This crispy flavor-packed kimchi pancakes are super easy to make with a few basic ingredients as long as you have some kimchi.
Kimchijeon, or kimchi jeon (김치전), is a type of Korean savory pancake that’s made with kimchi. It’s also called kimchi buchimgae (김치부침개). Enjoy these deliciously crispy kimchi pancakes as a snack, appetizer, or a light meal!
If you have nicely fermented kimchi and some flour, you can make this popular snack in no time. The flavor-packed sour kimchi does a wonder when it’s fried in a simple batter. Everything else is nice to have, but not absolutely necessary.
Kimchi for pancakes
As I always say, ripe, well-fermented kimchi is always best to cook with. No exception for this kimchi pancake recipe! Napa cabbage kimchi is standard for kimchi pancakes, but you can also use radish kimchi (kkakdugi or chonggak kimchi).
Simply use vegan kimchi for vegan kimchi pancakes.
Kimchi pancake batter
All-purpose flour (or gluten free flour) is all you need! You can add some sweet rice powder or corn/potato starch, if available, to give it a little bit of crispy, slightly chewy texture. Of course, buchim garu (부침가루, Korean pancake premix) is always good for any Korean savory pancakes. It’s a staple in Korean homes.
The addition of some juice/liquid from the kimchi is the key. It gives the pancake batter its distinct flavor and a nice orange hue.
For a slightly spicier kimchi pancake, I like to add a little bit of gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) to the batter. Gochujang is especially good if your kimchi doesn’t have much liquid because it adds extra umami. Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) works too if you just want a spicy kick.
If you use gochujang and/or kimchi liquid, the pancakes will be very well seasoned so you don’t really need a dipping sauce. That will also be the case if you used buchim garu, which is seasoned. A dipping sauce recipe is provided here in the recipe below in case you still like to have it.
Minced or thinly sliced pork is commonly added to kimchi pancakes. No surprise there because kimchi and pork are a winning combo in Korean cooking.
I sometimes add some squid strips. The chewy squid lends a nice textural contrast to the crunchy kimchi. Canned tuna is also a great addition to kimchi pancakes. Squeeze out the liquid from tuna, if using.
You can make 2 to 3 large pancakes with this kimchi pancake recipe, or 5 to 6 small ones instead. The smaller the pancake is, the easier it is to flip. For best results, kimchijeon should be made thin.
Tips for making kimchi pancakes:
1. Use well fermented sour kimchi
2. Use juice/liquid from kimchi if at all possible.
3. Use icy cold water.
4. The batter should be thin enough to flow easily from a spoon.
5. Spread the batter thin when pan frying.
6. Use a generous amount of oil.
7. Increase the heat a little to crisp up the pancakes at the end of pan-frying.
Watch how to make it
More Korean savory pancakes recipes
Kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes)Appetizer, Snack
- 1 cup thinly sliced fully-fermented kimchi
- 1 to 2 scallions Two if thin and small
- 1/4 medium onion
- 3 ounces minced pork, canned tuna (without the liquid), or squid cut into small strips - optional
- cooking oil with high smoke point for pan frying
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or buchimgaru (Korean pancake premix) or Swap 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour with sweet rice flour or corn/potato starch
- 2 to 3 tablespoons juice/liquid from kimchi See note on water below
- 1 or 2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste) or gochugaru - optional
- 1 lightly beaten egg - optional
- 1 cup icy cold water Use more water if juice/liquid from kimchi is unavailable and not using an egg. Flour to liquid should be about 1:1 ratio in total.
Optional Dipping Sauce (Combine all the ingredients)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of black pepper
- Thinly slice the kimchi, about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the scallions into about 2-inch pieces. If the white part is thick, cut in half lengthwise. Thinly slice the onion.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour (or pancake mix) with the liquid from kimchi, the optional gochujang/gochugaru and egg, and water, a little bite at a time. Start with dissolving the gochujang with water, and mix everything together. Do not over mix.
- Add a little more water if the batter is too thick. The batter should flow easily from a spoon.
- Stir in the kimchi, scallions, onion and the optional protein of your choice.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Ladle the mixture into the pan, and spread it evenly into a thin round shape. Cook until the edges turn light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn it over, and add more oil to the sides of the pan. Gently swirl the pan to distribute the oil under the pancakes. Press the pancake down with a spatula. Cook until the other side is nicely browned and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Repeat the process until there is no remaining batter. Serve hot with a dipping sauce, if desired.
This kimchi pancake recipe was originally posted in February 2010. I’ve updated it here with new photos, more information and minor changes to the recipe.