Kimchi Fried Rice
Ready in just 20 minutes, this Kimchi Fried Rice makes a filling and flavorful weeknight dinner. The easy fried rice recipe features authentic Korean flavors with kimchi and leftover cooked rice from the fridge, plus carrots, peas, and eggs – either soft boiled or fried!
Easy Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe
Although I like to eat kimchi straight from the jar, this easy Kimchi Fried Rice recipe is my favorite way to use it. This quick comfort dish is loaded with the savory umami flavor that you’d expect from traditional fried rice, plus the delightful funky/sour/spicy flavor from my quick kimchi.
Our kids won’t eat kimchi straight from the jar like I do, but this kimchi fried rice is on their “Yum!” list, for sure – they LOVE it. The flavors and textures just work together, it might be the best fried rice we’ve ever had!
Top it off with a perfectly fried or soft-boiled egg and you have a dish that’s as filling as it is flavorful. It’s the perfect weeknight clean-out-the-fridge comfort meal that our family loves!
What is Kimchi?
If you’re not familiar with kimchi, it’s a traditional Korean side dish made of fermented vegetables – which most often includes cabbage. It can be found at your local Korean restaurant as well as in the Asian section of most grocery stores, but I actually prefer to make my own, using my quick kimchi recipe.
Kimchi has a salty, tangy, sour, spicy taste that pairs so nicely with the plain rice and savory umami flavors in this dish.
What You’ll Need
Kimchi fried rice has many of the same ingredients you’d find in a basic fried rice recipe. If you have kimchi and leftover cooked rice in the fridge, you’re just minutes away from awesome kimchi fried rice!
- Olive oil & sesame oil – Use these oils to saute the vegetables. I love the delicious nutty flavor of sesame oil!
- Carrots – I especially like carrots in fried rice, for their added texture and sweetness.
- Sweet onion – Onion adds a delicious earthy flavor and enhances the funky flavors in the kimchi.
- Garlic & ginger – Garlic and ginger enhance the flavors in the kimchi – plus they’re classic additions in Asian cuisine. Sometimes I like to double the quantities, to really boost their presence.
- White rice – Use cold, or even frozen (rice freezes beautifully!), day-old rice. This ensures that the rice is dry, which gives the finished fried rice its awesome texture. If you start out with moist, sticky, just-made rice, you’ll end up with soggy fried rice. So always remember this dish as a great way to use up leftover rice – because once the rice is cooked, making delicious fried rice only takes a few minutes!
- Soy sauce – Add this for the salty, umami flavor of traditional fried rice.
- Frozen peas – Just like carrots, adding peas to the fried rice adds texture and substance to the rice. Leave them out if you prefer.
- Kimchi – Kimchi adds a delicious funky taste to the fried rice, plus a bit of spice. I’m using my homemade quick kimchi in this recipe but store-bought will work too.
- Green onions – I like to sprinkle green onions over the top, for add freshness and subtle onion flavor.
- Eggs – Kimchi fried rice is traditionally topped with eggs. I featured soft-boiled eggs here, but fried eggs (sunny side up!) are most common.
How to Make Perfect Rice
Do you struggle with making perfect rice at home? I once did, too. But ever since my sister recommended that I get a rice cooker, my troubles vanished! We have this model and use it every single week, it’s a rice-making game changer!
If you don’t have any day-old rice and are craving some of this kimchi fried rice, just cook a batch of rice in the rice cooker. Then refrigerate it overnight so it dries out. The following day, make some fried rice!
Whether you want to increase the spiciness or try a different protein, here are a few ways to spice up your kimchi rice.
- Make it spicy. This recipe is only lightly spicy. For truly spicy fried rice, there are many options. Sprinkle in some gochugaru, which is the same Korean chili flakes that you’ll find in the kimchi. Stir in some chili garlic sauce or gochujang sauce when you add the soy sauce. Or add your favorite sriracha when serving.
- Add meat. For non-vegetarian Korean fried rice, add some chopped ham or spam in Step 1 of the recipe. You could also add some seasoned ground beef, pork, turkey, or chicken for a less traditional but nonetheless tasty twist – stir it in when you add the kimchi.
- Can I use different rice? I most often use plain white rice – doesn’t matter if it’s long, medium, or short. But jasmine, basmati, and brown rice would also be great. Just know that these rices have their own flavors, which will be evident in the finished dish.
- Use other veggies. I like carrots and peas for their texture, flavor, and the bulk they add to the rice. However, you can substitute or add any veggies you desire. Mushrooms, kale, and broccoli are good options.
- Add nori – You can buy roasted, crispy nori (dried seaweed strips) or just use normal nori. This is a traditional garnish that’s more for visual effect.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds. If you like to pack in all possible flavor and texture, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the top of your bowl right before you dig in.
How to Make Kimchi Fried Rice
Kimchi rice comes together in just 20 minutes, making it perfect for a weeknight meal.
- Cook the carrots. Cook the carrots and onion in hot olive oil and sesame oil. Add the garlic and ginger.
- Brown the rice. Add the rice and soy sauce to the carrots. Saute until the rice is lightly browned.
- Add the kimchi. Add the kimchi and peas. Cook until the kimchi is thoroughly warmed.
- Serve. Stir in the green onions. Top individual portions with an egg and garnish with sesame seeds.
Kimchi rice is typically served as a side dish to other Korean entrees or dishes with Asian flavors, but it’s a beautiful addition to almost any meal. It would be delicious next to teriyaki grilled pork tenderloin with pineapple, a platter of easy grilled pork chops, or even my tender, flavorful beer can chicken.
In our house, we mostly serve kimchi fried rice as the main course, whenever we have leftover rice in the fridge. We top off our bowls with soft boiled or fried eggs, for added protein. And for those of us who like a little more heat, we stir in some gochugaru or gochujang, or drizzle some sriracha over the top. I always add some extra green onion because I think it contrasts beautifully with all the cooked ingredients.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Leftover Korean fried rice keeps very well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store in a tightly covered container without the garnishes or the egg, just add those later. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a small splash of water if needed to loosen it up just a bit.
This dish is so quick and easy to make whenever you want, but if you do want to freeze leftovers, go ahead. Freeze without the egg or garnishes, in a freezer-safe container. Let thaw and then reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. You’ll probably want to add a splash of water to loosen it up and add a bit of moisture.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Grilled Asian Pork Tenderloin Salad
- Chinese Chicken Salad
- Easy Thai Drunken Noodles
- Coconut Curry Chicken Soup
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Easy Korean Beef
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Kimchi Fried Rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup diced sweet yellow onion
- 2 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 4 cups cooked cold day-old white rice
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 cup kimchi roughly chopped
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 fried or soft-boiled eggs optional
- Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to brown.
- Next add the garlic and ginger. Sir and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the rice and soy sauce. Stir and saute for another 3-4 minutes or until the rice is lightly browned and beginning to crisp.
- Add the frozen peas and chopped kimchi. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-4 minutes or until the kimchi is warmed through.
- Lastly, add the green onions and stir to combine. Serve the fried rice topped with an egg and garnished with sesame seeds, additional green onion, and/or gochugaru.