Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) is the ultimate fried rice dish to make at home when you’re short on time but don’t want to compromise on flavor! It’s a delicious and easy 30-minute recipe that you can make at home using simple ingredients such as kimchi, spam, and leftover rice with a fried egg on top.
Table of Contents
- What is Kimchi Fried Rice?
- Why You’ll Love This Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe
- Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Kimchi Fried Rice At Home
- How To Make Korean Fried Rice (Step by Step)
- Joyce's Tips for Making the Best Kimchi Fried Rice
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Variation Ideas for Kimchi Fried Rice
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Store Leftover Kimchi Fried Rice
- More Delicious Korean Recipes You May Like
- Recipe Card
- More Quick and Easy Recipe Ideas
This dish is essentially a Korean-style stir fry, where leftover rice transforms into a delicious dish that’s perfect for busy weeknights! It brings together the savory flavors of spam and the tangy zest of kimchi, all beautifully complemented by subtle notes of sesame oil and garlic. The fried egg with a runny yolk on top adds a creamy richness that takes this dish to a whole new level.
What makes this kimchi fried rice recipe special is its use of kimchi liquid and gochujang for the sauce. The combination of these two ingredients creates a sauce that's a balance of spicy, tangy, and umami flavors. The result? A rice dish that's packed with flavors and textures and sure to impress anyone who tries it.
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious kimchi fried rice recipe today!
What is Kimchi Fried Rice?
Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) is a popular Korean dish that combines day-old rice with kimchi for a flavorful and satisfying meal. It’s one of my favorite ways to use leftover rice and whip up a quick meal!
This delicious fried rice is made with spam (or bacon), egg, kimchi, and leftover rice and literally takes less than 30 minutes to make from scratch. It’s also a great way to use any leftover meat you may have lying around.
Making kimchi fried rice at home is a great way to experience authentic Korean flavors without the need to visit a Korean restaurant. It's a versatile dish that can be customized with whatever vegetables or proteins you have on hand.
Plus, the taste is simply unbeatable - the combination of sour kimchi, savory soy sauce, and spicy gochujang creates a flavor combination that's both comforting and delicious. It's definitely a must-try dish for any home cook that loves to explore different cuisines.
Why You’ll Love This Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe
Easy to Make: This kimchi fried rice recipe uses simple ingredients you might have in your fridge, like leftover rice, onions, and garlic. Most of the time is spent on prepping and once that's done, cooking it up is a breeze!
Quick: Using ingredients like pre-cooked leftover rice and spam, the actual cooking process is incredibly fast. You'll have a hot, delicious dish ready in less than 30 minutes, perfect for those busy weeknights.
Versatile: This recipe is super versatile. Don't have spam? Substitute with bacon or tofu. Add vegetables to make it more hearty as well! The possibilities are endless!
Delicious: The unique flavor combination of savory spam, tangy kimchi, and spicy gochujang, all combined with the rich taste of sesame oil, creates a dish that's packed full of flavor. This isn't your ordinary rice dish!
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Kimchi Fried Rice At Home
All you need are some incredibly simple, pantry-staple ingredients to make this delicious kimchi fried rice recipe at home. Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
- Rice: I like to use Japanese short-grain rice (Calrose) for this fried rice but long grain rice like jasmine rice will work too. Use day-old cold rice for this recipe for the best result.
- Spam: To make this spam and kimchi fried rice, I used spam as the main protein. Spam gives the fried rice a wonderful flavor and gives the fried the perfect amount of saltiness. You can substitute this with bacon if you prefer not to use spam but you will need to adjust the amount of soy sauce or salt since spam is saltier than bacon. You can also use any type of leftover meat as well, but you may need to add more salt to the fried rice.
- Garlic/Onions: Even though there is already a lot of garlic in kimchi, toasting a bit of onion and garlic with the meat gives the fried rice dish even more flavorful.
- Kimchi: This is the star of this recipe. The older the kimchi, the more flavorful the fried rice will be. Older kimchi will have a lot of kimchi liquid, fizziness, and it will be a lot softer and fermented.
- Sesame Oil: Adding sesame oil at the very end right when you turn off the heat gives the Korean fried rice a pop of nutty flavor that definitely will enhance it.
