How to make Kimchi – a quick and easy recipe that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, the benefits of eating kimchi are endless. This authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable, gluten-free and can be made as spicy or as mild as you like! Includes a video.

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe We are never in as much joy as when we are engaged in the well-being of others. ~ Adyashanti 

Many years ago now, we catered a Korean wedding. I remember meeting with the bride and groom and listening very carefully about the importance of the kimchi being served. It had to be “just right”.

Truth be told I was nervous, I had never made it back then, but the mother of the bride was kind enough to send me her personal kimchi recipe and thankfully I had time to practice it a few times before the big day.

In the end, they were happy. And wherever they are now, I hope they are still. I’ve never counted the number of weddings we’ve catered, but every so often a couple pops into my mind, most often when I’m cooking, and I can’t help but give them a little nod and wish them well.


HOW TO MAKE KIMCHI!| 60-second video


How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

What is Kimchi?

Some of you may still be unfamiliar with kimchi even though it’s become highly popular in the last 15 years here in the west. It’s basically spicy, fermented cabbage, kind of like sauerkraut, but with Korean flavors – garlic, ginger & Korean chilies. Kimchi is like the heart and soul of Korean cooking. And it’s tasty with so many things!

But the best thing about Kimchi? Kimchi is alive! Full of living, healthy good bacteria, or probiotics, that boost immunity, energize the body, and aid digestion, it is believed to fight cancer,  lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Just google it and see for yourself.

Now if you are buying kimchi (which is totally fine!) just make sure it is in the refrigerated section of the grocery store (then you know it is alive) and check for preservatives, especially nitrates- stay away from those. It is usually fine if it is refrigerated!

What does Kimchi Taste like?

Kimchi tastes sour, tangy, salty, spicy, and pungent! It’s similar to sauerkraut in that it is fermented cabbage, but kimchi is packed with flavorumami and a little (or a lot) of heat! The fermentation process is what gives kimchi its sour flavor.

Why eat Kimchi?

Because kimchi is naturally fermented, it is full of healthy bacteria, good for the gut and good for immunity. But besides being a healthy thing to incorporate into our diets, Kimchi adds so much flavor to things we are already making at home!

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

What you’ll need:

This easy kimchi recipe makes enough to fill a large two-quart jar (about 8 cups).

In this recipe, I use Korean Chili Flakes called “Gochugaru” vs. the Korean fermented Chili Paste called “Gochujang“. Feel free to use Gochujang if you please or if you have it on hand.

The reason I decided not to use the Gochujang, is Gochujang usually contains MSG and Nitrates, so I went a cleaner route today. Totally up to you.

You can find Gochugaru at most Asian Markets or order online.  You can add other veggies to the mix like matchstick daikon radish or carrots.

Vegan Kimchi options:

Kimchi Variations:

  • Like so many things, there are so many variations to kimchi, and people have their own personal preferences. I just wanted to provide you with a starting point, and I’m sure you will adapt to your own tastes!
  • Some people add sugar, some don’t.
  • Some add carrots, some don’t.
  • And, to be clear this is not the exact recipe from the mother of the bride, but a little simplified. The ingredients are similar (except I believe she added dried shrimp) but I tried to make this as easy as possible.
  • And guess what? It IS easy! And fun!

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

How to make Kimchi (in a nutshell)

****See the recipe for more detailed instructions.

  • Save 1-2 outer leaves and place in a bag in the fridge (you will use these later).
  • Cut the Napa cabbage into 1-inch cubes.

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  • Place napa cabbage in a bowl and toss with 1/4 cup sea salt.

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  • Fill the bowl with filtered water and stir, and soak cabbage for 6-8 hours.

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  • Place plate over the napa cabbage to keep it submerged.

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  • After 6- 8 hours, drain (making sure to save the brine) and rinse, pressing the liquid out.

