Ginseng Chicken Soup, Samgyetang

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prep time: 
30 min
inactive time: 
50 min
cooking time: 
60 min
total time: 
140 min

SamGyeTang is the healthiest way to cook chicken. Small, young chicken is stuffed with sweet rice, ginseng, Korean dates and other medicinal herbs, and boiled to perfection. Usually a whole chicken is served for one person.

SamGyeTang is believed to be a health food that revitalizes the body and boosts the immune system. For this reason, it is a popular summer food in Korea even though it's a boiling hot soup. In Korea, there are three hottest days of the year called Chobok (beginning of hot days), Jungbok (mid hot day), and Malbok (last of hot days). SamGyeTang is consumed on those days, and you can observe long line ups at SamGyeTang restaurants.

Although traditionally it is a summer food, SamGyeTang is also enjoyed as a regular meal at any time of the year.

You can buy Ready-to-Cook ingredients for Ginseng Chicken Soup online here.

tags: main dish/entrée, healthy, soup, nut free, poultry, boil, non-spicy(spiciness)


Change serving size to: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Change to: Metric US
for broth
2 head(s) Chicken (young whole chicken) 영계
12 cups Water 물
4 clove(s) Garlic Clove (whole) 통마늘
4 head(s) Jujube or Red Date (Dried) 대추
Green Onion 파 (may need more or less)
1 tbs Salt 소금
½ tsp Black Pepper 후추
for stuffing
1 cup   Sweet Rice (Glutinous Rice) 찹쌀
2 root(s) Ginseng 인삼
4 head(s) Jujube or Red Date (Dried) 대추
4 clove(s) Garlic Clove (whole) 통마늘
Peeled Chestnut 깐밤  (optional)
optional medicinal ingredients
2 root(s) Milk Vetch Roots 황기 (optional)
Ginseng Chicken Soup, Samgyetang


Optional Ingredients and Substitutions
Young chicken: You can buy cornish hens (less than 30 days old, 400-500g) or any small chicken from regular grocery markets. You can use regular chicken as well. Keep in mind that the meat won't be as tender. If you use a regular chicken, more stuffing ingredients may be required to fill the cavity and you can probably share among 2-3 people.
Milk Vetch Roots: can be omitted.
Ginseng: is key to samgyetang as the name means "ginseng chicken soup." You can however make this soup without ginseng but it should be called chicken soup or chicken porridge.

More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comment section. We will do our best to answer as soon as we can.

Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.

1. Soak dried ingredients

Wash the milk vetch roots and jujube. Soak in water for 40 min.

image: SSGTAA03.JPG


  • milk vetch roots
  • jujube

Soak in water image: clock.png 40 min

2. Soak sweet rice

Wash 1 cup of sweet rice and soak in water for 40 min and leave it in a strainer for at least 10 min to drain water.

image: SSGTAA02.JPG

Wash 1 cup sweet rice

Soak in water image: clock.png 40 min

Drain image: clock.png 10 min

3. Wash chicken

Wash the chicken inside and out thoroughly under running water. Cuff off the tail and fats.

image: SSGTAA01.JPG

Wash chicken

Cut tail and fats

4. Prepare vegetables

Wash all 8 cloves of garlic, 2 green onions, 2 roots of ginseng and 8 jujubes thoroughly. Cut 1 green onion in half and slice 4 cloves of garlic for the broth. Chop 1 green onion finely for garnish at the end.

image: SSGTAA04.JPG

Wash thoroughly

  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 ginseng roots
  • 8 jujubes

Cut 1 green onion in half

Slice 4 garlic cloves

Chop 1 green onion

5. Cut ginseng head

Cut off the ginseng head.

image: SSGTAA05.JPG

Cut off ginseng head

6. Milk Vetch Water (Optional)

Add 2 milk vetch roots, any other optional medicinal ingredients and 12 cups of water in a pot and bring it to boil. When boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer it for 20 min.

image: SSGTAA06.JPG

Boil milk vetch roots in 12 cups water

When boiling Med Heat image: medheat.png

Simmer image: clock.png 20 min

7. Prepare chicken

While simmering the milk vetch water, stuff the chicken. Make slits on the outer skin of inner thigh (to be used to keep legs crossed). You can also use kitchen string to tie the legs instead.

image: SSGTAA07.JPG

Make slits on inner thigh

8. Stuff chicken

Stuff EACH chicken cavity with ½ cup of rice, 1 root of ginseng, 2 heads of jujube and 2 cloves of garlic.

image: SSGTAA08.JPG

Stuff EACH chicken

  • ½ cup rice
  • 1 ginseng root
  • 2 heads jujube
  • 2 garlic cloves

9. Close cavity

Criss-cross the legs of the chicken to keep the stuffs inside. Put one leg into the slit on the opposite side. Alternatively, you can tie the legs together using kitchen string.

