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Vegan Tteokbokki Recipe

Vegan Tteokbokki

This vegan tteokbokki (비건 떡볶이), also known as spicy Korean rice cakes, is a delicious Korean dish that traditionally isn’t vegan.

This tteokbokki vegan recipe mimics traditional tteokbokki and takes about 20-25 mins to cook! It’s my mother’s recipe and makes for a quick & tasty vegan dinner idea!

This dish is an absolute masterpiece and I believe everyone should try it (if you can handle a bit of spice!). Not only is it incredibly unique, but the combination of the texture and flavours also makes this one of the most popular Korean dishes out there… which is why I had to make it vegan 🙂 

Recipe for Vegan Tteokbokki

Recipe for Vegan Tteokbokki

To make vegan tteokbokki (aka 비건 떡볶이), you should know that Tteokbokki is made with one of Korea’s most beloved ingredients – Tteok. Tteok is the Korean word for rice cakes. And no, they’re not the low-calorie dry rice cakes you might be familiar with as a snack.

Korean rice cakes, Tteok, are made with rice flour and transformed into soft, slightly sticky and incredibly chewy pieces of “rice dough” as I like to call it. These can be made into many shapes but for tteokbokki, the most common shape we use is the cylinder-shaped rice cakes. Truthfully, you can use whatever shapes you can find but if you have a Korean supermarket near you, I’m sure you can find these cylinder-shaped rice cakes. 

The next main star ingredient for the Tteokbokki sauce is gochujang. Gochujang is Korean red pepper paste. If you have been following me for some time, you would probably have heard of gochujang. This is a must-have ingredient if you are interested in Korean cooking! You can easily find gochujang in any Korean (or usually Asian) supermarket. This little ingredient will give this dish that delicious spice with a hint of sweetness, plus a ton of flavour. 

Traditional tteokbokki also includes processed fish cakes and the sauce is also made with anchovies. So to make tteokbokki vegan, simply leave out the fish cakes (or replace them with fried puffed tofu!) and also use kelp powder or dry kelp instead of using anchovies to flavour the broth / sauce. 

How To Make Tteokbokki (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • Korean rice cakes (tteok)
  • Kelp Powder / Dry Kelp
  • Cabbage
  • Onion
  • Gochujang
  • Gochugaru (optional)
  • Soy sauce or soy-free alternative
  • Agave nectar or maple syrup
  • Garlic
  • Green Onions
  • Seasame Seeds (optional)
  • Japanese Sake (optional)
  • Puffed Tofu / Tofu Puffs (optional)

You can’t make the recipe gluten-free since the main star, gochujang has gluten and can’t really be substituted unless you know of an alternative.

The recipe is soy-free, simply by using a soy-free alternative to soy sauce. Instead of tofu puffs, find a soy-free protein like veggie dogs and cut them up into little pieces (which I’ve done before!)


Vegan Tteokbokki Recipe

How To Make Tteokbokki (Vegan)

If your TTeok (korean rice cakes) are frozen and stuck together, add them into a large bowl with cold water to separate them for about 5-10 minutes before using them.

Begin making your vegan Tteokbokki by adding water in a large wok or pot. Instead of water, you could also use a low or no-sodium vegetable broth instead.

Because traditional Tteokbokki sometimes use anchovies to flavour the broth, we’re adding kelp powder instead to get a similar taste. Use a whisk to mix and bring to a boil on medium-high heat to create an instant broth. If you only have dry kelp instead of kelp powder, you’ll have to boil the dry kelp pieces in the water for around 15-20 minutes to flavour the broth. After 20 minutes, you can take out the kelp pieces or leave them in.

Next, add chopped cabbage and sliced onion into the pot and bring to a boil. Optionally, you could add chopped carrots as well as which is often found in Tteokbokki.

Start mixing your sauce ingredients by adding into a bowl: gochujang (use more or less depending on your level of spice preference), gochugaru, soy sauce (or soy-free alternative), agave nectar (or maply syrup) and minced garlic. Mix until you get a smooth sauce.

By this point, your TTeok (Korean rice cakes) should be separated in the cold water. Now add the TTeok (Korean rice cakes) into the broth. Optionally, you can add puffed tofu / tofu puffs in as well which will absorb the delicious sauce and flavours. Traditional, fish cakes are added into Tteokbokki so these fried puffed tofu pieces are a great vegan alternative.

Next, add in your sauce mixture and stir. Optionally, you can add sake into the pot (my mother’s secret ingredient). to enhance the taste. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Once the mixture comes to a boil, add in half the green onions. Turn the heat down to a medium-low and let it cook for around 15-20 minutes or until the rice cakes become soft to chew and the sauce has thickened. The sauce will be a bit soupy at first but over time as the ingredients absorb, the sauce will thicken more and more.

When ready to serve, top with the rest of the green onions and sesame seeds (optional) and enjoy hot (I prefer to eat it a few hours after making it, because the flavours really soak in)! If you are serving this later, make sure to heat it up completely until the rice cakes are very soft and chewy again.

