Quick Korean Pickles

These pickles don’t need to be cooked and come together in minutes.  They are absolutely delicious with a bit of spice.

10 Minute Korean Pickles

Korean pickles shown in a white bowl.

For most of my life I was convinced I hated pickles. When I ordered hamburgers as a kid, if it came with a pickle, I not only pulled the pickles off, but also scraped the surrounding area to rid it of any leftover pickle juice. I was that dramatic. (Sorry, mom).

It wasn’t until I was an adult and married to a pickle lover that I slowly came to see the appeal of adding a puckery vegetable to my sandwiches. It took some time, but eventually I began to crave that bright tang–be it from banana peppers, bread and butter pickles, or pickled carrots and daikon.

These Korean Pickles have quickly become my favorite way to satisfy that craving. They carry the pungent tang of traditional pickles, but also have a hint of heat, garlic, and sugar that makes them irresistible.

I initially made them to go with these Korean Sloppy Joes, but they also add great flavor to burgers, sandwiches, and sushi bowls.

With only 10 minutes prep, it’s a great recipe to keep on hand for topping and snacking on all week long.

Fork stabbing a stack of Korean pickles.

Key Ingredients

These cucumbers strike just the right balance of tangy sweet heat. Here’s what you need to make them!

  • Cucumbers– I usually use English or Kirby cucumbers, but mini cucumbers also work well.
  • Salt– Salt draws out the moisture from the cucumbers and is a key component of this recipe. Don’t leave it out!
  • Minced garlic– I like to use preminced garlic from a jar. It’s a bit milder than freshly minced, but still adds a lot of flavor.
  • Gochugaru pepper flakes– This is a type of Korean chili flake you can find here or in most Asian grocery stores. It’s a bit milder and smokier than the red pepper flakes you probably have in your spice rack, but those make a fine substitute if you can’t find gochugaru.
  • Rice wine vinegar, or you may see it labeled as just “rice vinegar.”
  • Granulated sugar
  • Toasted sesame oil, or regular sesame oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds– These are a nice touch, but optional.
Ingredient to make Korean Pickled Cucumbers shown in bowls: sliced cucumbers, sugar, chili flakes, garlic, salt, rice vinegar, sesame oil.

How to Make Quick Korean Pickles

  1. Slice the cucumbers into medium thick slices and place them in a bowl.
  2. Stir together the remaining ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. 
  3. Pour over the cucumber slices and toss. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.
Cucumbers in a white bowl seasoned with red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, and vinegar.

Storage and Tips:

  • I almost always double this recipe. It’s so delicious, it won’t last long.
  • The cucumbers can be sliced quite thin or a little thicker. I prefer them a bit thicker, because they stay crisp longer.
  • The cucumbers can be served immediately after making them, but they are even better if they’re refrigerated for at least an hour or overnight.
  • These definitely have some heat, so use less chili flakes if you want it to be less spicy.
  • Korean pickles will last in the fridge for about 2 weeks. They will get less crunchy the longer they sit, but they will still taste delicious!
Quick pickled cucumbers seasoned with Korean chili flakes.

What to Serve with Korean Pickles

If you manage not to eat the whole batch plain, here are some great ways to use the pickles!

Korean sloppy joe sandwiches shown on brown parchment paper.
Korean pickles shown in a white bowl.

Quick Korean Pickles

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

These sweet, tangy Korean Pickles bring the heat and only take 5 minutes to prep! They add loads of flavor to everything from sandwiches to rice bowls to sloppy joes.

Ingredients

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced medium
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru or red chili paste or flakes
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the cucumber slices in a bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir till the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Pour over the cucumbers and toss to coat.
  4. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

The pickles can be eaten after just 10 minutes, but are even better if they're refrigerated for 1 or more hours. Pickles will last in the fridge for about a week.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 63Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1283mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 1g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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