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Make the Kimchi Paste: 

  • As I stated earlier, I prefer to use Korean Chili Flakes called “Gochugaru” vs. the Korean fermented Chili Paste called “Gochujang“. Feel free to use Gochujang if you please. Totally up to you. Either way, you will make the paste below.
  • Many people ask if they can use regular old chili flakes- yes, but they are much spicier!!! Gochugaru is fruitier and less spicy, so you can use more and get more flavor. You could try subbing dried Arbol Chilies if you absolutely can’t get the Korean Chili flakes – or even use fresh red chilies to make the paste.
  • In a food processor, make a paste with garlic, ginger, shallot, Korean chili flakes  (or Gochujang) and optional fish sauce (or miso) and sugar. If you want a mild version, use half the chili flakes. The fish sauce really adds a delicious complexity and depth, but you can, of course, keep it vegan.

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  • Peel and cut the daikon radish (or carrot)  into match sticks, about 2-3 inches long. Cut the scallions.

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  • Cut the scallions into 1-2 inch pieces.

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  • Place the drained cabbage along with the daikon, scallions and chili paste into the bowl. Massage a bit with gloved hands.
  • This is a very mild version shown below, so not very red, ( 2 tablespoons chili flakes).
  • You can also add more chili flakes if you want it spicier – I normally add 4-6 tablespoons.

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

  • Pack this tightly into a large two-quart jar  (half-gallon, 64 oz) or large crock. (Or use two, quart-sized mason jars.)
  • You want a good two inches of space at the top to catch the flavorful liquid that will release.
  • I have had great success with this Fermentation Kit that has crystal weights that fit perfectly in a wide-mouth mason jar.  It is so convenient for small batch ferments. This fermentation kit includes the jars which is a great option too!

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

  • Pour a little of the brine into the jar, just to enough to cover the cabbage.

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

  • Cover with the cabbage leaf you saved, and press down. The leaf will help keep the cabbage submerged. Add a fermentation weight to keep the cabbage submerged. Cover with a lid ( do not screw on tight)  and place on a rimmed pan or bowl ( to collect any overflow) and set somewhere cool and dark like the basement for 3-5 days. A lower kitchen cabinet away from stove or appliances can also be a good cool spot.

What temperature to ferment Kimchi:

  • The ideal temperature for fermenting kimchi 55-65 degrees.  65 F is perfect!
  • The cooler it is, the slower it will take to ferment. The warmer, the faster.
  • The longer you ferment the tangier and the softer the kimchi will get. I actually prefer slightly crunchy kimchi.
  • Going too much over 70 degrees may actually have negative effects on the flavor.

How do you know if kimchi is fermenting?

  • After 3 days. Tap the jar to see if any bubbles rise to the top- indicating that it is fermenting.
  • Taste the kimchi for tanginess.
  • Continue to ferment for  2-3 more days if you want it tangier or softer, then place in the fridge.
  • Once you have it in the fridge, taste again. It will continue to ferment but at a much slower rate.  It will develop more flavor and complexity over the next two weeks in the fridge, and the spice level will mellow with time!
  • Optional: To thicken, use glutenous rice powder. 

Storing your kimchi:

  • Keep fermented kimchi in a 2-quart jar or crock with the lid on, pressing it down under the brine after each use.
  • It will keep for months on end in the fridge when the kimchi is submerged below the brine….getting better and more flavorful with time!

 

How to make Kimchi that only takes 30 minutes of hands-on-time before mother nature takes over! Full of healthy, gut-healing probiotics, this authentic kimchi recipe is vegan adaptable & gluten free. Quick and easy, make it as spicy or mild as you like. #kimchi #howtomakekimchi #vegan #vegankimchi #eatclean #cleaneating #plantbased #napa cabbage #kimchirecipe #probiotics #fermented #guthealing #fermentedcabbage #koreanfood #koreanrecipe

 

WAYS TO USE KIMCHI:

  1. Kimchi Fried Rice
  2. Kimchi Noodles
  3. Kimchi Burritos
  4. Kimchi Soup Recipe
  5. Seoul Bowl!
  6. On Buddha Bowls
  7. As a side dish with dinner, simply drizzled with toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds!

