Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls) Recipe

Kimbap, one of Korea's most popular snacks, can have all sorts of fillings; this very classic version is a great place to start.

Rows of sliced Korean kimbap - rice wrapped in seaweed sheet (nori), filled with colorful sliced vegetables.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why This Recipe Works

  • Salting the cucumber draws out excess moisture.
  • Sautéing some of the ingredients softens them just enough to make the rolls easier to form and eat.

Gimbap (also sometimes spelled "kimbap") is the perfect meal on-the-go, a common sight at bus stations and a must-have at school picnics. The only limit for kimbap fillings is your imagination: You can find tuna, avocado, chicken, shrimp, and bulgogi kimbap. Basically, you can feel free to add whatever you want to the roll. But for this recipe, I'm introducing the most common ingredients for a classic Korean kimbap roll, including imitation crab stick, ham, pickled radish, braised burdock root, egg, carrot, fishcake, and cucumber.

Finding Ingredients for Kimbap

One of the biggest challenges for the first-time kimbap maker is finding all of the ingredients. The pickled daikon (danmuji in Korean) can come as a whole pickled radish that needs to be cut into strips or as pre-cut sticks ready for kimbap. Either works here, but if you do cut your own, you'll want to make the sticks about 1/4 inch thick or smaller, and about as long as the seaweed sheets themselves. Don't worry about the color of the pickled daikon radish: yellow, white, beige all work.

At right, pickled whole radish in three colors (beige, white, and yellow). At left on top, braised burdock in its own package. At left on the bottom, a combo pack of pickled daikon strips and braised burdock, ready for kimbap.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The braised burdock is often sold in packages by itself, but you may be able to find combo packs of pickled daikon and braised burdock, which are especially convenient.

For those looking for fishcake (often called odeng or eomuk), the photo below may help you track it down.

A plastic package of fishcake for making Korean kimbap.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Preparing the Filling

Ultimately, whatever you use, the key is to prepare it all so that it will work in the roll. That means cutting everything into thin strips that are preferably long enough to run through the roll from end to end, or as close to it as possible.

Colorful sliced fillings for kimbap lined up on a baking sheet covered with parchment. The fillings are: pickled radish, braised burdock, imitation crab sticks, cucumber, egg, ham, and carrot.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik


Click Play to Learn How to Make Kimbap

February 2020

Recipe Details

Kimbap (Korean Seaweed Rice Rolls) Recipe

Prep 40 mins
Cook 15 mins
Active 60 mins
Total 55 mins
Serves 6 to 8 servings
Makes 40 pieces

Kimbap, one of Korea's most popular snacks, can have all sorts of fillings; this very classic version is a great place to start.


  • 1 large (12-ounce; 340g) cucumber

  • Sea or kosher salt

  • 3 large eggs

  • Vegetable oil, for greasing the pan

  • 6 long strips ham for kimbap (each about 1/4 inch or less thick)

  • 1 medium (8-ounce; 240g) carrot, julienned

  • 3 sheets flat odeng fishcake, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) grain syrup or oligosaccharide syrup (sold as “oligodang” at the Korean markets)

  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce

  • 1 whole danmuji (pickled radish) or 6 pre-cut long danmuji sticks for kimbap

  • 6 long pieces Korean braised burdock root for kimbap

  • 3 long strips of artificial crab meat (surimi in Japanese), cut in half lengthwise for a total of 6

  • 3 cups cooked short-grain (sushi) rice, hot (see note)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22ml) sesame oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons crushed roasted sesame seeds

  • 6 square sheets gim (sold as nori in Japanese) for gimbap or sushi


  1. Trim cucumber ends and cut it in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds from each half. Cut each half lengthwise into 3 long strips to make 6 strips total. Place cucumber strips on a plate, sprinkle all over with salt, and toss well to coat. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt. Lightly grease a 10-inch nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat until warmed but not sizzling hot. Add half the egg, swirling to cover entire bottom of pan and cook until egg has just set on top. Using a rubber spatula, carefully free the egg round and transfer to a work surface to cool. Lightly re-grease pan if needed and repeat with remaining egg. Wipe out skillet.

