Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (2024)

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (1)Pin

  • life at home

Want to make home made kimchi? Here’s an easy recipe to follow.

While my mom was in town this month, she taught me how to make her kimchi recipe. I’ve been feeling an urgency to learn the basics, because I never know when I’ll have the chance again. I can always go off of recipes online, but it can never match the same nostalgic taste of a Korean home cooked meal growing up.

P.S. I started a new recipe blog with my mom calledMom’s Korean Recipes.

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Last Updated: August 31, 2023

Content Menu

  • Kimchi Recipe Ingredients
  • Directions on How to Make Kimchi
  • Chef’s Notes
  • More Korean Recipes

Mom’s Authentic Kimchi Recipe

A friend of ours recently documented her grandmother’s life story on video, and it made me wish I had done that for my grandma before her Alzheimer’s set in. It’s been really hard to shake the fact that life is so temporary.

All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off.”

I used to be impatient about life and be anxious about what’s coming next, but now I feel like everything is passing by so fast. I regret not sitting down with my grandmother to hear her stories. Not just stories of her being a grandmother, but ones as a mother, as a wife, and as a child. I often forget that she once was like me, too.

It also seems that with each passing generation that is raised in the States, we lose more of the stories, we lose more of our culture, and we lose our family recipes.

I’m what they call a 1.5 generation, but probably closer to second generation since I moved to the U.S. when I was two and a half. I hardly speak Korean anymore and don’t cook much Korean food. Making my mom’s kimchi was abucket listitem that I’ve been putting off for a long time, but this month we decided to make it happen!

Kimchi Ingredients

  • One napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon ofsweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup ofKorean hot chili pepper flakes
  • 4 tablespoon fish sauce (my mom lovesthis onebest)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/4 medium-sized onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger, minced

Pro Tip: Use gloves to keep your hands from getting stained.

See More: Korean Banchan Dried Squid Recipe

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Directions for Making Kimchi

  1. Dissolve salt in 1 and 1/2 cups of water.
  2. Chop up napa cabbage and soak in salt water for 3-4 hours or until soft. (Can take up to 6 hrs.)
  3. To make the paste, add the sweet rice flour and one cup of water to a pot.
  4. Put over medium heat and continue to stir until thickened (about 5 mins).
  5. Transfer paste to a large bowl and add the korean chili pepper flakes, fish sauce, and sugar.
  6. Mix well and let the paste cool.
  7. Add green onions, onions, garlic, and ginger to the paste and mix.
  8. Once the cabbage is soft, remove from salt water and rinse thoroughly (we rinsed 3x).
  9. Massage paste into the cabbage and store in a jar.
  10. Serve immediately if you like fresh kimchi. If you like it more fermented, wait until it fits your tastes.

If you need to see a more detailed process through photos here they are:

Step 2:This is the chopped napa cabbage.

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (4)

Soak the napa cabbage until it’s soft and limp like the photo below.

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (5)

Step 4:This is what the rice flour paste looks after you stir it over heat.

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (6)

Step 7:All the ingredients mixed into the paste.

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (7)

Step 9:This is what it looks like to massage the paste into the kimchi.

Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (8)Pin

Chef’s Notes

  • If you don’t like your kimchi really spicy, put less hot chili pepper flakes. I put double the amount my mom puts in (1 cup). She likes her food milder while nothing tastes too spicy for me.
  • Depending on the size of the napa cabbage, you might not need to use all the paste. If you have extra paste, you can make cucumber kimchi or try mixing it into other veggies.
  • Whenever you take out any kimchi, press down the remaining kimchi and submerge it in the liquid, or the kimchi will become very bitter and alter the flavor.

Do you like how I put them in mason jars? It’s my Korean heritage combined with twelve years of living in the South. ;)

Let me know if there was anything confusing about the recipe, and I can try to clarify. If you end up making it, let me know how you like it! Do you have any family favorite recipes that you’ve learned lately or want to learn?

Kimchi is definitely an acquired taste. One that Jacob has not acquired yet. haha

See More: Korean Chicken Soup Recipe

More Korean Recipes

  • How to Make Korean Cucumber Side
  • Korean Perilla Leaf Kimchi Recipe
  • How to Make Beef Bulgogi
  • Korean Spicy Rice Cake Recipe
  • How to Make Doenjang Stew

Have you tried kimchi before? What did you think? Have you tried making kimchi before? Would love to hear what you think if you try this kimchi recipe.

