Korean BBQ Side Dishes: Perfect Pairings & Tips

Creating an unforgettable Korean BBQ experience is more than just about the succulent meats. Korean BBQ side dishes bring flavor, texture, and balance to your dining table. From spicy pickled radish to savory pancakes, these side dishes elevate the meal to the next level. In this article, we will explore the best, easy, traditional, classic, healthy, and must-try Korean BBQ side dishes and provide tips on creating perfect pairings with your grilled meats. Whether you are a seasoned Korean BBQ enthusiast or just starting, get ready to discover a world of incredible flavors and textures.

Best Korean BBQ Side Dishes

If you’re looking to add some excitement to your Korean BBQ spread, look no further than these best and most popular Korean BBQ side dishes. These side dishes are the perfect complement to your grilled meats, offering a range of flavors and textures to your palate.

First on the list is kimchi, a staple side dish in Korean cuisine that comes in a variety of delicious flavors. From spicy to mild, cucumber to cabbage, there’s a perfect kimchi for everyone. Next up is pajeon, a Korean-style pancake that is entirely moreish. This savory pancake has green onions as its main ingredient and is often paired with makgeolli, a traditional Korean rice wine.

Another popular Korean BBQ side dish is japchae, a dish made of noodles with vegetables and beef. This dish is healthy, flavorful and can be eaten as a main or a side dish. If you’re looking for a refreshing salad to balance out the richness of the meat, try a spicy Korean cucumber salad – Oi Muchim made with soy sauce, vinegar, chilli pepper and sesame oil.

Other popular Korean BBQ side dishes that you should try include tangy spicy pickled vegetables, Jangjorim (soy sauce braised eggs), and Gim (seaweed snacks) complement the traditionally heavier grilled meat dishes. Now that you know some of the best Korean BBQ side dishes to serve, it’s time to get cooking and enjoy a truly authentic Korean culinary experience.

Easy Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Do you want to impress your guests with delicious Korean BBQ side dishes, but don’t have much time or many ingredients? Look no further than these easy-to-make options that require minimal preparation time and effort.

Sweet Potato Noodles

Also known as japchae, this traditional Korean dish is made with chewy sweet potato noodles and a variety of colorful vegetables stir-fried in sesame oil and soy sauce. It can be served hot or cold and is a great gluten-free and vegetarian option. Try this quick recipe for a tasty and satisfying side dish:

  1. Boil 6 oz of sweet potato noodles for 6-7 minutes until tender.
  2. Drain and rinse the noodles, then toss with 2 tbsp sesame oil.
  3. Stir-fry 1 sliced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, 1 sliced bell pepper, and 2 cups of baby spinach in a pan with 2 tbsp soy sauce for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Combine the noodles and vegetables in the pan and stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

Spicy Stir-Fried Zucchini

If you like a bit of heat, this quick recipe is the perfect side dish to complement your grilled meats. Thinly sliced zucchini is stir-fried with garlic, dried red pepper flakes, and soy sauce to create a flavorful and spicy dish.

  1. Cut 2 zucchinis into thin slices.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan and add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the zucchini slices and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned.
  4. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce and stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

These are just a couple of options for easy Korean BBQ side dishes that taste amazing and require minimal effort. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or just preparing a quick weeknight dinner, these dishes are sure to impress.

Traditional Korean BBQ Side Dishes

In Korean culture, dining is not just about satisfying hunger; it’s a social event that brings family and friends together. One of the hallmarks of Korean cuisine is the vast array of banchan (side dishes) that accompany every meal, especially Korean BBQ. These small plates not only add visual appeal but also bring an explosion of flavors to the table, creating a truly memorable experience.

Some of the most traditional Korean BBQ side dishes include japchae, a dish made from sweet potato noodles with vegetables and meat; namul, an assortment of seasoned and sautéed vegetables; and banchan, various small dishes served alongside the main course, such as kimchi, pickled vegetables, and fried tofu.