A huge flavor booster, and FULL of natural, gut-healing bacteria that supports your microbiome, boosts your mood, and bolsters your immune system!

***Lately, we’ve been using this Fermentation Kit that has crystal weights that fit perfectly in a wide-mouth mason jar.  It is so convenient for small batch ferments. This fermentation kit includes the jars which is a great option too!

More healthy Fermented Foods: 

  1. 25 Immune-Boosting Recipes!  
  2. Simple Cultured Cabbage (Sauerkraut)
  3. Cucumber Kimchi Pickles!
  4. Fermented Hot Sauce,  
  5. Fermented cucumbers!
  6. Curtido,
  7. Beet and Cabbage Kraut,
  8. Tumeric Kraut
  9. Sourdough Bread!

Enjoy the process of making Kimchi! Tell me how it goes in the comments below.

xoxoxo

Sylvia

 

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How to Make Kimchi

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 days
  • Total Time: 72 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: fermented, sides, preserved
  • Method: fermented
  • Cuisine: Korean
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

A quick and easy recipe for authentic Kimchi, full of healthy probiotics that will keep for months in the fridge. Easy, flavorful and adaptable! Vegan adaptable!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds napa cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (one large cabbage)
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (60 grams)
  • 2 cups daikon radish, cut into matchstick strips (optional, or use carrots)
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, sliced ( 2-3 disks, peels ok)
  • 6 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 shallot, quartered (optional)
  • 26 tablespoons Korean-style red pepper flakes (gochugaru) or sub gochujang – see notes!
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or use vegan fish sauce, shrimp paste, miso paste, or soy sauce), more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar ( or an alternative like honey, brown rice syrup)
  • OPTIONAL:1 tablespoon glutenous rice powder (see notes)

Instructions

  1. SALT THE CABBAGE (6-8 hours): Reserve 1-2 outer leaves of the napa cabbage and refrigerate for later use (wrap in plastic). Cut the remaining cabbage and place it in a large bowl with the salt and toss. Add enough cool water to cover the cabbage and stir until salt is dissolved. Keep the cabbage submerged with a plate over the bowl and let stand at room temperature 6-8 hours (giving a stir midway through if possible) or overnight.
  2. Drain the cabbage, saving the brine. Rinse the cabbage (not excessively, just a little quick rinse), drain, squeeze out any excess water, or blot with paper towels, and place it back in the bowl,  adding the daikon radish and scallions.
  3. Make the PASTE: Place the ginger, garlic, shallot, red pepper flakes, fish sauce (or alternatives) and sugar in your food processor. Add optional rice powder (see notes!) Process until well combined, pulsing, until it becomes a thick paste.
  4. MASSAGE: Scoop the paste over the cabbage and using tongs or gloves, mix and massage the vegetables and the red pepper mixture together really well, until well coated.
  5. PACK the cabbage into a large, two-quart jar (or two, quart jars)  or a crock, leaving 1-2 inches room at the top for juices to release. Add a little of the reserved brine to just cover the vegetables, pressing them down a bit ( so they are submerged) Place the whole cabbage leaf over top, pressing down- this should help keep the kimchi submerged under the brine. You can also use a fermentation weight placed over top of the whole leaf to keep it submerged. Or a small zip lock filled with water.  Basically anything that touches air may mold – but no worries if this happens (see notes) it is not ruined. 
  6.  FERMENT (3-4 days) Cover loosely with a lid (allowing air to escape) and place the jar in a baking dish (or big bowl) to collect any juices that may escape. (The idea though, is to keep as much of the flavorful juice in the jar, so don’t overfill.) Leave this somewhere dark and cool (55F-65F is ideal) for 3 days. A basement or lower cooler cabinet in the pantry or kitchen away from appliances works best. 
  7. EVENING OF DAY 3: Check for fermentation action or bubbles. Tap the jar and see if tiny bubbles rise to the top. Check for overflow (which also indicates fermentation).  If you see bubbles, it is ready to store in the refrigerator where it will continue to ferment and develop more flavor slowly. For a softer tangier kimchi, you can continue to ferment for 3 more days or longer.  If no action, give it another day or two. If you don’t see bubbles when tapping the jar, it just may need a couple more days- especially in cooler climates. Be patient. See the troubleshooting section below. 
  8. REFRIGERATE: After you see bubbles (usually 3-5 days) the kimchi is ready, but it won’t achieve its full flavor and complexity, until about 2 weeks (in the fridge) slowly fermenting. The longer you ferment, the more complex and tangy the taste.  If you like a fizzy brine, tighten the lid, burping every week or so. If you don’t want to think about it, give the lid one loose twist, so it’s on there, but gases can escape. 
  9. Maintenance: This will keep for months on end in the fridge (as long as it is submerged in the brine)  and will continue to ferment very slowly, getting more and more flavorful. Feel free to remove the cabbage leaf and just press kimchi down under the brine, after each use. ( See notes for adding more brine.) 
  10. SERVE: Serve it as side dish: scoop it out using a slotted spoon, place in a small bowl, drizzle with sesame oil , toasted sesame seeds, and fresh scallions. Or Use it in Kimchi Fried Rice, Kimchi Burritos, Seoul Bowls, Kimchi Soup!

