It seems like the whole world is falling in love with Korean food, and with good reason. Korean BBQ and other recipes are delicious and add tons of flavor to our family tables.
Asian-inspired dishes are popular all over the world, and the culture of South Korea has become increasingly popular. From K-pop to fashion, South Korean culture is fascinating and interesting. However, it’s the food that has people flocking to Korean restaurants. We can’t get enough of delicious soups, salads, and Korean food entrees.
Korean food takes advantage of five fantastically bold flavors: sour, salty, sweet, bitter, and spicy.
When it comes to Korean food, there’s something for everyone to love.
From the bustling streets of Seoul to the quiet corners of Jeonju, Korean side dishes, or banchan, are an integral part of every meal in South Korea. Known for their unique flavors and varied textures, these small plates complement the main dishes and enhance the overall dining experience. As you explore the world of Korean cuisine, you’ll quickly learn that banchan adds not only flavor, but also color and variety to the table.
Korean side dishes range from fermented vegetables like kimchi to marinated meats and seafood, all with a balance of spice, sweetness, and tanginess. You’ll notice that many banchan ingredients overlap, making it easy to mix and match dishes as you please. As you continue trying different side dishes, you may find that some become staples in your meals, while others might surprise and delight your palate with their distinct taste profiles.
But what about Korean side dishes?
Korean people call the side dishes that go along with their meals “banchan” and we decided to go look for some great Korean banchan recipes.
From Korean vegetables such as Korean seasoned spinach to meaty main dishes like tuna pancakes, we’ve got your Korean side dishes covered.
Let’s get started enjoying all of the banchan that’s out there to explore.
If you’re looking for Korean side dishes that are super easy, you can’t go wrong with a salad.
This simple green salad is easy to make and it will go beautifully with any type of Korean BBQ meat that you grill.
To make this Korean side salad, use whatever types of mixed greens you enjoy. Choose from butterhead lettuce, baby swiss chard, arugula, oak lettuce, and even baby spinach.
This salad uses a tangy and sweet Korean salad dressing that has a soy sauce base, and you can even add some Korean chili flakes for a nice kick.
If you like salmon patties, you’ll love these Korean tuna pancakes.
Think of a pancake, but something slightly thicker and definitely savory.
You can use canned tuna to make these little nuggets of deliciousness. The seasoning comes from garlic powder (or garlic), onion, kosher salt, black pepper, and sesame oil.
Flour and an egg hold it all together.
While tuna pancakes make excellent Korean side dishes, you can also serve these as a light dinner. Just pair these tuna pancakes with a Korean green salad or vegetable side dish and dinner is served.
If you’re a potato lover, you will appreciate gamja jorim, or Korean braised baby potatoes.
This is one of the Korean side dishes that call for just a few basic ingredients (in addition to the potato) that you probably have in your pantry if you’re already cooking a lot of Korean or Asian foods.
Gamja jorim gets lots of flavor from the green chili peppers and onion.
This potato recipe also has instructions for making a braising liquid that is full of tasty ingredients.
You can also add other veggies to this versatile recipe if you like.
Want it extra spicy? No problem. Just add some red chili pepper paste and you’re all set.
The radish is a big part of Korean cuisine, and this sweet and sour radish salad is made with simple ingredients.
The radishes are sliced thinly and seasoned with the same seasonings you find in kimchi. For deeper flavor, you can also add vinegar and sugar.
The Daikon radish and the Korean radish are great for this vegetable salad.
The green onions and garlic give this salad tons of flavor, and gochugaru, coconut sugar, and sea salt make it all come together nicely.
This simple spinach dish is a Korean meal called sigeumchi namul and it’s super simple to make.
To make this spinach side dish, all you do is blanch your spinach leaves and then season them.
For seasoning, you can use a variety of different things, and this recipe specifies guk ganjang, minced garlic, sugar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.
If you want to make your seasoned spinach extra spicy, you can add Korean red chili pepper paste (gochujang).
Toasted sesame seeds give this seasoned spinach a nice crunch.
Korean crispy mushrooms are all about the delicious sticky syrup and flavor.
To make this dish, shiitake mushrooms or oyster mushrooms are dried and fried until they’re crispy.
Use gochujang, which is Korean red chili pepper paste, to get the traditional spicy flavor.
For the sauce, you will use Korean chili flakes, lemongrass paste, garlic, maple syrup, tamari, fresh orange juice, and fresh lime juice.
You can serve these mushrooms with noodle dishes, grilled meat, or another Korean main dish.
Garnish this dish with seeds or nuts for a delightful crunch.
Vegetables play a huge role in Korean side dishes, and zucchini is a popular Korean vegetable in Korean dishes.
To picture Korean fried zucchini, think of fritters that have a Korean twist and flavor.
This fried zucchini is a side dish that goes beautifully with any Korean meal.
The zucchini is sliced very thinly and then coated in a batter of egg and flour.
