This perfect vegan kimchi fried rice recipe (a.k.a. kimchi-bokkeum-bap 김치볶음밥) will have you savoring every flavor-packed bite. It really delivers the perfect balance of spice and umami goodness. Not only is this easy-to-make Korean dish an absolute showstopper, but it's also a delicious way to give your leftover rice a delectable new lease on life. It also happens to be completely gluten-free, as long as the gochujang you use is.
You can use my vegan kimchi recipe to use in this dish, or any vegan store-bought brand you like. Any leftover cooked rice you have laying around will work in this recipe, but I think it works extra-perfect with short-grain white rice.
Prepare for your sense to be enveloped by a Korean comfort-food vibe as you indulge in the heat and spice of this perfect plant based kimchi fried rice. You are def gonna want to drown it in a pile of my seitan bulgogi, or some eggplant grilled in either Korean bbq sauce or tom yum paste.
Not only will you relish every nourishing bite, but you'll also love how it puts any leftover rice and kimchi to excellent use, preventing any food waste. It's fast to make, nourishing, an all-around crowd pleaser, and therefore, what I'd call the perfect weeknight meal.
So get your wok ready and let's start cooking up a storm!
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- It’s going to be your favorite way to use up leftover rice! It's one of my favorite rice recipes all around. And I have some BANGERS here like Biryani, Nasi Uduk Betawi, and even crispy rice dumplings with red jujube dates, so that says a lot!.
- Having rice, tofu, beansprouts, sea veggies, mushrooms and veggies, it’s really a nutritionally complete meal on its own.
- It makes a great item to batch out for meal prep days, or include in packed lunches for school or work.
- Rice- This recipe calls for day old rice as it firms up and is suited to be fried, since it will not overcook and become mushy. If you don't have any leftover rice, don't worry, cook a fresh batch and let it cool for an hour or two uncovered before frying.
- Gochujang - a red fermented soybean and chili paste, pairs beautifully with kimchi fried rice. I really like the one that Trader Joe’s offers because it is one of very few commercially available brands that is not made with high-fructose corn syrup. Gochujang lasts for months in the refrigerator. If you can't get hold of any, you can substitute sriracha, and add a little more sweetener to the recipe, since gochujang is sweet.
- Another quick thing still about gochujang for you GF freaks to keep in mind- This recipe is completely gluten-free -but only so long as the gochujang you use is! If you avoid eating gluten, please check the ingredients on your gochujang, and substitute with sriracha if necessary.
- Kimchi- Kimchi isn’t usually vegan, but rejoice, there are finally a bunch of brands that are. I make this fried rice using my homemade kimchi, because it’s cheaper than store bought, and gosh darn it, it’s better than anything you can buy! Make sure to include the kimchi juice in what you measure out, as it really helps permeate the rice with that divine fermented flavor.
- Enoki mushrooms- Enoki mushrooms, also called golden needle mushrooms, are widely used in Asian cooking. These mushrooms have a tender, crisp texture and a slightly sweet, mild taste. They are not only a delicious addition to meals but also offer nutritional benefits, containing fiber, potassium, and vitamin B. If you can’t get your hands on them, you can substitute about a cup of any other kind of mushroom that is available to you.
- Date syrup- I think date syrup is the perfect sweetener for this dish. Date syrup is a healthy and flavorful substitute for refined sugar, with a lower glycemic index. Other options are maple syrup, or coconut sugar like I use in making Kuih Dadar, or palm sugar which I use in klepon, and bubur cha cha.
- Tofu- This recipe calls for extra firm tofu that gets roasted up and added in to the fried rice. If you hate tofu, I’m really not sure what it may have done to upset you so much, but this recipe will also work with a different protein of your choice like seitan.
- Other yummy stuff! There are a whole bunch of other ingredients in this recipe. Instead of making you read here about the history of scallions or whatever, I have listed all the ingredients with their exact qualities in the recipe card below.
Everyone’s different, like fingerprints, snowflakes, and whatnot. Make this dish exactly how you want it to be!
- Spicier pls! - To kick it up, simply add MORE gochujang when you make it. If you are a freaking crazy person, you can also add some minced Thai chilies or chopped-up green chili pickle when you are sautéing up the initial ingredients.
- Not spicy practically at all pls! - Leave out the gochujang, and use homemade kimchi that is light on the gochugaru (or free of it completely if you must)
Don't be scared. I will hold your hand and we can walk together into the fried rice sunset. Or you can skip this step-by-step guide and just follow the recipe card toward the bottom of this page.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Blot the tofu dry with a paper towel and cut it into 1 cm cubes. Combine the cubed tofu, olive oil, and a tablespoon of tamari in a bowl, then spread the mixture out in a single layer on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Roast the tofu for 25 minutes until it becomes firm and acquires a golden brown color.
