Chicken Bibimbap (also known as Korean mixed rice bowl)is a rice-based dish consisting of a chewy crispy rice mixed with savory grilled meats and crunchy vegetables. It is a popular staple in Korean restaurants. While this Korean mixed rice dish is undeniably delicious, is bibimbap healthy?
Bibimbap is a very healthy dish given that it predominantly consists of protein mixed with a variety of nutritious vegetables, and rounded out with carbs from the rice, making it a very well-balanced, nutritious meal. A serving of the dish is 473 calories, with 34 grams of protein, 21 grams of fat, and 50 grams of carbs. The key to making this dish low calorie is to portion the ingredients mindfully and opt for a lean protein source.
If you liked this recipe, check out the following:
Chicken Bibimbap Calories and Nutrition - How To Make It Healthy
In this healthy Korean bibimbap recipe, I use a more protein heavy ratio to make this a more macro friendly and calorie conscious dish. Here are some key tweaks I made:
- Used 4oz of skinless chicken thighs for lean protein source
- Marinated the chicken in bulgogi sauce to make dak bulgogi, or chicken bulgogi
- Portioned out 1 serving of brown rice at 160 calories
- Set aside 2 tablespoon of gochujang for dipping sauce for at most 20 calories
- Use cooking spray instead of traditional oil for everything that was sautéed or fried. 1 tablespoon of olive oil adds a whopping 120 calories to the dish, whereas cooking spray is 0 calories.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the chicken bibimbap recipe, you may refer to the table below:
Chicken - I opted for boneless skinless chicken thigh for optimal texture. You can use chicken breast too, but it may be a little dry. I would advise against using chicken with skin, as it adds about 100 more calories per serving, largely from fat.
Marinade - I used a combination of soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and sugar to make a classic bulgogi marinade. With careful portioning, this sauce was only 86 calories.
Vegetable toppings - Bibimbap often is topped with an assortment of toppings and can include an assortment of the following. Feel free to use your favorite vegetables to mix and match.
- Bean sprouts
- Mushrooms - Shiitake or bella or any fresh mushrooms work
- Spinach - Blanched and seasoned
- Zucchini - Blanched and seasoned
- Carrots - Best sautéed
- Bok choy
- Bell peppers
Rice - I use brown rice but can use white rice too. Make rice ahead of time so that it is dry enough for best results, especially if you want to make dolsot bibimbap (crispy rice). You will need a hot stone bowl for this.
Fried Egg - An essential topping for bibimbap and great additional protein.
Gochujang Sauce - This is a Korean chili sauce that bibimbap is traditionally served with. You can buy it at your local Korean market, asian grocery stores or online.
Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the rice - Ideally make the rice the night before for optimal texture. This is especially important if you want to make a dolsot style bibimbap, or bibimbap served in a stone pot. The rice needs to be extra dry to be able to achieve that crunchy texture.
Marinade the chicken - Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces, trimming the excess fat. Weigh it to make sure that you have approximately 4 ounces post-trimming to ensure you have the right amount of protein.
Prepare the vegetables - The veggies will either be quickly blanched and seasoned or sautéed the carrots, mushrooms, and kimchi. The kimchi doesn’t have to be sautéed but I like the added flavor. Season the mushrooms and carrot with salt and pepper. To blanch, put the spinach in boiling water, then transfer into a small bowl of cold water. To sauté, cook the veggies over medium heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Cook the chicken - Cook the chicken in a pan or cast iron skillet on medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked.
Put it together - Add the rice into the cast iron bowl or normal bowl. Add in the cooked chicken and veggies.
Fry the egg - Fry the egg in a nonstick pan and top it in the bowl. Raw egg yolk is also a popular topping for bibimbap.
Serve and enjoy - Garnish with scallions and furikake, serve with the gochujang dipping sauce, and enjoy your delicious and healthy chicken bibimbap!
