Side dishes are the unsung heroes of Korean cuisine. They’re not always the most exciting or attention-grabbing part of a meal, but these 25 Korean side dishes are so good that they just might be the best part of your lunch or dinner.
Side dishes are a staple of Korean cuisine.
They’re not just there to make the main dish look prettier; they’re an integral part of the meal.
But the first thing you need to know about Korean side dishes is that they are meant to be eaten with rice.
If you don’t eat rice with your meal, you’ll be missing out on a huge part of the experience.
Most Koreans eat rice with every single meal, even breakfast!
The second thing you need to know about Korean side dishes is that they tend to be spicy and sweet at the same time.
You’ll see this combination again and again in many different types of Korean food, but especially when it comes to the side dishes that accompany main dishes like barbecue or seafood.
And the third thing you need to know is that some of the side dishes in this article are full meals in themselves, while others are condiments that add flavor and texture to your meal.
But seriously, you can’t go wrong with any of these side dishes.
Pick one and dig in!
Need something to pair with your fried chicken?
Have some Korean Pickled Radish!
Hankering for a snack?
Try Korean Sausage Stir Fry!
But if you don’t know what you crave, we suggest cooking #23.
It goes well with just about any dish you serve.
So, let’s get to it!
Korean Green Salad is a delicious, hearty salad that can be served as a side dish or on its own.
It is made with fresh mixed greens or your choice of fruits.
The dressing is an umami bomb of soy sauce, sugar, chili flakes, sesame seeds, and vinegar.
And it’s sweet, tangy, and nutty—the perfect complement to any savory meat dish.
If you’re still unsure if you like Korean Green Salad, just try it!
You’ll be glad you did!
It’s the ideal soup for a cold day.
It’s so hot, it’ll make you sweat.
And it’s spicy enough to clear your sinuses but still has that hint of sweetness to make you feel like you’re eating some kind of dessert for dinner.
Basically, the Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup is a beautiful thing.
That’s if you can handle the heat.
If you’ve ever tried to describe the taste of Korean Pickled Radish to someone who’s never had it before, you know how hard it is to do.
There are just so many different flavors in there that it’s hard to pick one out—and even more challenging to describe them all in one breath!
To put it simply, Korean Pickled Radish tastes spicy, salty, sour, and sweet all at once.
Some people even describe it as tasting like kimchi, but the pickled radish has a more concentrated flavor than a spicy vegetable dish.
It’s not overpowering or too salty, though.
It’s just right!
The Korean Spinach Salad may look like a simple salad, but there’s more flavor in it than meets the eye.
The garlic has a gentle bite that’s balanced out by the sweetness of the sesame oil.
And the crunchy sesame seeds pair well with the soft spinach leaves that give you something to chew on as you eat your way through this delicious dish!
Besides, it is incredibly versatile and can be served as an appetizer or side dish at any time of day.
You can find these Korean Braised Potatoes on the menu at any Korean restaurant, but you might also want to try making them at home, especially if you’re looking for an easy recipe to impress your friends or family.
In this recipe, the potatoes are soft and tender but still have some bite to them.
It’s truly one of our favorite Korean side dishes to make for dinner because it’s so quick and easy!
Plus, the flavor is amazing too!
It’s got a nice sweetness from the sugar but also some saltiness from the soy sauce that makes it even more delicious.
The garlic adds a nice kick as well!
Korean Cucumber Salad is crunchy, cool, a bit spicy, and sweet—but not too sweet.
The cucumbers are sliced thin, so you can really taste them, and the dressing is light and refreshing.
And it’s got the right amount of sour taste to make your taste buds dance, but not so much that it takes over the rest of your meal.
It’s also great on its own or alongside other Korean dishes.
Kimchi is a Korean dish that is made from fermented cabbage.
It is usually spicy, sour, and salty.
But it is also known for its distinctive smell.
When you open up a jar of it, you’ll notice that it smells like sauerkraut or vinegar-soaked cabbage, but with a little more kick.
However, you can still enjoy it as an appetizer or side dish at meals with rice or noodles.
Want to know more about kimchi? Here we share more about what kimchi is and what it tastes like.
This Sweet Korean Eggplant will put a smile on your face and fire in your belly!
Yes, it’s slightly spicy, but like a good salsa, it doesn’t burn your tongue or leave you
reaching for a glass of milk.
It’s spicy in a way that makes you want to eat it every day for weeks.
The texture is also unlike anything else you’ve tried before: soft but firm, with just enough crunch to remind you that you’re eating something fresh out of the kitchen.
And the skin is thin enough that it almost melts away as soon as it hits your tongue; all you’ll be able to taste is the tender flesh beneath it.
This is an excellent choice for those tired of potatoes or other starchy side dishes.
Korean Zucchini is a tasty dish that is made up of thinly sliced zucchini soaked in a sweet and spicy Korean sauce.
And the result is incredibly good.
The sweetness from the marinade combines with the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes to create a savory flavor that will make you come back for more.
