This oil-free Vegan Kimchi "Fried" Rice adds a pop of bright, spicy flavor to turn your leftover steamed rice into a delicious and filling meal. The rice is not actually fried because it uses no oil! It's also gluten-free, fish-free, and comes together in about 10 minutes, making it the perfect nutritious meal for busy weeknights.
If you're feeling extremely busy with your job(s), family, friends, school, housework (just to name a few) and aren't sure you have time to fit cooking into your schedule, you are not alone!
Today I'm sharing another easy, tasty, and lower-calorie dish - my healthy Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice.
Why You Should Make This Recipe
I think you'll love this kimchi fried rice because it's:
- Low in calories
- High in flavor
- Good for your microbiome (kimchi = probiotics)
- A good source of nutrients & fiber
- Faster than takeout (and just as tasty)
- an amazing way to clean out your fridge
This vegan kimchi fried rice is extra healthy because it's not actually fried. If you're on an oil-free diet, you're in luck; this recipe calls for exactly zero oil of any kind!
I also opted to use brown rice instead of traditional white rice for this recipe. Brown rice is a whole grain, whereas white rice is processed to remove the bran and germ.
The bran and germ are the most nutritious parts of any grain, so you're getting more nutrients and less of a blood sugar spike by choosing brown. That said, there's no shame in using white rice, especially if it means you're using food that you already have.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Frozen Veggies Of Choice - I used an organic carrot, pea, and corn mix, but you can feel free to use whatever; the operative word here is CHOICE! Don't feel like they have to be frozen, either. Any leftover steamed or stir-fried vegetables are completely welcome as well! The idea is to make it super easy on yourself.
- Scallion - Use the chopped white stalks for the stir fry, and save thinly sliced greens for garnish!
- Vegetable Broth - Canned, boxed, or homemade will all do the trick. PRO TIP: Whenever you're cooking with fresh veggies, save the scraps (carrot or celery root ends, onion or garlic skins and root ends, etc) in a gallon sized bag in the freezer. When the bag is full, dump it in your slow cooker, Instant Pot, or largest stockpot top with water and simmer for 4-8 hours. BOOM. Free veggie broth!
- Cooked Brown Rice - Cooking your own rice will make the whole dish more affordable, but if you don't have the time feel free to grab pre-made rice from the store.
- Tamari - You can swap in regular or low-sodium soy sauce if gluten is not an issue. If soy is not part of your diet, try using coconut aminos.
- Garlic Powder - for a little added flavor.
- Firm Pre-Baked Tofu - Many grocery stores now sell baked tofu ready to go OR Make your own tofu crumbles. If you're not doing soy, feel free to add in any plant-based protein of your choosing.
- Kimchi - Be sure to check out the ingredients. The Wildbrine version is vegan, unlike other kimchi that uses fish sauce or dried shrimp.
- Sesame Seeds - While either white or black sesame seeds are optional, they offer a lovely, nutty flavor and a bit of textural interest. To coax the most flavor out of them, give them a quick toast in a dry pan beforehand. You can also add a small drizzle of sesame oil if you prefer.
How to Make
Step 1: Cook veggies. Add scallions and frozen veggies to a large pan with enough veggie broth to heat them. The amount of broth will vary depending on the size of your pan. You don't want too much, just enough to come up to about the halfway mark on your largest vegetable.
Step 2: Heat rice. Add brown rice and tamari. Don't be afraid to add a little veggie broth as needed.
Step 3: Add tofu. Add in tofu and cook until heated through.
Step 4: Add kimchi and enjoy! Remove pan from heat and then stir in kimchi. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve. Enjoy!
Don't get me wrong, I love this vegan kimchi fried rice just the way it is. But here at VNutrition, my concern is more about helping you make these recipes exactly the way YOU like them. Here are a few ideas to help you make your own ideal version of this fried rice:
- Make it less spicy. Kimchi can vary widely in terms of spicy heat. If your particular batch is super spicy alone, feel free to cut back how much you add.
