Inspiration from Meghan

Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation


Kimchi was the final fermented food that I had been yearning to make, had tried several times, but had yet to find success…until now. I was testing out easy kimchi recipes as I will be introducing some fermented foods into the revised Culinary Nutrition Expert program. I also have a super awesome recipe to share for Kimchi Sushi Rolls and thought I best first work out how to make this elusive traditional Korean delight.

I was at my usual organic grocer, owned by a Korean family. I mentioned needing daikon for my kimchi and the women at the checkout were all excited that I was going to attempt this. I asked what their best tips were. They both giggled and told me their best tip was to buy some already made.

The traditions of traditional foods are being lost by many, while people like me and my friends at Well Preserved and Nourished Kitchen (just two of the many traditional food blogs I love) do our best to uphold a little of the goodness from “the old country” – whatever and whose ever old country that may be. It’s important. And when it comes to fermented foods, it’s mighty important.

I have written often in the last year about the powerful benefits of fermented foods for our digestive health, immune health, and even brain health (which is directly connected to the health of our gut). But when I go to buy fermented foods, especially kimchi, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in there. So many kimchi recipes I looked at called for shrimp paste, or korean spice blends. And you know I like to know what I’m eating.

And so, in the last year, I have begun to make all of my own ferments – whether it’s coconut kefir, saurkraut, kombucha, and now, I am proud to say, I have succeeded with kimchi.

Kimchi Ingredients

The recipe I used was inspired by this one from my dear friend (whom I’ve yet to meet but any friend of Joel and Dana’s is a friend of mine), Marisa of Food in Jars. I loved her version as it didn’t use any pre-made spice blends or pastes.

Kimchi preparation

It used only the super potent, smelly and strong ingredients to set the flavour, including daikon radish, green onion, garlic, ginger and chillies. Shazaam. That is medicinal power, not to mention a gorgeous rainbow of goodness.

Kimchi ingredients in bowl

It took some time to slice, dice and prep, which I did all by hand in the spirit of traditional foods, but I would totally use a food processor next time around. I am all into tradition, but we might as well shake what mama gave us – or use the appliances that make for less work and mess.

Fermented Foods Kimchi

I massaged the bejesus out of this mix until it got soft and juicy. Packed it into a jar, and let it sit for about five days. It started to foam at one point but I just scraped that off and let is sit a few days more until it was soft, fermented and, I gotta say, so delicious!

Easy Kimchi Recipe

And so here is my super easy, almost fool-proof, kimchi recipe. I say almost fool proof as you really can’t give any guarantees when it comes to fermentation. Every go around is an experiment. That’s just part of the fun.

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Easy Kimchi

  • Author: Meghan Telpner
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: 6-8 cups 1x


A simple approach to making traditional kimchi


  • 1 head napa cabbage, cored and shredded (makes about 8 cups)
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 daikon radish, grated
  • 10 red radishes, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp chilli flakes or 1 1/2 Tbsp chilli powder


  1. Prep all vegetables as directed in ingredients and place in large bowl. Add salt and chilli flakes. Use a larger bowl than you think you might need, as it lends to better veggie massaging.
  2. Massage cabbage mix for about 10 minutes and then set aside. While resting, the salt will help the veggies to ‘sweat’, releasing some of their water.
  3. Return to massage for another 10 minutes, until cabbage and other veggies are softened and a few tablespoons worth of water has been released.
  4. Divide the mix between two 1 litre mason jars.
  5. Press kimchi mix down, helping get out any air bubbles and ideally have some of the liquid come to the top.
  6. Seal jar loosely and place in a warm spot (like on top or or beside your fridge). Let sit for 4-5 days. If foam starts to form, you can skim that off. After about 4 days, taste the kimchi (with a clean fork, never double dip) and decide if you want to let it ferment longer or you’re ready to enjoy it.
  7. Once ready, seal the jar and store in your fridge. Will keep for 2-3 months sealed.
  • Prep Time: 6 hours
  • Category: Condiment
  • Cuisine: Traditional

 What are your favourite fermented foods to make form scratch? Share your resources below!