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

Tags: Asian Recipes, Banchan Recipes, Korean Food Recipes, Tried and True Recipes

This Post Has 43 Comments

  1. Dale 3 Nov 2019 Reply

    I am definitely going to have to try making kimchi. I have a Korean foreign exchange student here this year and she eats kimchi with every meal. I’m not a fan of it, but do love some of the Korean dishes we make together. Bibimbap is going to be something we will eat frequently after she goes home in the spring.

  2. Brenna 12 Oct 2019 Reply

    Hi! Can you make this in bulk and seal the jars?

    1. jacob 15 Oct 2019 Reply


  3. Linda Hayes 12 Sep 2019 Reply

    Where can I buy this already made

    1. Esther JuLee 12 Sep 2019 Reply

      Hi Linda. That all depends on where you live, but all korean grocery stores will carry it, most asian grocery stores, and these days I’ve seen a few of american chain grocery stores carry it too. Oh, and I would also check the farmer’s markets if none of those work for you.

  4. Debbie 21 Jul 2019 Reply

    Can I leave the rice flour out? Or can I sub a different type of starch?

    1. Esther JuLee 26 Jul 2019 Reply

      Hi Debbie! You can substitute it with reg wheat flour but I think you still need some sort of starch in there.

  5. Dave Matthews 24 May 2019 Reply

    My mouth is watering with just the thought of making your Kimchi recipe. Like you mine is going to be spicy. I remember going into a Korean restaurant about 20 years ago and ordering some spicy Kim Chi and the server said are you sure. Guess they haven’t had to many caucasian customers ordering. Love it ever since and started making It myself recently. EASY to make.

  6. Annaliza 25 Nov 2018 Reply

    Thank you for posting this, it’s so detailed and helpful with the pictures. We have had 2 Korean college students live with us the past 5 years. Their mom ships kimchee from Busan and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    1. Esther JuLee 25 Nov 2018 Reply

      You’re so welcome. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out. :)

    1. Esther JuLee 13 Aug 2018 Reply

      So glad you liked the recipe, Len :)

  7. Candace Couillard 19 Jul 2018 Reply

    When you listed the ingredients you said to use 1/2 cup of red chili powder, then latter on you said you doubled the amount because you like it spicy, as do I.. Did you double it and ended up with 1/2 cup or did you double it and ended up with 1 cup? I’m going to be using you’re recipe when I make this so I don’t want to ruin it by making it to spicy to enjoy. Thanks so much!


    1. Esther JuLee 21 Jul 2018 Reply

      Oops! Thanks for pointing this out, Candace. I can see how this can be confusing, and I’ll have to add it into the notes. 1/2 cup is for it to be milder (I added 1 cup), but if you’re worried about it being too spicy, you can go even less than 1/2. A lot of Korean food goes by tasting as you make it, and you can always make adjustments as you go.

  8. Rosa 5 Jul 2018 Reply

    Hello. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love kimchi and I can’t wait to make this at home. Oh btw, some put sesami oil, will it ruin the taste?

  9. Rosa 5 Jul 2018 Reply

    Hello. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I love kimchi and I can’t wait to make this one! Oh btw, some put sesami oil, will it ruin the taste?

    1. Esther JuLee 25 Jul 2018 Reply

      No, I don’t think it will ruin the taste. I feel like people put sesame oil in a majority of korean recipes! haha If you want to try it, I would add a little bit to start, taste it, and add more if you like it.

  10. Grnidpapple 20 Dec 2017 Reply

    Can you use Korean chili powder instead of the chili flakes?

    1. Esther JuLee 28 Dec 2017 Reply

      I think they’re the same thing as long as it’s made from the Korean chilis. One just might be finer or coarser than the other.

  11. Eddie 5 Jul 2017 Reply

    While this is fermenting, is a lid kept on the jar? Keeping it at room temperature, while this help speed the fermenting? Thanks a bunch! Looking forward to it!

    1. Esther JuLee 5 Jul 2017 Reply

      I would keep the lid on the jar. I’m sure taking the lid off would speed up the fermenting even more, but I’ve always had the lid on and left it on the counter until I liked the taste and then refrigerate it. Yes, keeping it at room temperature would speed up the fermenting. Let me know how it turns out!

  12. renneth 3 Jul 2017 Reply

    Hi Esther, just wandering how can i increase the liquid in kimchi in order that all veggies submerge? If i don’t have a jar, is it ok to use stainless bowl instead?
    Thanks for answering.

    1. Esther JuLee 3 Jul 2017 Reply

      Hi Renneth. You can increase the water and amount of salt to get it all submerged since you will be taking it out of the solution later. You’re using a stainless bowl with a lid? I think it depends on how long you want to keep your kimchi. If it’s not as air tight, I don’t think it will last as long, but kimchi lasts for a long time if you keep it refrigerated. Let me know what you decide to do. I’d love to hear if it worked well in the bowl.

