Satisfying as an entree or exciting side, this Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice is surprisingly easy and quick to make. It’s not even that spicy, but it could be made more spicy if preferred.
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Hey Internet, I can’t remember where I first heard about kimchi fried rice, but when I did I knew I had to try to make my own vegan version.
I haven’t always loved kimchi. About a year into my vegan journey, I tried a vegan store-bought kimchi for the first time, and man, was it spicy! I mean, maybe it wasn’t, but it was spicy to me.
But here’s the thing: my spice tolerance was basically non-existent. I grew up in a house full of people who loved spicy food, but me? Not so much.
I decided about a year later to start trying to improve my tolerance. I now LOVE kimchi. Sriracha is fantastic and I’m obsessed with Cholula. Hot sauce and tabasco… I’m still working on those. I love some hot peppers but not all yet. I’ll get there.
But kimchi is something I love and I’m able to get it vegan around where I live easily. If you want to try making your own, I highly recommend this vegan kimchi recipe from one of my favorite vegan food bloggers.
Either way, this vegan kimchi fried rice is amazing, and surprisingly quick to make especially if you already have cooked rice in your fridge.
In fact, cold, day-old rice is preferred when making fried rice, but not mandatory. If you’re making a fresh batch of rice for this meal, just let it cool a bit while you do the other prep work.
This dish would be even better with mushrooms or whatever veggies you like. I kept it simple with peas but now I’m definitely going to try it with some seasoned mushrooms--maybe oyster mushrooms, yum.
But let’s hop into the basic recipe and you can then customize it to your liking!
What You’ll Need
- Vegan kimchi: So kimchi is not traditionally made vegan, so you’ll need to make sure that the brand you buy specifically says Vegan. I have a few brands in my grocery stores (US-Midwest based) that have a vegan kimchi, including Wildbrine, Nasoya, and Mother-in-Law (they also make non-vegan kimchi, so be sure to read the label). You can also make your own vegan kimchi if you prefer. A quick note that cooking the kimchi does take away the probiotic effect, so save a little to top your rice with if you’d like to get some probiotic benefit from this meal.
- Rice: Any short grain rice works well (I used white Jasmine rice here)--I’ve also seen people use quinoa or other grains. Brown rice works great and of course is more nutritious than white rice. Day old refrigerated cooked rice is best for this as it soaks up more flavor and the starch is a bit different, but you can absolutely just cook a batch of rice and then make this dish. Just let the rice cool a little bit while you do the other prep work.
- Fresh garlic: Not a necessity but tastes so good here.
- Green onions: AKA scallions. Another onion like a white or yellow or sweet onion would also work fine here. The first time I made this I used a white onion and it was good but I think green onions take it to the next level.
- Veggie(s) of choice: I used frozen peas here, but mushrooms would be fantastic, as would any veggie. Shredded kale would also be good here.
- Reduced sodium soy sauce: You can use any soy sauce you like, but I generally find regular soy sauce to be much too salty. If you’re gluten-free, try gluten-free tamari. If you can’t have soy, try No-Soy or Coconut Aminos.
- Coconut sugar: Sweetener is entirely optional, but I found that just one tablespoon of coconut sugar balanced the flavors really well. You can use any other sweetener you like, but coconut sugar fits the flavor profile perfectly and I always have some on hand.
- Sesame oil: Okay, so I’m a mostly oil-free blog now promoting you use oil… This is definitely optional. Sesame oil is super flavorful and adds a lot to dishes with Asian influences. I was inspired by a lot of recipes that do use sesame oil as a big flavor boost. However, I understand that some oil-free folks cannot make any allowances. The recipe is absolutely delicious either way, but if your diet allows for a tiny bit of oil, add a little of sesame oil (ideally toasted sesame oil to your fried rice.
- Optional garnishes: This fried rice is great on its own but it’s really good and exciting with some toppings. I topped mine with white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, shredded nori, avocado, green onion, and more vegan kimchi. You can also top this with crispy baked tofu or your vegan protein of choice.
How to Make Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice
- Start by sauteing the chopped white parts of the green onion in a large nonstick pot. If you cook with oil, add a little neutral high heat oil to the pan and let it warm up before adding the green onion. If you don’t cook with oil, just add the onions and a splash of water (about a tablespoon) if things start to stick or brown. Cook the green onions for 1 minute over medium high heat.
- Add the minced garlic and stir well, cooking for an additional minute.
- Now add the chopped kimchi. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add in the cooked rice. Break up any clumps with your cooking spoon. Stir well and let the rice absorb the juices from the kimchi.
- Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil (if using), and coconut sugar in a small bowl and add to the pot.
- Add your vegetables now. If using frozen peas, you can just add them frozen and they’ll cook perfectly.
- Stir very well and then allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes undisturbed. This will create a little crispiness at the bottom. Stir and repeat the same process once or twice, depending on how you like your rice.
- Stir in the green parts of the green onion (save a few for garnish if you like) and remove from heat.
- Serve immediately and garnish as you like.
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
More Asian-Inspired Vegan Dishes
Okay, I don’t mean all of Asia. I have a lot of admiration for the various cultures and cuisines found in different parts of Asia, but it’s hard to round that up appropriately in a subtitle.
I’m not about to declare that any of my Asian cuisine inspired dishes are anywhere close to authentic, and I certainly do not want to take from other cultures. However, I am deeply inspired by many Asian cultures and cuisines, and try to veganize and offer a twist with my recipes.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Tofu Adobo
- Vegan General Tso’s Chicken
- Vegan Beef and Broccoli
- Garlic Noodles
- Vegan Orange Chicken
- Vegan Kung Pao Chicken
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Vegan Drunken Noodles
- Vegan Tom Kha
- Veggie Lo Mein (only takes 15 minutes!)
- Vegan Teriyaki Chicken with optional Brussels sprouts
- Vegan Teriyaki Cauliflower Wings (more like Chinese takeout and American fusion)
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. He ate all of our leftovers in one night. I kinda helped too.
This vegan kimchi fried rice is:
- A little spicy
- A little tangy
- Perfect for meal prep
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!