71 responses to “Easy Kimchi Recipe | Simple Fermentation”

  1. Tui says:

    That sounds like a yummy recipe! i’m going to give it a whirl. I wanted to add that for any ferments like this, sucess is often related to if the veggies are submerged (from personal experience). A tough piece of cabage works great as a lid stuffed down, then discarded if it is oxidised.

    • Beth K says:

      I just made this, shredding the cabbage in the food processor. I used the grating blade. Next time I’ll use the slicing blade. I think I’d prefer it coarser. It already tastes delicious though and it hasn’t even fermented! One question—how much daikon? In my Market, a whole daikon is about 18” long and 8” in diameter. It’s often sold in pieces. Do you really mean a whole one?

      • Meghan Telpner says:

        I’m glad you’re already enjoying this recipe! My daikon definitely wasn’t that long – mine was probably about 7-8 inches and I ended up with about 1 1/4 cups grated. Thankfully, my recipes are very forgiving! So I think you’re fine with a larger radish.

  2. denise says:

    I have 2 fermenting vessels and usually have both burping away with either kimchi, 3 different kinds of kraut and pickles. My neighbor loved the kimchi so much he ate the entire jar Let’s just say, as you state in you blog, constipation was not the issue. More like a run don’t walk.. He’s a fireman and was fighting a fire when the oops moment occurred. He didn’t think it was funny but I sure found it humorous and suggested that most know better than to eat that much cabbage.

  3. Audrey Robinson says:

    would it be OK to divide between quart jars?

  4. Jen says:

    Excited to try the recipe! Do you think that regular organic green cabbage could be used in place of the Napa with similar results?

  5. Stefania says:

    Sounds fantastic. I tried to print but I get an error message on the print page.

  6. Kathy Anderson says:

    When you say seal the jars. Do you just mean put the lids on and put in fridge? Because any processing would kill the natural goodness? Thanks for your response!

  7. Robyn says:

    Thanks for the recipe. As I have never had Kim chi before, was wondering do you eat it hot or cold with meat or chicken as a meal.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      You eat cold or at room temperature (store it in the fridge) though you can top anything with it- I like it with miso soup, eggs– anything.

  8. Geist says:

    Thank you so much for sharring this recipe.
    I had never made any fermented dishes so I was skeptical about diving into this one.
    Your easy to follow instructions were wonderful.
    However I never got any formation of foam at the top, I am thinking it is do to temperature.
    So after leaving the Kimchi, with occasional checks, I couldn’t wait any longer.
    A week later I decided it was time to try my new creation.
    With one bite the Kimchi flooded my senses and I instantly fell in love with this fermented food.

    So over the past week I have been experimenting with the kimchi, deciding what dishes it compliments. Thus far I have found that it’s great as a side (by itself), over white rice, or roast beef.

    Thank you again for this great recipe.

  9. Gesa says:

    Oh, thanks, really love kimchi and this recipe sounds so very easy. I was wondering if it works without or with less chili in case of sensitive colons i.e IBD.

  10. Cheryl in NC says:

    Hi, Meghan! New to your blog but totally intrigued & can’t wait to explore! So far what I’ve seen looks wonderful, & I so appreciate all your sharing. Thank you!
    Right now, however, I’m wanting to ask a question about fermenting in the manner you describe, bcz I have this concern about undesirable bacteria. I make my own soy yogurt, but I boil the “bejesus” out of the jars, utensils, tongs, lids, etc. before pouring my milk into the jars straight from the container I bought it in. If you “squeeze” the veggies for sauerkraut & kimchi, presumably with your hands, how do you ensure that you won’t get anything undesirable in there? What is your method for cleaning your veggies, hands, utensils, jars, food processor, etc. to ensure that you end up with only desirable bacteria in the finished product? Or is there a reason I’m not aware of why this isn’t as much of a concern as I think it is?
    I’ve been wanting to make my own sauerkraut for ages, so as to have control over the amount of salt it contains, but this concern continues to hold me back, bcz I’m worried, for instance, that if I clean the veggies in my usual manner – by say soaking in a very lightly chloroxed water bath – I’ll also kill the bacteria necessary for it to ferment. Yet otherwise, how can I know that there isn’t anything unpleasant either on the veggies or in the water I’m cleaning them in, or on my hands, etc!
    As you can see, I have a somewhat morbid preoccupation with this issue, lol, but only bcz one has to leave the product out for so long to get the right amount of fermentation. Normally I’m not obsessive about germs in general (except with my 9-yr-old granddaughter, who likes to bite her toe-nails, lol!)
    Thanks so much for any help you can offer!