    2. Beth 29 Dec 2017 Reply

      Might be too late, but according to most information on fermentation and pickling,metal is reactive, and not recommended. Glass is preferred. .

      1. Esther JuLee 1 Jan 2018 Reply

        Thanks, Beth! We always use glass too and never had much experience with metal.

      2. Terry 11 Oct 2019 Reply

        Can I use Korean Hot Pepper Paste instead of the dry spice?

        1. Esther JuLee 16 Oct 2019 Reply

          You can use the hot pepper paste if you intend to eat it right away, but it’s recommended to use the dry spice if you want to keep it for a long time.

  13. Yosephine D Wuinata 18 Jun 2017 Reply

    Do you leave it in the counter or fridge?
    How long can it last?
    thank youu

    1. Esther JuLee 3 Jul 2017 Reply

      Depends on how sour you like your kimchi. I don’t like mine as fresh, so I might leave it out on the counter for a few days before putting it in the fridge. I’ve kept kimchi for several months in the fridge and it was fine. It doesn’t spoil but the taste changes and gets more sour as the time goes on. When it’s too sour, we usually make it into kimchi stew.

  14. Amy | Club Narwhal 9 Apr 2014 Reply

    Esther, I love that you were able to have your mom teach you the art of kimchi :) I am Korean but since I was adopted I don’t know how to make anything…though lots of well meaning Korean grandmas always offer to teach me. Can’t wait to try this!

    1. esther julee 10 Apr 2014 Reply

      Oh! I had no idea you were korean. :) You’ll have to tell me how it turns out!! I guess even though I was raised by korean parents.. I never really had to learn much of anything. :P I am actually back home for a week or two so hopefully I will learn a lot more from her. Usually if I want korean food I eat out, but now that Las Vegas doesn’t have good korean food.. looks like I have to learn after all!

  15. Kathy Lam 2 Apr 2014 Reply

    What is the sweet rice flour

  16. Jill 10 Feb 2014 Reply

    Can you use regular green cabbage?

    1. esther julee 11 Feb 2014 Reply

      I don’t think the results will be the same. It will be too soft / soggy.

  17. nancycola 19 Nov 2013 Reply

    I made this last night and it is sooooo good. Straight out of the jar it’s good. Can’t wait to taste it as it ferments with time. Thanks so much for the helpful photos! I probably would not have made it, not being even close to Korean, without them.

    1. esther julee 19 Nov 2013 Reply

      That’s so good to hear!! :) I usually like mine more fermented so I’m still waiting.

  18. Quinn 5 Nov 2013 Reply

    I can so relate to wanting to document your heritage. 6 months after my grandfather passed, I saw a video (interview with family photos) that a friend did with her grandmother and it really made me sad that I didn’t think of doing that before my Papa passed. I’m already fretting some of the details of his stories and it’s only been 4 years…

    My grandmother also has Alzheimer’s. I tried interviewing her on video, but she comes in and out of the present so much that it just didn’t work out. Alzheimer’s can be such a cruel disease.

    Love the kimchi recipe! For some reason, I always thought it was much more complicated to make. I’ll have to try it for my Korean in-laws :)

    1. esther julee 5 Nov 2013 Reply

      You should! :) Same here.. I never made it because it always seemed so complicated. And then there’s that period where you put it in the ground.. I just didn’t know what’s still applicable. haha but it helped having my mom there to teach me.

      Even if my grandma has alzheimer’s i’m still trying to take a lot of photos and get clips of her voice just so I remember it. I haven’t taken video yet, but I know I want to. Even if she doesn’t have all her memories, I would still like to document her mannerisms, her voice.. I would hate to forget what her voice sounds like.

  19. Monica Kim Lau 25 Oct 2013 Reply

    Yum! I miss really good kimchi and Korean restaurants. I tried making it once when we first moved out here to New Mexico, but I found some random recipe online that was only so-so. Sherwin doesn’t eat it either :( I will have to try this recipe next!

    1. esther julee 25 Oct 2013 Reply

      that used to make me so sad.. because eating together is something that is so important to me. now, that i think about it.. i don’t think this issue has ever been resolved. haha let me know how it turns out! i hope it matches your tastes well. :) i know everyone has a diff taste they go for.

    1. esther julee 25 Oct 2013 Reply

      I made two, so you can have one of them! :) Jacob doesn’t eat kimchi.. so it’s pretty rare that we finish them. Isn’t that sad?

