Kimbap (Korean Sushi Rolls) Recipe

Kimbap (Korean sushi rolls) on a plate with chopsticks

The Spruce

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Assembling Time : 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 rolls
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
185 Calories
5g Fat
27g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 185
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 93mg 31%
Sodium 1149mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 115mg 9%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 305mg 6%
*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, but don't let them sit too long in the fridge before eating, however. 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 can be vegetarian if simply filled with rice and veggies. 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 Sushi Rolls Recipe Come Together


For the Rice:

  • 2 cups cooked short-grain white rice

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 carrot (peeled and julienned)

  • Salt (to taste)

  • 1 medium cucumber (peeled, seeded, and cut into long sticks)

  • 2 large eggs (beaten)

  • 4 sheets dried nori

  • Optional:

    8 ounces cooked bulgogi

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

  • 1/2 cup pickled radishes (drained and cut into long strips)

  • Optional:

    12 ounces imitation crab (cut into long strips)

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Rice and Vegetables

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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

  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.

  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.

  5. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Cook the eggs into a flat omelet in the nonstick skillet for 1 minute. Once cooked on one side, carefully flip and cook on the other for an extra minute. Remove the omelet from the pan and cut it into long strips. Set aside and reserve.

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.

  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.

  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.

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

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

  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.

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

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

Recipe Variations

With kimbap, anything goes. Here are some different tasty fillings that you can try, or 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

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 it and want to eat it, then 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 easiest way of heating up day-old kimbap; other methods will prove inadequate, and you'll end up with a mushy mess in your hands.