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Traditional Kim Chi Recipe

If you're looking for a healthy kim chi recipe, you've stumbled upon the right page on the world wide web.

This is a printer-friendly version of our recipe for healthy kim chi. For a look at this recipe in pictures, please view:

How to Make Kim Chi



Head of Napa cabbage - about one pound
Sea salt
Fine red chili flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3-4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons anchovy or fish sauce (optional)
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 ripe apple
1/2 ripe pear


1. Separate cabbage leaves and chop into bite-size pieces.

2. Dissolve a quarter cup of sea salt in a bowl of warm water, then pour salt water over cabbage leaves. Give cabbage a gentle toss to distribute salt water. Allow salted cabbage to sit for at least four hours.

3. Give cabbage a good rinse to remove excess salt, then transfer cabbage to a large bowl.

4. Combine a quarter cup of fine red chili flakes with warm water, stir gently with a spoon to create a red chili paste, then transfer chili paste to cabbage.

5. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, green onions, and fish sauce.

6. Blend yellow onion, apple, and pear with one cup of water, then add this natural sweetener to the cabbage.

7. Put on a pair of plastic gloves and give everything a thorough toss and rubdown. You want to evenly distribute all ingredients, especially the red chili paste.

8. Transfer seasoned cabbage leaves into a large glass bottle. Be sure to use firm pressure with your hands to push down on cabbage leaves as they stack up inside the bottle.

Transfer any liquid that accumulated during the mixing process into the bottle as well - this liquid will become kim chi brine. Some liquid will also come out of the cabbage leaves as you press down on them as they are stacked in the bottle.

Be sure to leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the bottle before capping it tightly with a lid.

9. Refrigerate your freshly made kim chi immediately and allow to ferment slowly in the refrigerator over 3 weeks. At that point, you can take out portions as needed. The refrigerated kim chi will continue to ferment slowly in the refrigerator over time. So long as you use clean utensils to take out small portions, it will keep for a few more weeks past the initial 3-week fermentation period.

Kim chi, Korean miso soup, a bowl of rice, and some dried anchovies are a typical Korean meal - high in omega-3 fatty acids and friendly bacteria.

To view a pictorial of this recipe, please click:

How to Make Kim Chi


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Gasp, no sooner had I commented on your naeng myun recipe that I find your recipe for kimchi!!!! Exciting! I can't wait to try this- I have been craving that "real" kimchi taste since I had come back from South Korea. Thanks!!! ^-^

Thank you for posting the recipe. I'd like to try it without the fish sauce, and I was thinking of substituting some miso paste (maybe only one tablespoon because I'm not sure if it's saltier than fish sauce). Do you think this would work out well?

Carina, Did you receive an answer regarding adding miso paste?

You can simply omit the fish sauce altogether. No need to add miso.

Thanks for the recipe. I've been able to get ok kimchi at one of our local Asian stores, but I usually only eat it when my husband isn't around, He did not grow up eating spicy food, it's taken 12 years to slowly introduce spice into our meals, but kimchi will probably still be a bit much. I think I will try this with a little less red pepper.

Hey Dr Ben Kim,
I love this recipe, but I don't eat a lot of onions and garlic. Do you have to use the onions and garlic or can you use more ginger or something as a substitute?

Hi Nick, you can make this without onions and garlic. I hope you enjoy!