Quick & Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe (Korean Sauerkraut) (2024)

How to make quick and easy authentic kimchi – In just 30 minutes of hands-on-time you’ll have a deliciously spicy (but not too spicy!), gut-healing and probiotic-filled condiment to enjoy with all your Korean favorites!Quick & Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe (Korean Sauerkraut) (2)

My family surprised me by liking traditional, lacto-fermented sauerkraut — the straight-up kind as taught in our lacto-fermentation class on Traditional Cooking School. They’re surprising me with their love for the two variations: homemade kimchi (or kimchee), the Korean sauerkraut; and homemade tsukemono, the Japanese sauerkraut.

Table Of Contents

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a fermented side made from vegetables and spices. There are so many varieties of Kimchi, however most Americans are familiar with the variety made with napa cabbage and spices such as Korean chili powder or red pepper flakes. Oftentimes you’ll find kimchi with veggies like garlic, ginger, onion and daikon radish. If you’re not sure you like Kimchi, many grocery stores are now carrying naturally fermented kimchi in a glass jar. If your local store doesn’t carry it, check out an Asian Market as they’re sure to have some.

Kimchi makes a fantastic snack. It’s low-carb and filled with gut-healing probiotics. It also compliments soaked brown rice well as a flavorful topping to an otherwise bland side dish.

Growing up, I didn’t like kimchi too much. Probably because of the red chili in it. I much prefer sour over spicy, any day! Yet, the heat is growing on me. And I like my own homemade kimchi recipe. It is not too spicy and I love how good it is for us, if made traditionally using lacto-fermentation.

I like my kimchi with both bigger pieces of hand-chopped cabbage or smaller, more evenly chopped pieces from a food processor. Both methods are fine, but you will get a quicker fermentation and more even texture using a food processor. You decide which you want to do — both are good.

Many people wonder if you can make a vegetarian kimchi or a spicy Kimchi recipe without seafood ingredients (like salted shrimp). Yes, you can! And this recipe is perfect; just increase the chili flakes to your spice preference.

Quick & Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe (Korean Sauerkraut) (3)

Is Kimchi Good for You? – Health Benefits of Kimchi

  • Kimchi was named one of the World’s Top 5 Healthiest Foods by Health Magazine in 2017.
  • Kimchi is high in dietary fiber as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
  • Kimchi is rich in probiotics which can help aid in a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Kimchi is low fat and low carb.
  • It’s said that Kimchi is what helps Koreans avoid obesity because of it’s satisfying nature while being so low in calories. Many Koreans eat kimchi at least once daily, oftentimes with each meal.

The kimchi recipe that I’m sharing today is an adaptation of the recipe in Nourishing Traditions on page 94. It’s filled with healthy probiotics (as most ferments are) and the longer you let it ferment the deeper the flavors will become and there will be a higher probiotic content.

Quick & Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe (Korean Sauerkraut) (4)

How you make your Kimchi is entirely up to you. Because there are so many vegetables that can be fermented, you can mix in or omit different veggies as you see fit. Many veggies range in flavor from mild and mellow to quite strong and extremely spicy. I suggest you experiment with your veggies until you find the perfect combination that’s to your liking.

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Do I Need Special Tools To Make Kimchi?

In short, no! Making ferments is one of the easiest things to do in a real food kitchen. A simple mason jar and lid will do. It’s important to understand a few basic principles when fermenting, which is why I recommend my Lacto Fermentation course.

While I say there are no special tools needed for fermenting, there are definitely tools that will help get the job done easier. Some of my favorites are as follows:

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How is Kimchi Made?The Fermentation Process

My favorite method for making kimchi (or any kind of sauerkraut) is my no-pound method. Essentially, you salt the veggies and let it sit for 30 minutes to naturally draw out the water within the veggies. This keeps you from having to pound by hand to release the juices. I find this not only saves time, but so much strength!

Another reason I love this recipe so much is that it doesn’t use fish sauce. Though I’m not against using fish sauce, I just find the smell to be overpowering at the beginning and have found I’m happy with this recipe without it. If you’d like to try adding a bit, you can pick some up at most Korean Markets (though you could likely sub in a bit of soy sauce as well).

The basic fermentation process is like this:

  1. Prep your fruit or veggies.
  2. Add mineral-rich salt to draw out natural liquids.
  3. Put into a clean jar or crock.
  4. Let sit at room temperature.
  5. Eat & enjoy!

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Kimchi FAQs:

There are a lot of questions about fermenting foods and we hope Traditional Cooking School can be your one-stop blog to find all your answers. If you don’t find the answer to your question here, or in one of the additional articles listed below, feel free to add your question in the comments!

How long does sauerkraut keep in the fridge once opened?Does kimchi go bad?

If Kimchi is stored properly it has quite a long shelf-life. As long as you’re creating your kimchi with clean utensils and properly re-packing the kimchi so all the vegetables are under the brine each time you open the jar, it should last indefinitely. It’s important to note that the texture and flavor will continue to change the longer it sets. Some people don’t care for kimchi after a few months as the cabbage can become too soft or mushy. Others prefer it older because the flavors mellow and meld with time. It’s really all a matter of your preference, though.

