Homemade Korean Kimchi Recipe – Tasty and Healthy

homemade korean kimchi recipe

Homemade Kimchi is Yumchi!

I’ve never even tasted kimchi, but for some reason I wanted to make my own, especially when I went to several local grocery stores here and couldn’t find any. I know I could find some at a Korean or Asian specialty food store if I drove into the city, but decided I wanted to do it myself. Homemade kimchi, like many homemade recipes, is better for you than store-bought jars because they often have add more sugar as well as MSG. Plus it can be made much cheaper than store bought which ranges from $4 to $10 or more for a 16oz jar.

What is Kimchi?

For those who do not know what kimchi is or have only passed by it in the Asian buffet condiment section to get to the egg rolls, it is a fermented vegetable concoction, somewhat similar to sauerkraut, that can be made with a variety of ingredients. The main ingredient in the most common type of kimchi is baechu or napa cabbage, a type of Chinese cabbage. Other varieties may use bok choy, daikon radish, carrot, cucumber and various types of seafood like shrimp, anchovies or oysters. Seasonings may include Korean red chili pepper powder (gochugaru) ginger, garlic, onion, hondashi powder (dried fish), green onion, chives, apple, pear and fish sauce. You can eat it as a side dish, condiment, use it in other dishes like Korean kimchi pancakes, kimchi fried rice, on tacos, pizza and more!

Kimchi Health Benefits

Kimchi was among the top five “World’s Healthiest Foods” in Health Magazine among olive oil, soy, yogurt and lentils. Here are some the health benefits of kimchi:

  • High in vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin A, thiamine B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B12 (cobalamins) calcium and iron. The B vitamin levels will double after 3 weeks of fermentation.
  • Probiotics of lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus kimchi, which is in higher quantities than yogurt and aids digestion, promotes intestinal health
  • Contains a anti-carcinogenic compound, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which may not only aid in the prevention of cancer growth, but also stop existing tumor growth
  • Garlic and onions lowers bad cholesterol
  • High in fiber
  • Low in calories – approximately 30 calories per 1 cup serving
  • Contains a anti-carcinogenic compound, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which may not only aid in the prevention of cancer growth, but also stop existing tumor growth

Baechu Kimchi Recipe

Here is our recipe that follows the basic baechu kimchi mix (made with nappa cabbage) with a few stray ingredients as noted.


  • 1 Nappa Cabbage
  • 1/4 Kosher or Sea Salt dissolved in 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup Korean fine chili flakes or other red pepper, mild or hot. Note that by using other types of pepper it won’t taste the same as using the traditional Korean red pepper. I used 2 tablespoons of cayenne and 1 tablespoon of ancho pepper. I suppose you can also try using paprika too, which is relatively mild. Edit: I later found that the 2 tbsps of cayenne made this a little too spicy hot for me. So go easy on the cayenne! 😉
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (I used a red onion)
  • 1/2 sweet variety apple, 1/2 pear – more traditional, but I used 1 whole apple instead because I didn’t have a pear
  • 2 tbsp of sugar (optional, especially if you use a sweet apple and/or pear)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 green onions, coarsely chopped


  1. Cut the end of the cabbage, cut it lengthwise in half and remove most of the hard core. Cut each half again lengthwise and then cut each of those across into bite size pieces. The cabbage shrinks a lot after brining so you don’t have to worry about getting the pieces really small. Place all the cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the dissolved salt water over the cabbage and then toss the cabbage to make sure every piece gets coated.

kimchi nappa cabbage

  1. Cover with plastic wrap or other cover and weight it down with a plate. Let sit for at least 4 hours at room temperature.
brined kimchi cabbage

Notice how much the cabbage has decreased in volume after bringing

  1. Dump the cabbage into a colander and rinse well. Place the rinsed cabbage back into your large bowl.

rinse kimchi

  1. Combine the red pepper, ginger, garlic and fish sauce into a bowl and mix to combine. You can add a little water to make it easier to form a paste, especially if you are not using the fish sauce.
kimchi recipe spices

Ginger, garlic, cayenne and ancho chili powder.

  1. Puree the onion, apple, pear and sugar in a food processor (I used one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, an immersion blender) until it looks like a sauce with no chunks (see photo below).
  2. Add the pepper paste, onion/fruit mixture and chopped green onions to the cabbage.
kimchi recipe ingredients

Cabbage with green onions, pepper paste and onion/apple puree.

  1. Using gloves to protect your from the red pepper, mix the sauces with the cabbage thoroughly until the cabbage is well coated.

kimchi mixture

  1. Now fill glass jars with the cabbage mixture, leaving a little space at the top to allow for fermentation expansion. Screw lids on loosely to allow for gases to escape.
homemade kimchi recipe jars

This recipe makes 2 quart jars of kimchi.

  1. Let the jars sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
  2. Now place the jars in the refrigerator and keep for up to 1 month. You can eat the kimchi immediately or wait. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste.

How to Make Kimchi Demonstration Video

I found this video from a Korean woman who gives her kimchi recipe version. It’s very similar to the one I made, with a few ingredient differences – like using radish and Korean chili powder. She also only brined the cabbage for 2 hours instead of 4 . Her recipe is for a double batch, using two nappa cabbages.  Anyway, this video gives a nice overview of how to make kimchi.

Question: What’s your favorite way to eat kimchi?


  1. Cathy Marcus says

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  2. Billy Sanborn says

    I am trying your recipe right now. The cabbage is currently brining and everything else is ready to go. This is my first try at kimchi. I’m excited.

Comments, Opinions, Questions?