Easy Korean Pickles Recipe - Rachel Cooks® (2024)

These spicy Korean pickles are crisp and delicious! Great for topping sloppy Joes and hamburgers, or as a zesty snack.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: These pickles are quick pickles so you can eat them right away or put them in the refrigerator to eat later. No canning necessary!

How long it takes: 15 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, bowl
Servings: 6

Easy Korean Pickles Recipe - Rachel Cooks® (1)

Table of Contents close

  • 1 Recipe Overview
  • 2 Gochugaru or Gochujang?
  • 3 What Is A Quick Pickle?
  • 4 What you’ll need
  • 5 Gochugaru
  • 6 How To Make Korean Pickles
  • 7 FAQs
  • 8 Make It Your Own
  • 9 Make-Ahead Ideas
  • 10 Storage Tips
  • 11 More Quick Pickles
  • 12 Get the Recipe: Easy Korean Pickles Recipe

Spicy Korean pickles are a taste sensation. They are peppery, garlicky, and just a bit sweet. They are often served with Korean sloppy Joes or bulgogi.

Korean pickled cucumbers are made with a good amount of red pepper flakes. Look for gochugaru, a staple in Korean cooking, which is coarsely ground dried chili peppers. It has a slightly sweet and smoky flavor.

Gochugaru or Gochujang?

Maybe you’re wondering about the difference between gochugaru and gochujang. While they are both made from the same type of red chili pepper (taeyangcho), gochugaru is a dried spice and and gochujang is a fermented paste that includes additional ingredients. Kimchi and Korean style coleslaws usually include gochugaru.

These Korean style pickles are easy to make since they are a “quick pickle.” They can be ready to eat in just 15 minutes, and that includes 10 minutes of “resting” time. You’ll love that you can keep a jar in your fridge for at least a couple of weeks, all ready to snack on, to eat as a salad, or to jazz up your menu in all sorts of ways.

What Is A Quick Pickle?

Quick pickles aren’t canned. They are different from shelf stable pickles which are processed at a high heat and can be stored indefinitely. Quick pickles are not canned and have to be refrigerated.

They are easy to make. Pickled vegetables are common in many cultures. It’s a great way to preserve vegetables and add a little excitement to them, and quick pickles are so incredibly easy. Cut the vegetable up, put it in a jar or bowl, add a little brine, and that’s it!

Quick pickles are crisper, fresher tasting, and retain their bright colors. Most vegetables and some fruits can be quick pickled. They will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.

Versatile. Here at Rachel Cooks, we’ve pickled many different vegetables (not just dill pickles!), from asparagus to cauliflower. Pickled red onions are a staple in my refrigerator. I use them to top everything from avocado toast to nachos, sometimes even scrambled eggs. I love them in a veggie wrap, too. Bright pink strips of pickled turnips are a classic Middle Eastern treat and are often used to garnish hummus.

Easy Korean Pickles Recipe - Rachel Cooks® (2)

As always, look for the printable recipe card with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information near the end of the post.

What you’ll need

  • English Cucumber: Look for a tender skinned cucumber; any variety will do (i.e. Persian cucumbers, hot house cucumbers, seedless cucumbers, Armenian cucumbers, mini cucumbers). They are usually wrapped in plastic because they don’t have a waxy coating. If you can’t find any tender-skinned cucumbers, use a garden cucumber but remove the peeling. If they have a lot of seeds, you may want o remove the seeds as well.
  • Kosher Salt: The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons which may seem like a lot. Keep in mind two things: The salt is part of the brine and you don’t eat all of the brine. In addition, kosher salt is coarse so less fits in a teaspoon. If you use fine salt, decrease the amount slightly.
  • Garlic: Use fresh garlic, about one clove, depending on how garlicky you like it. Minced garlic that comes in a jar is fine, too.
  • Gochugaru: This Korean chili powder is similar to crushed red pepper flakes and has a spicy, slightly sweet, smoky flavor. For more about gochugaru, check out this post by Chili Pepper Madness. You can also use crushed red pepper flakes if you prefer to stick with an ingredient you have on hand.
  • Rice Wine Vinegar: This may be called rice vinegar; the two products are the same. Don’t buy seasoned rice vinegar which has added sugar and salt.
  • Sugar: Granulated white sugar balances the tangy vinegar and spicy chili flakes.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: Dark brown toasted sesame oil adds umami to the pickles. If your sesame oil is very light or clear in color, it’s not toasted and it won’t have the same flavor.
  • Sesame Seeds (Optional): Toasted sesame seeds add flavor and texture and also visual appeal.
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If you are unable to find gochugaru in your grocery store, it may be labeled as Korean style red pepper, Korean chili powder, or Korean chili flakes.