    • Ronnie says:

      This is to cheryl in NC and others who are concerned about bad bacteria: When using a specific culture to inoculate food, making sure there are no wild bacteria to compromise the culture results in a consistent flavor. I’ve made yogurt and other ferments for decades, using reasonable but not extraordinary levels of hygiene. I’ve had very few problems with contamination spoiling the resulting product.

      Contamination is pretty obvious. If you detect pink slime or white fuzz, a seriously off-putting odor or flavor, throw it out!

      By the way, excessively sterile environments are thought to contribute to asthma and other allergic responses. That is one reason natural health practitioners encourage sickly/sensitive people to introduce cultured and fermented foods into their diets. Being exposed to bacteria will help the body normalize its response.

  11. Tom says:

    Your Kimchi recipe….could the “Caldwell’s” be substituted for the salt?

  12. Anne says:

    How long do you let this rest between massages?

  13. Deborah says:

    Hello Meghan. Thank you for your time and energy. I have been resistant to get into fermented foods because of extensive food intolerances. This recipe is off the chain awesome in terms of a clean ingredients list. I cannot wait to jump in. I was hoping to get some pointers before doing something crazy and spending the day in my bathroom :) I am unclear on how you know something is fermented or “ready”. How will I know if is has gone bad? Colour change? Smell change? Best wishes.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      It’s hard to know for sure. I might recommend buying a ready made one first and getting to know it. Mostly though – I look out for fur. If it’s gotten furry on the top, I toss it. Also, when you begin introducing fermented foods, start small with only a tablespoon and work your way up to avoid the trips to the bathroom.

    • Anne-Marie Macadam says:

      Thank you for sharing

  14. Resi says:

    I am a bit confused on the jar sizes, you seem to compare 1 balloon to 1 litre. A gallon is just short of 5 litres. Which one is it to be? Thanks, R

  15. Diana Kelley says:

    This is really incredible! You’ve just taken the work out of finding the right recipe for me. I just invested in a “eat-right-and-lose-weight-finally!” program that discussed things like leptin levels and the tricky roller coaster they play upon the intake and lo-take of foods when dieting. In short, this causes good folks like me to have a hard time losing weight because this leptin hormone is sluggish at all the wrong times. Gut dysbiosis is a big factor and this program highly recommends fermented foods and I’m thrilled to have found YOU, your site, and your recipes. I’ve already copied your Tumeric Tea and plan to make this from now on for my mom who has a liver condition – this was just what I was looking for to help naturally increase bile production! Thanks so much for your work, I look forward to being an avid follower. Blessings to you! xo :-)

  16. Lacie says:

    Can this be made without the daikon radish? I probably should have asked this before I bought everything (except the daikon because my grocery store was out)
    I am so excited to make this! It will be my first attempt at fermenting to help heal my gut so I hope it turns out great!

  17. Tom says:

    Is the reason for dividing it into 2 jars to give room for fermentation gases? Would it be ok to fit it all in one big jar?

  18. Lianne says:

    This was delicious! Thank you for sharing. I used napa cabbage, like your recipe calls for, however the cabbage pictured on your site looks like savoy. I guess you can use either one.

  19. How Kimchi Caused My Family To Fall Apart - Rachel Molenda says:

    […] again, but I’ll certainly work up to it over time. Instead, I’ll happily refer you to Meghan Telpher’s Easy Kimchi Recipe that initially inspired this creation. If you do end up giving it a go, be sure to comment below and […]

  20. Anita says:

    I make my own to avoid MSG.

  21. Terry says:

    I made this easy receipt for your kimchee and OMG this is better then store bought any day of the week!
    Thanks, keep up the good work!!!