- Butter: I like to use butter to brown the spam, onions, and garlic to give the fried rice a bit more flavor. You can just use neutral oil (any oil except olive oil) if you want it to be healthier.
- Eggs (Optional): Making a sunny side fried egg to serve on top of your kimchi fried rice is highly recommended but is optional.
For the Sauce:
- Gochujang: Adding gochujang to the sauce, gives the fried rice extra flavor, a touch of sweetness, and saltiness which brings the whole dish together.
- Fish Sauce: I like to use fish sauce for this kimchi rice, if you don't want something with a strong flavor you can use soy sauce instead.
- Kimchi Liquid: This adds a ton of flavor to the dish overall and really takes it to the next level.
For the Garnishes:
- Toasted sesame seeds: For a delicious, nutty flavor, try garnishing your fried rice with some toasted sesame seeds.
- Green onions: They add a nice onion flavor to the rice which really brings out the kimchi flavor and makes it shine.
- Roasted seaweed: Roasted seaweed, cut into small pieces, will add an additional savory, umami flavor to the rice and really adds a special something to this dish. I like to use the Korean salted seaweed snacks roasted with sesame oil.
How To Make Korean Fried Rice (Step by Step)
Making this incredible kimchi fried rice recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
Prepare everything ahead of time
Chop all the ingredients up and have them on hand by the stove - The cooking process of making any type of fried rice is very quick so having everything pre-cut and close by right when you are cooking the kimchi fried rice will help make the process more smooth and easy.
Squeeze the kimchi and reserve the liquid - The kimchi juice is one of the major flavors in this kimchi fried rice. Once you have squeezed the liquid out of the kimchi, mix it with the sauce ingredients and set it aside.
Break up the rice by hand - When the rice is in a large clump, it is harder to evenly cook it in the frying pan. Breaking it up ahead of time will allow it to cook more evenly and faster so that all the sauces and flavors will get distributed more evenly. Use your fingers and gently break up the large clumps of rice into smaller granular pieces
Making the Kimchi Fried Rice
Heat up your pan on medium-high heat and melt some butter with oil.
Toast the spam in the pan until it turns a dark pink color.
Reduce the heat and add in the onions and garlic. Cook for about two minutes.
Add the kimchi and cook until there's little to no liquid left in the pan.
Next, add the cooked rice and stir for a minute or two.
Add the sauce and mix everything together evenly. If there are any lumps in the rice, break them down into individual grains. Make sure all the rice is coated with the sauce.
Taste your dish and add more salt or soy sauce if needed.
Turn off the heat and mix in the sesame oil. Garnish your dish with the toppings you prepared earlier. If you made a fried egg, place it on top of your fried rice.
Your delicious Kimchi Fried rice is ready to serve!
Joyce's Tips for Making the Best Kimchi Fried Rice
- Prepare Everything Ahead of Time: You want everything ready ahead of time because this is a very quick process. It is especially important with the rice, you need to pre-breakup the rice into smaller pieces by hand, this will help the rice cook faster in the pan without having to wait until it is soft enough to break up with your utensil.
- Older Kimchi Has More Flavor for Cooking: Older kimchi is fizzy, more fermented, and has a lot more flavor than freshly made kimchi which makes this recipe great for using up old kimchi on. Older kimchi also has a lot more liquid in it as well which you will need to flavor this fried rice with. That being said, freshly store-bought kimchi can still be considered older kimchi since they are pre-made ahead of time and have been sitting in the stores for a least a few weeks.
- Always Use Leftover Cold Rice: Leftover rice that has been in the fridge has less moisture, which is great for making fried rice because you'll have less of a chance of making your rice soggy and mushy. If you don't have day-old rice to use, you can make a batch of fresh rice but put less water in than you normally do to cook it. Once it is done cooking, if you have the time, put it in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.
- Toast the Spam: Make sure to toast the spam in the frying pan until it is a dark pink color. This will render out the fat in the spam which will give the fried rice extra flavor.
- More Spiciness: If you want your kimchi fried rice spicier, add ¼ - ½ tsp of cayenne pepper. I don't recommend adding more gochujang may make it slightly spicier because it will also make it saltier as well. Alternatively, gochujang comes in different heat levels as well, so you can buy the 'hot' version if you like your food spicier.
