasmine steamed rice or stir-fried leafy green vegetables.
- Microwave Black Cod with Black Bean Sauce 豉汁蒸黑魚微波爐
- Steamed Pork Ribs with Kabocha Squash and Black Bean Sauce 豉汁南瓜蒸排骨
- Chinese Braised Eggplant 紅燒茄子
- Vegan Dan Dan Noodles 擔擔麵 素食
- Air Fryer Soy Sauce Chicken Thighs 氣炸鍋豉油雞
After indulging in spicy, heaty, and crispy food, don't forget to cool away heat with a bowl of this liver-detoxing Chinese Sweet Mung Bean Soup 綠豆沙!
I'd love to see how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @INSTANOMSS #INSTANOMSS.
Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken Knees (Air Fryer) 椒鹽脆雞膝(氣炸鍋)
氣炸鍋椒鹽脆雞膝 Chinese Salt and Pepper Chicken Knees (Air Fryer) recipe is an addictive and delicious dim sum dish in Cantonese cuisine. The crispy chicken cartilages are air-fried, light, and non-greasy, with no excess oil. This keto-friendly deep-fried chicken knee is a favourite Chinese restaurant must, but you can make it at home in just 15 minutes!
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 12
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 4 people 1x
- Category: Appetizers, Snacks
- Method: Air Fry
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 lbs Chicken Knees (soft bone cartilage)
- 2 Stalks of Spring Green Spring Onions for garnish
- Fresh Cilantro for garnish
- Vegetable Oil or Cooking Spray for air frying
- 3 tbsp Potato Flour
- 3 tbsp Rice Flour
Salt and Pepper Spices
- 5 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Ground White Pepper
- 2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- ½ Red Bell Peppers, diced
- ½ Jalapeno Peppers, diced
- 2 Shallots, diced
- 1 tsp Sichuan Peppercorn (optional, grind to powder)
- 1 tsp Fresh Chilli Peppers Flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Ground White Pepper
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar or Monk Fruit Sugar
- First, wash the chicken knees and pat dry with a kitchen paper towel.
- Marinating for at least 20 minutes is recommended.
- While the chicken knees are marinating, prepare salt and pepper spice mix and the crispy batter.
- Prepare salt and pepper mixture by dicing jalapeno peppers, red bell peppers, shallots or onions and mince garlic cloves.
- Grind Sichuan Peppercorns, dried red chillies, and whole white peppercorns in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Grind to a powder.
- Add diced vegetables, aromatics, salt, and ground white pepper to a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
- Alternatively, if you do not want to hand chop all the simple ingredients, you can also use a good-quality food processor. Here are my picks for the Best Food Processors!
- Add and combine rice flour and potato starch in a shallow bowl.
- Dredge and coat each piece of poultry cartilage with crispy breading evenly. Shake off any excess flour.
How To Air Fry Chicken Knees
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Use air fryer parchment paper and line the bottom of the basket for easy clean-ups.
- Place chicken knees in a single layer in the air fryer basket and spray with cooking oil or use an oil mister.
- Double fry the chicken for an extra crispy texture.
- Set to a lower temperature the first time, frying at 375F for 6 minutes.
- Carefully transfer chicken knees from the air fryer with tongs or a slotted spoon.
- Add cooked chicken knees and salt and pepper mixture to a large bowl. Toss and mix well. Ensure each piece of chicken is evenly coated.
- Return the seasoned chicken bites to the air fryer and fry for the second time at 400F for another 5 minutes for smaller pieces or 6-7 minutes for thicker nuggets.
- Insert an instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the chicken and check that the internal temperature of the meat is at least 165F.
- Air fry until golden brown.
- Work in small batches ex. If making a large double batch, air fry half the chicken and repeat the process with the leftover chicken meat!
- Serve these crispy chicken knees on a serving plate lined with a few kitchen paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes.
- Enjoy hot!
- Serving Size: 1 plate
- Calories: 192
- Sugar: 3.2 g
- Sodium: 1583.4 mg
- Fat: 3.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 12.5 g
- Fiber: 1.6 g
- Protein: 27.2 g
- Cholesterol: 82.7 mg
Keywords: salt and pepper, chicken, chicken knees, soft bone cartilage, air fryer, easy, chinese, hong kong, dim sum, cantonese, 椒鹽, 脆雞膝 , 氣炸鍋
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confusing recipe.. what do we do with the seasoning? do we mix it with the rice flour?
Hi Jess. No you dredge and coat each piece of cartilage with rice flour. Then after it's been air fried the first time, add the salt pepper seasoning and return to the air fryer the second time. Hope this helps. Step by step instructions are included in the recipe card. 🙂
It’s been too many years since I’ve been to dim sum! But I especially love that I can make this in my air fryer!
I think you are due for some dim sum at home Terri!
Nancy you are inspiring me to get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. I will try pretty much anything when out a restaurant and traveling but I am a bit more hesitant in the kitchen. But your recipes look mouthwatering, they are easy to follow and it's hard not to run out and buy everything to make every one of your recipes.
Hi Kristen! 🙂 I'm so happy to hear this! I can't wait to see you make this in your kitchen!! You won't be dissapointed!
I'm just curious, this cut got bones in it? or is it all meat? Intriguing! I love to learn about Cantonese food with your blog! Plus, I need to try this potato starch mix with rice flour technique to air fry too, sound like a nice crunch! Gonna check if my Asian market get this cut next time! Lovely recipe!
Hi Marie! This cut has soft bones that you can chew on. It is basically just cartilage with meat!
This simple appetzier with chicken knees that too made with airfryer. I am going to give this one a try .
OMG Swathi you will be addicted! I guarantee it!
These look so delicious and crispy! I had never heard of chicken knees but now they are on my grocery list so that I can make this recipe.
Chicken knees and chicken wing tips are one the most underrated and delicious cuts to snack on!!
lovee that this recipe is in the air fryer! so easy and delicious!
enjoy this delicious addicting quick snack
One of my favourite ways to cook chicken. Soooo good!
High five to the air fryer club!
Sounds delicious, and I love that those knees are made in just 15 minutes! Can't wait to try them out!
Quick and easy snacks are my favourite!
I LOVE Cantonese style salt and pepper anything....but chicken knees is a new one for me. The next time I'm at T & T I'll have to see if they have any in stock.
Thanks Bernice! We have a list of salt and pepper recipes on the blog just for you!! Have you tried salt and pepper shrimp in the air fryer?
These look so good! I have an Asian market near me so I'm going to find out if they have chicken knees just so I can make this!
Hi Donny! I hope you will be able to find these crunchy chicken cartilages. If you can't, you can try this recipe with chicken breasts or chicken wings too!
Such a flavorful dish!
Thanks Tina! So happy to hear that you love it!
I love how crispy these come out! Makes them a tasty app or great on top of a salad.
Oh yes, that's a great idea to add some for salad toppers !
Love the look of this! I just purchased an air fryer so will try this recipe on the weekend!
Awesome! welcome to the air fryer club!
Gina Abernathy says
I have never heard of chicken knees before but I really want to try this recipe. So interesting and sounds so tasty.
Hope you enjoy this Gina!
Aimee Mars says
So easy and so delicious! Really loved making this recipe!
Makes for a great snack when you are feeling something crispy!
Chicken Knees! I love learning new and different recipes! Thanks for sharing!
It's so great that these can be made in the Air Fryer!
Is there something the air fryer can't make?
A perfect light and crispy snack that everyone will enjoy.
Even the pickiest eaters will gobble this up!
Cilantro, garlic and pepper make these chicken knees incredibly tasty and flavorful! Crispy, crunchy texture. Yum!