Recipe for Budae Chigae or Korean Army Base Stew


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Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
82 Calories
2g Fat
14g Carbs
4g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 82
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 338mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 4g
Calcium 13mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is a classic Korean recipe for a dish that's not so traditional—budae chigae. Use these instructions not only to make this innovative meal but also to learn the interesting history behind it. So, what is budae chigae and how did it come about?

The meal is a recent invention. It is mostly a lip-smacking mixture of Western meat, ramen noodles, vegetables and spices. It is easily customizable, as evidenced by the fact that a thousand variations of the dish exist and then some. Budae chigae first came to be during the famine years of the Korean War and the post-war period. When traditional meals weren't always readily available, Koreans managed to use leftover meat discarded or handed out from the U.S. army bases to make this dish with a very literal name.

"Budae" means military base, and "chigae" means stew in Korean. Because it's not a traditional dish, there is no exact recipe for budae chigae. However, the most popular meats used to make the stew are Spam, hot dogs, ground beef and sausages. And, the popular vegetables used to make the stew include sprouts, scallions, onions and sookat (chrysanthemum leaves). If you don't like any of these meats or vegetables, swap them out for the ones you prefer.


  • 1 1/2 cups meat (in small chunks; spam, hot dogs, ham, small meatballs, or a combination)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetables (sliced; a combination of any: mushrooms, bean sprouts, chrysanthemum leaves).
  • 1/2 onion (sliced)
  • 3 tablespoons kochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 package ramen noodles (just noodles, not spice packets)
  • Optional: kimchi
  • Optional: sliced rice cakes
  • Optional: canned baked beans
  • Optional: sliced American cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. To begin making budae chigae, put all of the ingredients into a large pot.


    Once again, this dish is far from a traditional Korean meal, so feel free to customize it how you see fit. If you don't like your food very spicy, like many Americans, use less spice. If you don't eat processed meats, such as hot dogs, try making your own meatballs from scratch for the meal, though this will add more steps and time to the process. 

  3. Once you've added all of your preferred ingredients in a pot, cover them with enough water to just submerge them.

  4. Next, bring the contents to a rapid boil. You'll see small bubbles start to form.

  5. Then, reduce the heat on the mixture and simmer the contents for 20 minutes.

  6. Serve and enjoy with white rice.

Recipe Variations

You can substitute the white rice with brown rice instead. This will affect the taste of the dish but not in a major fashion.