Asian Recipes/ Korean/ Recipes

Top 10+ Best Ever Korean Banchan Side Dishes

01/08/2023

Explore the flavours of Korea with this tantalising collection of homemade banchan recipes! These nourishing Korean side dishes will add a burst of flavour to your table and are perfect for sharing.

A spoon holds cubed radish kimchi, covered in spices and spring onion.

Why We Love This

We love the huge variety of flavour, colour and texture (not to mention nutrition!) that homemade banchan add to home cooked meals. 

These classic Korean side dish recipes are not only delicious, they’re also great palate cleansers between bites of main dishes like dakgalbi or gochujang jjigae

Related: 15 Ways to Use Gochujang Paste / 10+ Epic Japanese Sauces

What is Banchan?

Banchan are small bowls of various Korean side dishes, served alongside a main dish and rice during a communal meal.

They’re usually (but not always) made from vegetables, herbs, and fruits, which are either fermented or pickled, simmered, braised, or even stir-fried.

The formality of the occasion or the restaurant can influence the number of banchan you’ll find on the table during a meal. In a casual restaurant setting there might be around 3-5 different banchan, all the way up to 12+ for more formal meals.

In Korea you can find ready-made banchan for sale at local food markets or even the food court levels of department stores.

What are three popular types of banchan?

Fresh homemade kimchi in a bowl.

Kimchi (김치) – Fermented Vegetables

Napa cabbage kimchi would have to be one of the most well known types of banchan outside of Korea, however there are literally hundreds of types of kimchi and banchan in Korean cuisine. The vegetables are usually salted first to extract liquid and make them extra crunchy, then seasoned and left to ferment. 

A pair of chopsticks pick up some sigeumchi namul.

Namul (나물) – Blanched & Seasoned Vegetables

Namul can be made from almost any type of vegetable, herb, fruit or even mushrooms. They’re often blanched in boiling water, then drained and mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, doenjang, gochujang or gochugaru hot pepper flakes to name just a few. 

Bowl of Korean braised potatoes topped with sesame seeds.

Jorim (조림) – Simmered or Braised Vegetables

This type of banchan is usually made from root vegetables or tofu which is braised (fried and then stewed) in Korean seasonings. 

Spicy Korean Banchan

These are our favourite banchan when you want to fire up your tastebuds! Pair them with more savoury / less spicy mains for a delicious contrast.

Fresh homemade kimchi in a bowl.
Easy Korean Kimchi – Fermented Spicy Cabbage
Seasoned and fermented to perfection, this easy Korean Kimchi is one very versatile dish. Eat it by itself or add to a myriad of meals including Korean Army Stew and Pajeon Kimchi Seafood Pancakes.
Easy Korean Kimchi – Fermented Spicy Cabbage
Korean Pickled Onion in a jar.
Quick Korean Pickled Onions – Yangpa Jangajji
Try these super easy Korean pickled onions and add big flavour to your table! Known as yangpa jangajji, these quick white onion pickles in soy sauce are perfect for your next home cooked Korean BBQ!
Quick Korean Pickled Onions – Yangpa Jangajji
Pieces of tofu cooked Korean style, known as dubu jorim.
Dubu Jorim – Korean Braised Tofu
Everyone will love this sweet, savoury and spicy Korean braised tofu! Dubu jorim is vegan and vegetarian friendly AND ready in less than 20 minutes! Serve it as a side dish or all on its own for a quick and healthy meal. 
Dubu Jorim – Korean Braised Tofu
Top down view of three potato pancakes on a plate.
Crispy Korean Potato Pancakes – Gamja Jeon
Crunchy on the outside, chewy and soft inside, is there anything better than gamja jeon? These simple Korean potato pancakes are the perfect savoury snack for dipping!
Crispy Korean Potato Pancakes – Gamja Jeon
A jar filled with spicy kkakdugi.
Quick Cubed Radish Kimchi – Korean Kkakdugi
This crunchy, spicy Korean kkakdugi is the perfect side dish or addition to your favourite Korean recipes. Cubed radish kimchi is ready to eat in 15 minutes or savour the rich taste as the flavours develop over time.
Quick Cubed Radish Kimchi – Korean Kkakdugi
Bowl of Korean braised potatoes topped with sesame seeds.
Epic Korean Braised Potatoes – Gamja Jorim
Gamja jorim will transform your humble potatoes into the star of the show! These delicious Korean soy braised potatoes are simmered to perfection, savoury and sweet with a touch of spice. Serve this delicious Korean side dish alongside steamed rice and other Korean favourites like bulgogi beef
Epic Korean Braised Potatoes – Gamja Jorim

Non-Spicy Korean Banchan

If you’re planning to serve a really spicy main dish, then these non-spicy banchan will work as the perfect palate cleanser between every mouthful.