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How To Make Korean Pickles

Prep the cucumber. Begin by washing and drying the cucumber. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the cucumber into round slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Thinner slices soften more; thicker slices stay more crisp. It’s really up to you! Put the slices into a non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel).

Make the brine. Mix together the brine ingredients: salt, garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, gochugaru, and sesame oil. Pour the brine over the sliced cucumbers and stir well.

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Let the pickles set for at least 10 minutes. The longer they set, the more flavorful they’ll be, so I usually cover them and put them into the refrigerator if I’m not serving them right away.

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The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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Enjoy Korean pickles with sloppy Joes or on burgers. Serve the pickles with grilled chicken that’s been marinated with Asian chicken marinade. They’re great on turkey burgers or black bean burgers, too. Make it a meal with crunchy Asian coleslaw and air fryer French fries.


What do Korean cucumbers taste like?

Korean cucumbers are a tender-skinned variety with small seeds. They are long and slender, and may be light green in color. They are crunchy and sweet, with no bitterness. Korean cucumber salad is similar to this recipe.

What does it mean to sweat cucumbers?

Sweating actually is a light sauté over medium heat with a minimum amount of oil. You probably wouldn’t want to do that with this recipe. Some cooks salt cucumbers or other vegetables that contain a lot of water to draw out the excess moisture. If you would like to try that, mix the sliced cucumber with salt in a colander. Set the colander in the sink to drain for 20-30 minutes. Dry with paper towels, if desired.

What do Korean pickles taste like?

Korean pickled cucumbers (oi muchim) are zesty fresh pickles. While they are tangy and acidic due to the vinegar, they also have plenty of spicy chili pepper heat. Garlic and toasted sesame oil lend umami. Salt and sugar round out the flavor profile. They really hit all the taste sensations.

Make It Your Own

  • Spices/Seasoning Choices: Adjust the spice level to your liking. Substitute red pepper flakes for the gochugaru. Omit the garlic or increase the garlic, depending on how you like it.
  • Pickle different vegetables. If you find that you really love the brine in these pickles, try making pickled radishes, onions, or another vegetable of your choice using the same recipe.
  • More cucumber salads: If you’re looking for more of a salad recipe, try this cucumber salad with onions and a vinegar dressing or cucumber ribbon salad with a yogurt herb dressing.
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Make-Ahead Ideas

Quick pickles are actually best if you make them ahead. It gives the cucumbers a little extra time to absorb all that great flavor.

Storage Tips

The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly covered jar or container for up to two weeks. Discard the pickles if the liquid is cloudy or smells off.

More Quick Pickles

Refrigerator Dill Pickles – Quick and EasyEasy Pickled Red Onions RecipePickled Asparagus Recipe – 10 minutes hands-on!Pickled Vegetables – spicy or not!

Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!

Easy Korean Pickles Recipe - Rachel Cooks® (12)


Get the Recipe: Easy Korean Pickles Recipe

4.45 from 18 votes

Prep Time: 15 minutes mins

Cook Time: 0 minutes mins

Total Time: 15 minutes mins

6 servings

Print Rate Recipe

These spicy Korean pickles are crisp and delicious! Great for topping sloppy Joes and hamburgers, or as a zesty snack.


  • 1 large English cucumber (about 1 lb.), thinly sliced (⅛ inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 large clove), optional
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru, or to taste (or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, optional


  • Place the cucumber slices in a bowl.

  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir until sugar and salt have dissolved.

  • Pour over the cucumbers and toss to coat.

  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • You can serve these immediately after making them but they are even better if they can sit for at least an hour or overnight.
  • Serve these pickles on hamburgers, Korean sloppy Joes, or just eat them as is.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 35kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 798mg, Potassium: 102mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 448IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.

© Author: Rachel Gurk

Easy Korean Pickles Recipe - Rachel Cooks® (2024)


What is the Korean famous pickle? ›

Danmuji. These yellow pickled radish strips are often used as a side dish in Korean cuisine. Seasoned with salt and various spices, then left in the pickling solution of turmeric, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and water.

