A jar full of kimchi is a beautiful thing. It sits in my fridge like a bright, orange beacon calling me to tangy, comforting bites—especially in this bitter cold. Salty, spicy, crunchy kimchi is the perfect solution for instant warmth and zip. The complex, fermented flavors of cabbage, radishes, cucumbers, garlic (and just about any other vegetable you can think of) usually pack enough heat that I keep a glass of water nearby. Plus, it keeps for ages (some might argue forever), making it an ever-dependable dinner helper.
I’m more than happy to eat kimchi straight from the jar, but if you’re looking to add depth to rice bowls and noodle salads, or brightness to heavy stews and crispy french toast, here are 21 ways to use up that jar.
Celebrate the union of two of the world’s most glorious fermented foods—kimchi and cheese—in this simple dish that will be the talk of the potluck (before and after it’s devoured). Use pasta that can handle a lot of sauce for best results.
Adapted from the beloved Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, this recipe for kimchi stew comes together in three easy steps. Finding a regular source of pork belly may prove to be the only challenge (and when you find that source, cherish it!)
An Instant Pot will get you into to a hot, fragrant kimchi stew faster than you can say lactobacillus (that’s the bacteria responsible for lacto-fermentation). A warming bowl of this spicy, tangy stew hits the spot on a rainy night.
Kimchi and cheese are a match made in fermentation flavor heaven, and this omelet is a superb canvas to showcase this union. Sprinkle cheese in as soon as you add the eggs to the pan to let it crisp up to golden-brown perfection.
Fans of the sesame noodles at their local Chinese restaurant will delight in how kimchi complements and transforms simple, humble peanut butter. Any nut butter you have handy will work well, zested up with kimchi juice and tossed with tender noodles for a simple, flavor-packed lunch or dinner.
Kimchi and eggs are a famous pairing, so this savory French toast drizzled with pink sauce (think burger sauce spiked with sriracha) and topped with crunchy kimchi and smooth avocado is a guaranteed hit any time of day.
Freshen up your salad game with this colorful celebration of radishes from chef April Bloomfield. A quick steam takes away the pepper bite, which is replaced by kimchi leaves and brine. It’s as colorful as it is delicious.
Very few things can go wrong when you hasselback a potato, and inviting kimchi and cheese to the party only ups your chances of wild success. Stuff your spud with cheddar and kimchi and you may never go back to sour cream and chives.
Brine plump shrimp in sharp, acidic kimchi juice briefly before cooking for a flavor infusion that can’t be beat. Earthy, nutty soba noodles are the ideal counterbalance for this spicy, zesty shrimp.
This simple, classic preparation is one of our favorite ways to use kimchi. You could easily dispense with every other ingredient typically used in fried rice—soy sauce, chili-garlic paste—and rely solely on kimchi’s flavor prowess to take this dish sing.
11. Kimchi Tofu Soup
This easy version of soondubu is the perfect meal to warm up (and fill up) on a cold night. Best of all, it’s definitely one of those dishes that tastes better reheated the next day (and converts easily to vegetarian or vegan).
Rice is the ideal bed for kimchi, however it’s being served. In this dish, pair earthy, spicy roasted broccoli with zippy kimchi and nutty wild rice for a full-flavored meal.
Halve the beef in these hearty burgers with brown rice and finely chopped kimchi for a patty you’ll have to taste to believe. A squeeze each of mustard and mayo brings it home for a burger experience that won’t make you wonder where the rest of the beef went.
Inspired by the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe (but long-beloved before it hit the small screen), this kimchi jjigae is a staple of Korean home cooking. Anchovies contribute to a rich broth that simply can’t be replicated with chicken, beef, or pork, and using Spam will save you a trip to the supermarket.
There’s nothing like a meal that can be eaten any time of day to bulk up your pantry recipe repertoire. Savory oats make a lovely bed for sliced avocado, fried egg, and garlicky quick-sautéed greens.
A Korean spin on Spain’s famed patatas bravas, these “kimchi royals” make the best use of one of the most flavorful potatoes available. Japanese mayonnaise takes the place of traditional garlic aioli, and Asian-inspired crunchies add texture, flavor, and a delicious overall effect.
Fry up a hot batch of chicken nuggets and stay away from the condiments in the refrigerator door: you’re making your own. Zingy ranch gets zingier with the addition of kimchi, and endlessly tastier with the addition of smoky bacon. The result is hearty, satisfying bite that will make you forget ketchup ever existed.
18. Skillet Bibimbap
Not everyone has a stone bowl to achieve the crispy rice of traditional bibimbap, but that’s okay! A cast-iron skillet will have a similar effect. This dish is a great way to clean out your fridge, so use whichever vegetables and accoutrements you like, and cook it all in one very lucky pan.
Call upon a generous measure of spicy, tangy kimchi juice to brine pork tenderloin, and save this delicate cut from overcooking. Sweet apples and a buttery pan sauce round out this dish for a phenomenal way to freshen up your pork repertoire.
Tuna and kimchi are each bold enough to get along without overpowering each other, and noodles make the perfect vehicle to bring them together for a simple, spicy, rib-sticking meal.
Budae jjigae, or “army base stew,” is a bonanza of delicious elements: mushrooms, diced green onions, minced garlic, oval-shaped slices of white rice cake, squares of silky tofu, and of course kimchi. Add or subtract as suits your tastes, and prepare to salivate over this spicy, bubbling symphony.
What’s your favorite way to use kimchi? Do you eat it straight out of the jar? Share below!