Warm up a wok or large cast iron skillet on high heat for 90 seconds. Pour in the sesame oil and let it heat thoroughly for 60 seconds. Add the scallions, enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, and garlic to the pan and sauté by stirring for 2-3 minutes until the scallions and bean sprouts start to wilt.
Incorporate the roasted tofu and kimchi into the sauté and continue cooking for 2 minutes until it becomes aromatic.
Add the rice, date syrup, and gochujang. Continue cooking by stirring occasionally for 3 minutes until the rice is heated completely.
When serving, garnish each portion with toasted sesame seeds, additional bean sprouts, thinly sliced seasoned seaweed, and scallions.
This vegan kimchi fried rice is already a pretty nutritionally complete meal, but my family LOVES when I serve this with my tofu katsu, spicy Korean cucumber salad, and sambal goreng tempeh, with a little steamed or sautéed bok choy, or Filipino Sitaw on the side.
This kimchi fried rice is DOPE AS HELL to use as the filling for making these crispy rice dumplings. Make it. I promise you will be super-glad about it.
Give those recipes a peep if you want to turn this into an especially-baller-meal-from-heaven.
- “I just made my kimchi yesterday”- if your kimchi isn’t fermented enough the fried rice will not have as intense a flavor. Add an extra splash of vinegar to compensate for the not-yet-sour-enough thing your unripe kimchi has going on.
- Cutting the seasoned seaweed- this works best using sharp scissors instead of a knife. You can even cut 5 or so sheets at a time that way.
- Use day-old rice, or at least rice that has fully cooled for a couple hours. This will avoid the rice being mushy when it gets stir fried.
🤷♀️ Recipe FAQs
Stir-fried kimchi mellows out when cooked, diminishing it’s heat and sourness a little. When sautéing the rice, both date syrup and gochujang is added to balance the sour and pungent flavor of the fermented kimchi. If your kimchi is weak tasting, you might want to punch the dish up with a small splash of vinegar to balance off the sweetness.
Most of the time, kimchi is served with fried egg, but it can totally be made plant-based if you leave that out! But here's the thing: the Kimchi itself can sometimes have seafood stuff in it like brine shrimp or fish sauce. So if you're buying Kimchi, make sure you read the label carefully to make sure it's vegan-friendly.
Short-grain rice (japonica) is often preferred for fried rice because of its stickier texture and higher starch content, which allows it to hold together better when stir-fried with other ingredients. This results in a more cohesive and satisfying texture to the dish. Popular japonica rice varieties include Koshihikari, Calrose, and Nishiki, but any short-grain rice will work great in this recipe.
If you aren’t eating this immediately, you can portion it out into containers for meal prep, or for packed lunches, and it will last for 3-4 days in the fridge, as long as the rice you use in the recipe isn’t already older than 24 hours.
🔥 If you want to reheat this dish, just stir-frying it in a wok or skillet over a high flame for a couple of minutes will do the trick. You may want to add a little extra water or sesame oil when you reheat it so it stays juicy.
✌️Other dishes that go great with this:
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The Easiest Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice
- 14 oz. Extra firm tofu drained
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 scallions chopped into ½ inch sections
- 1 pack enoki mushrooms 200 grams, roughly chopped
- 1 cup bean sprouts optional
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ⅔ cup chopped kimchi with juice
- 4 cups cooked short grain rice white or brown as desired
- 2-3 tablespoons of gochujang according to your preference for spice
- 1 ½ teaspoons date syrup or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon toasted white or black sesame seeds to garnish
- Extra beansprouts optional to garnish
- Roasted seasoned seaweed nori, cut into thin strips
- Thinly sliced scallions to garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel and dice it into 1 cm cubes. Mix together the diced tofu, olive oil and tablespoon of tamari in a bowl, and then spread it out in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking pan. Roast the tofu for 25 minutes until firm and golden brown.
- Heat a wok or large cast iron skillet over a high flame for 90 seconds. Add the sesame oil, and allow it to heat fully for 60 seconds. Add the scallions, enoki mushrooms, beansprouts, and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring for 2-3 minutes until the scallions and beansprouts show signs of wilting.
- Add the kimchi and roasted tofu. Continue sautéing for 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the rice, date syrup, and gochujang. Continue sautéing, stirring regularly for 3 minutes until the rice is heated throughout.
- When serving, garnish with toasted sesame seeds, extra beansprouts, thinly cut seasoned seaweed, and scallions.