image: SSGTAA09.JPG

Criss-cross legs

Put each leg into opposite slit

10. Boil Stuffed Chicken

Place the stuffed chicken, sliced garlic, 4 heads of jujube and 1 green onion (cut in half) in milk vetch water (or regular water if you are not using milk vetch) and boil with a lid on high heat for 20 min. Make sure most of the chicken is submerged in water when you start boiling the chicken. Add more water if needed. Skim off foams. Then, lower the heat to medium to simmer with a lid for another 20 min.

image: SSGTAA10.JPG

Add in milk vetch water

  • Stuffed Chicken
  • Sliced garlic
  • 4 heads jujube
  • 1 green onion

Boil with lid

High Heat image: highheat.png image: clock.png 20 min

Skim off foams

Simmer with lid

Med Heat image: medheat.png image: clock.png 20 min

11. Serve

When the soup turns milky white, turn off the heat. Add ½ to 1 tablespoon of salt (taste and add gradually), ½ teaspoon of black pepper to the broth. Serve in a large bowl and add chopped green onions on top. You can also use a stone bowl or hot pot. Boil the soup in the stone bowl first before serving to keep it hot while eating . Enjoy!

image: SSGTAA11.JPG

Turn off heat


  • 1 tbs salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Serve in large bowl

Top with chopped green onions


more about dish

Here is more about key ingredients of SamGyeTang:

Young chicken ("yeong-gye" in Korean) that is less than 100 days old is used in SamGyeTang and female ones are preferred in Korea. In North America, you can buy cornish hen which is usually younger than 30 days and weighs about 400-500g. You can also make this dish with regular chicken.

Ginseng is known as "the secret of perpetual youth" in Korea. Koreans love to eat ginseng to recuperate their strength when they feel tired and low. It is usually available in dried form, which makes it easier to store for a long time. Ginseng is one of the most popular health foods, but people with high blood pressure or high body temperature should avoid eating it too much.

Jujube (red date also known as Chinese date, Korean date or Indian date), has been an important fruit in Korea, and is used as a snack and in traditional medicine. The freshly harvested ones are usually eaten as medicine rather than fruits to alleviate stress or to prevent aging. However, eating too many unripe jujubes can make you sick! Dried jujubes are more popular in Korea and are used to make teas, snacks, jam and ginseng chicken soup (“SamGyeTang”).

Sweet rice or glutinous rice is a very popular ingredient in Korean cuisine. In Korea, it is called "chapssal", which literally means "sticky rice," since it becomes soft and sticky when cooked. Glutinous rice is used to make cooked rice, rice cakes and porridge, and also used as stuffing in ginseng chicken soup ("SamGyeTang").


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klcarlsen's picture

How to find Ginseng

How to find Ginseng Roots? For the life of me I have not been able to find ginseng roots in any of my local asian groceries! Are there any sources online, or do you have any suggestions of how to track some down...? And are the ones used in the photos siberian "ginseng" or actual american ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)?
vivianenid91's picture

Try purchasing it

Try purchasing it online. Amazon sells it:
vivianenid91's picture

There is no Korean store that

There is no Korean store that carries the Milk Vetch Roots. Do you recommend another medicinal herb/root that can be used besides the ginseng of course. I really want to make and will once I get all the ingredients. Thanks for the post.
Grace's picture

Hi Vivianeni91, You don't

Hi Vivianeni91, You don't have to use Milk Vetch Roots. It should taste still great without it. Happy cooking!
guamababie's picture

Thank you so much for this

Thank you so much for this recipe! My hubby and I love samgaetang but it's always seemed like such a complex dish to make, so I've never tried making it at home. Your video and step-by-step instructions make it seem like a dish I can attempt from home, so I'm going to finally try my hand at making it. So thanks again for the great recipe + video, and for the many laughs I got out of watching "Halmonie's first Christmas in North America." Stephanie - your expressions/acting were hilarious, and Grace - your singing was beautiful. You are a pair of super-talented and humorous ladies! Keep up the great job! Xoxoxo, Your newest fan
Grace's picture

Thank you so much for your

Thank you so much for your kind words. Let us know how it turns out. Maybe some photos on our Facebook page? Let us know if you have any questions along the way. Happy cooking!
Tracy Harris's picture

This is a great information.

This is a great information. The recipe looks easy, and tasty!
Grace's picture

Thank you! Happy cooking!

Thank you! Happy cooking!
RainSmurf's picture

Beautiful singing, you should

Beautiful singing, you should make a Christmas CD. I'd totally buy it!
Grace's picture

haha thanks! it's good to

haha thanks! it's good to know there is at least one person who would buy the CD. Happy cooking!
guamababie's picture

I 'm another person who would

I 'm another person who would buy your CD! You are so blessed with many talents, Grace - don't rule out a CKC music CD in the near future! :) 화이팅!
kochichris7's picture

i really love making

i really love making herby-chicken-broth or soup^^ i take a lot of ginseng(as tea, or candy, like ginger).