Vegan Tteokbokki

Vegan Tteokbokki (비건 떡볶이)

Vegan tteokbokki, also known as spicy Korean rice cakes, is a delicious Korean dish that traditionally isn't vegan. This tteokbokki vegan recipe takes about 20-25 mins to cook with the chewyKorean rice cakes and spicy sauce! It's a quick & tasty vegan dinner idea!
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean, Vegan
Keyword: korean, street food
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 513kcal

Equipment

  • Wok or Pot
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 700 g TTeok (Korean rice cakes) ideally cylinder shaped tteok
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1/2 tsp Kelp Powder or 3-5 pieces of dry kelp / dashima
  • 2 cups Cabbage white or napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1 Onion small, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 tbsp Gochujang Korean red pepper paste
  • 1 tbsp Gochugaru Korean red chili pepper flakes (optional) or use more gochujang
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or soy-free alternative
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2-4 green onions chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds optional
  • 100 g Puffed Tofu / tofu puffs optional, omit for soy-free
  • 1/2 cup Japanese Sake optional

Instructions

  • If your TTeok (korean rice cakes) are frozen and stuck together, add them into a large bowl with cold water to separate them for about 5-10 minutes before using them.
  • Begin making your vegan Tteokbokki by adding water in a large wok or pot. Instead of water, you could also use a low or no-sodium vegetable broth instead.
  • Because traditional Tteokbokki sometimes use anchovies to flavour the broth, we're adding kelp powder instead to get a similar taste. Use a whisk to mix and bring to a boil on medium-high heat to create an instant broth. If you only have dry kelp instead of kelp powder, you’ll have to boil the dry kelp pieces in the water for around 15-20 minutes to flavour the broth. After 20 minutes, you can take out the kelp pieces or leave them in.
  • Next, add chopped cabbage and sliced onion into the pot and bring to a boil. Optionally, you could add chopped carrots as well as which is often found in Tteokbokki.
  • Start mixing your sauce ingredients by adding into a bowl: gochujang (use more or less depending on your level of spice preference), gochugaru, soy sauce (or soy-free alternative), agave nectar (or maply syrup) and minced garlic. Mix until you get a smooth sauce.
  • By this point, your TTeok (Korean rice cakes) should be separated in the cold water. Now add the TTeok (Korean rice cakes) into the broth. Optionally, you can add puffed tofu / tofu puffs in as well which will absorb the delicious sauce and flavours. Traditional, fish cakes are added into Tteokbokki so these fried puffed tofu pieces are a great vegan alternative.
  • Next, add in your sauce mixture and stir. Optionally, you can add sake into the pot (my mother's secret ingredient). to enhance the taste. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture comes to a boil, add in half the green onions. Turn the heat down to a medium-low and let it cook for around 15-20 minutes or until the rice cakes become soft to chew and the sauce has thickened. The sauce will be a bit soupy at first but over time as the ingredients absorb, the sauce will thicken more and more.
  • When ready to serve, top with the rest of the green onions and sesame seeds (optional) and enjoy hot (I prefer to eat it a few hours after making it, because the flavours really soak in)! If you are serving this later, make sure to heat it up completely until the rice cakes are very soft and chewy again.

Notes

Optional add in: vegan-friendly instant ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet). This is very often added to tteokbokki and the Koreans call this “rabokki” (ramen + tteokbokki).
You can add the ramen noodles at the very end, once the tteokbokki is almost all cooked and the soup has thickened but not super thick yet. If you find the sauce to be too liquidy, this is a great way to thicken up the sauce more and add some more deliciousness.

Nutrition

Calories: 513kcal | Carbohydrates: 108g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 502mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 3mg

NEED MORE VEGAN RECIPE INSPO? CHECK THESE OUT:

If you enjoy Korean recipes, try these Korean seaweed rice rolls called Kimbap! You can actually dip these into the tteokbokki sauce as these two dishes are often served together. 

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12 thoughts on “Vegan Tteokbokki Recipe”

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this Tteokbokki dish. New to Korean cuisine and I am loving all the textures and flavors. Thank you, another great recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    If you love Korean food, this is a must try. The sauce is an absolute delight. It’s not overly spicy and it is fantastic with the rice cakes which are my favorite.

    1. Cheap Lazy Vegan

      5 stars
      So happy you enjoyed it David! It’s definitely on the must-try for Korean food! It’s one of my faves!

  3. 5 stars
    I made a version of this as I can’t find the tteok here in Ireland. – I subbed veg stock instead of water and a crushed nori sheet instead of kelp. Added tofu, eggplant and red bell pepper. Delicious! Thanks Rose 😀

    1. Cheap Lazy Vegan

      5 stars
      Thank you for the wonderful comment Celine! Sorry you can’t find tteok in Ireland! Thank you for mentioning your substitutions and that it turned out delicious! It really helps other readers who might need to make similar substitutions 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        I’ve made this recipe so many times, so many different ways, and it is always amazingly delicious! Having it today, just as it’s on the recipe. So good!

        1. Cheap Lazy Vegan

          5 stars
          That’s wonderful to hear Lisa! What other ways have you been making it? So happy it’s been delicious no matter what way you make it!

          1. 5 stars
            Just made this recipe and I loved it. The strong spicy taste was surprising at first but as I kept eating it I got used to it and ate so much and could not stop eating. Thank you for this and many other recipe you post. Keep up the good work. Also you have a funny personality. I love you!

  4. 5 stars
    I made the sauce but subbed veg stock for the water and a crumbled nori sheet for the kelp powder. I added tofu, eggplant and bell peppers as I haven’t found Tteok in my part of Ireland yet. Absolutely delicious, thanks Rose!

  5. 5 stars
    Amazing! I added some mushrooms and zucchini instead of tofu since we had them and it was so good!! will make this a million times over

  6. 5 stars
    Literally me new obsession right now. Before this recipe I had no idea there was such thing as kelp seasoning. I did however omit that from what I made, but I will include it next time! If you love spice, this is perfect!

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