This dish goes well with rice or noodles, but we recommend eating it by itself so you can enjoy all of the different flavors together.
The Korean Egg Roll is a delicacy that many people have never heard of, but it’s quickly gaining popularity among food lovers all over the world.
It is made from a thin sheet of egg-based dough that is wrapped around a filling of meat and vegetables.
And it’s then fried until golden brown and served with a sweet sauce.
However, the consistency of this dish is similar to that of a spring roll.
The only difference between spring and egg rolls is that egg rolls are larger but have less filling inside them, while the spring roll is smaller and more delicate.
But it’s just as good!
Sweet & Sour Radish Salad tends to be the kind of dish that people either love or hate.
It’s something not everyone will be able to appreciate.
But if you like your food light and fresh-tasting, this might just be for you!
It tastes like a nice blend of sweet and sour, which makes it a great option to go with your favorite Korean BBQ meal.
It’s also one of those Korean side dishes that match well with almost any other side dish.
We think we can all agree that salads are some of the best things in the world, but even more so when they’re made with mung bean sprouts.
Korean Mung Bean Sprout Salad is a delicious dish made with crunchy mung bean sprouts and piquant soy sauce-sesame oil dressing that are beautifully balanced by the slight juiciness of the thinly sliced green onions.
When we actually first tried this recipe, we were surprised by how flavorful it was!
The combination is just so unique!
If you’ve never had crispy Korean Pan-Fried Tofu, you’re in for a real treat.
Think of it like this: it’s like tofu, except its not tofu at all.
It’s a crunchy, crispy, flavorful slice of bean curd that will change your life forever.
Seriously, though—this stuff is something else.
The best way to put it is “like biting into a puffy cloud.”
It’s soft and fluffy, but when you bite down into it… POW!
There’s an explosion of flavor that makes all your senses go wild.
And the best part? You can eat it with anything!
This stuff goes great on top of salads or just by itself with some soy sauce or sriracha sauce.
If there was ever a food worth trying (and then eating again), this would be the one!
Korean Steamed Eggs (Gyeran Jjim) is a simple dish that can be served as an appetizer or as part of a larger meal.
It’s very popular in Korea, and it’s easy to see why: the soft, silky texture of the eggs makes them incredibly satisfying.
It’s also similar to other types of eggs—it’s savory, with notes of onion and garlic but with a slight hint of sweetness.
It’s a delicate flavor that goes well with rice and meat dishes too.
In fact, most Korean restaurants serve steamed eggs, but why go there when you can easily make them at home? Right?
15. Korean Mushrooms
There’s something about Korean food that just makes us feel like we’re eating a hug.
It’s flavorful, warming, and just plain delicious.
But this Korean Mushroom side dish is one of our favorites.
The mushrooms themselves are soft and chewy, and they have a meaty taste that, in some ways, reminds us of chicken.
They’re also very juicy, which means that you don’t need to use much oil when cooking them—just toss them in your pan or wok with a little bit of salt, pepper, or any other spices you like.
We love serving them with steamed vegetables like broccoli and carrots for an easy dinner that’s filling without being heavy.
How can we best describe Gochujang Sesame Broccoli?
Well, it’s like a delicious blend of spicy and savory, with a little acidity.
You can taste the sesame seeds in every bite, along with the subtle heat from the gochujang.
And then there’s that hint of tartness, which lingers on your tongue.
This dish is perfect for those who love semi-spicy foods or are looking for a new way to get their greens on!
If you’ve ever eaten dried anchovies, you know they can be pretty fishy.
But Korean Stir-Fried Dried Anchovies with Almonds is a dish that balances the saltiness of the anchovies with the nuttiness of almonds to create different flavors that are pretty complex.
The dried anchovies are, of course, salty, but they have a wonderful umami flavor.
And the almonds provide crunchy texture along with bursts of nutty flavor that add depth to the overall taste profile.
You can also substitute pine nuts for almonds if you prefer them!
It is best to pair them with steamed rice or other grain like soba noodles or buckwheat noodles for extra starchiness!
If you want to feel as if you’ve been transported to Korea, try this Korean Seasoned Dried Squid.
The dried squid is seasoned with a sweet and salty soy sauce, and it’s absolutely delicious.
It also has a bit of heat from the red pepper paste used in the marinade.
Overall, the flavor is complicated but still quite easy to like.
We also love this one because of its versatility: You can snack on it alone or have salads, pasta, and fried rice with it.
And if you’re feeling extra adventurous (or just have an extra day off), try pairing it with some sake!
Korean Sausage Stir Fry is a dish that takes the classic stir fry and adds a little Korean flair.
The Korean sausages are seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and other traditional flavors from Korea.
This gives the dish a zesty flavor that pairs perfectly with earthy vegetables and aromatic rice.
It’s also very versatile.
You can use any kind of Korean sausages or even regular ones if you don’t have access to Korean sausages.
You can also add other ingredients like carrots or other types of meat like chicken or beef.
Feel free to add anything you like.