Notes

For milder kimchi, start with 2 tablespoons Korean chili flakes ( you can always stir in more). I like a spicy version with 6 tablespoons. 4 tablespoons is medium spicy.

If substituting with gochujang paste, add 2-6 tablespoons. You can always start conservatively and add more to taste after fermentation. 

If you like your kimchi, thick, and less watery,  you can use sweet glutenous rice powder to thicken. This is not the same as rice flour! Cook 1 tablespoon glutenous rice powder with ½ cup water, in a small pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils. Let cool, still whisking occasionally. Add to the chili paste in the food processor. Continue with recipe.

BRINE If you need or want to add more salt brine to the kimchi, to keep it submerged, mix water and salt at this ratio: 1 cup water and 1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Stir it together first, pour over the kimchi.

TROUBLESHOOTING: 

  1. MOLD If your cabbage leaf that is holding the kimchi down, happens to mold, just remove it, wipe out the rim of the jar as best you can, and replace it with a fresh one.  Basically, if cabbage touches air here, it will mold, so after each use, press the kimchi down under the brine.
  2. NO BUBBLES: Check the temp of the kimchi using a kitchen thermometer. Ideally, you want this between 50-70F. 60-65 is best.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 20
  • Sugar: 1.6 g
  • Sodium: 822.5 mg
  • Fat: 0.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
  • Fiber: 0.4 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Comments

  1. I followed the recipe and love the flavor! This is my first attempt at making kimchi and found the process very easy to follow. I do have a question. When I transferred my batch to the refrigerator all the brine seemed to get absorbed making my batch dry. Do I need to add more water or brine to keep the fermentation process going?

    1. It’s nice to have the brine slightly above the cabbage, so yes you could add a little more. 1 heaping teaspoon salt per cup of water.

  2. I’m new to fermenting but not new to kimchi! Is the weight necessary? I have some large jars from my favorite Asian market kimchi but I don’t have weights. If it is necessary – any suggestions on what I can use that isn’t part of a kit? Thanks!

    1. Hi Allison, if you just push down on the cabbage daily (or a couple times a day) to make sure it is submerged it should be fine.

  3. I made this and it was great. Just curious is there anything i have to do differently if I wanted to do cucumber kimchi?

    1. Hey Russel I’ve never made cucumber kimchi-but there is a cucumber kimchi “pickle” on the blog- I would look at that recipe, it might be helpful? Just type it in the search bar.

    1. Hi Em, I’m not sure- I’ve never tired that. It seems like it may give it a strange texture, but totally guessing. Let me know if you try it.