These traditional Korean BBQ side dishes often reveal the connection between food and nature, with many recipes featuring locally sourced ingredients that reflect Korea’s geography and climate. For instance, namul includes sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce, while japchae utilizes sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms.

The Significance of Side Dishes in Korean Culture

In Korea, banchan is not merely a side dish but a symbol of hospitality and generosity. It is common for hosts to provide guests with a generous helping of banchan, as it demonstrates the host’s care for their guests. Additionally, banchan also represents the wealth and prosperity of a household, as it is a sign that the family can afford to eat a variety of dishes and ingredients.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional dishes or prefer to try something new, no Korean BBQ experience is complete without a selection of banchan. The variety of flavors and textures provide an explosion of taste, making every bite a unique and special experience.

Delicious Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Delicious Korean BBQ side dishes

When it comes to Korean BBQ, the side dishes are just as important as the grilled meat. Not only do they add flavor and texture, but they also offer a chance to taste a wide variety of Korean cuisine. In this section, we’ll introduce some of the most delicious Korean BBQ side dishes to try at your next BBQ feast.

Marinated Vegetables

One of the most popular Korean BBQ side dishes is marinated vegetables, or banchan. These small plates offer a range of flavors and textures, from spicy to sweet, and crunchy to chewy. Some traditional banchan include kimchi, pickled radish, and bean sprouts, but there are countless options to explore.

Savory Rice Dishes

Rice is a staple in Korean cuisine, and there are many dishes that incorporate it as a side to BBQ. Bibimbap is a popular option, featuring rice, vegetables, and meat topped with a fried egg and spicy sauce. For a heartier option, try galbijjim, or braised short ribs with rice and vegetables.

Spicy Seafood

If you’re a fan of seafood, Korean cuisine offers some mouth-watering options to pair with BBQ. Haemul pajeon, or seafood pancake, features a crispy batter filled with shrimp, squid, and green onions. For a spicier option, try octopus and pork belly stew, a fiery dish with tender pieces of pork belly and octopus.

Whether you prefer vegetables, rice, or seafood, there’s a Korean BBQ side dish to suit every taste. Try mixing and matching different dishes to find the perfect pairings for your grilled meats.

Classic Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Classic Korean BBQ Side dishes hold a special place in Korean cuisine for their rich history and unique flavors. One of the most iconic dishes is kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish that has been enjoyed in Korea for centuries. Another beloved staple is bibimbap, a colorful and satisfying dish consisting of rice, mixed vegetables, and often a fried egg on top. And let’s not forget ssamjang, a flavorful dipping sauce made with fermented soybean paste, red pepper paste, and other savory ingredients.

Each dish has its own story and cultural significance, and together they form an essential part of Korean food culture. Incorporating classic Korean BBQ side dishes into your meal not only enhances the dining experience but also offers a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse cuisine of Korea.

History and Tradition of Classic Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Kimchi, one of the most popular side dishes, has been enjoyed in Korea for over 2,000 years. It is said to have originated during the Three Kingdoms period, where it was first made by fermenting vegetables to preserve them for the winter months. Today, there are over 200 different types of kimchi, each with their own unique flavor and preparation method.

Bibimbap, meaning “mixed rice,” dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. It was originally a simple dish made with rice, vegetables, and leftover ingredients, but has since evolved into a colorful and artistic masterpiece. It is often enjoyed on special occasions, such as New Year’s Day, and is appreciated for its balanced flavors and healthy ingredients.

Ssamjang, on the other hand, is a more recent creation. It first appeared in the early 20th century, and its popularity quickly spread throughout Korea. The name ssamjang means “wrap sauce,” and it is typically served alongside grilled meats and lettuce wraps.

Classic Korean BBQ side dishes are more than just a way to add flavor to a dish – they are a reflection of Korea’s rich history and culinary traditions.

Healthy Korean BBQ Side Dishes

Healthy Korean BBQ Side Dishes

If you’re looking for healthier and lighter alternatives to your Korean BBQ side dishes, we’ve got you covered. Incorporating fresh ingredients and mindful cooking techniques can help create nutritious options while still achieving delicious flavors.

