Vegetarian Kimbap

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Vegetarian Kimbap is a Korean classic featuring egg, rice, and veggies rolled in seaweed. It’s both refreshing and satisfying and perfect for an appetizer, snack, or picnic. {Gluten-Free, Vegan-Adaptable}

Easy vegetarian kimbap in two long rows

Why Make Vegetarian Kimbap

Every time I visit the Asian grocery store I’m tempted by the ready-made vegetarian kimbap. It’s so much fun to eat and I frequently pick up a pack to bring home. 

I love the contrasts between the different textures, from the snap of the nori seaweed, the perfect tender rice, creamy egg, and the distinctive crunches of the various veggies.

Vegetarian kimbap cut up on a plate for appetizer

Flavor-wise, the umami of the seaweed is lovely against the mild fragrance of the different veggies. And the Korean pickled radish (danmuji) has a delightful sweet-sour-salty character that shines through everything.

It’s almost like a salad in (“sushi”) roll format: there’s a lot of veggies and a bit of rice and egg. So it’s nicely balanced in terms of nutrition. 

So it’s fun to eat, delicious, nutritionally balanced – what’s not to love?

Colorful Korean vegetarian seaweed rolls from above

Tips on How to Make Vegetarian Kimbap

Prepare the Ingredients Separately

It might be tempting to try to cook as much of the ingredients at the same time as you can, but resist the urge! You’ll want to cook the spinach and carrot individually, so that you can get them to the perfect level of doneness. If you’re going to cook some of the ingredients in parallel, it helps to have a friend in the kitchen to help.

How to blanch spinach for kimbap

Blanch and Ice the Spinach

The spinach should be blanched very lightly – no more than 30 seconds – and you want it to have a vibrant green color. Submerging it in the ice bath after cooking will help preserve the perfect degree of color and flavor.

Gently Saute the Carrots

You’ll shred and saute the carrots in oil until they start to turn limp, yet still bright orange and with some of the crunch left. Keep the heat on the lower side so that the carrots do not blister or caramelize.

Rolling process (how to make) vegetarian kimbap

The Ingredients are Flexible

If you’ve got some other veggies on hand or just prefer to use others than I’ve prescribed here, by all means, customize your vegetarian kimbap!

For the best experience, though, you’ll want to use ingredients that have a variety of colors and textures. Some of the satisfaction of the dish comes just from the beautiful appearance of the inside of the roll, with its mini-rainbow palette, and texture will ensure it’s a ton of fun to eat.

See the footnotes in the recipe below for tips on other veggies (and non-veggies) you can add. 

Don’t Skip the Danmuji!

There is some flexibility as to what veggies you put in the kimbap. But you really should not skip or replace the Korean pickled radish, aka danmuji.

Danmuji is a bright yellow pickled daikon radish. And you’ll typically find it in the refrigerated section of the Asian grocery store. You can buy it in both cut and whole forms; I like to buy the whole one so I can cut it to the size and shape that I like.

How to cook the egg for kimbap

Cook the Egg Until Fully Set

While I do love a runny egg in all sorts of scenarios, I should emphasize that the egg for the vegetarian kimbap should be cooked all the way through. 

You don’t want the heat so high that it crisps the edges; the cooked egg should still be quite tender and a nice pale yellow color.

How to make seasoned sushi rice for kimbap

Use Sushi Rice if You Can

Traditional kimbap doesn’t use sushi rice explicitly. But I find that it adds another layer of subtle complexity to the flavor of the kimbap, and the texture is quite nice too. And it somehow elevates the flavors of the seaweed, pickled radish, and other goodies.

By “sushi rice”, I do mean that you should use polished short grain rice from Asia (the package may or may not say “sushi rice” on it. But you should also prepare the rice the way you would for sushi, by adding a mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar.

Mise-en-place for vegetarian kimbap

Tips for Serving and Storing Vegetarian Kimbap

Serve Vegetarian Kimbap at Parties

This kimbap is great for parties since you can easily pick up the seaweed-wrapped pieces with your hands and eat them. They’re acceptable both as finger food and eaten with chopsticks.

It doesn’t typically need a dipping sauce, but you have the option of enjoying it with one, such as some combination of soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and/or sesame oil.

Pack it For Picnics

Since it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, vegetarian kimbap is a perfect item to bring on a picnic. Just bag it up or wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it relatively cool and out of the sun until you’re ready to eat it.

I don’t recommend making this a day in advance, though, since the texture of the seaweed is best when you enjoy the kimbap within 8 hours or so of being made.

Close up of Korean vegetarian kimbap

Eat the Kimbap Within a Day in Any Case

However you plan to serve the vegetarian kimbap, keep in mind that you don’t want to have it around for more than 24 hours if you can help it. It will still be edible, of course, but the nori seaweed will get slightly soggy (it just absorbs moisture from the air) and the perfect texture will diminish.

