This Korean fried chicken recipie uses vodka to prevent gluten formation in the batter, which results in a thin and crispier crust. vodka is expensive. Are there any substitutes?

Will a beer batter do the same thing? Does beer prevent gluten formation?

  • 4
    I can't imagine you would want to use good vodka to make fried wings. And cheap vodka is pretty darn cheap. I can get like 1.75 liter of cheap vodka for like 10 dollars.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 1:19
  • 1
    Agree with @Jay. Vodka can be incredibly cheap in quantity. You won't get the same effect with a less-alcoholic substitute. The idea is to replace water, which enables gluten formation, with "not water". There's a possibility that a flour-water mixture that's allowed to sit for 24-48 hours will have a similar effect, as the amylase enzymes in flour will weaken gluten or break it down. It just takes a lot longer than making a instantaneous batter with vodka-water-flour.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 2:05
  • I'm thinking of this from a business/mass production point of view. Using Vodka would be considerably more expensive. Alton Brown's hot wings didn't use Vodka. He baked them -- and they did come out crispy. However, he also steamed them a bit to render the fat before baking. I didn't like the resulting flavor profile. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


Given the science as Kenji Alt explained it in his article, the key fact of the vodka is that it is 80 proof, or 40% alchohol.

So beer, which usually is on the order of 4 to 6 percent alcohol (yes, there are outliers) will not have the same level of inhibition of the gluten formation.

The vodka is not the only factor in the recipe leading to crispiness and good crust, so you will probably still get very good results with the beer, assuming you like the flavor profile it brings to the wings, but it won't be quite the same.

If you use another liquer that is on the order of 80 proof, again assuming you like the flavor profile, you should get quite similar results. This would include mixing grain alcohol with water or orange juice or whatever to the appropriate ratio.

Other than some white wine for cooking, though, I don't buy spirits so I don't what would be more economical--and that might vary from region to region.

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