Grilled Mushroom Salad

This grilled mushroom salad is a perfect example of a healthy and flavorful Korean BBQ side dish. Grilling the mushrooms brings out their natural smoky flavor, while a simple dressing of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil adds a tangy kick. Top with thinly sliced onions and cilantro for added freshness.

Spicy Cucumber Salad

For a refreshing and spicy side dish, try this Korean-style cucumber salad. The salad is made by tossing thinly sliced cucumbers with a spicy dressing made from Korean chili flakes, garlic, rice vinegar, and sugar. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions for added texture and flavor.

Steamed Broccoli with Garlic Sauce

Steamed broccoli may seem simple, but when paired with a flavorful garlic sauce it can become a standout side dish. The sauce is made by sautéing garlic with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and a touch of honey. Drizzle over steamed broccoli and serve alongside your favorite grilled meats.

By replacing heavier and greasier side dishes with these healthy options, you can enjoy Korean BBQ guilt-free while still satisfying your taste buds.

Must-Try Korean BBQ Side Dishes

For those looking to add some excitement to their Korean BBQ spread, we’ve compiled a list of must-try side dishes that are sure to impress. From refreshing salads to unique flavor combinations, these dishes offer a taste of the unexpected and will leave you wanting more.


Not your typical fried rice, bokkeum-bap offers a spicy twist on this classic dish. Made with stir-fried rice, vegetables, and gochujang, this flavorful side dish pairs perfectly with grilled meats.

Jjim Dak

This hearty chicken stew is a Korean specialty that is perfect for cooler weather. Slow-cooked with potatoes, carrots, and glass noodles in a savory broth, jjim dak provides a rich and comforting complement to any BBQ spread.


If you’re a kimchi fan, you won’t want to miss out on kkakdugi. This cubed radish kimchi is tangy, spicy, and irresistible. It’s a must-try for those looking to add some crunch and heat to their BBQ experience.

Mak Kimchi

Another kimchi variety that’s worth trying is mak kimchi. Made with chopped cabbage and a mix of seasonings, this refreshing and slightly sweet dish balances out the richness of grilled meats and adds depth to your BBQ spread.


This savory Korean pancake is filled with scallions and seafood, and can be customized to your liking. Whether you prefer it crispy or chewy, pajeon is a must-try side dish that’s easy to make and even easier to enjoy.

These are just a few of the must-try Korean BBQ side dishes to consider when planning your next BBQ feast. Experiment with different flavors and textures to find your perfect pairing, and don’t be afraid to try something new!

Tips for Perfect Pairings

Pairing Korean BBQ side dishes with different grilled meats and sauces can be a delightful experience. Here are some tips to ensure a harmonious balance of flavors:

Consider Intensity

Pair light, refreshing side dishes like kongnamul (soybean sprouts) or oi-muchim (cucumber salad) with stronger meats like beef. Similarly, strong-flavored side dishes such as kkakdugi (radish kimchi) or baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi) go well with milder meats like pork, chicken, or seafood.

Opposites Attract

For a contrasting palette, pair spicy side dishes such as ggakdugi (spicy radish) or kkwarigochu (spicy Korean chili peppers) with creamy sauces or meat dishes like dak-galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) or galbi-jjim (braised beef short ribs).

Balance Textures

Vary the texture of your side dishes to ensure a delightful mouthfeel. Pair crispy or crunchy side dishes like jeon (Korean pancakes) or tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) with soft, tender grilled meats like beef or pork. For more delicate meats like seafood, pair with refreshing side dishes such as oisobagi (stuffed cucumber kimchi) or yeongeun-jorim (seasoned lotus root).

tips korean bbq side dishes

With these tips, you can elevate your Korean BBQ game and create a memorable feast of delicious and perfectly-paired side dishes.