Golden bean sprout salad sits in a small stoneware bowl.
Korean Bean Sprout Salad – Sukju Namul Muchim
Lightly seasoned and ready in minutes, sukju namul is a light and refreshing bean sprout salad. Serve up this Korean side dish on top of your next bowl of bibimbap.
Korean Bean Sprout Salad – Sukju Namul Muchim
Close up shot of a Korean haemul pajeon pancake showing the crispy fried batter and green onions.
Crispy Korean Seafood Pancakes – Haemul Pajeon
An epic Korean street food, perfect for a snack or dinner. Get these golden and crispy fried Haemul Pajeon (aka Korean Seafood Pancakes) on the table in just 20 minutes!
Crispy Korean Seafood Pancakes – Haemul Pajeon
A pair of chopsticks pick up some sigeumchi namul.
Korean Seasoned Spinach – Sigeumchi Namul
Sigeumchi namul is a super easy and deliciously tasty banchan side dish. Ready in 10 minutes, try this classic Korean seasoned spinach salad alongside your favourite Korean recipes!
Korean Seasoned Spinach – Sigeumchi Namul
Kongnamul guk in a white bowl with chopsticks and a spoon.
Korean Bean Sprout Soup – Kongnamul Guk
Try this amazing bean sprout soup alongside your favourite Korean recipes. Kongnamul Guk is simple and satisfying, and ready in less than 10 minutes!
Korean Bean Sprout Soup – Kongnamul Guk
Jar of freshly made Korean pickled garlic, ready to store in the dark.
Easy Small Batch Korean Pickled Garlic – Maneul Jangajji
Sweet, tangy and crunchy, make your very own Korean Pickled Garlic – small batch style – no second ferment required. Maneul Jangajji is a popular banchan you'll usually find alongside Yangpa Jangajji at Korean BBQ.
Easy Small Batch Korean Pickled Garlic – Maneul Jangajji
Slices of fresh yellow pickled daikon.
Yellow Pickled Radish – Danmuji / Takuan
Yellow pickled radish is the cutest and crunchiest snack in Korea and Japan. With just 2 minutes prep time, make your own tasty pickled daikon slices ready to pop into your homemade sushi rolls or eat after a big meal.
Yellow Pickled Radish – Danmuji / Takuan

Bonus Banchan Ideas

Use up leftovers from these epic Korean recipes as a tasty side dish to make them go even further!

Spicy dak bulgogi topped with sesame and spring onion.
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi
Chicken bulgogi (dak bulgogi) is one of the easiest Korean BBQ style dishes you can make at home. Just marinate and fry! Think tender chicken thighs coated in a spicy gochujang based sauce and fried to juicy perfection in 15 minutes. Ready to turn up the heat?
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi
Close up shot of the finished beef bulgogi.
Easy Weeknight Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi
Tender, glossy beef that cooks in minutes! If you love Korean BBQ, you'll love this incredibly easy Korean beef bulgogi recipe with slivers of carrot and shiitake mushrooms for the perfect weeknight dinner.
Easy Weeknight Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi
Lifting out a scoop of cooked dakgalbi with a wooden spatula.
Dakgalbi – Korean Chicken Stir Fry
Dakgalbi is the perfect easy weeknight dinner recipe or entertaining meal with friends. Once marinated in its flavour-packed gochujang sauce, cook up this spicy Korean chicken stir fry in just 15 minutes!
Dakgalbi – Korean Chicken Stir Fry

Banchan FAQs

How should I serve banchan?

Banchan are typically served in the middle of the table for everyone to share. An example of this would be when cooking your very own Korean BBQ at home (similar to Japanese yakiniku).

Set up the table with a tabletop electric hotplate to cook up a batch of beef bulgogi or chicken bulgogi, with your chosen banchan placed around the outside. Set up a small eating bowl and your favourite dipping sauces, a set of chopsticks, and a spoon for each person and get cooking!

Another way to enjoy them is served all together on top of a bowl of rice, known as bibimbap. This dish is often served with marinated chicken or beef, bibimbap sauce as well as a runny egg on top.

How long do they last?

This will be different for each banchan, depending on the ingredients and method of preparation, so check the specific recipe for details. As a general guide, most banchan are best stored in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent spoiling.

What are the best vegan banchan?

Many classic banchan recipes are already vegan, but always check the ingredient list for things such as fish sauce or dashi stock etc. In some cases you can use mushroom-based ‘fish’ sauce as a substitute to make sure they’re completely vegan while still retaining the umami flavour that makes them so special.

Our top three vegan banchan recipes are seasoned spinach (sigeumchi namul), seasoned beansprout salad (sukju namul) and spicy braised tofu (dubu jorim).

Bowl of fermented napa cabbage.

More amazing recipe ideas to check out next:

Top 10+ Best Ever Korean Banchan Side Dishes

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