- Use white rice instead. If you have any rice leftover in the fridge, feel free to use it! You can also still support your favorite local take-out place and buy it to go for a couple of bucks.
- Make it grain-free by using cauliflower rice. This will also make it lower in calories.
- Use any leftover veggies you have lurking in the fridge! There's no hard and fast law about what vegetables taste good in vegan fried rice. Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans... the options are endless!
Did you come up with an amazing variation on this recipe the world should know about? Let us know in the comments below or tag me on Instagram so I can cheer you on!
To make this kimchi fried rice ready in no time try:
- Cooking the rice on the weekend or the night before. I add it to a rice cooker, set it, and forget it until it's done - so easy!
- OR, Use the Instant Pot to quickly cook the rice, and then cool it quickly by spreading it out on a sheet pan. Parchment paper will keep cleanup to a minimum, and it's compostable when you're done.
- If you don't want to cook the rice, buy frozen (like Trader Joe's) or shelf stable (like Seeds of Change) microwavable brown rice packets instead!
- Buying pre-baked tofu - most well stocked stores will have this in the same section you'd find regular tofu.
- OR if you're making your own marinated tofu (which I like to do) cook a whole batch beforehand. Why not throw some in the oven or air fryer while the rice is cooking? Or switch out the baked tofu for these Tofu Crumbles or Tempeh Crumbles.
Absolutely! But if you do, remember to pop an ice cube in with the rice when you reheat it to keep it from drying out too much. For food safety, make sure you eat it within a week of the originally cooked rice and ensure it reaches a temperature of 165F.
Sometimes! Be sure to read the label of any brand you are buying as many contain fish sauce or dried shrimp, but vegan alternatives do exist. To be entirely sure, you can always make your own - it is not difficult to do, but it does require some patience!
If you are looking to purchase your kimchi, my favorite brand is Wildbrine. If you buy it, be sure to reach for the Korean flavor made with red chilies, cabbage, mineral-rich sea vegetables, and toasted sesame seeds. This version is vegan, contains no MSG, is gluten-free, and GMO-free with no additives.
You can easily omit them and still have a delicious bowl of vegan kimchi fried rice! If other seeds or nuts aren't a problem, you can also feel free to swap in peanuts, pepitas, cashews, or any other option you have on hand.
Other Fast & Easy Weeknight Meals
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice (oil free!)
- 10 oz frozen veggies of choice (I used an organic carrot, pea, and corn mix; see recipe notes)
- 4 scallion stalks chopped, greens reserved for garnish
- ¼ -½ cup vegetable broth divided
- 2 cups cooked brown rice can sub white rice or cauliflower rice
- 2 Tb tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 5-7 oz firm pre-baked tofu cubed (or make your own - see recipe notes for more homemade options)
- ¼ cup kimchi you can use more or less depending on your tastes
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
- Add scallions and veggies to a large pan with enough veggie broth to heat them for about 3-5 minutes. The amount of broth will vary depending on the size of your pan. You don't want too much, just enough to heat the veggies though and cook the scallions.
- Add brown rice, garlic powder, and tamari and heat for 1-2 minute. Continue adding a little veggie broth when needed.
- Add in tofu and cook until heated through 1-3 minutes
- Remove pan from heat, then stir in kimchi.
- Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve!
- Veggies: Use any leftover veggies you have lurking in the fridge or freezer! There's no hard and fast law about what vegetables taste good in vegan fried rice. Brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, leafy greens... the options are endless!
- Make it less spicy. Kimchi can vary widely in terms of spicy heat. If your particular batch is super spicy alone, feel free to cut back on how much you add.
- Tofu: If you're making your own baked marinated tofu (which I like to do) cook a whole batch beforehand. Why not throw some in the oven or air fryer while the rice is cooking? Or switch out the baked tofu for these Tofu Crumbles or Tempeh Crumbles.
- Meal Prep: This recipe is great for meal prep. Be sure to add a little more vegetable broth or water with the rice when you reheat it to keep it from drying out too much. For food safety, make sure you eat it within a week of the originally cooked rice and ensure it reaches a temperature of 165F.
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.