Tteokbokki is a classic Korean street food made with chewy rice cakes, a spicy and umami-rich sauce, and optional add-ins. It's the perfect snack if you're craving something slightly sweet, spicy, and savory that will satisfy your need for delicious comfort food.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make delicious tteokbokki at home, then this is the recipe for you. They are actually super easy to prepare with very simple ingredients that are available in any Asian grocery store or online.
And if you’ve never heard of or tried tteokbokki before, I highly recommend giving them a try! They are incredibly flavorful, spicy, and just pure comfort in a bowl (or pan 😃).
To make Korean tteokbokki you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Rice cakes: You’ll need cylinder-shaped rice cakes (called tteok in Korean) for this recipe. These can be found frozen, fresh, or vacuum-packed, but from my experience the frozen type is the most common in grocery stores. You can also order them online if you don’t have an Asian grocery store nearby.
- Green onion: Another ingredient that you’ll commonly find in tteokbokki is green onions, so be sure to add them for a flavor boost!
- Gochujang: Gochujang is a spicy Korean chili/pepper paste. They often have several heat levels that are specified on the package. I always buy mild (level 2 out of 4) to make Korean dishes. It still has plenty of spice for my taste but isn’t overly hot. Make sure to pay attention to the label and buy something that fits your personal preferences.
- Gochugaru: Gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes) is another ingredient commonly found in tteokbokki. They add some extra spice and can be reused for a variety of dishes such as chili oil noodles.
- Honey: You'll need some type of sweetener for the sauce. I prefer honey but brown sugar can be used as well.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce adds some extra umami and flavor, so be sure to add some.
- Seafood stock: I recommend using some type of seafood stock instead of water to make tteokbokki. It’s just so much more flavorful and delicious! You can use dashi (there are instant powders in Asian grocery stores that you can use), anchovy stock (can be made with anchovies or with store-bought anchovy stock bags), or regular seafood stock. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can use vegan dashi. Personally, I prefer dashi as it can be reused to make miso soup, but all options work beautifully in this recipe!
- Sesame seeds (optional): Sesame seeds are great for garnishing your tteokbokki but you can skip them if you don’t have any on hand.
How to make Korean tteokbokki
Prepare the sauce and bring it to a simmer. First, add the gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, and dashi to a pan and stir until combined. Then bring it to a simmer.
Add the rice cake and white green onion parts. Next, add the rice cakes and white green onion parts to the sauce. Let everything simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens.
Stir in the remaining green onion parts. Now stir in the remaining green onion parts and simmer for about 1 minute.
Garnish and serve. Garnish with sesame seeds (optional), serve, and enjoy!
Tips & Notes
If you're planning to make tteokbokki at home for the first time, there are a few tips and recommendations that you should check out before getting started.
- Soak the rice cakes in water if they are frozen. The rice cakes thaw very quickly so just place them in a bowl of water for a few minutes before using them.
- Adjust the spiciness to your taste. I’d say that this tteokbokki isn’t overly spicy (I used mild gochujang and gochugaru) but it’s not mild either. So if you prefer something even milder, use less gochujang and gochugaru than the recipe box states. And if you prefer it spicier, add more gochugaru to taste.
- Add more dashi if needed. If you feel like you need more liquid, just use more dashi. Some people like a thin sauce while others like it thicker.
This recipe is perfect for making classic tteokbokki that uses only a few ingredients. But you can use more ingredients that are commonly added to tteokbokki.
Just make sure to add more liquid and/or gochujang if you add a lot of extra ingredients. Here are some of my recommendations:
- Fish cakes: Fish cakes are usually sold as rectangular sheets that can be cut into triangles, and they're available in many Asian grocery stores. Simply add the fish cakes to the sauce along with the rice cakes and let them cook until they're heated through.
- Hard-boiled eggs: Hard-boiled eggs are another common add-in. Add the peeled eggs with the rice cakes to the pan and let them cook in the sauce.
- Vegetables: One of my favorites is adding some vegetables to tteokbokki. I personally love sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, and carrots. Just make sure to cut them small enough so they cook within 10 minutes. It’s a great way to add more veggies to your meal.
- Noodles: If you love noodles, you could add a package of vacuum-packed udon noodles or ramen noodles without the seasoning package to the pan. The noodles taste really delicious with the sauce!
- Cheese: Cheese is another ingredient that you can often find. Just add some grated cheese on top of the almost-finished tteokbokki and let it melt.
How to serve tteokbokki
- Make it a quick and savory snack. I love to make tteokbokki on weekends when I feel like having a spicy and delicious snack. It’s super quick and easy to make without any chopping required.
- Serve it as a side dish when preparing a Korean meal. Another option is preparing tteokbokki as part of a meal. You could serve it alongside your favorite side dishes (kimchi and Korean cucumber salad taste great!) and a delicious main dish such as dakgalbi.
- Turn it into a full meal. When you add more vegetables and some protein, tteokbokki actually becomes quite filling. So if you want to turn it into a meal, you can add eggs, tofu, meat, and vegetables of your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’d say that this recipe is moderately spicy or maybe a little bit spicier than that. But it is absolutely enjoyable if you like spicy foods. I tested the recipe several times so it doesn’t come out too hot. Just make sure that you don’t accidentally use gochujang that’s super hot.
The short answer is no. There really isn’t anything that tastes and works like gochujang. Plus, this recipe is all about delicious rice cakes in a gochujang sauce. So if you want to try this recipe, I recommend buying it in your local Asian grocery store or online.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. You may have to add some extra liquid when reheating it.
More simple and delicious Asian recipes
If you're a fan of umami-rich flavors and want to explore more dishes that satisfy your cravings, here are a few recipe recommendations.
Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)
- ¼ cup gochujang mild or medium-hot
- ½ tablespoon gochugaru more to taste
- 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 cups dashi, anchovy stock or seafod stock more as needed
- 1 pound cylinder-shaped rice cakes if frozen soak in warm water for a few minutes until they can be separated
- 3 green onions cut into 2-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
- sesame seeds (optional) for garnish
- Add the gochujang, gochugaru, honey, soy sauce, and dashi (or another stock of choice) to a pan and stir until combined. Bring the sauce to a simmer.¼ cup gochujang, ½ tablespoon gochugaru, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 cups dashi, anchovy stock or seafod stock
- Add the rice cakes and white green onion parts. Then let everything simmer and occasionally stir until the sauce thickens.1 pound cylinder-shaped rice cakes
- Stir in the remaining green onion parts and simmer for 1 minute.3 green onions
- Garnish with sesame seeds and enjoy!sesame seeds (optional)