9 Easy Chuseok Recipes for Beginners

by Jeanne
Plate of purple and white songpyeon Korean food

We’re not Korean, but boy do we love Korean culture! Yes, we have been long-time fans of groups like Red Velvet and BTS, but it’s not really about that. With my family living off and on in Japan growing up, we were exposed to the beauty in nearby Asian countries. Even though I don’t have a single Korean ancestor, the food feels like it’s part of my soul. Maybe you feel the same way, and that’s why I’m sharing these easy chuseok recipes for beginners. 

Our holiday menu is pretty predictable by now (just like the ones for Thanksgiving and Christmas!). Every year, though, I try to make it better and fresher. These are the chuseok recipes I use for this special meal:

  1. Songpyeon (half-moon shaped rice cake) …
  2. Kimchi (fermented cabbage)
  3. Pajeon (green onion pancakes)
  4. Japchae (stir fried glass noodles with beef and vegetables)
  5. Gogi Wanjajeon (pan-fried meatballs in egg batter) …
  6. Samsaek Namul (three-colored vegetable plate)
  7. Dakdoritang or Dakjjim (chicken stew)
  8. Sikhye (Sweet Rice Punch)
  9. Bibimbap

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is! I can’t wait for all of this delicious food. Chuseok really is a wonderful holiday and I’m looking forward to getting to Seoul when things settle down. Let’s check out these recipes!

Related post: The Best Online Asian Grocery Stores

Songpyeon 

I’m going to be so honest. Even though I love these, making these half-moon shaped rice cakes takes some practice. If I could buy them at a local Korean store, I would. The upside is that the process is a lot of fun. The three adults in our house wait till the little ones are in bed and sit to make them together. 

Plate of purple and white songpyeon Korean food

Here are two of the best recipes for songpyeon: Korean Bapsang or Maangchi. If you’re more of a visual person, check out Maangchi’s very simple video. She never fails me!

Kimchi

We enjoy kimchi in our home. One day, I’ll have to write a post sharing kimchi recipes but we put it in a stew, fried rice, and eat it as a side dish. The tricky thing is that I have a fish allergy, so I have to be careful about buying it. When I do get it, I buy Vegan Seoul Kimchi because it doesn’t contain anchovies. 

Homemade kimchi fermenting in a glass dish

If you don’t have any allergies or intolerances, definitely buy it the first time you have kimchi. For those who prefer to control what’s in it, here’s a great vegetarian kimchi recipe

Pajeon

I’m not sure I could love pajeon more than I do. It definitely ranks among the best easy chuseok recipes for beginners! As long as you have a LOT of green onions and the ingredients for the pancake, you’re set. 

Pajeon green onion scallions pancake on white plate with dipping sauce

I personally love letting mine cook until the edges get nice and crispy. It tastes so good, especially with the dipping sauce! Here’s my favorite pajeon recipe

Japchae 

It wasn’t until recently that we tried japchae and all I have to say is… where have you been all my life!?!?!? Sweet potato glass noodles, beef (you can omit!) and vegetables are tossed in a delicious sauce, and it feels a little like heaven in a bowl. 

Colorful bowl of japchae Korean stir fried glass noodles

A little sesame oil is added before serving (at least for my favorite japchae recipe!). I’m not a fan of oily food, but that little step transforms this dish. It adds flavor and creates a texture that’s out of this world! 

Wanjajeon 

These flavor-packed meatballs are dipped in egg batter and then pan fried. Honestly, you will want to eat these juicy morsels year round! Wanjajeon is among the best easy chuseok recipes and will bring some protein to your table. 

One tip is to make the effort to mince your vegetables as fine as possible. You’ll get a nice smooth patty and even flavor. Here’s a great recipe for wanjajeon

Samsaek Namul

Here’s a dish that I love for chuseok, but unfortunately can’t always have because access to the ingredients can be limited in my area. Basically, this is a three-colored vegetable plate. It’s a common side dish for the holiday. 

Samsaek namul three colored vegetable plate for chuseok

Kimchimari has great recipes for Samsaek Namul – radish for white, gosari or bracken fiddlehead for brown, and sauteed perilla leaves for green. Korean Bapsang makes hers with bellflower roots instead of radish! 

Bibimbap

There are so many ways to make bibimbap. It’s seriously one of our favorite dishes because it’s different every single time we have it. It’s incredibly popular with tourists and in Korean restaurants around the world and it’s easy to see why. 

Bowl of steamed rice with vegetables, beef, and egg bibimbap

Bibimbap consists of a bowl of steamed rice which is topped with meat and vegetables. When my vegetarian daughter comes to visit, we just pack her bowl with veggies. So versatile! There’s a great recipe and overview of chuseok on the Visit Korea website. However, this is my favorite bibimbap recipe because the sauce is so good that you’ll want to cry happy tears. 

Sikhye 

Gonna be honest with you guys. You might look at a cup of sikhye and be unimpressed. After all, it looks exactly like what it is — sweet rice punch. You will see rice floating in your glass but do not despair. These sweet grains will melt in your mouth!

Cup of sikhye sweet rice punch Korean holiday drink

You’ll have to find the right ingredients, and it takes basically all day to make this BUT it’s worth it. You’ll need something sweet and delicious to wash down all that chuseok food, right? Kimchimari has a really straightforward sweet rice punch recipe that we highly recommend!

Dakdoritang or Dakjjim 

Ah, here we are. My favorite! After spotting a version of this in Canadian Living magazine many years ago, I’ve loved the flavors of this dish. I’ll confess that it took me a while to get it right, though. It’s worth the effort, but if you don’t like spicy food this might be too much for you!

White bowl filled with spicy Korean chicken stew dakdoritang

This dakdoritang recipe is fantastic. She uses rainbow carrots and multicolored baby potatoes. If you can’t find those items, you can keep it traditional with regular potatoes (golden yukon is probably the closest that you’ll find outside of Korea) and carrots. 

Easy Chuseok Recipes for Beginners

Korean recipes can be complex, but these ones are easy and straightforward. Yes, you can celebrate chuseok without spending the whole day in the kitchen! Feeling intimidated? Just pick one or two recipes and start from there! 

You can also buy products that make it easier. Grab store-bought kimchi, packaged vegetable pancake mix, and a jar of japchae sauce. It will still feel exciting and will help familiarize you with the foods and flavors of this beautiful Korean holiday!

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