  22. raegar says:

    got a lot of liquid and I felt it was a bit too salty. Might try again and alter to my taste.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      That’s interesting. Sometimes I get a lot of liquid and other times, hardly any at all. Every fermentation project is a new adventure.

  23. Ron says:

    I use a rolling pin for the massage. I never make the same kimchi twice unless by accident. A plastic bag of water makes an excellent compress.

  24. Laura Thomas says:

    Tastes great but don’t overdo the carrots.

  25. Laura Thomas says:

    The second time I made this I didn’t shred to cabbage — cut it in about 1″ pieces. I also sliced the daikon and carrots. And added chopped red onion. I didn’t massage the cabbage bit rather salted it heavily, left it for an hour and then rinsed it. I thought the grated veggies were too indistinguishable so that’s why I made them larger on the second go around. Went light on the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes. Might add more after it has fermented. I’ll let you know how this version turns out!

    • Vickie Rickard says:

      At one point, you tried slicing and cutting up some of the ingredients. Which version did you prefer?

  26. Emily says:

    Made this with a green cabbage (as it was what I had on hand) and it was the best kimchi I’ve ever had. I’m excited to continue my fermenting quest this year and will be making more batches this week. Thank you!

  27. Lee says:

    How to let cabbage become soft?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Massage the veggies, mix them up and then set them aside for 10 minutes. You can repeat this a few times to make sure they are good to go!

  28. Lisa Herzberger says:

    Hi Meghan!
    My daughter is about to graduate from Bastyr University as a nutritionist! She’s the one who got me going on Kimchi (She also has Crohn’s so diet is critical for her). I have two questions for you..I’m hoping that I can make this in smaller jars since I don’t have gallon sized mason jars! and second: when you say “seal” when it’s ready, before you store in the fridge, do you mean like in a hot water bath? Like in canning? so that the lid on the jar actually “pops” shut? Or just screw on the lid tightly?
    It’s been a long time since I made any kind of “pickled food” but I think this fermented food is very similar? Thanks very much!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Lisa, thanks for your message and congratulations to you daughter! To answer your questions: yes you can definitely make smaller jars, you’ll just need more of them, and to seal you just need to screw the lid on tightly once you are ready to store the kimchi after you are done fermenting.

    • Dave says:

      Definitely don’t use boiling water bath or heat up in any way before storing or you will kill all the beneficial probiotics and good bacterial you have just worked to create! If you do this you might as well eat the unrefrigerated store bought stuff.

      • Meghan Telpner says:

        Yep, that’s right. We’re not canning this recipe as that would definitely defeat all the good bacteria!

  29. David Medhurst says:

    Several years ago while teaching English in Korea, I set my class a composition exercise where they had to write out their mothers Kim chi recipe. I ended up with 12 different recipes. The main ingredient in most of them was not cabbage but what they called Welsh Onion. I understood this to be leeks.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      That’s interesting about the onion, David! I’m not surprised to hear that you received so many variations – that tends to be the case with most recipes. Every person or family has their own special mix. And there’s definitely something to be said for the extra love that goes into our food when we make it!

  30. Diane says:

    Hi there! Has anyone made this without the chili peppers/powder? I like spicy but my kids are still a bit sensitive to the heat and I would love for them to eat it too. Wonder if leaving the peppers out will compromise the flavour too much. Thanks!

    • Chef Keith says:

      I have made a number of different versions of Kimchi and one of them is for some people I work for who have 2 children ages 7 and 11. with this version I use a 1/4 of the amount of chili and the kids love it, eating it as an after school snack.

  31. Dave says:

    Just a point to emphasise when you say “seal loosely” it should be noted that this means to allow air to escape while fermenting as gases will build up so the lids must be left loose or better yet use an air lock.

  32. Doug Ruthless says:

    Thanks 1st time maker loved it

  33. meg malone says:

    Have been making this recipe for a year now ,and my husband and i love it ,thanks so much Meg.

  34. HS says:

    Hello Meghan. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I’m new to the community and came here while searching healthy, easy, kimchi recipes with only ingredients that I can actually recognize! I have a question for you before I venture into this experience. I have to rely on non-visual ways to determine whether this has come right as my vision is not sufficient to use color as a cue. In response to some questions in comments, there is areference to fur. I was wondering if you can think of a nonvisual way — texture, feel etc. — to give me to be used as a cue to determine when the fermentation process is complete and successful. Thanks so much for your time, and of course for this wonderful site!

