Kimchi fried rice is so easy to make and loaded with flavor. It can be enjoyed on its own as a complete meal. Or add your favorite plant-based protein on top. Vegan & gluten-free.
Kimchi fried rice is a weeknight-friendly recipe that’s packed with the pungent goodness of preserved cabbage, peas, and onions. It comes together in just 20 to 30 minutes.
By using leftover rice, store-bought kimchi, and frozen peas, it requires very little chopping or time on task. Enjoy it as a full lunch or dinner on its own or alongside browned tofu or seitan.
This kimchi fried rice recipe comes from the cookbook Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen.
You’ll find a variety of recipes in the book – from easy weeknight meals to more elaborate projects. You can also find gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options as well. (This recipe for smoky kale & chickpeas with miso peanut drizzle also looks terrific!)
Use cold leftover rice
For best results, you’ll want to use cold rice. With cold rice, you’re able to coat & toast the individual grains.
Freshly cooked rice has more moisture & will clump. That makes it difficult for it to toast or for the flavorings to combine.
Use leftover rice in the refrigerator or frozen rice.
I always have a box of frozen brown rice in the freezer. Simply move it to the refrigerator the day before you want to prepare it. Or if you’re in a time crunch, put it on the counter to quickly thaw while you’re preparing the rest of the dish.
If you don’t have cold rice on hand but you need kimchi fried rice, here’s a workaround. Make a fresh batch of rice. Spread it out on a baking sheet. Then freeze it for 15 minutes until cooled. Then continue with the recipe as written.
What kind of kimchi should I use?
You can use store-bought or homemade kimchi for this recipe.
The main thing to keep in mind is that some kimchi is made with fish sauce, shrimp, and/or anchovy extract. To keep this recipe vegan, make sure to look for a fish-free variety at the grocery store. Simply read the ingredient label.
I’m a fan of Gold Mine and Sunja’s.
How to make the kimchi fried rice
Here’s what you’ll need.
Bring a large skillet to a medium-high heat with coconut oil. Add onion & sauté it.
Add kimchi & cook until heated through and not overly juicy.
Add green peas & cook until bright green.
Bring a separate skillet to a medium high heat with coconut oil. Add rice & cook until heated through and crisp.
Season the rice with tamari and kimchi brine.
Add the toasted rice to the pan with kimchi/onions/peas.
Serve with your preferred garnishes.
Make it your own
You can make this dish your own by varying the amount of kimchi in the dish. I like to use 8 ounces of kimchi. However, if yours is on the weak side, feel free to add more. (You can go up to double.)
If your kimchi is mildly flavored, add a dollop of gochujang, a sprinkle of rice vinegar, or another splash of tamari to the rice.
If you don’t have coconut oil, any high heat oil will work. Organic canola oil is a convenient all-purpose & flavorless option.
You can easily use less oil than what the recipe lists. I halve the amount below, and that works fine.
The peas can be replaced with edamame.
What to serve with it
This filling rice dish can be a full meal on its own. Or you can add different garnishes, toppings, or side dishes to fill it out.
For a starter, begin the meal with potsticker soup. It is lightly seasoned with gochujang, which complements the flavors here.
Top kimchi fried rice with garnishes like sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, scallions, browned seitan bacon, or crumbled nori.
Protein-packed tofu gives extra staying power to the dish. Homemade bulgogi tofu, eggy tofu, or store-bought teriyaki tofu works well here. (You can pre-packaged teriyaki flavored tofu from Wildwood or Trader Joe’s.)
Add a dollop of sesame kale to the side for extra greens.
How to store & reheat
Keep leftover kimchi fried rice in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for 3 to 5 days.
Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove with a little oil. Add another splash of tamari if it seems dry.
More fried rice recipes
Can’t get enough fried rice? Try these other fried rice recipes:
Kimchi fried rice
- 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or peanut oil, divided
- 1 medium white onion peeled, trimmed, and chopped
- 8 to 16 ounces kimchi roughly chopped*
- 1 ½ cups frozen green peas
- 3 cups cooked rice chilled
- 1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 Tablespoon kimchi brine
- Garnishes: Chopped dry roasted peanuts and sesame seeds, thinly sliced scallions, crumbled roasted nori sheet, mild-flavored fried or baked tofu optional
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok. Add the onion and cook until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the kimchi and cook until it isn’t too juicy anymore and is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the green peas and cook until bright green and heated through, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Break the rice apart with a spoon to remove clumps. In another skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat. Add the rice to the oil and cook until heated through and crisp, about 3 minutes.
- Add the tamari and kimchi brine, and cook until absorbed and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
- Stir the rice into the vegetables to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with your garnishes of choice.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking for review purposes.
Content, recipe, and photos updated May 25, 2021. Originally posted July 20, 2017.