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Mom's Kimchi Recipe | Korean Food 김치 (2024)


What is the ingredients of Korean kimchi? ›

Image of What is the ingredients of Korean kimchi?
Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China that is widely used in East Asian cuisine. Since the 20th century, it has also become a widespread crop in Europe, the Americas and Australia. In much of the world, it is referred to as "Chinese cabbage".

How long to brine cabbage for kimchi? ›

Submerging the Cabbage in Brine

The cabbage then sits in the brine for 12 hours, and all you have to do is flip the quarters, swishing them around in the brine again when you flip them, at least two times to ensure that they're evenly salted.

What is the most important ingredient in kimchi? ›

In general, kimchi is made using Chinese leaves (Napa cabbage) or radish as the primary ingredient, with red chilli pepper powder, garlic and spring onions used as supplementary ingredients.

What does kimchi do for your body? ›

Along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, kimchi contains natural probiotic bacteria. If you eat them regularly, the probiotics in fermented foods can be beneficial to your gut microbiome. Studies suggest that eating kimchi on a daily basis could help to improve some digestive problems.

How long does homemade kimchi last? ›

Homemade kimchi must be kept refrigerated and will last for up to 1 month. Store-bought kimchi that remains unopened can be kept at room temperature for 1-3 months. If you have store-bought kimchi that's been opened, it will be good for 3-4 days at room temperature and up to 6 months when refrigerated.

How long does kimchi need to ferment? ›

The kimchi fermentation process is very short in comparison to making sauerkraut. Kimchi ferments at room temperature in only 1-2 days or more slowly in the refrigerator. For safety, kimchi should be stored refrigerated and is best eaten within 1 week, as the quality of kimchi deteriorates with longer fermentation.

How is traditional kimchi made? ›

  1. Cut the cabbage. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the stem into quarters. ...
  2. Salt the cabbage. ...
  3. Rinse and drain the cabbage. ...
  4. Make the spice paste. ...
  5. Combine the vegetables and spice paste. ...
  6. Mix thoroughly. ...
  7. Pack the kimchi into the jar. ...
  8. Let it ferment for 1 to 5 days.
Oct 27, 2022

How long does kimchi last in the fridge? ›

Kept at room temperature, kimchi lasts 1 week after opening. In the refrigerator, it stays fresh much longer — about 3–6 months — and continues to ferment, which may lead to a sourer taste. Be sure to refrigerate your kimchi at or below 39°F (4°C), as warmer temperatures may accelerate spoilage.

What happens when you start eating kimchi? ›

Probiotics may improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and inflammation. The fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients in kimchi can also help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can boost heart health. Early research suggests kimchi may strengthen your immune system.

Can I eat just kimchi and rice? ›

As the national dish of South Korea, kimchi is a staple in kitchens around the world. This fermented cabbage dish can be served as a side dish, over a bed of rice, folded into scrambled eggs, whirred into tomato sauce, or even just eaten as is.

What if I don't have enough brine to cover kimchi? ›

If only a small amount of liquid is needed to cover vegetables, add plain filtered water. If a larger amount is needed, make up some extra brine and add it to the jar to completely cover the vegetables. Keeping vegetables under the brine will help prevent the vegetables on the surface from drying out or molding.

Do you rinse cabbage after salting for kimchi? ›

Rinse cabbage leaves under cold water, at least 2 to 3 times, to remove most of the salt; drain and squeeze out any excess liquid. Place rinsed cabbage in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Stir in fish sauce, green onions, white onion, garlic, sugar, and ginger.

Why do you soak cabbage in salt water for kimchi? ›

To make this kimchi we need to first soak the cabbage in a salty brine to soften the leaves (some people swear by sea salt but I always use Kosher salt in all my Korean dishes).

What is the difference between Chinese kimchi and Korean kimchi? ›

Korean kimchi, in the food world, is also known as "dry fermented pickles". Chinese paocai, in food circles, is also known as "wet fermented pickles". The two processes are completely different, and the core of the controversy is actually the English word. In English, Chinese paocai is translated as kimchi.

How much kimchi should you eat a day? ›

Kimchi is often served as a side dish alongside other healthful vegetables and proteins. Researchers noted in the study that consuming more than three servings of kimchi a day could have the opposite benefit. Participants who ate more than five servings of kimchi per day were more likely to be at a risk for obesity.

Where is kimchi made of? ›

Kimchi is a unique and traditional fermented ethnic food of Korea, which consists of vegetables such as Chinese cabbage fermented with lactic acid bacteria. However, some argue that kimchi has only existed for 100 years, which is a false assertion.

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