Easy Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 23/08/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 20 minutes
Tteokbokki or spicy Korean rice cakes features soft and chewy rice cakes covered in an umami packed sweet and spicy sauce. This popular Korean street food are so easy to make and incredibly addicting!
Easy Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)

Tteokbokki or spicy Korean rice cakes features soft and chewy rice cakes covered in a umami-packed sweet and spicy sauce. This popular Korean street food is so easy to make and incredibly addicting!

Looking down at a bowl of tteokbokki garnished with sesame seeds and an egg.

Tteokbokki (떡볶이), or spicy Korean rice cakes, is the one Korean street food dish that is equal parts incredibly satisfying, addicting, and easy to make. Made with soft and chewy rice cakes, fish cakes, and a sweet and spicy tteokbokki sauce, this Korean rice cake recipe has become one of our favorite staple recipes to make on repeat.

The secret behind the popularity of these Korean spicy rice cakes is in the tteokbokki sauce. Made with anchovy broth, gochugang, gochugaru, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and honey, this combination is perfectly balanced, bold, and dangerously addicting.

Korean tteokbokki is authentically bold and irresistibly delicious. The spicy tteokbokki sauce is the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory all in one bite. The best part about this tteokbokki recipe is that is really easy to make in under 20 minutes! If you are looking for more Korean recipes, check out our rose tteokbokki, jumeokbap (Korean rice balls), and gyeran mari (Korean egg roll).

Up close with a bowl of tteokbokki.

What is tteokbokki?

Tteokbokki (떡볶이), also known as topokki, ddukbokki, or spicy Korean rice cakes, is a popular Korean street food snack that is made of cylindrical rice cakes that are cooked in a thick sweet, spicy, and savory sauce. They are typically paired with eomuk (fish cakes), boiled eggs, and scallions.

Tteokbokki translates to “stir-fried rice cake,” and is one of Korea’s most iconic snacks. Spicy tteokbokki traces its origins to the Joseon dynasty where rice cakes were served for special occasions and royal banquets.

Today, there are so many variations of tteokbokki such as ganjang tteokbokki (a non-spicy version), rabokki (instant noodles with spicy rice cakes), and rose tteokbokki (creamy tteokbokki).

A pair of chopsticks lifting a rice cake from a bowl of tteokbokki.

Why You’ll Love This Korean Rice Cake Recipe

There are multiple reasons why you will be instantly addicted to this tteokbokki recipe. Here are the top three reasons:

  • Bold and spicy flavor: if you love spicy dishes with bold flavors, tteokbokki was made for you. The rich, gochujang tteokbokki sauce is perfectly balanced and will keep you coming back for more.
  • Customizable: This Korean rice cake recipe is very versatile and can be easily customizable in terms of adding vegetables, protein, or changing up the spice level.
  • Easy to make! This tteokbokki recipe is so easy to make! You can finish cooking this recipe in under 20 minutes.
Up close with a bowl of tteokbokki.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following kitchen equipment to make these Korean spicy rice cakes.

  • Small pot: you will need a small pot to make the anchovy broth.
  • Skillet: you will need a large skillet that is deep enough to hold the spicy rice cakes and the tteokbokki sauce.
  • Mixing Bowl: a small mixing bowl will be needed to mix the tteokbokki sauce ingredients.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this spicy tteokbokki recipe at your local Korean grocery market or online. Here is a list of tteokbokki ingredients that you will need:

Tteokbokki

  • Korean Rice Cakes: Tteokbokki or tteok: the main ingredient in this tteokbokki recipe. Make sure to use the cylindrical rice cakes that you can typically find in the refrigerated section of the Korean grocery store.
  • Fish Cake Sheets: Korean fish cake sheets, or eomuk, are sold in the frozen section at Korean grocery stores. They need to be defrosted and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Green Onions: green onions add an aromatic flavor to the dish.
All the ingredients to make Tteokbokki organized into mixing bowls.

Tteokbokki Sauce

  • Anchovy stock: anchovy stock is the secret ingredient in this Korean tteokbokki recipe that makes it incredibly savory and addicting. To make anchovy stock, I use these small anchovy tea packets that you steep in hot water.
  • Gochujang: Gochujang is a fermented red pepper paste that is savory, sweet, and spicy that is a very popular condiment in Korean cooking.
  • Gochugaru: gochugaru is a Korean chili powder that is made from sun-dried, de-seeded chili peppers that adds a smoky, spicy flavor.
  • Soy Sauce: soy sauce adds a salty, umami flavor to the tteokbokki sauce.
  • Garlic: Garlic is the main aromatic.
  • Brown Sugar: brown sugar sweetens and balances out the fiery spicy flavors.
  • Honey: a touch of honey adds a sweet, floral element to the Korean spicy rice cake.
  • Sesame oil: sesame oil is a finishing ingredient that adds a nutty umami flavor to the dish.
All the finishing ingredients for making korean tteokbokki.

Substitutions and Additions

Korean tteokbokki is incredibly versatile and easy to customize! I’ve listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions for you below.

Substitutions

  • Dashi: if you do not have anchovy stock, you can substitute it with dashi stock instead for a similar umami flavor.
  • Water: water is also the quickest and easy alternative to anchovy stock. Keep in mind the flavor may be less flavorful and savory.
  • Chicken Stock: you can alternatively use chicken stock instead as well.
  • Oligo Syrup: oligo syrup is a rich sweet rice syrup that can be a good substitution for honey.
  • Rice Syrup: rice syrup is a plant-based sweetener that is less sweet than honey and is another alternative to honey.

