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How to make Fermented Vegan Kimchi recipe and guide

When someone says “fermented cabbage,” your first thought is typically sauerkraut. It’s usually the first recipe someone tries when venturing into the fermenting world, but homemade vegan kimchi is just as easy and oh so delicious!

Fermented Vegan Kimchi in jars

Kimchi can be intimidating at first for a lot of people, not just making it, but even eating it. After all, a bucket of fermenting vegetables and fish sauce in a hole in the ground for months on end (if it’s made in the traditional Korean method) doesn’t exactly sound appetizing. But kimchi is a delicious addition to many meals or even as a snack on it’s own.

Traditional vs. non-traditional kimchi

There are many “traditional kimchi” recipes out there and many of them are, in fact, traditional recipes. These recipes often are handed down by family members and have been made to the families preference over the years.

This particular recipe however, is not traditional in one sense. It does not contain any fish sauce and is a vegan kimchi recipe. (It’s naturally gluten free too!)

Health Benefits of Kimchi

Like most fermented foods, kimchi is incredibly good for you. In Korea, there are well over 160 different kinds of kimchi and it is eaten with every meal. Korean scientists have discovered that fermented cabbage kimchi contains vitamins B1, B2, B12, as well as vitamin C.

As stated in The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, “As Korean scientist have proven, beneficial microbes in kimchi can overpower bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Shigella sonnei, and Listeria monocytogenes.” They believe in the benefits of kimchi so much, they even developed an extract of it to treat chickens for avian flu.

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How to Use Vegan Kimchi

One of my favorite ways to use kimchi is to brown some 1 inch cubes of chicken breast with sesame oil and soy sauce and then add about 2 cups of kimchi. Cook until everything is hot and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

I serve it over rice and it’s an almost instant stir fry! My husband however loves eating it right from the jar as a snack. Koreans use it as a side dish, to make pancakes, in steamed buns, in soups, and in stews.

All fermented foods are so incredibly good for you and are really making a come back these days. Are you interested in learning more on fermenting or know someone who does? Check out our Gift Guide for Fermenters!

Tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. We always appreciate your feedback. You can also save the recipe for later by pinning it or clicking on the heart in the lower right hand corner.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

Vegan Kimchi

Vegan Kimchi

Fermented cabbage doesn't have to mean sauerkraut. This vegan kimchi which is naturally gluten free is a fantastic alternative.

Prep Time 12 hours
Additional Time 7 days
Total Time 7 days 12 hours


  • 1 Napa cabbage, cored and cut into 1" squares, about 2 pounds
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt
  • 1 pound daikon radish, cut into matchstick pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 carrots, but into matchstick pieces
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne, depending on how hot you want
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika


  1. Dissolve 3 Tablespoons of pickling salt in the water. Pour the salt water over the Napa cabbage in a large crock or glass bowl. Cover with a plate to keep all the cabbage submerged and allow to stand at room temperature for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the cabbage, but be sure to reserve the brine liquid. Mix the rest of the ingredients with the cabbage, including the teaspoon of pickling salt.
  3. Pack the mix into a crock or 2 quart jar and cover the mix with some of the brine. Be sure that it covers everything. Cover the kimchi with either a food grade plastic bag with some of the brine in it or plastic wrap with a weight. Your goal is to keep the mix below the brine and allow fermenting gases to escape, but not let oxygen in to the kimchi.
  4. Place the kimchi mix in a dark, cool place, preferably no warmer than 68 degrees F, for 3-7 days. It is up to you how fermented you want your kimchi to taste.
  5. Remove the brine bag or plastic wrap and weight. Store in glass jars in the refrigerator. This will slow the fermenting process to keep the flavor the same and will keep for months.


If you prefer fishy kimchi, consider adding an ounce of oil-packed anchovies, sliced and undrained.

collage of making kimchi with Chinese cabbage and jars of finished kimchi

Thanks for sharing!


Saturday 10th of April 2021

Is it necessary to use sugar? Or will the fermenting process 'eat' it up. I really try not to eat any of that sweet stuff.

Also, how does using other cabbages work in your recipe? I grow a goodly amount of regular, solid head green cabbage and some red cabbage. I ferment them in typical ways but would like to see them in kimchi

Amanda Idlewild

Saturday 10th of April 2021

Hi Tanya, It's not necessary to use the sugar. It should still ferment just fine. You can use other cabbages as well. It will change the flavor a bit, but not too much. Hope it works out for you!

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