The Best Vegan Kimchi – 김치

5 from 4 reviews

This easy vegan kimchi recipe is pungent, spicy and smoky just like the real thing!


  • 1 napa cabbage (2-3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt

kimchi sauce

  • 1 small kabocha squash or acorn squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeds scooped out, and roughly chopped.
  • 1 Asian pear, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into chunks
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 scallions, ends trimmed and sliced in half


  1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and  in half again. Remove the core and add them to a large bowl along with the salt.
  2. Using your hands, toss the cabbage and rub each leaf with salt. Let sit for 1-2 hours, tossing the leaves occasionally to make sure all sides are coated. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a medium size pot of water to boil and add the kabocha squash. Boil for 7-10 minutes, until the pieces are tender. Drain well and let  cool to room temperature.
  4. In a blender, add the kabocha squash, Asian pear, onion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, salt, sugar, gochugaru, and water. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  5. When the cabbage leaves have wilted, rinse them under cold water to remove the salt. Take your time to go through the leaves to remove the excess salt hidden in the creases. Rinse one more time and using your hands, gently squeeze out excess water. Transfer the cabbage leaves to a large bowl. 
  6. Add the kimchi sauce to the bowl along with the chopped scallions and mix very well to make sure all the leaves are evenly coated.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for 1 or 2 days. Give it a taste and if you are satisfied with it, transfer to a jar and refrigerate for up to 1 month.


Make it sugar-free by omitting the sugar and salt in the kimchi sauce. Removing the salt helps to balance the flavors.

Make it lower in sodium by taking out 1/4 cup salt to rub the cabbage leaves, and taking out the salt in the kimchi sauce.

This kimchi recipe doesn’t freeze well, it’s best to eat it fresh.


Keywords: pickled cabbage, banchan

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