What are some gluten-free Korean dishes?

Gluten-free diets have become increasingly popular, with more and more people choosing to avoid gluten for health or personal reasons. For those following a gluten-free diet, finding tasty gluten-free options when dining out or cooking at home can be challenging. Korean cuisine, with its focus on rice, vegetables, meat and seafood, offers many naturally gluten-free dishes that are flavorful and satisfying. Here is an overview of some of the best gluten-free Korean food options.

Naturally Gluten-Free Korean Ingredients

Many staple ingredients in Korean cooking are naturally gluten-free, providing a solid flavor base for gluten-free recipes:

  • Rice – Rice is a gluten-free Korean staple, forming the base of bibimbap and other rice bowls.
  • Meat – Beef, pork, chicken are gluten-free protein options.
  • Seafood – Fish, shrimp, squid, etc. are gluten-free.
  • Vegetables – Korean cooking uses a wide variety of fresh veggies.
  • Fruits – Pineapple, Asian pear, etc. lend sweetness.
  • Eggs – Eggs are a versatile gluten-free ingredient.
  • Tofu – Tofu is a plant-based gluten-free protein.
  • Nuts and seeds – Sesame seeds, peanuts, cashews, etc.
  • Rice noodles – Dangmyeon and japchae noodles are made from rice.
  • Oils – Sesame oil, vegetable oil, etc.
  • Spices – Gochujang, doenjang, etc. are gluten-free seasonings.

Focusing on these gluten-free ingredients opens up many possibilities for Korean gluten-free cooking.

Naturally Gluten-Free Korean Dishes

Many classic Korean dishes are naturally gluten-free or can be easily modified to be gluten-free:


Bibimbap, a bowl of rice topped with sautéed and raw vegetables and gochujang sauce, is a Korean staple that is naturally gluten-free. Avoiding wheat-based soy sauce and using tamari instead keeps bibimbap gluten-free.


Beef bulgogi, thin slices of marinated grilled beef, makes a flavorful gluten-free protein when served over rice. Leaving out the soy sauce marinade and using tamari instead keeps this dish gluten-free.


Japchae noodles made from sweet potato or rice are gluten-free alternatives to wheat noodles in this classic stir-fried noodle dish. Load it up with beef and veggies for a satisfying gluten-free meal.


Samgyetang is a warming Korean chicken soup made with a whole chicken stuffed with rice, garlic, ginseng and jujube. This protein-rich soup is naturally gluten-free.

Bungeo ppang

These tasty fish-shaped pastries made from rice flour are a popular gluten-free Korean street food snack. Filled with sweet red bean paste, they make a gluten-free dessert.

Korean pancakes

Pajeon and kimchijeon are Korean savory pancakes made with rice flour batter. Filled with scallions, kimchi and seafood, they are versatile gluten-free appetizers.

Gluten-Free Substitutions in Korean Cooking

Many traditional Korean dishes that contain gluten can be modified to be gluten-free:

Sauces and condiments

  • Use tamari instead of soy sauce
  • Check gochujang and doenjang for gluten-containing ingredients
  • Use gluten-free hoisin sauce


  • Replace wheat noodles with rice noodles
  • Spiralized vegetables like zucchini work well
  • Try kelp noodles made from seaweed

Batter and dough

  • Use rice flour, potato starch or tapioca starch instead of wheat flour
  • Legume flours like chickpea work well

Bread crumbs/coatings

  • Grind rice cakes, nuts or puffed rice into gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • Use cornstarch for coatings

With some simple substitutions, many traditional Korean dishes can be enjoyed gluten-free. Focus on naturally gluten-free ingredients and seasonings for the simplest options.

Traditional Korean Gluten-Free Recipes

Here are some recipes for classic Korean dishes modified to be gluten-free:

Gluten-Free Bulgogi


  • 1 lb beef sirloin, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup tamari
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, chopped


  1. In a bowl, combine tamari, honey, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and scallions.
  2. Add beef and coat well. Marinate 30 mins – 1 hour.
  3. Heat grill or skillet over high heat. Cook bulgogi for 2-3 minutes until slightly charred.
  4. Serve over rice with kimchi and greens.

Gluten-Free Japchae


  • 8 oz sweet potato rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 cup julienned carrots
  • 1⁄2 cup julienned zucchini
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup tamari
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions, chopped


  1. Soak noodles according to package directions, drain.
  2. Heat 1⁄2 tbsp oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Stir fry carrots and mushrooms 2 minutes.
  3. Remove veggies from skillet. Heat remaining 1⁄2 tbsp oil, stir fry zucchini 1 minute.
  4. Return veggies to skillet. Add noodles, tamari, honey, vinegar and sesame seeds. Toss to coat.
  5. Remove from heat. Garnish with scallions.

Gluten-Free Kimchi Pancakes


  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1⁄2 cup finely chopped kimchi
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a bowl, whisk together rice flour and water. Let sit 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in kimchi, scallions, sesame oil and egg.
  3. Heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into pan, flatten slightly to form a pancake.
  5. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown.
  6. Serve with dipping sauce.