Conclusion: Elevate Your Korean BBQ Game with Delicious Side Dishes

Now that you know more about Korean BBQ side dishes, it’s time to elevate your dining game. Remember, side dishes are just as important as the grilled meats themselves, and can help bring out the varied flavors and textures of your meal.

Whether you opt for traditional dishes like kimchi and japchae, or experiment with new and different flavors, there’s no doubt that Korean BBQ side dishes can take your dining experience to the next level. From healthy options to flavorful classics, there is something to suit every taste and preference.

So the next time you fire up the grill, be sure to include a variety of delicious Korean BBQ side dishes in your spread. Not only will they impress your guests, but they’ll also add a new dimension to your meal that you won’t want to miss.

Don’t settle for a boring BBQ – try some of the best Korean BBQ side dishes to truly impress your guests and create a dining experience to remember!


What are Korean BBQ side dishes?

Korean BBQ side dishes, also known as banchan, refer to a variety of small dishes that are served alongside grilled meats. These side dishes are an essential part of Korean cuisine and are meant to complement the flavors of the BBQ. They often include items such as kimchi, pickled vegetables, savory pancakes, and salads.

What are the best Korean BBQ side dishes?

Some of the best Korean BBQ side dishes include kimchi (fermented cabbage), japchae (sweet potato noodles with vegetables), bulgogi (marinated beef), bibimbap (mixed rice with vegetables), and pajeon (green onion pancake). These dishes offer a variety of flavors and textures that perfectly complement grilled meats.

Are there any easy Korean BBQ side dishes?

Yes, there are many easy-to-make Korean BBQ side dishes that require minimal preparation time. Some examples include cucumber salad, bean sprout salad, soy-glazed mushrooms, and steamed egg. These dishes can be prepared quickly and are perfect for those who want to enjoy a Korean BBQ without spending too much time in the kitchen.

What are some traditional Korean BBQ side dishes?

Traditional Korean BBQ side dishes include namul (seasoned vegetables), banchan (assorted side dishes), doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew), and kongnamul muchim (seasoned soybean sprouts). These dishes have been enjoyed for generations and showcase the rich culinary heritage of Korea.

Are there any delicious Korean BBQ side dishes?

Absolutely! Korean BBQ side dishes are known for their delicious flavors. Some mouthwatering options include dakgangjeong (crispy sweet and spicy chicken), kimchi fried rice, haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), and bulgogi lettuce wraps. These dishes will take your BBQ experience to the next level.

What are some classic Korean BBQ side dishes?

Classic Korean BBQ side dishes include kimchi (fermented vegetables), ssamjang (spicy dipping sauce), bibimbap (mixed rice dish with vegetables and sauce), and japchae (stir-fried sweet potato noodles). These dishes have been enjoyed for years and are beloved for their distinctive flavors and textures.

Are there any healthy Korean BBQ side dishes?

Yes, there are plenty of healthy Korean BBQ side dishes. Some nutritious options include gyeranjjim (steamed egg custard), naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles), kongnamul muchim (seasoned soybean sprouts), and hobak jeon (zucchini pancake). These dishes offer a balance of flavors while incorporating fresh and wholesome ingredients.

What are some must-try Korean BBQ side dishes?

There are several must-try Korean BBQ side dishes that offer unique flavors. These include ssam (lettuce wraps with grilled meat), bossam (boiled pork belly wrap), gaji namul (steamed eggplants), and korean potato salad. These dishes will add a delightful twist to your Korean BBQ experience.

Any tips for perfect pairings with Korean BBQ side dishes?

When it comes to pairing Korean BBQ side dishes, consider the flavors and textures of both the side dish and the grilled meat. Spicy side dishes like kimchi pair well with fatty cuts of meat, while lighter salads and namul complement leaner options. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite pairings.

How can Korean BBQ side dishes enhance the overall dining experience?

Korean BBQ side dishes play a crucial role in enhancing the overall dining experience by providing a variety of flavors, textures, and temperatures that complement the grilled meats. They add depth and complexity to each bite, making the meal more satisfying and enjoyable.

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