  4. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it was so sour. Did it not ferment long enough? Too long? I ended up tossing it all because I was afraid it would make us sick and it was way too sour to eat anyway. I had it in our basement for 6 days.

    1. Hi ARyn- Sour means it fermented perfectly! I’m sorry you threw it out! It was probably a really good batch. If you want it less sour, check at 3-4 days then refrigerate.

  5. I really like your recipe. It was one of 3 I picked out. But I can’t find the video link. The link or pic don’t work. Thanks for the great directions otherwise though

    1. Check that your ad blocker on safari or chrome is turned off, that will prevent the videos from showing.

  6. I really like kimchi! I started to like fermented foods when I was 18, my polish friend introduce me this and i’m also enjoying and doing fermentation like sauerkraut, pickles,beetroot, radish, etc..i wanna try your recipe hope it works well.

  7. Thank you for this recipe. It is easy and the flavours are amazing. We use the kimchi on our egg muffins in the morning. It makes a delicious kimchi fried rice.

    I use the glutenous rice flour. I sometimes add a bit of Asian pear or granny smith apple.

  8. At day one and the Kimchi looks great. Started with 2T of the chili paste. If I need extra I’ll squeeze a little more on the side after the fermentation is complete.
    Thank you for the step by step process ♥️

  9. Just wanted to say that Monosodium Glutamate isn’t linked to any harmful side affects or health risks. It’s just a yeast extract and enhances flavors and used in thousands of products, many people consume it without even knowing it. Other than that, your recipe sounds delicious. I just gotta find some of the ingredients for it as they’re not common where I live (minus the Nappa cabbage). Have a beautiful day!

    1. You are right, but MSG does cause headaches in some people, especially if they are not used to eating it.

  10. I really liked how this came out. Since it’s a pretty hot summer I placed the jars in my temperature controlled beer fermentor and I could keep it perfectly around 62 degrees. My Korean friends gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up after tasting it. I love having it with my eggs every morning and it makes a mean Kimchi hotdog.

  11. Love love love your site, Sylvia! Just checking – does the jar need to be sterilised before packing in the kimchi?

  12. I am intolerant to all nightshade spices, can I use white pepper, mustard or horseradish to add heat to the fermentation?

  13. The shrimp paste is missing from the recipe, however it is mentioned in the what you’ll need section…

    1. I would start with 2 tablespoons, add more to taste? Unless you like it spicy then maybe 4? You can always add more after it is fermented.

  14. I accidently let my cabbage soak for over 24 hours in the salt brine. Do I need to start over or is it still usable?

  15. I just made my first batch and it turned out great. I’m going to make my second batch and I’m wondering if I can reuse the leftover brine from the first batch.

    1. Some folks are doing that, and I personally havent tried, but dont see why it wouldn’t work- I guess my question would be the salt ratio? Not sure how much you would need to add in this case?

  16. I have Gochujang not Gochugaru. Can I use it instead of Gochugaru?
    I was given a kimchi pot when I was in Korea, can I use it? How to use it properly?

  17. Can this be made without the salt? I am on a salt free diet and I do not have salt in my kitchen.

    1. No Clara- salt is absolutly required here to kill unwanted bacteria.

    2. Can I ferment for longer, like 2 weeks, then refrigerate? I’ve heard of people going as long as a month.

      1. You absolutely can, it will get tangier and less crunchy the longer it goes.

  18. I just tried my first attempt at Kimchi made with this recipe. It was SO good. Better than anything I have bought. It did take longer to start fermenting than I expected. At least 5 days in my fairly cool basement. Today tasted it and moved it into the fridge. Slightly gingery but not too strong. Slight fizz. I did cautiously splash in a little Red Boat fish sauce when I made it. I used 3 TBS. gochugaru Korean pepper flakes from Noble Market in Tampa. They ship. Their flakes seem to be the real deal. Great flavor and color and not too hot. Best recipe I’ve found in a while.❤️

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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