How long can kimchi be safely stored un-refrigerated?

Kimchi should only be left un-refrigerated during the fermentation stage (usually between 3 to 14 days, give or take and depending on the size/thickness of your veggies). Once the kimchi has reached your desired flavor, it’s best to transfer it to cold storage or the refrigerator. Cold storage should be between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

What happens if I put kimchi in the fridge while fermenting?

Sometimes life happens and we need to hit “pause” on our ferments. Even if your kimchi hasn’t quite finished fermenting, you can place it in the refrigerator for a few days to take a break or make sure it doesn’t ferment beyond your liking. Once you’re ready, bring the kimchi back to room temperature to continue the fermenting process.

How to get rid of kimchi smell in my fridge?

I’ve never had my refrigerator get smelly due to a ferment, but as I mentioned above, I do leave out the fish sauce. If you have an unfortunate spill or your lid isn’t sealed tight, there’s a chance your fridge may have some off smells. If you’ve spilled, be sure all liquid and any food pieces are cleaned and sanitized properly. If smell still remains simply place a bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator overnight (or up to a week) until the smell is completely gone.

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3.39 from 18 votes


Homemade Kimchi: An Easy Korean Sauerkraut Recipe

Kimchi is a classic Korean sauerkraut that has a spicy kick. This easy homemade recipe is a bit more mild, takes just 15 minutes of hands-on time and has many benefits from probiotics formed through lacto-fermentation.

CourseCondiment, Ferment


Prep Time 15 minutes

Hands Off Time 30 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

Servings 16 servings

Calories 7 kcal

Author Wardee Harmon


  • 1head Napa cabbageor savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1bunch green onionschopped
  • 1cupcarrots shredded
  • 1tablespoonginger fresh, grated
  • 3clovesgarliccrushed
  • 1/2teaspoondried chili flakes
  • 1-1/2teaspoonssea salt
  • 1/4cup plus 1 tablespoonwhey *


  1. Start by chopping or shredding the cabbage, carrots, green onions, ginger and garlic by hand or with a food processor.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium or large bowl.

  3. Cover with a tea towel and let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour while the salt helps pull the juices out of the veggies.

  4. Pound a few times with a potato masher or meat hammer (or kraut pounder) to make sure it is getting juicy. If it doesn’t look wet enough, leave for another 1/2 hour. If you’re seeing plenty of liquid, proceed to the next step.

  5. Transfer ingredients to a clean quart-size, wide mouth jar, leaving 1" space at the top of the jar.

  6. Press down firmly. Ideally, liquid will come up to the top of the mixture, but it's ok if it doesn't at this point.

  7. Add weights, if using, and put on lid and band and screw tightly.

  8. Allow the kimchi to ferment at room temperature for three to seven days.

  9. After 12-24 hours, open the jar and press down firmly on the ingredients a few times to make sure the brine is fully covering the mixture.

  10. Brine will continue to be released over time.

  11. Fermentation may proceed faster at very warm temperatures.

  12. Be sure to burp jar daily to prevent air buildup. Also, if you notice air bubbles in the mixture, open the jar and press the mixture back down to submerge it all in brine again. I like to keep the jar on a towel or in a tray to catch seeping liquids.

  13. Skim off any mold or fuzz that develops on top (everything beneath the brine should be fine).

  14. After a few days, the mixture will be bubbly and the vegetables will soften.

  15. Taste every few days and stop the fermentation when you like the flavor and texture. (We like ours best at 5 to 7 days.)

  16. Transfer to the refrigerator or cool storage.

Recipe Notes

Serve alongside main dish chicken, turkey, beef, or ham. Make incredible Kimchi fried rice or even serve with eggs for breakfast. Enjoy!

  • *Or omit whey and increase salt by 1/2 tablespoon.
  • Repack carefully each time you serve to make sure all veggies are under the brine.
  • Kimchi will keep for several months or more in the refrigerator.
  • Cold storage is ideally between 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nutrition Facts

Homemade Kimchi: An Easy Korean Sauerkraut Recipe

Amount Per Serving (2 Tablespoons)

Calories 7

% Daily Value*

Sodium 42mg2%

Potassium 83mg2%

Carbohydrates 1.5g1%

Fiber 0.5g2%

Sugar 0.5g1%

Protein 0.5g1%

Vitamin A 774IU15%

Vitamin C 8mg10%

Calcium 24mg2%

Iron 0.1mg1%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Additional Fermenting Articles

  • Troubleshooting Your Ferments (KYF172)
  • Lacto-Fermentation 101 Video Series
  • 7 Fermenting Mistakes You Might Be Making
  • Which Water is Best for Fermenting?
  • Which Kind of Salt Should I Use for Fermenting?
  • Can I Use Alternative Sweeteners in Ferments?

Other Fermented Condiments

  • 3 Lacto-Fermented Mustard Recipes (zippy, zingy flavor!)
  • Lacto-Fermented Homemade Ketchup
  • Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise
  • Homemade Sauerkraut In A Stoneware Crock
  • Old-Fashioned, Crunchy, Fermented Garlic-Dill Pickles

Have you made homemade kimchi before? Do you like it? What’s your favorite variation of sauerkraut?

