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Fun to make and eat, these jumeokbap, or Korean rice balls, are versatile, customizable, and convenient! They are a delicious way to transform leftovers into a quick snack or meal.

An overhead shot of the different jumeokbap variations with toddler's hand grabbing one.
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What is jumeokbap?

Jumeokbap is a traditional Korean dish that literally translates to “fist rice.” It is a simple and portable meal made by shaping cooked rice into compact balls using your hands.

It is often enjoyed as a convenient, on-the-go snack or bento box lunch. The beauty of these sticky rice balls is that you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand.

My dad used to make jumeokbap all the time for us growing up as it was one of his ultimate comfort foods. This fondness developed in his youth when rice balls were considered “poor man’s food” because they could be made with inexpensive ingredients like rice and various leftovers.

And he’d tell us that some days they were all that he got to eat and how much he envied other students who had meat in theirs.

Over time jumeokbap evolved to include a wider range of ingredients and became more popular as a delicious snack or quick meal. It’s also a convenient travel food.

Here I am sharing two delicious variations but I encourage you to have fun coming up with your family’s own favorite combination of flavors, like these chicken rice balls!

Ingredients

All the ingredients laid out on a white background.
  • Warm rice – you will need to use short grain or medium grain rice, which has more starch than long grain rice, like jasmine or basmati rice that are best for fried rice.
  • Vegetables – you can use whatever you have on hand. Here I am using zucchini and carrots. Just be sure to cook them prior to combining with rice.
  • Toasted sesame oil – I say 1 tablespoon but honestly, I am quite heavy handed with it. It adds SO much flavor and smells heavenly.
  • Seaweed – You can use crushed seaweed sheets, seaweed snacks, or furikake seasoning (seasoned seaweed flakes)
  • Filling – bulgogi is a classic addition but my kids especially love the salmon mayo filling with kewpie mayonnaise (or Korean mayo). Unlike regular mayonnaise, these are made with egg yolks resulting in creamier and richer flavor. For more filling suggestions, be sure to check out the “variations”section below.

Step-by-Step Instructions

A two image collage showing how to make the rice.
A two image collage with flattened rice with filling on top on the left and shaped into ball on the right.
  1. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and all the vegetables. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine rice with the cooked vegetables, additional sesame oil, and rice vinegar.
  3. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture and flatten it. Add your filling (don’t overstuff), top with a little more rice and shape into a compact ball. To make the process go faster and easier, use food-safe gloves (these are a must-have!) coated with a little bit of sesame oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Repeat until all the rice mixture is used up.

Tips for Success

  • Be sure to wash your rice until the water runs clear. This will ensure the rice will have just the right amount of stickiness.
  • If using leftover rice, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave until it’s sticky again
  • While jumeokbap are meant to be large balls, you can certainly shape them into smaller balls for babies and toddlers.
  • For the seaweed sheets, you can crush with your hands, finely chop using a mini chopper, or cut into thin strips or pieces with kitchen shears. Or simply sprinkle some furikake seasoning.
  • It is best to use gloves as rice is quite sticky. If you don’t have any, you will need to work with slightly wet hands.

Variations

A close up shot of jumeokbap two variations.

As mentioned, there are endless ways to customize these Korean rice balls!

Here are some suggestions:

  • Protein – try chicken bulgogi (finely chopped), crumbled miso tofu, sardines, eggs
  • Vegetables – broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, green onions, peas, spinach, onion, kimchi, etc.
  • Seasonings – soy sauce, kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha
  • Shredded cheese

Serving Suggestions

Three jumeokbap with crackers, peaches, and cucumber in lunchbox.

Enjoy these hand-shaped rice balls as a snack (they’re an awesome toddler snack), side dish, or pack for school lunch boxes, picnics, road trips, or any outing.

If recommend wrapping them individually in plastic wrap so they won’t dry out.

Storage

It is best to enjoy the day of as the rice will harden over time. However, you can store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also turn leftovers into healthy fried rice.

To freeze, wrap each rice ball in plastic wrap and store in freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 1 month.

To reheat, microwave with a damp paper towel.

More Rice Recipes

Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!

5 from 3 votes

Jumeokbap (Korean Rice Balls)

Fun to make and eat, these jumeokbap, or Korean rice balls, are versatile, customizable, and convenient! They are a delicious way to transform leftovers into a quick snack or meal.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 16 balls
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Ingredients 

For the Rice

  • 2 cups cooked warm rice, short or medium grain rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped zucchini and carrots, see note
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1-2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup crushed seaweed sheets (optional), see note

Beef filling

  • 1/2-3/4 cup bulgogi OR

Salmon filling

  • 4 ounces canned salmon with
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese or Korean mayo

Instructions 

  • Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and all the vegetables. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine rice with vegetables, sesame oil, and rice vinegar.
  • Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the rice mixture and flatten it. Add your filling (don't overstuff), top with a little more rice and shape into a compact ball. To make the process go faster and easier, use food-safe gloves coated with a little bit of sesame oil to prevent sticking.
  • Repeat until all the rice mixture is used up.

Notes

It is best to enjoy the day of as the rice will harden over time. However, you can store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also turn leftovers into fried rice.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 47mg | Iron: -2.8mg
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About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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34 Comments

  1. These look so fun – pinning this for sure. I just noticed your Austin post. I went to UT for undergrad (nutrition) and then moved back there after I got married. Love that city and hope to be back some day! 🙂

    1. Yes, it truly is a wonderful city! I moved here about 7 years ago soon after I got married (Tim bleeds orange through and through and Austin was apparently the only acceptable place to live). Sure hope you come visit again! And you must let me know 😉

  2. Woohoooo, time to go back to Dallas and the specialty grocery stores, looking forward to it! Miss you, busy here, working prn at the hospital while school’s out. Thinking about moving back south. I hope that you and Hungryman are well and have a great holiday!

    1. Anne!! So good to hear from you!! I miss you too..guess what? I’m finally done with school!! You are such a hard worker. When do you rest? I was hoping you’d be spending some time in Houston over the holiday…hopefully I’ll get to see you soon! Wishing you safe travels and a happy holiday!

  3. Seriously, I adore you. These sound so good! <3 I wish we had glutinous rice over here! I really want to try making this! <3

  4. I love it!! Your comment made me giggle because it is so true – no more “Hi! Your recipe looks lovely”… now, it’s “Hey! I’m coming over because I want to hang out and eat your gorgeous and delicious food!!” 🙂
    As always, your recipe looks incredible and I really do want to come over to enjoy some of your fab Korean creations.
    Happy early Christmas! xxoo

    1. Yes yes! I wanna hang out with you, Meems!! You have no idea how much I miss you..I’m always ready to cook you some Korean food ;). Merry Christmas to you too!!

  5. Thank you for sharing so many delicious (and nutritious) Korean dishes! You’ve inspired me to explore more of my Korean roots, especially since I’ve never cooked Korean food (I know, I know, such a shame). My mom was adopted and is completely Americanized and I’m sure I’ve eaten far more Korean food than she has. We can’t wait to whip up some of your recipes in the kitchen together 🙂 Have a wonderful holiday week, Min!

    1. Aww you’re welcome, Alanna! And no, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. It will be fun to get in the kitchen with your mom ;). Let me know what recipe(s) you end up trying, and please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you have any questions! Hope you have a Merry Christmas!!