Putting the kimbap in the fridge will also affect the seaweed, so don’t refrigerate it unless you absolutely have to.

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Vegetarian Kimbap is a Korean classic featuring egg, rice, and veggies rolled in seaweed. It’s both refreshing and satisfying and perfect for an appetizer, snack, or picnic. {Gluten-Free, Vegan-Adaptable}

Vegetarian Kimbap

Vegetarian Kimbap is a Korean classic featuring egg, rice, and veggies rolled in seaweed. It’s both refreshing and satisfying and perfect for an appetizer, snack, or picnic. {Gluten-Free, Vegan-Adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 kimbap rolls (8 servings)



  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked short grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Spinach (Footnote 1)

  • 12 oz (340 g) spinach (about 11 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic , grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil


  • 1/2 teaspoon oil
  • 1 cup carrot , shredded (yield from 1 medium-large carrot)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • 4 pieces toasted seaweed sheets (gim/nori)
  • 4 strips danmuji (Korean pickled radish)
  • 2 persian cucumbers (or 1/2 english cucumber) , seeds removed and sliced into thin long wedges



  • Gently rinse the rice by adding running water to cover the rice, swirl the rice in the water with your fingers a few times, and drain off the water. Repeat 1 to 2 times. Cook the rice according to package instructions or by following this guide (or 1:1 rice to water). Once cooked, let the rice sit covered and undisturbed for 10 minutes. Fluff with a paddle and transfer to a large bowl. While the rice is still hot, add the salt, sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil to the rice. Gently cut and fold the seasonings into the rice until the seasonings are fully absorbed. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic and set aside, it is important the rice be slightly warm when rolling the kimbap for easier rice spreading.


  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in the meantime. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Remove the spinach, drain, and submerge in the ice bath. Once cooled enough to handle by your hands, squeeze as much water from the spinach as possible, and place it in a bowl. Add the garlic, salt, and sesame oil and toss to mix well. Set aside.


  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat until hot. Add the shredded carrot and salt. Cook and stir the carrots until they are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.


  • Beat the eggs and salt together in a small bowl. Heat a medium-sized non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and spray (or brush) with a thin layer of oil. Add the egg, do not stir, and cover briefly. Once the egg is mostly set, about 1 to 2 minutes, flip it and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the egg to a cutting board and slice into 3/4” (2 cm) strips.


  • Prepare a small bowl of water. Wear food gloves if available, to help prevent rice sticking to your hands. Cover your rolling mat with a piece of plastic wrap, and use a knife to slit a few lines on the mat. Lay one sheet of seaweed, rough side up and indented lines perpendicular to you, on a rolling mat (or on your work surface if not using a mat). Dip your fingers in the dish of water and pick up about 1 cup of rice, and place in the center of the seaweed sheet. Dip your fingers in the water again and spread the rice evenly across the sheet, leaving 1 1/2” (4 cm) of sheet uncovered at the top. For the best result, aim for the rice to be about two grains tall.
  • About 1”(2.5 cm) from the base of the seaweed, start to add the fillings onto the rice. Begin with two strips of egg and one strip of danmuji next to each other. Lay 1 to 2 slices of cucumber on top of the egg, and a layer of spinach on top of the danmuji. On top of everything add the carrots. Lift the base of the seaweed and roll it over the filling, squeezing and pressing from the center out to the edges. Continue rolling until all the rice is rolled, then brush some water along the edge of the seaweed sheet that’s not covered by the rice until it feels sticky and moist. Continue rolling over the wet edge then press down gently to seal. Set aside. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

To serve:

  • Brush the top of the rolls with a thin layer of sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slice each roll into 10 pieces and serve at room temperature.


  1. Other popular filling options include:
  • Crab sticks, sliced lengthwise
  • Fish cakes
  • Processed ham sausage (like spam or kimbap ham), sliced into long strips
  • Skirt steak (seasoned with soy, sugar, garlic, pepper), grilled and sliced
  • Tuna salad
  • Perilla leaves, thinly sliced
  • Marinated and baked tofu, sliced into strips
Fillings can be swapped in and out according to preference. Cucumber is a good ingredient to start swapping for other ingredients. To make a vegan kimbap, use marinated and baked tofu to replace the eggs. Play with the fillings to find your favorite combination!


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 180kcal, Carbohydrates: 30.4g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 0.8g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Sodium: 497mg, Potassium: 323mg, Fiber: 1.3g, Sugar: 1.5g, Calcium: 55mg, Iron: 3mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don’t forget the last step! Leave a comment below, and tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!

More Korean-Inspired Classics

Lilja Walter is a part of the Omnivore’s Cookbook team and worked closely with Maggie to develop and test this recipe.

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