    A very thin layer of cooked egg in a nonstick pan on a stovetop.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  3. Slice egg lengthwise into thin strips. Set aside.

  4. Rinse cucumber under cold running water, then pat dry with towels, squeezing gently to remove excess moisture. Using the same skillet, wipe it lightly with more vegetable oil and set over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cucumber and cook until just slightly softened, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.

    Long thin slices of cucumber in a nonstick skillet on a stovetop.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  5. Add ham strips and cook, gently stirring and tossing, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Overhead shot of thin, square strips of ham frying in a nonstick skillet.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  6. Add the carrot to the skillet with a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring and tossing, until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes; if you need to add a little more oil to the pan, you can do so at any point. Set aside to cool.

    Overhead shot of very long and skinny strips of carrot in a nonstick skillet.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  7. Lower heat to medium. Add fishcake strips to skillet along with oligosaccharide syrup and soy sauce and cook, tossing and stirring, until fishcake has softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Overhead shot of long and skinny strips of Korean fishcake frying in a nonstick pan.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  8. In a large bowl, mix rice with sesame oil, crushed sesame seeds, and 1 teaspoon salt (see note). Divide rice into 6 even portions.

    Overhead shot of a person using a white paddle utensil to pat down sticky rice in a mixing bowl.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  9. Set a kimbap/sushi rolling mat on a work surface. Set a sheet of nori on top of it. Wearing plastic gloves, place a portion of rice on the seaweed sheet and use both hands to spread it evenly all over, leaving about one or two inches of the sheet exposed at the top edge. Dot a few rice grains along the top edge (they will help it stick together later).

    Overhead shot of sticky rice on seaweed resting on top of a bamboo rolling mat.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  10. Arrange your fillings across the center of the rice: 1 cucumber stick, some egg strips, 1 ham strip, one-sixth of the carrot, some of the fishcake strips, 1 danmuji strip, 1 burdock strip, and 1 crab stick strip.

    Overhead shot of thinly sliced fillings and rice spread out over a sheet of seaweed.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  11. Roll the bamboo mat up and away from you, curling the seaweed sheet and rice around the fillings; use the fingers of both your hands to hold the filling in place as you roll with your thumbs. Secure the roll with the exposed flap of seaweed sheet. Once the roll is sealed, gently squeeze, pressing gently on the top and sides, to compress the roll slightly and seal the edge; if it doesn't seal well, you can also wet the seaweed at the seam to help it adhere.

    Hands in black gloves rolling up a seaweed roll filled with rice and sliced fillings.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  12. Repeat with remaining seaweed sheets, rice, and fillings.

    Collage of a seaweed roll filled with rice and sliced vegetables being rolled up by black-gloved hands.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  13. Lightly brush rolls with sesame oil and lightly rub a sharp knife blade with it as well. Set 2 rolls next to each other, then slice them both into 1/2 inch thick pieces (it's easier to cut through 2 rolls at once than it is to do one at a time).

    Closeup of a Korean kimbap roll being sliced into rounds.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

  14. Serve.

    Overhead shot of two rows of sliced Korean kimbap rolls with colorful fillings.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

Bamboo kimbap/sushi rolling mat, 10-inch nonstick skillet


Use a little less water than you’d use for regular mealtime rice. While my standard ratio is usually 1.2 parts water to 1 part rice by volume, I reduce the water to 1.1 parts per 1 part rice, or even a 1 part water to 1 part rice if the rice is more humid (often true of fresh rice). If you are using a pressure cooker or pressure rice cooker, go with a 1:1 ratio.

During the summer months, kimbap can go bad quickly, so I recommend replacing the rice seasoning above with a vinegar marinade which can be made with 1 part water, 1 part rice vinegar, 1 part of sugar, and 1/2 part of salt.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The kimbap are best eaten shortly after making them.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
439 Calories
16g Fat
43g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 439
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 153mg 51%
Sodium 1486mg 65%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 15%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 4mg 21%
Calcium 68mg 5%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 688mg 15%
*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.)