This post was featured in .

We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).

Quick & Easy Authentic Kimchi Recipe (Korean Sauerkraut) (2024)


Is kimchi just Korean sauerkraut? ›

Just as Germans made their Sauerkraut, the Koreans made their Kimchi. The two are essentially the same just with minor variations in spices.

How do you ferment kimchi quickly? ›

Option 2: Place sealed container in a well-ventilated location (may become pungent), with a relatively constant room temperature, around 68° F is ideal. Ferment only 1 to 2 days at room temperature, tasting it daily until it reaches preferred tangy taste and desired texture. 6. Store and enjoy!

Which is better for you kimchi or sauerkraut? ›

The nutritional value of sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles

Sauerkraut, for example, is a rich source of vitamin C and K, as well as fiber. Kimchi, a Korean staple, contains vitamins A, B, and C, and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Can you eat kimchi everyday? ›

Cabbage and radish kimchi, a popular fermented vegetable dish, in particular were effective in reducing the risk of obesity and abdominal obesity in both men and women.

What is Korean sauerkraut called? ›

Kimchi (/ˈkɪmtʃiː/; Korean: 김치, romanized: gimchi, IPA: [kim. tɕʰi]) is a traditional Korean side dish (banchan) consisting of salted and fermented vegetables, most often napa cabbage or Korean radish.

What happens if you ferment kimchi for too long? ›

If you prefer a milder flavor or crunchier texture, you may want to discard your kimchi after 3 months. After this point, its taste may change significantly — and it may become mushy. Yet, kimchi may still be safe to eat for up to 3 more months, as long as there's no mold, which indicates spoilage.

What is the quickest thing to ferment? ›

Vegetables are possibly the easiest and quickest fermentation: cut the vegetables, place in glass jars and submerge completely in the brine for 1-2 days until fermented (you'll know it's ready once the ferment has developed a ˜tangy' taste). Then, keep the jar in cold storage.

Can kimchi become too fermented? ›

Kimchi spoilage and over-fermentation

It will continue to ferment at a cool temperature. If kimchi over-ferments, it will have a very vinegary odor and taste. It is not pleasant to eat raw, so it is often used for soups and stews. If any fermentation gets soft and slimy, then it is a sign of spoilage.

What does eating sauerkraut everyday do to your body? ›

Sauerkraut is incredibly nutritious and healthy. It provides probiotics and vitamin K2, which are known for their health benefits, and many other nutrients. Eating sauerkraut may help strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion, reduce your risk of certain diseases, and even lose weight.

Are pickles as good for you as kimchi? ›

Fermented foods contain high amounts of beneficial bacteria – the same kinds of bacteria that live and thrive in the human gut. Kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and the humble pickle are all packed full of these good gut microbes.

How much kimchi should I eat per day? ›

Now, Korean researchers say a few servings of the spicy food each day might help stave off weight gain. "Consumption of 1–3 servings/day of total kimchi was associated with a lower risk of obesity in men," and smaller amounts were linked to similar trends among women, concluded a team led by Sangah Shin.

How many hours does it take to make kimchi? ›

How long does it take to make Kimchi? Allow 1 hour to prepare the kimchi and get it in the fermentation jar. Plus 4 hours waiting while the vegetables salt. It takes 5-10 days to ferment depending on room temperature.

How is traditional Korean kimchi made? ›

  1. Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. ...
  2. Salt the cabbage. ...
  3. Rinse and drain the cabbage. ...
  4. Make the spice paste. ...
  5. Combine the vegetables and spice paste. ...
  6. Mix thoroughly. ...
  7. Pack the kimchi into the jar. ...
  8. Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days.
Oct 27, 2022

How do you eat kimchi for beginners? ›

This fermented cabbage dish can be served as a side dish, over a bed of rice, folded into scrambled eggs, whirred into tomato sauce, or even just eaten as is.

What's the difference in kimchi and sauerkraut? ›

The cabbage used for sauerkraut must be finely shredded and fermented for less time than kimchi, giving sauerkraut a more acidic taste without a distinct umami flavor. The longer sauerkraut ferments, the sourer and tangier it becomes.

Is kimchi basically cabbage? ›

Baechu kimchi, the most popular type of kimchi, is made from cut Chinese cabbages that are coated with salt for 3–12 h to reduce the water activity essential for the growth of undesirable microorganisms. The excess water is then drained away, and seasonings are added to the brined cabbages.

Is kimchi just pickled cabbage? ›

What Is Kimchi? Kimchi is a traditional spicy pickled vegetable dish in Korea. While it's usually made with cabbage, there are more than a hundred kimchi varieties, using everything from cucumbers and radishes to eggplants and pumpkin blossoms.

What is the difference between Chinese kimchi and Korean kimchi? ›

What is the difference between the two foods? Per the CNN report, 'kimchi' is a term for fermented vegetables in Korea, mostly referring to fermented napa cabbage with seasonings — including red chili pepper, garlic, ginger and salted seafood. Pao cai, on the other hand, means 'soaked vegetables' in Chinese.

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