As Korean food becomes more and more popular in the United States, so does kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean staple of pickled vegetables, and is most often used as a side dish at mealtime. Although the most well-known type is made out of napa cabbage, there are actually many different varieties of kimchi to enjoy—and not all of them are spicy.

As with most food staples, kimchi is important to Korean culture as a whole. It's often the case that a mother-in-law teaches her daughter-in-law her kimchi recipe, so that it's passed down through generations. I married into a Korean family earlier this year, and I've been earnestly enjoying my mother-in-law's food for years. So, it was about time to learn my mother-in-law's kimchi recipe.

This recipe is for baechu kimchi (배추김치) or kimchi made from napa cabbage. More specifically, this is mat kimchi (맛김치), which refers to the method of cutting your cabbage prior to pickling it. This method is a bit easier and quicker, so you can enjoy your kimchi sooner!

Baechu Kimchi (배추김치)

  • Prep Time:5 hrs 30 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:5 hrs 30 mins
  • Servings:90
  • Easy


  • 3 napa cabbages
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup gochugaru—Korean red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
Shelby McLennan
  • Step 1

    Wash cabbages and cut into quarters. Place in a very large bowl (you'll need this for the rest of the process).

    romaine, napa cabbage, pasture, endive, cabbage, salad, lettuce, vegetable
    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 2

    Evenly apply salt to cabbages. This will draw the moisture out and prepare it for pickling. Let sit at room temperature for 5 hours.

    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 3

    Cut off the ends of the cabbage quarters and throw them away. Then, cut cabbage quarters into bite-sized sections. Place sections in the large bowl.

    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 4

    Add the rest of the ingredients to the cabbages and toss together.

    salad, lettuce
    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 5

    Put gloves on and mix with your hands. The easiest and best way to mix kimchi is to push your hand all the way to the bottom of the bowl and fold the kimchi over on itself. Then, rub the top layer to better distribute the spices. Do this until the kimchi is sufficiently mixed.

    chicken, shrimp, salad
    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 6

    Take handfuls of kimchi and place in an airtight container. After each handful, press down firmly to pack it into the jar. You can put it in as many containers as you'd like.

    chicken, meat, vegetable, pork
    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 7

    Once you've removed all of the kimchi from the large bowl, add a splash of water to wash all of the excess spices from the sides. Add the water to the container. This is so you don't waste any spices. If you've used multiple containers, distribute it evenly between containers.

    Photo by Shelby McLennan
  • Step 8

    Pack your kimchi down one final time and seal tightly. Let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days before moving to a fridge. This will last several months.

    vegetable, pepper
    Photo by Shelby McLennan