- Mix in the Sesame Oil at the End After You Turn Off the Heat: Sesame oil loses a bit of flavor when it has been heated, so mix it in at the very end after the heat has turned off to get the best nutty flavor from the sesame oil.
- For a lunchtime treat, serve this Kimchi Fried Rice with a side of Korean Cucumber Salad. The crisp and refreshing cucumber salad provides a nice contrast to the warm and spicy fried rice.
- Looking for a dinner idea? Pair this Kimchi Fried Rice with Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes) for a truly Korean feast. The chewy texture of the rice cakes and the spicy kick they bring make this pairing a great option.
- If you're hosting a Korean-themed party, serve this Kimchi Fried Rice alongside Korean Corn Cheese (Elote Style). The creamy and cheesy corn dish provides a pleasant balance to the spicy and tangy fried rice.
- For a quick and easy appetizer, enjoy this Kimchi Fried Rice with Blistered Shishito Peppers with Dipping Sauce. The mild heat from the peppers and the savory dipping sauce go great with the flavors of the fried rice.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Kimchi Fried Rice
- Meat: If you don't want to use spam, bacon works very well for this fried rice as well because it is also fatty and salty as well. You can also use up any leftover meats you have in the fridge by chopping it up and throw it in but you will need to adjust for the missing saltiness that spam and bacon have by adding a little more fish sauce.
- Vegetables: You can add additional vegetables like chopped carrots, peas, corn or leftover vegetables you have in the fridge (it's an excellent recipe to clean out the fridge with), but the more vegetables you add, the more sauce you will need to add as well to flavor the extra ingredients.
- Egg: A runny sunny side egg is a staple, especially when the yolk trickles over the fried rice but if you want more egg, you can also make some scrambled some eggs before you start making the rice and add it back in at the very end and mix it with the rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you can't squeeze enough kimchi liquid of your kimchi you can mix gochujang with warm water to make up for the remaining kimchi liquid. I like to use about 2 ½ teaspoons of gochujang with 2 tablespoons of warm water. If you need more, you can double it.
Absolutely! If you're not a fan of spam, you can easily substitute it with bacon. Keep in mind, you may need to adjust the saltiness by adding a bit more fish sauce or soy sauce, as spam is saltier than bacon. You can also use any leftover meats you have in your fridge.
Sure thing! This recipe is quite flexible. You can add chopped carrots, peas, corn, or any leftover vegetables you have in the fridge. Just remember, the more vegetables you add, the more sauce you'll need to ensure everything is flavorful.
Ideally, for the best fried rice, you'd want to use day-old rice from the fridge as it has less moisture. But if you don't have any, you can cook a fresh batch of rice with less water than usual. Once it's cooked, try to chill it in the fridge for at least three to four hours if possible.
If you like your food with a kick, you can add a quarter to half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Be careful with adding more gochujang as it can also make the dish saltier. Alternatively, you can use a 'hot' version of gochujang for an extra spice level.
How to Store Leftover Kimchi Fried Rice
If you have leftover kimchi fried rice, it’s super easy to store it. Allow it to cool down and then transfer the leftovers into an airtight container. Store it in the fridge for up to three to five days.
When you're ready to enjoy your kimchi fried rice again, you can reheat it in a pan over medium high heat. Add a splash of water to the pan to prevent the rice from drying out.
You can also reheat it in the microwave, but be sure to stir it halfway through for even heating. If you had topped your fried rice with a fried egg, it's best to prepare a fresh one when you're ready to eat.
I don’t recommend freezing this fried rice because it’ll change the texture and consistency of all the ingredients. Since it’s quick and easy to make, I recommend making it fresh when possible.
More Delicious Korean Recipes You May Like
- Korean Corn Cheese (Elote Style)
- Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae / Chapchae)
- Spicy Soondubu Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)
- Stir-Fried Kimchi Rice Cakes
- Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
- Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
- Tuna Mayo Deopbap (Korean Tuna Mayo Rice Bowl)
- Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey
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Kimchi Fried Rice with Spam
Joyce's Recipe Notes
- If you don't want to use spam, you can substitute it with bacon. Keep in mind, spam is a lot saltier than bacon so you will need to do a taste test and add a bit more salt or soy sauce to make up it. Alternatively, you can also use up any leftover meats for this recipe as well, in place of the spam/bacon.
