How to Make Kimchi – An Easy Step By Step Guide

A step by step guide to an authentic Korean staple.

Want to learn how to make Korean Kimchi at home? It’s actually much easier than you think! We’ve got everything you need to know about how to make Korean Kimchi in this simple step by step guide.

Admittedly, Kimchi can be a bit of an acquired taste. However, if you’re a fan, you’ll definitely want to try this easy at-home recipe.

Kimchi? Yes Please!

Some of you might be thinking, why do I want to eat something that’s red, slimy, and smells like pickles? Let me tell you, there’s more to it than that! I became obsessed with Kimchi after a Korean-American restaurant popped up in my city. The way they managed to pair it as the perfect compliment to every dish had me craving Kimchi for every meal.

I highly recommend making this one in bulk so you can add a spoonful to whatever you’re enjoying to give it exactly the fresh zing you’re missing. If anyone at work tells you that they can’t stand the smell, just have them try a little, and soon enough you’ll be the Queen Kimchi Fairy of the office, and everyone will be asking for your recipe. (But don’t worry, they won’t mind that you got it from us, and you can send them here for even more Korean deliciousness).

Kimchi is a staple in Korean culture, the equivalent to what we might call ‘Soul Food’. This pungent, flavorful, and highly seasoned fermented cabbage is a condiment used in everything from soup and sandwiches to stir fry. Traditionally, fish sauce is used in the making of kimchi. However, to keep our recipe vegetarian, we will be using nori – a type of seaweed. If you’re a fan of sauerkraut and spice, this is a must-have recipe!


2 pounds Napa cabbage
4 tablespoons Kosher salt
10 cups distilled or filtered water
1 sheet of Nori
3 to 5 tablespoons red pepper flakes (for traditional flavor, stop at an Asian market for gochugaru, which is Korean red pepper)
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
5 cloves of garlic
2 daikon radishes
1 bundle (about 10) scallions
1 tablespoon (about 1 inch) fresh ginger

Step 1:

Wash the Napa cabbage making sure to remove any and all dirt. Then, remove the stem and core and cut the leaves into large 1 to 2 inch pieces. Place the pieces into a large bowl. Then, pour 3 tablespoons of salt over the cabbage leaves and massage the salt into the pieces. Cover the cabbage with the water, making sure the cabbage is completely submerged, about 8 cups. Note it is very important to use distilled or filtered water in this recipe! This is crucial because it helps prevent bad bacteria from growing in your kimchi. Place a plate or other heavy dishware over top to make sure the cabbage does not float to the top of the bowl. Then let the cabbage sit for 3 hours or overnight, stirring once or twice.

Step 2:

Strain the cabbage and rinse in cool water. Then, allow the cabbage to sit in the strainer for about 20 minutes to dry. Meanwhile, cut the Nori into thin strips. Then, in a small bowl, combine the Nori, red pepper flakes (use the full 5 tablespoons if you like things spicy!), and the sugar. Mix well and gradually add 1 tablespoon of the remaining water to form a paste. Set aside.

Step 3: 

Mince the garlic, thinly slice the radishes into strips, chop the scallions, and grate the ginger. Place these four ingredients into a large mixing bowl and add the strained Napa cabbage. Then, mix well and add the red pepper paste and toss until all the cabbage leaves are coated in the paste. Then let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to let the flavors combine. It might also be a good idea to wear a pair of gloves during this step and the following steps.

Step 4:

Pack the cabbage mixture into a large mason jar. Then, in the bowl the cabbage was tossed in, add the remaining water and salt. Mix well, scraping any remaining spices off the sides of the bowl. Continue to stir and mix until the salt is dissolved. Then, pour the salt water over the cabbage in the mason jar just until the mixture is covered. Place the lid tightly on the jar. Then, just place in a cool dark area, out of direct sunlight, for 24 hours.

Step 5:

After 24 hours, open the jar to release any gasses. WARNING: this will be stinky! Then, reseal the jar and place in the refrigerator. The kimchi is now ready to use! Store the kimchi for up to one month in the refrigerator, note this recipe is not ideal for freezing. Use the kimchi as a condiment on a sandwich or veggie burger. Kimchi adds a little zip to your favorite soup or in a stir-fry. You can even enjoy this as a side dish if you’re feeling brave!

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Chef Nichole

Nichole has a culinary degree from Great Lakes Culinary Institute and has worked in the culinary industry for 10 years. She also has the knowledge to write recipes using the most nutritious, fresh, and balanced ingredients. Nichole enjoys creating healthy and tasty recipes anyone can prepare, no matter their cooking skill level.

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  1. Is the coconut sugar necessary for fermentation or can I leave it out? (Or substitute with stevia.)

    1. Tina, Some type of sugar is needed. I don’t think stevia will work but I have never tried it with this recipe.

    1. Ada, Add 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce until the desired taste has been achieved. A little goes a long way.

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