Additions

  • Ramen: you can easily add some cooked ramen to the spicy tteokbokki to create rabokki!
  • Vegetables: for a more well-balanced meal, go ahead and add napa cabbage, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms to your spicy rice cakes.
  • Cheese: Korean spicy flavors pair deliciously with cheese such as mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
  • Protein: you can add any protein of your choice such as sausages, mini hot dogs, dumplings, chicken, or beef.

How to Make Tteokbokki

Here are the instructions on how to make tteokbokki! I recommend preparing all of the tteokbokki ingredients first before you begin cooking to ensure a seamless process.

  1. Prepare the rice cakes. If you have fresh rice cakes, soak them in room-temperature water. If you have frozen rice cakes, soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften. Then drain.
Rice cakes being soaked in a large bowl of water.
  1. Mix the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, add gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and honey. Mix to combine.
Tteokbokki Sauce mixed together in a small bowl.
  1. Cook the sauce. In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Then mix in the sauce and bring it to a simmer.
Stock and tteokbokki sauce cooking on the stove.
  1. Add rice cakes. Once the sauce is simmering, add the drained rice cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
Rice cakes cooking in a sauce.
  1. Add fish cake. Next, turn the heat to low, add the fish cakes, and mix to combine. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 5-10 more minutes depending on how reduced you want the sauce.
Rice cakes and fish cakes cooking in sauce.
  1. Add sesame oil. Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil and mix to combine.
Finishing a pan of tteokbokki with sesame oil.
  1. Serve. To serve, scoop the spicy rice cakes into a small bowl, and sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds, sliced boiled eggs, and sliced green onion. Enjoy!
Looking down at a bowl of tteokbokki garnished with sesame seeds and an egg.

Tips for the Best Tteokbokki

  • Rinse fresh rice cakes or soak frozen cakes: If you are using fresh, refrigerated rice cakes, you will only need to soak them in room-temperature water. If you are using frozen Korean rice cakes, make sure to soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes before cooking to soften.
  • Use anchovy stock for the best flavor! Anchovy stock is the secret ingredient to creating the complex, depth, and flavor that is incredibly irresistible. If you have access to it, use it!
  • Taste and adjust: you will need to taste and adjust the tteokbokki sauce to your flavor preferences! If you prefer less spicy, use less gochugaru. If you want it to be slightly sweeter, add honey or brown sugar.
  • Serve immediately: serve this spicy Korean rice cakes immediately for the best texture and flavor.

Storage Instructions

You can store any leftover Korean tteokbokki in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheat: to reheat sprinkle a few drops of water and microwave covered until warm. Or you can reheat the Korean spicy rice cakes in a pan on medium heat with a few tablespoons of water until softened.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What is tteokbokki made of?

Tteokbokki is made of soft and chewy cylindrical rice cakes, bite-sized fish cake sheets, and green onions that are slathered in a sweet, spicy, and umami-rich bold, thick, sauce.

Can I make tteokbokki non-spicy?

Yes! You can make non-spicy or mildly-spiced tteokbokki by adjusting the amount of gochujang and gochugaru or using a milder version of the pepper paste.

What is tteok made of?

Tteok are rice cakes made from glutinous rice flour. They have a chewy and sticky texture. Tteok comes in various shapes and sizes, and they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Other great Korean recipes

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Looking down at a bowl of tteokbokki garnished with sesame seeds and an egg.

Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Tteokbokki or spicy Korean rice cakes features soft and chewy rice cakes covered in an umami packed sweet and spicy sauce. This popular Korean street food are so easy to make and incredibly addicting!
Servings: 4 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb tteokbokki tteok Korean rice cakes
  • 3 sheets fish cake sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalk green onion sliced into 2 inch pieces

Tteokbokki Sauce

Garnish

Instructions

  • Prepare the tteokbokki. If you have fresh tteokbokki, soak them in room temperature water. If you have frozen tteokbokki, soak the tteokbokki in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften. Then drain.
  • Mix the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, add gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and honey. Mix to combine.
  • Cook the sauce. In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Then mix in the sauce and bring it to a simmer.
  • Add tteokbokki. Once the sauce is simmering, add the drained tteokbokki and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tteokbokki is softened.
  • Add fish cake. Next, turn the heat to low, add the fish cakes, and mix to combine. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 5-10 more minutes depending on how reduced you want the sauce.
  • Add sesame oil. Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil and mix to combine.
  • Serve. To serve, scoop the tteokbokki into a small bowl, sprinkle on toasted sesame seeds, sliced boiled eggs, and sliced green onion. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Rinse fresh rice cakes or soak frozen cakes: If you are using fresh, refrigerated rice cakes, you will only need to lightly soak them in room-temperature water. If you are using frozen Korean rice cakes, make sure to soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes before cooking to soften them.
  • Use anchovy stock for the best flavor! Anchovy stock is the secret ingredient to creating the complex, depth, and flavor that is incredibly irresistible. If you have access to it, use it!
  • Taste and adjust: you will need to taste and adjust the tteokbokki sauce to your flavor preferences! If you prefer less spicy, use less gochugaru. If you want it to be slightly sweeter, add honey or brown sugar.
  • Serve immediately: spicy tteokbokki is best served immediately for the best texture and flavor.
  • Storage Instructions: You can store any leftover Korean tteokbokki in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 1314mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 942IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2mg

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