Cook the rice beforehand, preferably over night - this is especially important if you want to make it dolsot style - the rice needs to be dry in order to be crispy
Marinade the chicken overnight - this will optimize the flavor of the chicken
Cook the chicken on a cast iron - this will give the chicken a smoky barbecue flavor reminiscent of Korean barbecue
- Brown rice, white rice, mixed grain rice or cauliflower rice - Health wise, they are all similar in calories and macros, with mixed grain rice slightly higher in calories (190 calories vs 160 calories for one serving). Check out this article to learn more about the nutrition on different types of rice.
- Mix up the vegetables - You can use bean sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, mushrooms (shiitake mushrooms or bella or any), carrot, zucchini, etc. There are endless variations of vegetable combos here.
- Ssamjang as a dipping sauce - Ssamjang is a popular dipping sauce in Korean barbecue To learn more about these spices, check out my Asian spices post.
- Make the chicken spicy – Make some spicy chicken bulgogi to use as the topping.
- Dolsot crispy rice version - To get the crispy rice version, assemble the bibimbap in a cast iron bowl. This results in a crispy rice texture that is very popular. It’s super important to make sure the rice is dry when making this.
- Switch up the protein - A popular choice is beef bulgogi. This tends to be higher in calories so be aware of that if you’re tracking macros. Spicy seafood is another option that is a lean protein source, although you will need a bigger portion size if you want to hit your proteins. If you want non-meat options, tofu bibimbap is a great option.
- Marinade the chicken with a spicy sauce - You can use a spicy chicken marinade if you prefer a spicier flavor. You can use the marinade in this dak galbi recipe.
This is a good meal prep option, although I would eat it within 2-3 days. Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge if saving for later.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Bibimbap is very good for you - it has a mixture of nutritious vegetables, is packed with protein from the chicken and egg, and is served over rice, a healthy way to consume carbs, making it a well rounded meal that is packed with macros and vitamins.
Bibimbap tastes like a mixture of rice, crunchy vegetables, and juicy marinated Korean barbecue. It is like a fried rice with a sweet and spicy taste from the gochujang. If you make it dolsot stype, the rice will also be crunchy.
Bibimbap means mixed rice. Bibim means “mixing rice” referring to the mixture of vegetables and meat, while bap refers to the rice.
Bibimbap can be eaten both hot or cold. If eaten hot, it is usually cooked in a cast iron bowl, also known as dolsot style. However, it can also be eaten cold, making it a very easy meal to meal prep and take out.
Easy Chicken Bibimbap Recipe
- 1 Cast Iron Bowl (Optional)
Chicken and Marinade
- 4 oz Chicken Thigh (Boneless, skinless)
- 1 clove Garlic
- 2 slices Ginger
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Mirin
- 1 teaspoon Sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
- Black pepper to taste
- ¼ Carrot (Sliced into long pieces)
- 2 Mushrooms (Sliced)
- ¼ cup Spinach
- 1 cup Water
- 1 tablespoon Salt
Rice and Additional Toppings
- ¼ cup Brown rice (Uncooked)
- ½ cup Water
- 1 Egg
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon Gochujang
- Furikake and/or sesame seeds (Optional)
- Make the rice the night before for optimal texture. This is especially important if you want to make a dolsot style bibimbap, or bibimbap served in a stone pot. The rice needs to be extra dry to be able to achieve that crunchy texture.
- Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut the chicken into small, bite-sized pieces, trimming the excess fat. Weigh it to make sure that you have approximately 4 ounces post-trimming to ensure you have the right amount of protein.
- Cook the chicken in a pan or cast iron skillet on medium-high heat for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked.
- Add the rice into the cast iron bowl or normal bowl. Add in the cooked chicken and veggies.
- Fry the egg in a nonstick pan and top it in the bowl. Raw egg yolk is also a popular topping for bibimbap.
- Garnish with scallions and furikake, serve with the gochujang dipping sauce, and enjoy your delicious and healthy chicken bibimbap!