All you have to do is season this zucchini with some sea salt and you’re ready to go.
You can use any dipping sauce you like for this dish, and this recipe includes instructions for making a sauce using soy sauce and rice vinegar.
Oi Muchim (오이무침) is translated to simply Korean cucumber salad, but there is nothing simple about the explosive flavors in this easy Korean side dish.
This easy cucumber salad gets tons of flavor from Korean red chili powder and rice vinegar, and sugar gives it just enough sweetness. The contrast in flavors makes this simple cucumber salad one of the most common Korean side dishes.
Soy sauce gives this salad its signature flavor, and it’s even better if you make it with an English or Persian cucumber.
You can refrigerate this cucumber salad for a few days and serve it cold. Just freshen it every day with more sesame seeds and fresh green onions (scallions).
One of the veggie staples of Korean cooking is broccoli, and you see broccoli in a lot of Korean side dishes.
This recipe for gochujang sesame broccoli brings home all the flavors of Korean cooking.
To make this dish, the broccoli is coated in the special Gochujang paste and then roasted to perfection.
This is an easy Korean side dish to make and it will get gobbled up by your family and friends.
Salt, pepper, and garlic flavor this Korean side dish, and it gets some pleasant crunch from sesame seeds.
You can serve this broccoli over rice to make it a full vegan meal.
10. Korean Coleslaw
Korean food goes great with salad and, for that reason, there are several traditional salad recipes you can try.
One of our favorites is this Korean coleslaw. This salad is similar to kimchi, but it’s crunchier and much more refreshing.
This Korean coleslaw is by turns tangy, spicy, and sweet, and it goes beautifully with grilled chicken, fish, or beef.
The slaw consists of carrots, scallions (green onion), and perilla leaves that are thinly sliced.
For the sauce that’s used in this dish, use castor sugar, sesame oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic, Korean fish sauce, and gochurgaru (Korean chili flakes).
In addition to being super tasty, the ingredients in this coleslaw make it a nutrient-dense dish.
If you want a Korean cuisine side dish that is a little less spicy, consider going with soybean sprouts.
You can make these crunchy sprouts as mild or spicy as you like. You’re in control of all the flavor and seasoning.
The sprouts have a great nutty flavor and the long white stems also give you a satisfying crunch.
The flavor comes from garlic, onion, and fish sauce. You can add some hot pepper flakes if you want them spicy.
For even more creative uses of these sprouts, try them in noodle soups and stir-fry.
When you have a jar of kimchi, you have Korean cuisine that is essentially spicy and salty fermented radishes or cabbage.
This dish is a jar of goodness that is packed with a tangy flavor.
Kimchi gets its signature flavor from a special paste that’s made from ginger, chili pepper flakes, apple, and garlic.
As healthy as it is delicious, kimchi is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.
We love this recipe because it allows you to create homemade kimchi in less than 30 minutes of prep time. Then, we just let Mother Nature do her work.
What does a Korean macaroni salad look like? Well, chances are, Korean macaroni salad looks just like your own traditional macaroni salad.
This traditional Korean side dish is creamy and slightly sweet, and you will find it served at most restaurants that serve Korean food.
The ingredients in this macaroni salad are similar to what you see in macaroni salads anywhere: mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white sugar, and a bit of salt and honey.
To add even more flavor to this classic Korean salad, consider capsicums, cabbage, and apples.
When you’re having a Korean barbecue, it just seems natural to have a macaroni salad.
14. Steamed Eggplant
Gaji namul, or steamed eggplant, is a popular Korean vegetable side dish that is made by tossing steamed eggplant with a special Korean soy sauce seasoning.
This dish is super healthy and, equally importantly, it’s easy to make.
To make this, you cut the long eggplants into thin strips and season them. Just 15 minutes later, you have one of the most popular Korean BBQ side dishes.
Gaji namul gets its flavor from chopped garlic, sesame oil, dark soy sauce, chopped green chili peppers, sugar, red chili powder (gochukaroo), and sesame seeds.
You can serve this steamed eggplant over rice to make it a full meal.
Are you looking to add some more great Korean spiciness to your table? If so, you’re going to love these spicy Korean rice cakes.
Rice cakes are hugely popular Korean street food and people flock to buy these treats.
These Korean rice cakes are stir-fried in a spicy and sweet gochujang sauce.
To make this a complete meal, just add ramen noodles, fish cakes, cheese, or eggs and you’ve got an easy tteokbokki.
These rice cakes are also great with a steaming bowl of hot soup.
Want to learn more about Korean BBQ sides? Watch the video below.
15 Korean Side Dishes (+Korean Green Side Salad)
- 3.5 oz. mixed salad greens
- 1 chopped pear or apple
- 1 sliced cucumber
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
- Korean salad dressing
- Make your Korean salad dressing with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, Korean chili flakes, and fish sauce.
- Toss the veggies and fruit in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Organize all the required ingredients.
Enjoy the food.