When you think of kimchi, you might think of the sour and spicy Korean dish that’s perfect for a chilly winter day.
And when you think of tuna, you might imagine a canning process that preserves the fish in oil and makes it last longer.
But how would you like it if we told you there’s a way to enjoy these two foods together?
Well, if you’re also searching for an exciting new flavor combination in your life, these Tuna Kimchi Pancakes are the answer!
The pancakes themselves are light and slightly airy, and the kimchi adds a kick of spice that stops the dish from becoming too bland.
And the tuna, in turn, gives the dish a salty accent without overwhelming the other flavors.
The best part is they come in convenient pancake form!
Korean Corn Cheese is a unique dish that you will have to try to understand.
It’s made with sweet corn kernel, cheese, and mayonnaise.
Plus, the flavor is very different from other Korean dishes.
For example, it has more cheese, and it’s definitely less spicy than other Korean dishes.
Initially, we thought it was just some dull dish.
But once we tried it, we loved it!
Now we want to eat it every day!
That’s because it tastes great from the nice combination of savory and creaminess.
The cheese adds that rich texture, while the mayonnaise gives the dish its amazing tart-salty flavor!
Tteokbokki, a traditional Korean dish, is made with rice cakes.
The word “tteok” means ‘rice cake’ in Korean, and the word “bokki” means ‘fried’ or ‘stir-fried.’
It is one of the most popular snacks in Korea, and it’s sold on street corners across the country and almost always served with a side of kimchi.
When you bite into tteokbokki, you’ll notice its soft texture with a chewy consistency similar to pasta.
The rice cake is usually thick and sometimes cut into squares or rectangles.
And the broth is often full of onion and garlic flavor along with traditional Korean spices.
Japchae is a Korean dish that’s a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and a whole lot awesome.
It’s generally served as a side dish for barbecued meats, but we’ve found it to be a great main course too!
However, the best part of this dish is that you can customize it however you want.
You can add more or less sugar, depending on your preference.
You can also add more or less garlic if you like a stronger flavor.
And if you don’t have any of those ingredients on hand?
Just use what veggies you have lying around, or even just throw some meat into the mix!
Korean Spicy Fish Cake Stir-Fry tastes like a bowl of comfort.
It’s spicy and savory, but also refreshing with lots of vegetables.
Plus, this stir-fry has a variety of textures—it’s crunchy, juicy, and chewy all at once!
The sauce in this dish is usually made with gochujang (red pepper paste), which gives it a strong heat that stays on your tongue even after you’ve eaten it with a soft, spongy fish cake.
It’s better to eat it sooner rather than later so that it stays nice and fresh.
The name might sound unappetizing, but this dish is a delightful surprise.
The taste is like the lovechild of potato and egg: it’s sweet, salty, and earthy at the same time.
You’ll feel like you’re eating something hearty but also indulgent.
It’s like eating vegetables that taste like dessert!
And if you’re not into sweets?
Get ready for your tastebuds to be wowed by this salad’s savory side.
The bottom line
Korean side dishes will make any meal into a party, and each dish has its own distinct taste.
And to say that Korean food is one of the best cuisines in the world would be an understatement.
The bold colors, unexpected textures, and unforgettable flavors are unbelievably tasty, original, and tempting — making each bite both exciting and comforting all at once.
And with an extensive range of options to choose from, you’ll be able to find that perfect dish for any occasion and even tailor-make your meal as you go.
So what are you waiting for?
It’s time for you to get cooking!
Looking for more Korean food or drink options, we’ve compiled lists of 25 BEST Korean Recipes, 25 Korean Desserts, and 13 BEST Soju Cocktails that you should definitely check out.
- Korean Green Salad
- Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Soup (Sundubu Jjigae)
- Korean Pickled Radish
- Korean Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul)
- Korean Braised Potatoes (Gamja Jorim)
- Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
- Sweet Korean Eggplant
- Korean Zucchini (Aehobak Bokkeum)
- Korean Egg Roll (Gyeran Mari)
- Sweet & Sour Radish Salad (Musaengchae)
- Korean Mung Bean Sprout Salad (Sukju-Namul Muchim)
- Korean Pan-Fried Tofu (Dubu Buchim)
- Korean Steamed Eggs (Gyeran Jjim)
- Korean Mushrooms
- Gochujang Sesame Broccoli
- Korean Stir-Fried Dried Anchovies With Almonds (Myeolchi Bokkeum)
- Korean Seasoned Dried Squid (Ojingeochae Muchim)
- Korean Sausage Stir Fry (Sausage Yachae Bokkeum)
- Tuna Kimchi Pancakes
- Korean Corn Cheese
- Sweet & Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki)
- Korean Noodle Stir Fry (Japchae)
- Korean Spicy Fish Cake Stir-Fry (Eomuk Bokkeum)
- Korean Potato Salad (Gamja Salad)
- Take a look at our Korean Side Dishes list!
- Bring the ingredients to create a new favorite dish.
- Woohoo! You created a home-cooked meal!
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