Healthy Sides: Homemade Vegan Kimchi Recipe

May 3, 2023
Kimchi is one of the most frequently purchased items on my grocery list. It is also one of the most expensive. I could easily go through one or two jars of kimchi a week, eating it with rice, stuffing it in wraps, etc. I could even sit down with an unopened jar and a fork and eat the entire thing just like that for dinner. Costing about $8–10 a jar, this turns into a pretty costly habit.

Recently I was watching a documentary that followed an American who was looking to buy kimchi in a Korean market. The store owner laughed and said that it wasn't sold because no one in Korea would ever purchase a jar due to the fact that it was one of the easiest and most traditional things to make at home in the kitchen. This made me feel a little silly knowing how often I was purchasing something that I could very easily make myself for a fraction of the cost. I decided to try making my own batch and I will probably never buy kimchi from the grocery store again. All of the ingredients cost about the same price as buying one pre-made 12oz jar, but resulted in two 16oz jars full of kimchi.

Being a fermented food, kimchi is naturally full of probiotics. The recipe also calls for a good amount of grated ginger. The combination of these two ingredients is great for digestion. Koreans typically eat a side of kimchi with every meal to increase the digestion of their food.

Don't be put off by the prep time for this recipe. The longest step is letting the cabbage soak in the salt water mixture. I soaked my cabbage then I went to the gym and by the time I came home it was ready to go. To make this recipe vegan, I omitted the fish sauce typically found in store-bought kimchi.

Fun fact: Koreans say 'kimchi' when getting their photo taken rather than saying 'cheese.'
Homemade Vegan Kimchi in two mason jars, lit by sunlight

Healthy Sides: Homemade Vegan Kimchi Recipe

utensils YIELDS about 32 oz
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 scallions, diced
  • 1 peeled and julienned daikon
  • 1 peeled and julienned carrot
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • (see instructions) water
        graphic for recipe card


1. Wash the cabbage and cut off the core at the bottom. Slice the cabbage into horizontal strips, at about two inch increments.
2. Put the cabbage in a large bowl and pour in the salt. Mix the cabbage and salt for a couple of minutes and then add enough water to the bowl so that it covers the cabbage. Let this mixture stand for about two hours. I used a pie tin that fit into the bowl to weigh down the cabbage and keep it submerged.
3. Strain the cabbage and save one cup of the salt water mixture. Rinse the cabbage in cold water. Rinse the bowl that held the salt water mixture and place the cabbage back into it, along with the scallions, daikon and carrot.
4. Combine the grated ginger, garlic, sugar, cayenne, paprika and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl to make a paste. Add this to your cabbage and veggie mix.
5. Thoroughly coat the vegetables in the spicy paste.
6. Pack the vegetables in tight sealed jars and fill halfway with the salt water mixture you saved after straining the cabbage. Leave an inch or two at the top of the jar.
7. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for about 5 days. You can open the jar and push the bubbles and cabbage down into the salt water mixture if you’d like.
8. Place the jar in the fridge and let it ferment for about 2 weeks. It is ready to eat as soon as it comes to your desired taste.

Also by Lauren: Raw Vegan Apple Avocado Soup
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
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Photo: Lauren Sacerdote

Lauren is a homebody who likes to spend time with her cat, explore new ideas in the kitchen, relax in the sun with a good book, and promote healthy living to friends and family.


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