what does korean rice cake taste like

Korean cuisine is renowned for its diverse range of flavors and textures, and one staple that stands out is the humble rice cake, known as “tteok” in Korean. These delicious morsels made from rice flour have a history dating back centuries and continue to play a significant role in Korean culinary traditions.

rice cake

A Brief History of Korean Rice Cakes

Rice cakes have been an integral part of Korean culture and cuisine for more than a millennium.

Originally considered a food fit for the gods, rice cakes were part of ancestral rituals. Over time, rice cakes became a symbol of prosperity and good fortune, often enjoyed during special occasions and holidays.

The Different Varieties of Korean Rice Cakes

Korean rice cakes come in a diverse array of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Let’s delve into some of the most popular varieties:


Injeolmi features a delightful blend of nutty and subtly sweet flavors. These soft and chewy rice cakes are coated with nutritious powdered soybeans, giving them a unique appearance and taste.


Tteokbokki is a beloved Korean street food made from cylinder-shaped rice cakes simmered in a spicy chili sauce.

It offers a harmonious balance of spiciness and chewiness that keeps food enthusiasts coming back for more.


Songpyeon, a traditional Korean delicacy, is typically enjoyed during the Chuseok harvest festival.

These crescent-shaped rice cakes are stuffed with sweet fillings such as sesame seeds, red bean paste, or chestnuts, providing a delightful burst of flavor with every bite.


Garaetteok is a long, cylindrical rice cake often used in dishes like tteokguk (rice cake soup) and stir-fries.

It boasts a chewy and glutinous texture, making it a favorite ingredient in many Korean recipes.

The Ingredients That Make Korean Rice Cakes Unique

The secret to Korean rice cakes’ delectable taste lies in the simplicity of their ingredients. Mainly comprising rice flour, water, and sometimes salt or sweeteners, these cakes are a testament to how a few basic components can create culinary wonders.

Traditional Cooking Methods

The preparation of Korean rice cakes involves various traditional cooking methods, including:


Steaming is one of the most common methods for making rice cakes. The rice flour mixture is placed in a steamer, allowing the cakes to cook thoroughly while retaining their soft and chewy texture.


Boiling rice cakes in water is often done for dishes like tteokguk. This method imparts a slightly bouncier texture to the rice cakes.


Pan-frying rice cakes creates a crispy outer layer, offering a delightful contrast to the chewy interior. This method is commonly used in dishes like tteokbokki carbonara.

Texture and Consistency

The texture and consistency of Korean rice cakes are some of their most appealing attributes:

Soft and Chewy

Injeolmi and songpyeon are examples of rice cakes with a soft and chewy texture that makes them enjoyable to savor slowly.

Sticky and Glutinous

Tteokbokki and garaetteok, known for their sticky and glutinous nature, provide a satisfying mouthfeel and hearty taste.

Flavor Profiles

Korean rice cakes offer an impressive range of flavors:

Sweet and Subtle

Injeolmi and songpyeon are often subtly sweet, making them suitable for those with a milder palate.

Savory and Spicy

Tteokbokki, with its spicy chili sauce, presents a bold and savory flavor profile, perfect for thrill-seeking foodies.

Popular Dishes Using Korean Rice Cakes

Some of the most famous dishes featuring Korean rice cakes include:

Tteokbokki – Spicy Rice Cake Stir-Fry

Tteokbokki, in its spicy glory, takes center stage with its fiery red appearance and tantalizing flavors.

Tteokguk – Rice Cake Soup

Tteokguk, a traditional soup enjoyed during the Korean New Year, symbolizes good fortune and longevity.

Tteokbokki Carbonara

A fusion of Italian and Korean cuisines, tteokbokki carbonara combines the creamy goodness of carbonara with the spiciness of tteokbokki.

Korean Rice Cakes in Modern Cuisine

While traditional dishes remain popular, Korean rice cakes have found their way into modern cuisine. From innovative desserts to creative street food, chefs worldwide have embraced the versatility of these rice cakes.

Where to Find and Buy Korean Rice Cakes

Korean rice cakes are widely available in Korean grocery stores, Asian supermarkets, and online platforms, making them accessible to food enthusiasts around the world.

Tips for Enjoying Korean Rice Cakes

To fully relish the delightful taste and texture of Korean rice cakes, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Pairing with Dipping Sauces: When enjoying plain rice cakes like injeolmi, consider pairing them with dipping sauces such as sweet soy sauce or honey. The combination enhances the overall flavor and adds an extra dimension to your culinary experience.
  2. Experiment with Toppings: For a creative twist, experiment with various toppings on your rice cakes. Crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, or even a sprinkle of cinnamon can elevate the taste and visual appeal of the dish.
  3. Customize Spice Levels: If you prefer milder or spicier flavors, adjust the spice levels in dishes like tteokbokki to suit your taste buds. Some people enjoy it fiery hot, while others prefer a more gentle heat.
  4. Include in Soups and Stews: Korean rice cakes work wonderfully in soups and stews. Tteokguk and tteok-mandu-guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) are hearty and comforting options, especially during colder months.
  5. Try Different Shapes and Varieties: Don’t limit yourself to just one type of Korean rice cake. Explore the vast array of shapes and varieties available to discover new tastes and textures.
  6. Add to Stir-Fries: Garaetteok is excellent for stir-frying due to its chewy texture. Incorporate it into vegetable stir-fries or protein-based dishes for a delightful twist.
  7. Storage Tips: To keep rice cakes fresh and prevent them from drying out, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If they become slightly hard, revive their texture by lightly steaming or microwaving them.
  8. Use in Desserts: Korean rice cakes can be used creatively in desserts too. Incorporate them into ice cream, pancakes, or mochi-inspired treats for a unique and delicious finale to your meal.


Are Korean rice cakes gluten-free?

Yes, most Korean rice cakes are gluten-free since they are made primarily from rice flour, which is naturally gluten-free. However, it is always advisable to check the ingredient list to ensure there are no additional gluten-containing additives.

Can I store Korean rice cakes for later consumption?

Absolutely! If you have leftover rice cakes, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container to maintain their freshness. They should be consumed within a few days for the best taste and texture.

How do I reheat leftover rice cakes?

To reheat leftover rice cakes, lightly steam them or microwave them with a damp paper towel to retain their moisture and softness.

Are rice cakes healthy?

Korean rice cakes are generally considered a healthier alternative to wheat-based snacks since they contain no trans fats and are low in saturated fat. However, they are calorie-dense, so it’s essential to enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Can I make my own Korean rice cakes at home?

Yes, you can make Korean rice cakes at home with a few simple ingredients. There are various recipes available online to guide you through the process of making your own fresh and delicious rice cakes.


In conclusion, Korean rice cakes offer a delightful and diverse culinary experience that has captivated food enthusiasts worldwide.

From their humble beginnings as ritualistic offerings to becoming a beloved part of Korean cuisine, rice cakes have evolved into a symbol of celebration and joy.

I'm Jennifer Tirrell, a self-taught baker, and founder of CakeRe. As an experienced baker and recipe publisher, I have spent over a decade working in the kitchen and have tried and tested countless baking tools and products. From classic cakes to creative twists, I've got you covered. So grab your apron and let's get baking!

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