A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

I’d be brutally honest with you by stating this upfront – making kimchi at home is not difficult but it takes a decent amount of time and patience. If you are unable to set aside a couple hours to do it, then I’d suggest you buy kimchi at Asian markets. If you are thinking about giving it a shot, then you are in for a treat and you won’t regret it!

Now that the exceptions are set, let’s dive in.

A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

Why Kimchi?

Because it’s delicious! Duh!

The other important reason is that fermented food like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles have beneficial bacteria called probiotics which keep your digestive system clean, decrease blood pressure, and even keeps your teeth intact. There are many other health benefits of probiotics and creating a favorable environment for gut healing is one of them.

Therefore, kimchi is not only delicious but also good for you!

Why Homemade Kimchi?

For something that you can buy for a few dollars, why go through the trouble to make it at home? Here are a few reasons that have convinced me to make kimchi at home. See if they resonate with you too.

  1. If you follow this guide, you’ll end up having around 8 pounds of homemade kimchi to enjoy for a very very long time. It’s significantly cheaper than buying 8 pounds of kimchi from a store.
  2. You’ll be able to adjust the flavor by adding seafood and control the spiciness according to your liking.
  3. Homemade kimchi makes a great gift and you don’t have to worry about it going bad.

A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

I am also going to share plenty of recipe ideas using kimchi as an ingredient so that you can enjoy your kimchi in different ways. Sounds good?

What I am about to show you is a step-by-step guide to making Korean traditional kimchi at home. I learned the techniques from a Korean blogger Maangchi and one of my followers on Instagram said that only old Korean women do it. I am not sure how to respond to that comment but I am going to take it as a compliment because it means I did a legit job, right?

How to Make Kimchi in 7 Steps

Step 1: Prepare Napa Cabbage

Things you need:

  • 4 napa cabbages
  • A sharp chef’s knife
  • A large cutting board

How to Make Kimchi - prepare napa cabbage

Trim the cabbage cores and cut each cabbage in half.

Make a 2-inch cut through the core of each half of the cabbage. You want the cabbage leaves to be loose but still attached to the core. This is to create room between the leaves for salting the cabbage in the next step. Don’t worry about cleaning the cabbage yet. We will take care of that in the next step too.

Note: Maangchi recommends to cut a short slit in the head of the cabbage where you can get a grip with both of your hands on either half and then gently pull apart the cabbage to split it open. It’s to avoid shredding the densely packed leaves inside. However, I found that no leaves were shredded when I cut my cabbage straight open in half.

Step 2: Salt The Cabbage

Things you need:

  • 1 or 2 large containers to hold the cabbage such as a roasting pan or big baking dish, etc.
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt or more if needed
  • 1 pair of disposable kitchen gloves
  • 1 strainer

How to Make Kimchi - Salt The Cabbage

Soak the cabbages in water to get all leaves wet. Discard the water. Wear gloves and rub the salt in between cabbage leaves by lifting up every leaf. Use more salt around the stems where the leaves are thicker.

Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours to get well salted. The liquid from the cabbages will be extracted and the cabbage will be softened during the salting process. Turn the cabbages over once every 30 minutes.

After 2 hours, rinse the cabbages well under cold running water. Remove salt and dirt. By now, the cabbages should be soft. Split the halves into quarters along the slits you cut in the first step. Drain the cabbages well.

Step 3: Make Kimchi Paste Base

Things you need:

  • A medium saucepan
  • A wooden spatula
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • A large mixing bowl

How To Make Kimchi - Kimchi Paste Base

While the cabbages are salting, make the kimchi paste base, which looks like a porridge. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sweet rice flour. Mix well and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. Add sugar and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove the base from heat, pour it into a large mixing bowl and let it cool completely.

Step 4: Prepare Vegetables and Other Ingredients

Things you need:

  • A vegetable peeler
  • A food processor
  • 2 cups daikon matchsticks
  • 1 cup carrot matchsticks
  • 10 stems green onions, chopped
  • 24 garlic medium garlic cloves (about ½ cup minced garlic)
  • 1 1-inch chunk ginger (about 2 teaspoons minced ginger)
  • 1 medium white onion

How to Make Kimchi - Prepare Vegetables

Now, let’s do some chopping. Peel daikon and carrots and cut them into thin matchsticks. Set aside. Chop green onions and place them together with the daikon and carrots.

In a food processor, add garlic, ginger, and white onion. Process until the ingredients are very finely chopped and the mixture is almost like a paste.

How To Make Kimchi - Prepare Ginger, Garlic and Onions

Step 5: Assemble Kimchi Paste

Things you need:

Alrighty, most of the prep work is done. It’s time to assemble the kimchi paste. Check on your kimchi paste base in the large mixing bowl. If it’s completely cool by now, empty your food processor by adding chopped garlic, ginger and white onion in the base, followed by fish sauce.

How to Make Kimchi - Assemble Kimchi Paste

This is also the time to add your preferred seafood in your kimchi. I added dried mini shrimp. I’ve tasted a homemade kimchi with smoked sardines once and it was absolutely delightful. Anyhow, the seafood part is totally optional.

Now, here comes the most important ingredient – hot pepper flakes. This is the same kind of pepper that I use to make hot chili oil at home. This will make your kimchi paste scary red and it’s what makes the kimchi. If you don’t want your kimchi to be too spicy, start with 1 cup. I made mine with 1 ½ cups hot pepper flakes and it’s perfect for my taste.

