An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Making Kimchi That's So Easy, Anyone Could Do It

By: Sylvia Fountaine

Want to learn how to make kimchi? Follow these 5 easy steps, plus learn how to store it, where to buy it and get ideas for ways to use it.

For many of you, the idea of making homemade kimchi from scratch may seem daunting. Put any fears aside, though, because this easy step-by-step guide will walk you through it with simplicity and ease.

What Is Kimchi?

If kimchi is unfamiliar to you, think of it like a Korean version of sauerkraut. It's fermented napa cabbage with other vegetables like daikon radish and scallion, that's seasoned with ginger, garlic and chile flakes. Like sauerkraut, it's full of good bacteria, living probiotics that are essential for gut health. But besides kimchi's amazing health benefits, kimchi just plain tastes good!

Related: Take Our 30 Gut-Health Challenge

How to Make Kimchi

Kimchi takes about 4 days to make, but with only 20 minutes of actual hands-on time. Mother Nature does most of the work!

Get the full recipe for Homemade Kimchi and follow the steps below to see exactly how to make it.

Ingredients

Kimchi Ingredients

To get started you'll need:

  • napa cabbage
  • salt
  • water
  • daikon radish
  • scallion
  • Korean-style red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • fish sauce
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • sugar

Step 1: Prep the Cabbage

how to make kimchi

Chop the napa cabbage into 1-inch pieces (or, if you prefer smaller pieces, try shredding or cutting the cabbage smaller) and place it in a large bowl. Combine the cabbage and salt in a large bowl and mix. Add enough water to cover the cabbage.

Step 2: Ferment the Cabbage

how to tmake kimchi

Keep the cabbage submerged in the salt water (use a heavy plate or a sealable bag filled with water to keep the cabbage from floating to the top) at room temperature overnight and for up to 24 hours. After 12-24 hours, drain the cabbage, reserving the salty brine.

Step 3: Add More Vegetables

Diakon Matchsicks

Time to add more veg! Peel the daikon radish and cut it into 2-inch matchsticks. Cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces. Add these to the drained cabbage.

Step 4: Make the Flavorful Chile Paste

Kimchi seasonings

Place the ginger, garlic, sugar, fish sauce and red pepper flakes (gochugaru) in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is well combined and forms a chunky paste.

Step 5: Mix It All Together

Massage the cabbage, diakona scallions with spice mix

Add the chile paste to the bowl and massage with gloved hands (the chiles will leave hot oil on your hands that can sting, so wearing gloves is important!) until well combined.

Step 5: Let It Ferment a Second Time

Pack kimchi in a jar

Pack the kimchi into a 2-quart mason jar, pressing it down lightly. Using the reserved brine, fill the jar until the cabbage is completely covered with liquid (you could add a cabbage leaf over the kimchi to weigh it down, if needed). Screw on the lid and place the jar on a tray (to catch any brine) in a cool place like the basement. And then ... let it be for 3 days! After 3 days, give it a taste. Refrigerate it like it is, or allow it to continue to ferment for a few more days if you like. It is done when it tastes good to you!

Related: 7 Must-Eat Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut

How to Store Kimchi

fermented kimchi

Store kimchi in a covered jar in the fridge, making sure the veggies are always covered in the brine. As long as the liquid is covering the kimchi, it will stay good to eat for up to 3 weeks. Plus, it will taste better and better as it sits in the fridge!

How to Use Kimchi

Kimchi is a powerhouse of flavor and its uses are endless! Serve it on its own as a flavorful side dish, or add kimchi to:

  • stir-fried rice
  • Korean-style tacos
  • grilled cheese sandwiches
  • grain bowls
  • scrambled eggs
  • soups and stews
  • quesadillas
  • tofu scrambles

More: Delicious Recipes with Kimchi

Where to Find Kimchi

If making is kimchi is not an option, many delicious prepared kimchis are available. Look for kimchi in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores, often near the tofu, and at most Asian food markets.

Watch: How to Make Homemade Kimchi