What is a Korean pickle called? ›

maneul-jong-jangajji (pickled garlic scapes and cloves)
Alternative namesPickled vegetables
Place of originKorea
Associated cuisineKorean cuisine
2 more rows

How do they make pickles so crispy? ›

Use Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride (CaCl2), sometimes known as “pickle crisp”, is a type of salt that helps preserve the crunchiness of food. It is used in the food industry to help preserve the texture of canned fruit and vegetables.

What do you soak pickles in to make them crisp? ›

Soak Cucumbers In Ice Water Beforehand

If you're not canning your cucumbers immediately, leave them in an ice bath or in your refrigerator overnight to maintain firmness. Doing this before you start canning them will give you the crunchiest pickles you've ever had!

Why do Koreans eat so much pickled food? ›

People in Korea came up with a variety of deliciously flavored methods to preserve vegetables when they're at the peak of flavor and nutrition. What started out as a necessity for survival evolved into a cuisine that embraced the fermentation of these foods as a vital component of the food culture.

Why do Koreans pickle so much? ›

Geographically, the Korean Peninsula in the middle and high latitudes is too cold in the winter to grow vegetables. People pickle the harvested vegetables and hide them underground or in urns so that the whole family still has vegetables to eat in winter.

What are Persian pickles called? ›

'Torshi' means pickles in Persian and 'Seer' means garlic. It is simply garlic bulbs placed in a jar with vinegar and salt.

Why do Koreans eat pickles with pizza? ›

It goes down better for us when there's something to cut through the richness." South Koreans used to eat kimchi after a Western meal to add some contrasting acid to the rich food, but later switched to pickles, since pickles seem more Western.

What is the oldest pickle in the world? ›

Pickles have a very long history and are found across all cultures. The earliest known examples are cucumbers that are known to have been pickled some time around 2030 BC in Mesopotamia, when inhabitants from northern India brought cucumber seeds to the Tigris valley.

Why do you soak cucumbers in ice water before pickling? ›

For a quick and easy way to help ensure crisp pickles: soak cucumbers in ice water for 4 to 5 hours before pickling. This is a safer method for making crisp pickles. Using lime, or calcium hydroxide, in solution for soaking cucumbers changes the amount of acid in the cucumber tissue.

Why are my homemade pickles not crunchy? ›

Using too weak a salt brine or vinegar solution may cause soft or slippery pickles, as can using moldy garlic or storing the pickles at too warm a temperature.

Do bay leaves keep pickles crunchy? ›

They act as natural preservatives, helping to maintain the firmness and texture of fruits and vegetables during the pickling process. When added to pickling brine, bay leaves infuse the cucumbers with these tannins, ensuring they remain delightfully crunchy even after months of storage.

Why do you boil vinegar when pickling? ›

Quick pickling, or refrigerator pickling, involves a simple boil-and-pour method of pickling. You take all of your ingredients, apart from the product that is being pickled, and bring them to a boil. The heating process helps activate the flavors in the brine and marry them together.

What brand has the crunchiest pickles? ›

Crunchiest Pickles: Milwaukee's Kosher Dill Pickles

These whole pickles were generous in size, but not so huge that you wouldn't want to finish one (in fact, our testers were happy to go back for seconds). Biting into these mellow green pickles, our Test Kitchen samplers got a distinct snap.

Why are my homemade pickles soggy? ›

Pickles are soft or slippery.

This can happen when the blossom ends of the cucumbers are not removed. Cut 1/16-inch off blossom ends of cucumbers. The blossom end contains an enzyme that may cause softening. This can also happen if the brine or vinegar was too weak.

What is the most popular pickle? ›

Dill pickles are the most commonly known pickle type. Dill pickles include vinegar, pickling salt, and dill in its brine, whether it be fresh, dried, or in seed form. Dill pickles can also be prepared to be Kosher certified.

What kind of pickles do Koreans eat with pizza? ›

However, in South Korea, the ideal pizza side is one that's usually associated with deli sandwiches and hamburgers — cucumber pickles. Though pickles and pizza may surprise you, the pickles here serve the same purpose as they do with a fatty burger.

What is Tsukemono pickles? ›

Tsukemono refers to Japanese pickles, which translates to “pickled things.” These pickles come in various styles, flavors, and colors and are often served as side dishes or accompaniments to meals in Japanese cuisine.

Is kimchi Korean pickle? ›

Kimchi is a traditional spicy pickled vegetable dish in Korea. While it's usually made with cabbage, there are more than a hundred kimchi varieties, using everything from cucumbers and radishes to eggplants and pumpkin blossoms. Most kimchi recipes are based on three essential steps: First, the vegetable is salted.

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