Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls)

Kimbap (Korean Sushi Rolls) on a white plate

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 38 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 rolls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
180 Calories
5g Fat
27g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 93mg 31%
Sodium 777mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 4mg 22%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 255mg 5%
*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.)

Kimbap—also known as gimbap—are Korean rice rolls that might look a lot like sushi but, in truth, are nothing like it. Japanese sushi is made out of rice seasoned with vinegar and customarily features raw fish, seafood, and vegetables, whereas Korean rolls use sesame oil in the rice and a variety of fillings, including meats, imitation crab, ham, eggs, and cheese. While similar in some aspects, the rolls also aren't eaten with the same accompaniments; neither soy sauce nor wasabi appears on the kimbap plate. It's usually served with kimchi and pickled vegetables on the side.

Kimbap (from gim, a type of seaweed, and bap, the Korean term for "rice") is easy, portable, and adaptable to any palate, diet, or occasion. These rolls are usually eaten at picnics, and while delicious eaten right when prepared, they hold their shape and flavor well when eaten cold. Don't let them sit too long in the fridge before eating, though—the texture will change, the seaweed will get soggy, and the roll will lose its bite.

This easy recipe features the optional inclusion of bulgogi, a classic Korean dish of thinly sliced and flavorful beef that is a real treat. If you choose to skip the bulgogi, the rolls are vegetarian, or you can use imitation crabmeat instead or in addition to the bulgogi. Before you start assembling the rolls, be sure to have cooked white rice, prepared bulgogi, and pickled radishes all prepped and ready to make the assembly process as smooth as possible.


Click Play to See This Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls Recipe Come Together

"Korean kimbap traditionally uses cooked meat and veggies instead of raw fish. It's really fun and easy to make, even for kids. Let each of your family members customize and roll their own kimbap. The trick to make it fast is to get some of your filling ingredients pre-prepped beforehand." —Danielle Centoni

Kimbap (Korean Sushi Rolls) close up on a plate
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Rice:

  • 2 cups cooked short-grain white rice

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 medium carrot,  peeled and julienned

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 4 sheets dried nori

  • Optional: 8 ounces cooked beef bulgogi

  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed dry

  • 1/2 cup pickled radishes, drained and julienned

  • Optional: 12 ounces imitation crab, cut into long strips

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Rice and Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. In a mixing bowl, place the warm rice and add the sesame oil and salt. Mix well and reserve.

    Warm rice and sesame oil and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. In a very hot nonstick skillet, briefly stir-fry the carrot, add a dash of salt, and remove from the pan after 2 or 3 minutes. Set aside and reserve.

    Thinly sliced carrots in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Using the same hot skillet, stir-fry the cucumber, add a dash of salt, and remove from the pan after 2 or 3 minutes. Set aside and reserve.

    Thinly sliced cucumbers in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Cook the eggs into a flat omelet in the nonstick skillet for 1 minute.

    Eggs cooking in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Once cooked on one side, carefully flip and cook on the other for an extra minute.

    Omelet cooking in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Remove the omelet from the pan and cut it into long strips. Set aside and reserve.

    Omelet cut into long pieces on a white plate

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Roll the Kimbap

  1. Using a bamboo sushi roller or a piece of aluminum foil, lay one piece of the dried seaweed shiny side down.

    Seaweed sheet on aluminum foil

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the cooked rice onto 2/3 of the seaweed, leaving the top 1/3 bare. Have a bowl of water nearby when rolling for moistening your hands, which will prevent the rice from sticking to them and help seal the rolls.

    Rice on top of the seaweed sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Once the rice is flat, lay 2 ounces of the bulgogi down (if using), about a third of the way up from the bottom of the seaweed. Place the meat in a horizontal strip and keep in mind that if you add too much filling, the roll might become too difficult to roll and cut.

    Bulgogi beef on top of rice and seaweed sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add 1/4 of each filling: carrot, spinach, cucumber, radishes, egg, and imitation crabmeat, if using.

    Beef and vegetables on top of rice and seaweed

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Roll tightly from the bottom, as if you were rolling a sleeping bag, firmly pressing down to make the fillings stay in place.

    Rolling the vegetable and rice filled roll

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. As you continue to roll, pull the roll down toward the end of the bamboo mat. Spread a tiny dab of water along the top seam to hold the roll together, and close.

    Rolling the sushi roll carefully

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Repeat the assembling process with the remaining dried seaweed sheets. Refrigerate the rolls until ready to serve.

    Kimbap rolls on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Cut each roll into 7 to 8 pieces and serve. Enjoy.

    Kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) sliced into piece on a white plate

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Recipe Variations

With kimbap, anything goes. Here are some different tasty fillings that you can experiment with and put your own spin on it. Once you have the rice flattened down on the seaweed, place on top:

  • Kimchi and shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Bacon, cheddar, and strips of cooked egg
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Flaked smoked trout, mayo, and veggies
  • Spam, mayo, and veggies
  • Baked tofu, vegetables, and avocado
  • Cooked ham and cheese
  • Tuna salad and baby kale

How to Store

  • Kimbap is always better when freshly made. Keep it in the fridge until ready to eat, but don't let it sit longer than 2 or 3 hours because the rice will dry out and the seaweed will get soggy.
  • Although it is safe to eat the day after, it won't be as delicious. But if you have leftovers, dip it in salted whisked eggs and pan-fry it whole or in slices in a nonstick skillet with a teaspoon of vegetable oil. This is the best way of heating up day-old kimbap; other methods will prove inadequate and you'll end up with a mushy mess in your hands.

Is Kimbap Served Hot or Cold?

Kimbap should be served freshly made at room temperature. The fillings are often cooked and warm, including the rice, making the roll slightly warm.

What Is the Difference Between Kimbap and Bibimbap?

Kimbap and bibimbap are both Korean dishes featuring rice. Kimbap consists of sesame-flavored rice and fillings like meat, veggies, egg, and cheese wrapped up in nori. It has a similar appearance to a sushi roll. Bibimbap is a bowl dish of hot rice, toppings like bulgogi and vegetables, and egg. It is sometimes served in a hot stone bowl, cooking the egg and crisping the rice.