- Older kimchi has more flavor for cooking - Older kimchi is fizzy, more fermented, and has a lot more flavor than freshly made kimchi which makes this recipe great for using up old kimchi on. Older kimchi also has a lot more liquid in it which you will need to flavor this fried rice with. That being said, freshly store-bought kimchi can still be considered older kimchi since they are pre-made ahead of time and have been sitting in the stores for a least a few weeks.
- If you can't squeeze enough kimchi liquid of your kimchi you can mix gochujang with warm water to make up for the remaining kimchi liquid. I like to use about 2 ½ teaspoons of gochujang with 2 tablespoons of warm water. If you need more, you can double it.
- Make sure to toast the spam until it is a dark pink color - This will render out the fat in the spam which will give the fried rice extra flavor.
- Always use leftover cold rice for any type of fried rice - Leftover rice that has been in the fridge has less moisture, which is great for making fried rice because you'll have less of a chance of making your rice soggy and mushy. If you don't have day-old rice to use, you can make a batch of fresh rice but put less water in than you normally do to cook it. Once it is done cooking, if you have the time, put it in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.
- If you want your kimchi fried rice spicier, add ¼ - ½ tsp of cayenne pepper. Adding more gochujang may make it slightly more spicier but it will also make it saltier as well. Alternatively, gochujang comes in different heat levels as well, so you can buy the 'hot' version if you like your food spicier.
- Mix in the sesame oil at the end after you turn off the heat - Adding heat to sesame oil reduces the flavor from it, so I like to mix it in at the very end after the heat has turned off to get the best nutty flavor from the sesame oil.
- 3 cups rice (cold, leftover rice, *see notes)
- 1 cup spam (chopped into ¼ inch cubes, *see notes for substitutions)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely minced, approx. 1 ½ tablespoon)
- ⅓ cup onion (diced)
- 1 cup kimchi
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil (mixed it at the very end after the rice is done cooking)
- (optional) egg (To make a sunny side-up fried egg on top)
Kimchi Fried Rice Sauce
- toasted sesame seeds
- green onions
- roasted seaweed (cut into small pieces, see notes)
Prepare the Ingredients
- Gently break up the leftover cold rice by hand into small pieces.
- Measure out the kimchi and place it in bowl. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the kimchi as you can into a separate bowl. Chop the kimchi into small ¼ pieces and set it aside for later
- Remove the spam from the can and chop it into small ¼ inch cubes. Set it aside for later
- Peel and dice an onion and set it aside for later
- Peel and finely mince the garlic and set it aside for later
- If you are using seaweed as a garnish, cut it into smaller pieces using scissors and set it aside for the very end.
- If you are using green onions as a garnish, finely chop it and set it aside for the very end.
Mix the Sauce
- Make sure you have enough reserved liquid for the recipe. If you don't have enough kimchi liquid, you can mix 2½ teaspoons of gochujang with 2 tablespoons of water to make up for the remainder of the kimchi liquid. (You can double it, if you need more than 2 tablespoons of liquid)
- Once you have enough kimchi liquid, mix it with the fish sauce and gochujang until it forms a sauce.
(Optional) Fry a Sunny Side-Up Egg
- If you are serving it with a fried egg, pan-fry a sunny side-up egg and place it on a plate, and set it aside for the very end.
Making the Kimchi Fried Rice
- Set the stove to medium-high heat and melt the butter with 1-2 tablespoons of oil
- Once the butter has melted, add in the spam. Toast the spam until it turns a toasty dark pink color (approximately 3-4 minutes)
- Reduce the heat on the stove to medium heat
- Add in the onions and garlic and cook it for 2 minutes
- Add in the kimchi and cook it for 3-4 minutes until there is very little to no liquid in the frying pan
- Add the cooked rice and cook it for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the sauce and mix everything together for about 1 minute until everything is mixed together evenly. If there are any lumps in the rice, wait until it has warmed up from the heat and use your utensil to press on it to break it down into individual grains of rice. Make sure to coat all the rice with the sauce so that you see no white rice.
- Do a taste test. If it needs more salt, add in more salt or soy sauce until it is flavored the way you like.
- Turn off the heat, and mix in the sesame oil and garnish with toppings of your choice! If you made a fried egg, place it on top of your fried rice and enjoy with the runny yolk!
- Enjoy hot as a meal or a side dish!
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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