Quick and easy 15 minute creamy kimchi pasta with bacon. This recipe is smoky, rich and tangy, with a subtle spicy kick. Perfect for an easy dinner!
Table of contents
If like me, you also love making your own Homemade Kimchi, you probably know that old kimchi is great for cooking! I love adding it to Korean pancakes, kimchi fried rice and other quick and easy recipes.
My latest obsession is kimchi pasta, a super quick and easy recipe that combines Korean flavors and Italian cuisine. Turns out, fermented spicy cabbage from Korea pairs perfectly with creamy, cheesy Italian pasta!
The slight sourness of the kimchi cuts through the richness of the heavy cream, while the subtle heat adds a spicy kick. Beyond just being delicious, this Korean-Italian pasta fusion also comes with a major bonus - it takes just 15 minutes to prepare! That makes it the perfect dish for busy weeknights when you want something quick, yet delicious.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick & Easy: With just 15 minutes from start to finish, this creamy kimchi pasta recipe is perfect for those busy nights when time is short.
- Flavorful: This delicious fusion dish is packed with flavor! The combination of kimchi and crispy bacon creates a unique flavor profile that's both spicy and savory.
- Versatile: Feel free to customize this dish by adding other ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms or bell peppers for added texture and flavor.
- Comfort Food: There's nothing quite like a bowl of creamy pasta to warm you up on chilly evenings.
- Use old kimchi: Not sure what to do with the old kimchi in the fridge? This bacon kimchi pasta is a great way for you to use sour kimchi to make the most delicious and easy dinner!
- Kimchi: A staple in Korean cuisine, napa cabbage kimchi is fermented cabbage dish that's packed with flavor. It adds a spicy and tangy kick to the pasta. I recommend using old kimchi, which has a rich umami and sour flavor. You can use your own Homemade Kimchi, and don’t forget to add a bit of that delicious kimchi juice!
- Bacon: The smoky flavor of bacon complements the spiciness of kimchi perfectly. You can also use pancetta or pork belly as alternatives.
- Pasta: Any kind of long pasta like spaghetti or linguine works well for kimchi pasta. They hold onto the creamy sauce effectively, making every bite flavorful.
- Cream: Heavy cream is the base of our sauce, giving it a rich and velvety texture. For a lighter version, you can substitute it with low fat cream.
- Parmesan: Adds a savory and nutty flavor to the dish. Optional, but highly recommended!
How to make this recipe
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Then add chopped yellow onion and sautée until golden. Separately, in a large pot of salted water cook pasta until al dente. Reserve some pasta water.
2. Cut kimchi into bite size pieces with kitchen scissors, then add into the skillet. Fry for a few minutes.
3. Reduce heat to low and add heavy cream, then mix well to combine the sauce. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Also add gochugaru if desired for extra heat.
4. Add cooked pasta into the kimchi cream sauce, then toss a few times to coat in the sauce. Top with parmesan or mozzarella. Serve hot and garnish with fresh herbs.
Substitutes & Variations
If you're vegetarian or simply want to try different variations of this dish, here are some suggestions:
- Vegetarian - Swap out bacon for shiitake mushrooms to maintain that umami flavor.
- Vegan - Use vegan bacon and replace heavy cream with coconut cream.
- Spice - Add extra gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) to turn up the heat.
- Cheese - Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and broil until melted and extra cheesy.
Expert Tips & Tricks
- Use Well-Fermented Kimchi: For a deeper kimchi flavor profile, use well-fermented kimchi. This has a richer umami flavor and tastes more sour.
- Don't Rinse Your Pasta: By not rinsing your pasta after cooking, you allow the starchy pasta water to help thicken your sauce.
- Adjust Heat Level: This kimchi cream pasta goes really well with extra spice. Feel free to adjust the amount of kimchi based on your spice tolerance level. Use gochugaru flakes for an extra spicy kick.
- Don’t skip the cheese: Grated parmesan cheese on top of the kimchi pasta adds a new layer of flavor and brings the pasta ingredients together.
- Skip the oil: Since we are using bacon, there’s no need for extra fat. The onion get cooked in that delicious bacon fat for extra flavor.
- Pasta water: Adding a little pasta water into the sauce helps make it creamier and glossy, due to the starch it contains. This is the well-kept secret of all Italian pasta dishes!
Serving & Storing
Serve fresh, immediately after cooking with a sprinkle of black pepper and gochugaru flakes. I recommend garnishing it with green onions or fresh herbs and sesame seeds. I also like to top it with a few pieces of kimchi, because you can never have too much!
This creamy kimchi pasta recipe goes really well with a side of Korean Strawberry Milk, to take the edge off the spiciness. You can also make it a full dinner with Korean Corn Dogs or Korean Cream Cheese Garlic Bread for appetizers and Hotteok or Kkwabaegi for dessert. Or if you're feeling adventurous, try out these spicy and sweet Gochujang Caramel Cookies!
I also highly recommend enjoying this pasta with a chilled glass of white wine, like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. The crisp acidity helps cut through the creaminess.
Since the pasta soaks up so much flavorful sauce, leftovers still taste great for up to 2-3 days when stored properly in the fridge.
To store, let leftover pasta cool completely before transferring to an airtight container and storing in the fridge.
When ready to eat again, add a splash of milk or cream and gently reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through. The milk helps thin out the sauce, which thickens as it sits.
Frequently asked questions
While fresh kimchi is less tangy and sour, you can certainly use it in this dish. Just be aware that the kimchi flavor will not be as intense.
Feel free to use pasta shapes like penne, rigatoni, or fusilli. Just keep in mind that thinner strands like spaghetti or linguine are best for the creamy sauce.
This kimchi pasta recipe has a very mild kick, which should be tolerable for most people. However, if your kimchi is quite spicy, you can reduce the quantity. If you love spice, add some gochugaru (Korean red chilli flakes)!
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15 Minute Creamy Kimchi Pasta with Bacon (김치파스타)
- 6 ounces dry pasta* linguine or spaghetti
- 2-3 slices smoked bacon thick cut
- ¼ cup yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 cup well fermented kimchi cut in small sizes
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- Gochugaru flakes
- Green onion for garnishing
- Sesame seeds optional garnish
- Start by preparing the ingredients. Finely dice the onion and cut the bacon into small 1-inch pieces. Cut the fermented kimchi in bite-sized pieces using kitchen scissors.
- Separately, cook the pasta al dente or as indicated on the cooking instructions. Add 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 litre of water. After cooking, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
- In a large pan or skillet, add the bacon and cook until browned. Once sizzling, add in the onion. Cook for 1-2 minutes until caramelised.
- Add in the kimchi pieces and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the heavy cream and mix to combine. Sprinkle in the gochugaru flakes and mix once more to combine.
- Pour in ½ cup of pasta water to make the sauce creamy and smooth.
- Add in the cooked linguine pasta and parmesan, mixing to gently coating everything with the sauce.
- Garnish with green onions, extra kimchi and optionally sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately, whilst hot.
- Dry Pasta - 6 ounces of dry pasta make regular portions. Double quantity for a generous restaurant-size serving.
- Gochugaru should only be added if you can tolerate spicy food. For a mild flavour, only use 1 teaspoon or less.
- Nutritional value is estimative only and is calculated per serving, without any optional ingredients. This recipe makes 2 servings.