vegetarian bibimbap bowl recipe

Easy Vegetarian Korean & Korean-Inspired Recipes

From K-Pop to K-Drama – Korean influence on contemporary culture has seen a dramatic rise in recent years, running in parallel with the growing global appeal of Korean cuisine. After all, there is really a lot to love about the simple yet soul-stirring style of cooking rooted in dishes that are as vibrant as they are rich in sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. From “banchan” (small plates that complete a Korean meal) to noodles and rice-based dishes that are a meal in themselves, Korean cuisine spans a breadth of vegetarian-friendly recipes that are both replicable and adaptable in homes outside Korea.

If you enjoy Korean cuisine as much as we do, gathered here you’ll find a one-stop guide to getting you started – from key ingredients to stockpiling in your pantry, to a selection of recipes that will elevate your weeknight dinners and level up your next dinner party too!

Key Ingredients For Vegetarian Korean Cooking

easy Korean vegetarian recipes

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it presents a capsule collection of the key ingredients required at a minimum to make a broad range of Korean dishes at home:

  • Kimchi: a natural probiotic, kimchi was created as a away of preserving vegetables through longer periods of time to last through winter. It packs a punch that’s part sour, part salty, adding an umami-rich twist to everything it touches from toasties to ramen.
  • Gochujang: this fermented red pepper chilli paste is a staple in Korean cooking, imparting fiery shades of heat offset by a subtle natural sweetness from its fermenting grains. Beyond its traditional uses for dishes such as bibimbap or bibimguksu (cold noodles), you can add gochujang to just about anything from eggs to pasta and salads.
  • Gochugaru: these crushed coarsely-ground red pepper flakes have lingering fruity notes that cut through their spice factor to enliven the humblest of dishes with a burst of vibrance.
  • Sesame oil: sesame oil adds a finishing finesse to many Korean recipes from dipping sauces to barbecue dishes, stir-fries, rice-based preparations and more.
  • Rice vinegar: a little vinegar goes a long way in balancing the flavours of dipping sauces and dressings with a tarty touch.
  • Toasted sesame seeds: Another key ingredient, lending an earthy nuttiness that’s essential for vegetarian Korean cooking, not to mention it adds a moreish crunch for a savoury texture!
easy vegetarian Korean recipes

Vegetarian Korean Recipes

Banchan & Side-Dishes

“Banchan” broadly refer to the small plates that complete any Korean spread. These include “muchim,” which roughly translates to “mix and season,” a popular dish being “oi muchim,” a salad of sorts starring cucumbers tossed with a sweet-and-spicy, tangy dressing!

Spicy Chilli Oil Cucumber Salad
Inspired by the  signature Korean dish “Oi Muchim," this spicy yet oh-so-refreshing cucumber salad is set apart by a sizzling chilli oil as its base. It's part sweet, part spicy and part tangy, with a craveable crunch too.
chilli oil cucumber salad
Korean-Style Corn Cheese
A creamy yet spicy Korean-inspired combination of cheese and corn, cooked in a skillet until the cheese has melted! Serve it as a comforting side dish on a rainy day.
korean corn cheese
Korean Vegetable Pancakes (Yachaejeon)
Crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside and packed with veggies – these savoury Korean pancakes are perfect as an appetiser or side dish, paired with a light dipping sauce.
korean vegetable pancakes yachajeon

Rice-based dishes

Did you know that the word “meal” in Korean is interchangeable with the term for “cooked rice” or “bap.” Most Korean dishes are had with rice!

Vegetarian Bibimbap Bowl
A vegetarian take on the classic Korean rice bowl, assembled with a vibrant medley of mushrooms, greens and veggies. To finish, it is drizzled with a fiery-red Gochujang sauce which adds shades of heat and a potent depth of flavour.
vegetarian bibimbap bowl recipe

& dishes to pair with rice

Korean-Style Braised Tofu
Crisp and golden tofu braised in a spicy, savoury and intensely-rich sauce – this one-pan tofu is inspired by the classic Korean dish, Dubu Jorim. It's as simple as it is soul-stirring, pairing perfectly with rice for a deliciously-healthy and wholesome meal.
Korean-style braised tofu

Soups & Stews

Some form of soup or stew is an essential part of most Korean meals, served to right of the rice bowl. A classic Korean stew is known as jjigae, with variations including sundubu (soft tofu) jjigae and kimchi jjigae.

Vegan Sundubu Jjigae (Spicy Soft Tofu Stew)
Pronounced SOON-DOO-BOO  JIG-AY, this hot and spicy Korean soft tofu stew stars shades of heat from gochugaru (a Korean spice mix) foiled by the melt-in-your-mouth texture of creamy tofu. Serve this vegan Sundubu Jjigae with the rice of your choice (short grain rice preferably).


I’ll be the first to admit that neither of the recipes below are “authentic” Korean dishes, rather they are creative experiments starring the unsung hero of K-cuisine – gochujang! And with over 25 million views (and counting!) -these gochujang noodles are definitely one of my most popular recipes to date.

Spicy Korean-Inspired Gochujang Ramen Noodles
Elevate your next ramyun fix with this quick, easy and intensely-flavoured spicy sauce spiked with Gochujang and a hot chilli-garlic oil. Don't skip the peanut butter, as it adds a subtle creaminess to offset the shades of heat.
spicy gochujang noodles
Gochujang Mayo Ramen Hack
This creamy, spicy soupy ramen is an elevated take on the mayo ramen hack, also starring fiery Gochujang and heaps of parmesan.
Gochujang mayo ramen

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