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Korean Ground Turkey Rice Bowls

Whether you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner or a meal prep option, you’ll love this Asian-inspired ground turkey and cucumber kimchi combo. You can have it on the table in 20-25 minutes, and every serving has 34 grams of protein with only 8 grams of fat.

In this post you’ll find a recipe walkthrough with ingredient substitution notes followed by a printable recipe card. Hit the jump to recipe button above if you’re in a hurry.

Ingredients for Korean Ground Turkey

If you frequently cook Korean and Asian-inspired dishes, you should be familiar with the ingredients and have everything you need. Let’s quickly run through everything just in case.

Extra Lean Ground Turkey

The recipe calls for 99% lean ground turkey, but you can use any ground turkey or even ground chicken. As evidenced by my extensive ground chicken recipes library, I actually prefer the latter. I digress.

You’ll also want to use a half tablespoon of a neutral flavored oil like avocado oil. Olive oil will work fine in a pinch since it’s such a small amount.

browned ground turkey in a skillet with Korean chili sauce in a bowl

How to Brown Ground Turkey Like a Pro

To maximize browning via the Maillard reaction, pat ground turkey with a paper towel, make sure the pan and any oil in the pan are both hot, and leave the turkey untouched for several minutes once it’s in the pan. A hot, dry pan is the optimal environment for searing meat.

Korean Chili Sauce

Now for the fun stuff! Here’s what you’ll need for the sauce:

  • gochujang and gochugaru
  • rice vinegar
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • ground ginger and granulated garlic
  • low sodium soy sauce
cooked ground turkey with sauce

What Are Gochujang and Gochugaru?

Gochu translates to chili pepper. While jang and garu translate to paste or jam and powder, respectively. So we’re looking at a Korean chili paste and chili powder in gochujang and gochugaru.

If you’re familiar with my recipes, you’ve seen gochujang, or fermented Korean chile paste, in recipes like my chili coconut chicken thighs or sweet and spicy stovetop pork tenderloin. It’s a flavor that’s tricky to replicate, with it’s slightly sweet and funky flavors from fermentation. Luckily you can find it in nearly every grocery store these days.

I’ve seen Gochugaru labeled in American grocery stores as Korean chile powder or Korean chile flakes. I used a brand called Mother-In-Law’s, which I buy from World Market or on Amazon.

finished Korean turkey in a skillet

For a gochugaru substitute, you could try using crushed chipotle peppers (for the smoky flavor and coarse texture).

The rest of the sauce ingredients for the cooked ground turkey are straightforward enough. Feel free to experiment with the sauce. You can add more gochugaru to give your dish a spicier kick or add freshly grated ginger and garlic instead of their dried counterparts.

Simple Cucumber Kimchi

There’s a recipe for a quick cucumber kimchi on the packaging of the Mother-In-Law’s gochugaru I used, and you’re looking at a slightly tweaked version of it here.

cucumber kimchi in a glass bowl

You’ll dry brine cucumber half moons with salt before rinsing with water, patting dry, and seasoning with gochugaru, minced scallions, and toasted sesame oil.

Similar to the Korean ground turkey chili sauce, you can play around with ingredients and easily make this kimchi your own. While it’s not the most traditional, I like a blend of tahini and chili oil with a squeeze of lime juice.

Making Ground Turkey Rice Bowls

Korean steamed rice is the perfect match for your Korean ground turkey and cucumber kimchi, but you can use any rice. You can also swap the rice for cauliflower rice to reduce the carbs. I like to use half and half.

So for this recipe, that would be a cup of cooked cauliflower rice and a cup of steamed rice. I’ve included nutrition facts for all different variations in the notes section of the recipe card below.

bowl of rice topped with Korean ground turkey and cucumber kimchi

Another cool tweak you can make is cooking rice in the same pan with the ground turkey. Check out my Thai curry ground chicken and Right Rice recipe for an example of how to do it. And the Right Rice is a higher protein veggie rice to use for a protein boost.

All right, you should be ready to get cooking. If you have an ingredient or recipe question, drop it in the comments. And be sure to let me know what you think about this recipe in a review. Those are always appreciated!

P.S. If you love simple ground meat and veggie combos like this, be sure to check out my other recipes like honey sriracha ground chicken and broccoli, Beijing ground beef and peppers, and chipotle ground turkey and sweet potatoes.

bowl of rice topped with Korean ground turkey and cucumber kimchi

Korean Ground Turkey Rice Bowls

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Korean-inspired ground turkey with a quick cucumber kimchi served over rice or cauliflower rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Turkey (99/1)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (8g) Avocado Oil

For the Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Gochujang
  • 2 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Gochugaru
  • 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger

For the Cucumber Kimchi

  • 1 large Seedless Cucumber
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Gochugaru
  • 1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 Scallions, minced

Instructions

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with avocado or a neutral flavored oil. Add the ground turkey and brown for 3-4 minutes before breaking apart and fully cooking.
  3. Once fully cooked, add the sauce and cook until the sauce thickens, another 1-2 minutes.
  4. For the cucumbers, cut a large seedless cucumber in half and each half into thin slices. Add to a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside for 5 minutes before rinsing with water and patting dry. Toss with gochugaru, toasted sesame oil, and scallions.
  5. Serve 1/4th of the ground turkey and cucumbers over 1/2 cup of cooked rice or cauliflower rice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

Notes

The nutrition facts below are for a fourth of the ground turkey and cucumbers served with 1/2 cup of cooked rice. Nutrition information for other serving options:

  • Ground turkey on its own (1 of 4 servings): 180 calories, 29g of protein, 7g of carbs, and 5g of fat
  • Ground turkey and cucumbers on their own (1 of 4 servings): 205 calories, 30g of protein, 10g of carbs, and 6g of fat
  • 1/4th of the ground turkey and cucumbers with 1/2 cup of cauliflower rice: 220 calories, 31g of protein, 14g of carbs, and 6g of fat
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4th ground turkey and cucumbers with 1/2 cup cooked rice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 385Total Fat: 8gCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 34g

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Mary

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

I just made this for lunch. Quick and easy. The only thing I did was added a little sugar. I would definitely make it again.

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