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Welcome to you! For fermentation, some of the best non-visual ways to determine if ferments ready are taste and smell. Try a little bit and see how it tastes to you. You don’t want to be feeling around the ferment with your fingers, as that will introduce extra bacteria into the mix. If there is anyone else in your household, you could also ask them what they think from a visual perspective.

  35. HS says:

    Thanks for your response, Meghan. Yes, smell/taste should be the guide then. I was hoping to get a further sense as to what kind of smell is un-natural, as of course the fermentation process does lead to a particular kind of odor.
    Just one point — even though it might seem insignificant to your general readership: Since this site is so educational all round, I think it apt to mention that the stereotypical assumption that all vision-impaired folks would have to feel their way around is just that, stereotypical, and thus should be avoided in the interest of better education of the public. Your point regarding the possibility of transferring unwanted bacteria through hands, obvious as it is, is of course right on. But folks with no or impaired vision in the kitchen do not ‘feel around’ as a substitute for sight, or if they do, I’m sure those who are more savvy in the kitchen are wary of basic — if not more advanced — hygiene.
    Thanks again for such wonderful recipes!

  36. George says:

    I’m new to the idea of fermenting. My grandparents made sauerkraut, pickles, pickled corn, pickled green beans, etc. when I was a child. I appreciate the renewed interest in these methods of preserving and preparing foods.
    I looked at my local grocery and they have all the ingredients that you list. One question… the daikon radishes that they have are much larger than what I imagined! They’re 12-20 inches long and 2-4 inches diameter. How much grated daikon radish would you recommend compared to the amount of cabbage being used, how many cups of daikon radish vs. the roughly 8 cups of napa cabbage? And, do you have any recommendations as to what to look for when buying these ingredients? I look forward to trying this and other fermented recipes. Thank you for your very informative site!

  37. Laure says:

    Thank you for posting this fish sauce free recipe!!! I recently learned I Have all 10 of the top 10 food allergies. Fermented foods were suggested as something that may help, but nearly every Kimchi recipe I found either bad fish, fish sauce, or some for. If soy.
    This recipe sounds perfect! The only thing I’m out of right now is daikon radish, so a quick trip to the store, & I will be making my first batch of Kimchi.

  38. ZackStr says:

    Found this recipe after my first trial was a complete disaster (I blame the other recipe ;) ), and I got so many compliments : including some from real Koreans!
    Thank you!

  39. Cristina says:

    This is a variation on kimchi, but to call this kimchi would be untrue.

  40. Michelle says:

    Hi! Does this really make TWO gallons? I am hosting a ferment group and planning to use this recipe but need to know how many jars to buy. Recipe says “Divide the mix between two 1 gallon/1 litre mason jars.” 1 gallon and 1 litre are 2 different things.

  41. joanne raus says:

    I am a first time maker of Kimchi and your recipe is perfect! However I have just been placed on a low sodium diet and would like to make another batch of your recipe without salt. Will this hurt the fermentation process?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Joanne! Salt is central to the fermentation process. It helps to encourage beneficial bacteria and prevent the harmful microorganisms from growing. I wouldn’t recommend fermenting without it, as you’d likely end up with mold.

  42. Az says:

    Hi, enticing, colorful and what I was looking for.
    Two ideas I came across that I will incorporate:
    * leave covered / submerged by a plate overnight and have sufficient juice to ‘top off’
    * keep a couple of whole external Napa leaves in the mix then fold and add to top for ‘weight’

    Thanks much for posting …

  43. Kim says:

    Hi Meghan,
    I found your recipe a while back and have made this several times. I didn’t have radishes the first time so didn’t use them and I loved it so much that I continue to leave them out. Also I grow Thai hot peppers and dry them so I use about five of them chopped fine in place of the pepper flakes.
    I double or triple the recipe and use a crock with weights.
    I now have to make this for my sister and my daughter and have passed this recipe on to several friends. Thank you!

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