Creative Gluten-Free Korean Fusion Dishes

Korean flavors can be used creatively in gluten-free dishes that fuse Korean and Western cuisines:

Korean Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Buttermilk marinated chicken dredged in potato starch and rice flour, then fried Korean style for a crispy and flavorful gluten-free chicken.

Korean Gluten-Free Meatballs

Ground beef or pork meatballs seasoned with gochugaru, sesame oil, tamari and rice wine vinegar for a Korean twist.

Korean Gluten-Free Tacos

Bulgogi or spicy pork belly filling loaded into corn tortillas with kimchi and fresh veggie toppings for Korean tacos.

Korean Gluten-Free Ramen

Ramen noodles made from rice noodles in a rich broth with mushrooms, scallions and a soft boiled egg for Korean style ramen.

Korean Gluten-Free Bibimbap Bowl

A bowl with rice, veggies, egg and bulgogi or spicy tofu topped with gochujang sauce for a satisfying one-bowl meal.

Korean Gluten-Free Banh Mi Sandwich

Marinated lemongrass pork, pickled carrots, cilantro, spicy mayo and kimchi piled on rice bread makes a tasty sandwich.

The possibilities are endless for mixing Korean and Western flavors in creative gluten-free dishes.

Tips for Following a Gluten-Free Korean Diet

Here are some tips for living gluten-free while enjoying Korean food:

  • Check labels carefully for soy sauce, wheat-based ingredients, flavorings.
  • Look for gluten-free certified products.
  • Cook at home as much as possible using real food ingredients.
  • Always ask about ingredients and preparation when dining out.
  • Bring a gluten-free soy sauce when eating out to have on hand.
  • Seek out Korean groceries and restaurants that offer gluten-free options.
  • Educate family and friends on your gluten-free needs.
  • Focus on naturally gluten-free dishes like rice bowls.
  • Learn to make simple substitutions like tamari for soy sauce.
  • Enjoy the variety of vegetables, meats, seafood and rice in Korean cuisine.

Though challenging at times, those following a gluten-free diet have many delicious options to explore in Korean cuisine. With some adjustments and an understanding of ingredients, Korean food can be an exciting part of a gluten-free lifestyle.

Gluten-Free Korean Grocery Shopping List

Stock up on these gluten-free ingredients to build flavorful Korean meals at home:

Category Gluten-Free Items
Produce Cabbage, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, ginger, chili peppers
Protein Eggs, beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, tofu
Dairy Milk, cheese, plain Greek yogurt
Rice & Noodles White rice, brown rice, rice noodles, sweet potato noodles
Condiments & Sauces Tamari, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, chili flakes, sesame seeds
Spices Red pepper powder, garlic powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg
Canned & Jarred Water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots, olives, artichoke hearts
Frozen Edamame, vegetables, rice
Baking Rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, rice crackers
Snacks Popcorn, seaweed snacks, nuts, dried fruit

Having these versatile ingredients on hand makes putting together quick and easy gluten-free Korean recipes at home simple. Shop at international markets for the widest selection of Asian and gluten-free specialty products.

Gluten-Free Korean Dining Out Guide

Eating out while following a gluten-free diet can be tricky, but dining at Korean restaurants is a delicious option with the right precautions. Here are some tips for eating gluten-free Korean food when dining out:

  • Check the restaurant’s website or call ahead to ask about gluten-free menu options.
  • Stick to naturally gluten dishes like bibimbap or grilled meats and fish.
  • Request no soy sauce, or bring your own gluten-free tamari.
  • Ask if soy sauce can be substituted with tamari for dipping.
  • Avoid fried items with batter or breadcrumbs unless rice flour is used.
  • Inquire about gluten-free noodles for dishes like japchae.
  • Look out for wheat-based condiments like soybean paste.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
  • Plain rice and vegetable side dishes are good go-to’s.
  • Seek out restaurants that offer gluten-free menus or items.
  • Politely explain your needs due to medical dietary restrictions.

With the right precautions, those avoiding gluten can enjoy the delicious flavors of Korean cuisine when dining out. Focusing on simple grilled meats, rice and veggie dishes makes ordering gluten-free easiest when in doubt. With some adjustments, the wonderful diversity of Korean food can be enjoyed gluten-free.


Korean cuisine offers many bright, bold and delicious options for those looking to avoid gluten in their diet. With its emphasis on vegetables, grains, proteins and seafood, naturally gluten-free Korean dishes are abundant. While some adjustments to traditional recipes may be required, substitutions like using tamari over soy sauce open up possibilities. Exploring the growing range of gluten-free Korean grocery products makes following this diet easier than ever. With some care when dining out and cooking Korean food at home, those avoiding gluten can enjoy wonderful Korean flavors. From classic dishes like bulgogi and bibimbap to creative fusion foods, Korean cuisine has much to offer for a happy and healthy gluten-free lifestyle.

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