This creamy kimchi pasta is an easy, 15 minute recipe that's both perfect for the weekdays and date nights! The pasta is rich creamy with a very mild kick and speckled with pieces of kimchi, bacon, and onions throughout. For more quick and easy pasta inspirations you can make in 15 minutes or less, try our gochujang pasta and spaghetti carbonara (for two)!
We are always looking for quick and easy weekday recipes to put on rotation. It's an extra bonus if it's a recipe that uses up our older, fermented kimchi because I'm a huge fan of fresh kimchi, and we can never eat our kimchi fast enough before all of our kimchi become extra fermented. Not that fermented kimchi doesn't taste good, they taste AMAZING as well but better cooked.
So if you're like us and are looking for more recipes to use up your fermented kimchi, also try our kimchi mac and cheese, kimchijeon (savory kimchi pancake), and kimchi chili oil ramen (so good and only 10 minutes!).
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Dry pasta - We recommend spaghetti or linguini because they are the most slurp-able, but honestly any pasta would work. And if you prefer fresh pasta, even better!
- Bacon - Kimchi anything always tastes better with some fat, especially pork fat. bacon is tasty on it's own and is a great combination for kimchi that also helps to season the pasta.
- Onion and garlic - These two aromatics make this kimchi pasta extra aromatic and tasty! The onion also adds a bit of sweetness that helps to round out the whole pasta.
- Kimchi - Please use fermented kimchi to make this creamy kimchi pasta. The acidity in fermented kimchi will provide a much better contrast to the pasta and helps to balance the richness in from both the cream and bacon. You can use store-bought kimchi or you can even make your own napa cabbage kimchi! Just make sure to allow the kimchi to ferment for at least a few days, best a week or more, so that the sourness can develop.
- Heavy cream - The extra creamy factor in this creamy kimchi pasta!
- Parmesan cheese - Feel free to thinly grate a block of parmesan or use the already grated parmesan. It adds a layer of flavor, richness, and cheesy flavor.
- Salt - A pinch of salt may be needed to finish seasoning the sauce, depending on your ingredients.
- Green onion (optional for garnish)
How to make kimchi pasta
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Boil the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package and to your desired tenderness. Once cooked, drain well.
🌟 Pro tip: Have all the ingredients prepared and ready before you start to cook. Then, you easily multitask and make the kimchi cream sauce while the pasta is boiling. This will save time and allow the pasta to be used immediately.
2. Render the bacon. In a nonstick pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until the fat is mostly rendered. The fat rendered from the bacon will be perfect for sautéing the aromatics and kimchi.
3. Add aromatics. To the bacon, add the onion and sauté until it starts to look translucent. Then, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
4. Sauté the kimchi. Add the kimchi and sauté until most of the kimchi juice evaporates. This helps to concentrate the flavor.
5. Add the cream. Allow the sauce to simmer for about a minute to allow the flavors to infuse. Stir frequently and make sure to keep the heat on medium or medium low!
6. Finish the sauce. Turn off the heat and add the grated parmesan. Stir until the cheese is well combined and melted. Taste and season with salt if needed.
7. Add the pasta. When the pasta is done boiling, drain well and add it straight into the sauce. Toss and stir until the sauce evenly coats all of the pasta.
🌟 Pro tip: Skip rinsing the pasta and add it straight into the kimchi cream sauce so that the sauce can naturally thicken with the leftover starch on the pasta. This is the secondary bonus to multitasking! If the timing is a bit difficult for you, pause on the sauce and wait for the pasta to come close to finished before simmering the sauce.
8. Serve. Enjoy immediately and garnish with more grated parmesan and some green onions, if you'd like.
- Make the sauce in a nonstick pan. Using a nonstick pan gives two advantages. One, you won't need to use any oil when cooking the bacon. Two, the cream will have a lower chance of curdling and sticking to the pan.
- Save time by making the sauce while waiting on the pasta to boil. Not only will it save time, it will also allow you to use the natural starch leftover from the pasta to thicken the kimchi cream sauce.
- Add the boiled pasta straight into the sauce. Skip rinsing the pasta so that the leftover starch can help thicken the sauce, and it'll encourage the sauce to stick to the pasta.
- Cut the kimchi in a glass bowl, using kitchen shears. This method will help prevent your cutting board from being stained orange and smelling garlicky. Or you could dedicate a cutting board strictly for kimchi.
Storage and reheating
This creamy kimchi pasta is best enjoyed freshly made, as the sauce tends to sieze up as it sits and the pasta also tends to bloat and become softer overtime. If there are leftovers, cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Just make sure the pasta is completely cooled before covering.
To reheat, it is best to place the leftover in a nonstick pan along with a small amount of milk or cream. Stir over medium to medium low heat until the pasta is heated through. The sauce will likely clump up a little from the parmesan, but the flavor will still be good.
We recommend using a nonstick pan to make the sauce because there will be no need to use oil when cooking the bacon. If you are using a regular stainless steel pan, you'll most likely have to use a very small amount of oil so that the bacon won't become stuck in the beginning.
We recommend using fermented kimchi for our creamy kimchi pasta because the acidity in fermented kimchi provides much better contrast and balance to the dish than fresh kimchi. Freshly made kimchi is best for eating raw, as a side for dishes like bossam (Korean boiled pork).
Yes! Fresh pasta would taste just as good or maybe even better. If using fresh pasta, we recommend doubling the amount of pasta used. For example, our recipe calls for 8 ounces of dry pasta, you would use 16 ounces of fresh pasta instead.
Yes! Both freshly grated parmesan or already grated parmesan works. They both will add nice cheesy flavor to the kimchi cream sauce and adds a bit of needed saltiness.
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Creamy Kimchi Pasta
- 8 ounces dry pasta (spaghetti and linguini are great choices)
- 4 ounces bacon cut into ½ inch pieces (about 4 slices of thin-cut bacon)
- ¼ medium yellow onion sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 cup fermented kimchi cut into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup parmesan finely grated (plus more for garnish)
- Salt as needed for seasoning
- Green onion thinly sliced (optional for garnish)
- Boil the pasta:Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the dry pasta. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and stir occasionally. Once cooked to your desired doneness, drain the pasta well.
- Make the sauce:While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce. In a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon. Cook the bacon until the fat is mostly rendered and the bacon is about 75 percent cooked to your desired crispness.
- To the bacon, add the sliced onions and sauté for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the onion is starting to look translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds. Lastly, add the kimchi and sauté about 1 minute, or until most of the kimchi juice has evaporated.
- Pour the heavy cream into the pan and stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come to a gentle simmer and let it cook for about 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Stir frequently.
- After simmering, turn off the heat and add the grated parmesan. Stir until the cheese is well combined and melted. At this point, taste the sauce to see if a little salt is needed. Season to your preference.
- Once the pasta is ready and well drained, add straight into the kimchi cream sauce. Stir and toss the pasta until well coated, about 30 seconds. The starch on the pasta will also help to slightly thicken the sauce.
- Serve:Serve the kimchi pasta immediately and garnish with more grated parmesan and some green onion if you'd like.
- Kimchi - Fermented kimchi is best for this recipe because the acidity from the kimchi will help contrast and help balance the richness from the cream and bacon. You can use either store-bought kimchi or make your own homemade kimchi (just allow it to ferment for at least a few days, best a week or longer).
- Cutting kimchi - Also, we recommend cutting the kimchi in a glass bowl using kitchen shears to prevent any of your cutting boards from becoming stained.