How to Make Kimchi - Assemble Kimchi Paste

Mix the mixture well until it turns into a thin paste. Now, add chopped daikon, carrots and green onions. Mix again.

Step 6: Make Kimchi

Things you need:

  • 1 pair of disposable kitchen gloves
  • 6-quart slow cooker inner bowl, jars, or plastic containers

A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

Prepare your containers for the kimchi before getting your hands dirty. Koreans use something called onggi to store kimchi. But you can also work with what you have. For example, I used my slow cookers for the purpose.

Once you’ve got your containers ready, wear gloves and press the cabbage quarter in the kimchi paste, one at a time, spreading some paste on each cabbage leaf. When the cabbage quarter is covered with the kimchi paste, lift it up and fold the leaves towards the core. Place it into your container. Repeat this step until all cabbages are handled.

A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

Step 7: Start Fermentation

Cover the kimchi and let it sit in the room temperature for a day or two. It will start fermenting. The warmer and more humid your environment is, the faster the kimchi will ferment.

After a day or two, press the kimchi with a spoon, if you see bubbles from the top, it means your kimchi is fermented. The kimchi will continue fermenting as time goes on. So storing it in the fridge from this point on will slow down the fermentation process.

How to Make Kimchi - fermentation

Ways to Enjoy Kimchi

What an accomplishment! Now that you’ve got 8 pounds of kimchi at home, I can’t wait to learn how you enjoy it. I love pairing it with my fried eggs for breakfast. It goes really well with frittatas. On top of that, you can use kimchi as an ingredient to make delicious and quick meals like Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps with Kimchi, and how about an epic bowl of Kimchi Ramen?

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A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

Traditional Kimchi Recipe


  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Pounds Kimchi
  • Category: Appetizer, Gluten Free
  • Cuisine: Korean

Description

A step-by-step guide to show you how to make traditional Korean kimchi at home in just 7 steps.


Ingredients

For salting cabbage:

  • 4 heads of medium napa cabbage (about 6 pounds)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup Kosher salt

For making the kimchi paste base:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Vegetables:

  • 2 cups daikon, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 10 stems green onions, chopped
  • 24 medium garlic cloves (about ½ cup minced garlic)
  • 1 1-inch chunk ginger (about 2 teaspoons minced ginger)
  • 1 medium white onion

Seasonings and spices:


Instructions

  1. Trim the cabbage cores and cut each cabbage in half.
  2. Make a 2-inch cut through the core of each half of the cabbage. You want the cabbage leaves to be loose but still attached to the core.
  3. Soak the cabbages in water to get all leaves wet. Discard the water. Wear gloves and rub the salt in between cabbage leaves by lifting up every leaf. Use more salt around the stems where the leaves are thicker.
  4. Let the cabbages rest for 2 hours to get well salted. The liquid from the cabbages will be extracted and the cabbage will be softened during the salting process. Turn the cabbages over once every 30 minutes.
  5. After 2 hours, rinse the cabbages well under cold running water. Remove salt and dirt. By now, the cabbages should be soft. Split the halves into quarters along the slits you cut in the first step. Drain the cabbages well. Set aside.
  6. While the cabbages are salting, make the kimchi paste base. In a medium saucepan, combine water and sweet rice flour. Mix well and let it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. Add sugar and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove the base from heat, pour it into a large mixing bowl and let it cool completely.
  7. Now, prepare vegetables. Peel daikon and carrots and cut them into thin matchsticks. Set aside. Chop green onions and place them together with the daikon and carrots. Set aside.
  8. In a food processor, add garlic, ginger, and white onion. Process until the ingredients are very finely chopped and the mixture is almost like a paste.
  9. Assemble the kimchi paste by adding chopped garlic, ginger and white onion in the base, followed by fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. If you want to add seafood, add it now.
  10. Mix the mixture well until it turns into a thin paste. Now, add chopped daikon, carrots and green onions. Mix again.
  11. Time to make the kimchi. Wear gloves and press the cabbage quarters in the kimchi paste, one at a time, spreading some paste on each cabbage leaf. When the cabbage quarter is covered with the kimchi paste, lift it up and fold the leaves towards the core. Place it into containers such as jars and inner pots of crockpots. Repeat this step until all cabbages are handled.
  12. Cover the kimchi and let it sit in the room temperature for a day or two. It will start fermenting. The warmer and more humid your environment is, the faster the kimchi will ferment.
  13. After a day or two, press the kimchi with a spoon, if you see bubbles from the top, it means your kimchi is fermented. The kimchi will continue fermenting as time goes on. So storing it in the fridge from this point on will slow down the fermentation process.
  14. When ready to enjoy, chop the kimchi and serve.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Maangchi.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 32
  • Sugar: 15.2g
  • Sodium: 2179.7mg
  • Fat: 1.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 42.9g
  • Fiber: 5.3g
  • Protein: 8.3g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
A step-by-step guide to show you how to make kimchi at home in just 7 steps.

13 thoughts on “How to Make Kimchi: A Step-By-Step Guide”

    1. Hey Jason, what specific Asian foods are you thinking?
      Generally, can’t go wrong with beer especially if it’s spicy. 🙂

    1. Hi Nicole, I don’t have experience of canning. But kimchi is a fermented food, so it can last for a very long time. It will continue to age in your refrigerator and will be delicious for up to 12 months. I did some research. It seems that as long as you keep kimchi in cool temperature and away from oxygen, it can last for years. Hope that helps.

  1. I’ve read so many great things about the benefits of kimchi but I haven’t ever tried it! I think I might need to after reading this! Looks great!

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