1 Pan Gochujang lentils stir fry with veggies, served over noodles or rice with pickled cucumber, is a super quick weekday meal. Lentils are the protein for this one-pan vegan dinner, so no tofu or meat substitute needed.
Table of Contents
You make this super easy and super delicious gochujang-based sauce that gets added to the lentils and then thickened with bell pepper and onion.
I also make some quick pickled cucumber, because they just go so well with these lentils and freshen up the whole bowl. You can also add other veggies, like thinly-sliced carrot and onion, to the pickling mixture.
Why You’ll Love Gochujang Lentils
- amazing spicy-sweet flavor
- packed with healthy fiber
- zesty pickled cucumber slices
- a versatile meal – serve over your choice of rice or noodles!
More Vegan Gochujang Recipes
More Lentil stir fry Recipes
Gochujang Lentils Stir fry
For the pickled cucumber:
- 1/2 cup (66.5 g) thinly sliced cucumber
- 1 tablespoon vinegar white or rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
For the gochujang lentils:
- 15 ounce (425.24 g) can of lentils drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (see note)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste or 2 cloves of minced garlic and a 1/2-inch piece of ginger minced
- 1/2 cup (80 g) chopped onion, chopped into 3/4-inch slices or cubes
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into 3/4-1 inch cubes
- 1/2 green bell pepper or other color bell pepper, chopped into 3/4-1 inch cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or use tamari for gluten free
- 2 tablespoons gochujang
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water (or used tapioca starch)
- rice or noodles as needed
- chopped green onion and sesame seeds for garnish
Make the pickled cucumber:
- Slice the cucumber. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to a small bowl, mixing well. Add in the cucumber and press it into the brine. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before using. Make the rice or noodles in the meantime.
Make the gochujang lentils
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, ginger-garlic paste, and salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Then mix in the soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, and maple syrup.
- Bring the sauce mixture to a boil, then mix the cornstarch into the water and add to the skillet. Bring it back to a boil, then add the lentils, tossing well to coat.
- Simmer the lentil mixture for 2-3 minutes for the flavors to meld and for the sauce to thicken a little bit more. Taste and adjust salt and flavor. For more heat, add some red pepper flakes or some gochugaru flakes, then switch off the heat.
- Add some rice or noodles to a plate. Add a good helping of the lentils. Top with some of the pickled cucumber, chopped green onion, and sesame seeds, and serve. Or serve the lentils and cucumber in lettuce wraps
- Store the gochujang lentils, pickled cucumber, and the rice separately. Reheat the lentils and the rice separately, and then assemble into a bowl and serve.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- cucumber – This is to make the fresh, zesty pickle topping. Feel free to pickle other veggies, like carrots or onion, if you like.
- pickle brine – We are using a simple, quick pickle brine here: vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and water.
- lentils – This recipe uses cooked lentils. If you want to start with dry lentils, see the FAQ below for instructions on how to cook them.
- ginger-garlic paste – This brings so much flavor to this gochujang-based sauce! You can use fresh garlic and ginger instead, if needed.
- onion and bell pepper – These veggies bring flavor, texture, and color to this dish.
- gochujang – This spicy-sweet chili paste is the star of this lentil dish!
- soy sauce, rice vinegar, and maple syrup – Gochujang paste brings the heat, and these other sauces bring the salt, acid, and sweetness to make this sauce perfectly balanced.
- cornstarch and water – This mixture thickens the sauce, so it clings beautifully to the lentils.
- If you have leftovers, store the gochujang lentils, pickled cucumber, and the rice separately. Reheat the lentils and the rice separately, and then assemble into a bowl and serve.
- You can also pickle thinly sliced carrots and sliced onion. Double the pickling brine, so you’ll have enough liquid to cover these additions.
- You can make this dish with chickpeas instead of lentils, as well. Just use a can of chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes longer.
- To make this with tofu, crisp up about 10 ounces of tofu in some oil and add to the sauce at the same point as you’d add the lentils.
How to Make Gochujang Lentils
The first thing you want to do is make your pickled cucumber, so it can marinate while you make the rice or noodles and the gochujang sauce.
Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to a small bowl, mixing well. Add in the cucumber and press it into the brine. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before using.
Make the rice or noodles and the sauce in the meantime.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, ginger-garlic paste, and salt and cook for two to three minutes.
Then mix in the soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, and maple syrup.
Bring the sauce mixture to a boil, then mix the cornstarch into the water and add to the skillet. Bring it back to a boil, then add the lentils, tossing well to coat.
Simmer the lentil mixture for two to three more minutes for the flavors to meld and for the sauce to thicken a little bit more.
Taste and adjust salt and flavor. For more heat, add some red pepper flakes or some gochugaru flakes, then switch off the heat.
To serve your gochujang lentils, add some rice or noodles to a plate. Add a good helping of the lentils. Top with some of the pickled cucumber, chopped green onion, and sesame seeds, and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gochujang is a sweet-and-spicy Korean chili paste.
Cooked chickpeas work beautifully in this recipe in place of the lentils. Just cook for a few minutes longer, so they get nice and tender.
You can also use 10 ounces of pan fried tofu instead of lentils in this gochujang recipe.
Gluten-free gochujang exists but can be hard to find. If you do find gluten-free gochujang, make this with rice or gluten-free noodles and gluten-free tamari.
To make these with dry lentils from scratch, you will have to cook the lentils before adding to the sauce mixture. Cook 3/4 cup of dry lentils with 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan or pressure cooker.
For the pressure cooker, cook for 6 minutes, then let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before doing a quick release. Open the lid and drain the lentils.
In a saucepan, you will have to cook the lentils for about 30 minutes or so, until they are tender.
YUM! Fast and delicious. I followed the exact recipe and it turned out PERFECT! I served over yam noodles and topped with cilantro and kraut!. This would made a tasty lunch wrap too! Thank you Goddess Richa!
Vegan Richa Support
thank you for such kind words!
Excellent flavor and quick and easy. Still doesn’t top your Kung Pao Lentils though. 🙂 Thanks Richa.
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Thank you for another AMAZING recipe, Richa! I love Gochujang! Thank you for all your time and effort into making each of your recipes BANGING! I appreciate you!
Yummy! Another wonderful recipe, thank you! My husband and I both enjoyed this immensely. For the pickling vinegar I used white vinegar since it was not specified. This came together quickly too.
Delish! Def add all the suggested toppings too. I like the idea of lentils as an alternative source of protein to tofu, tempeh, etc.
Vegan Richa Support
I made this today (minus the pickled cucumber because I didn’t have any on hand) and it was fantastic! Very flavorful and I love that you can change out both the protein and the grains if you feel like it! I made it with the lentils and served over brown nice. A quick, healthy, and flavorful meal. Thanks Richa!
OMG! R u sitting in my head!!! Ever since I made your Gochujang tofu noodles, I have been wanting more recipes using Gochujang because it was so delicious! I am absolutely making these on Saturday! THANK YOU! You are the best! Your recipes are simple, easy ingredients and soooo good!
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