Exploring the Top 9 Kimchi Substitutes: Flavorful Alternatives for Your Culinary Needs

9 Best Substitutes For Kimchi

With its versatile flavor and numerous health benefits, kimchi has gained immense popularity worldwide. However, due to its increasing demand, it can often be a challenge to find a steady supply. While making your own kimchi is an option, it can be time consuming. In such cases, it becomes necessary to find suitable substitutes. In this article, we will explore nine excellent alternatives to kimchi that are readily available and offer unique flavors and textures.

1. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, a traditional German side dish, is made by fermenting thinly sliced red or green cabbage. While sauerkraut and kimchi share a similar fermented flavor, there are some notable differences. Sauerkraut is usually made with a single type of cabbage, while kimchi often includes a variety of vegetables. Kimchi tends to have a slightly sweeter and tangier flavor, which can be adjusted by adding sugar, lemon juice, or vinegar to sauerkraut. Nevertheless, sauerkraut is an easily accessible and affordable substitute for kimchi.

2. Homemade Kimchi

For those willing to put in the time and effort, making your own kimchi at home is an excellent substitute for store-bought varieties. Homemade kimchi allows you to customize the texture, flavor, and choice of vegetables to your liking. In addition, making kimchi from scratch can be a cost-effective alternative, as store-bought kimchi often carries a significant markup. While the process of making kimchi takes a few days, there are plenty of recipes and resources available to guide you through the process.

3. Pickled beets

Pickled beets offer a unique alternative to kimchi, especially for those who prefer a non-spicy option. These beets offer a crunchy texture and an earthy flavor similar to cabbage. When choosing pickled beets, it is important to consider the type and flavor profile. Choosing “sweet and tangy” pickled beets can provide a flavor reminiscent of the sweetness of kimchi, and the vinegar used in the pickling process contributes to a tangy flavor. Pickled beets are readily available in a variety of flavors and are a versatile substitute for kimchi.

4. Miso paste

Miso paste, a traditional Japanese condiment, can serve as a flavor substitute for kimchi. While it does not provide the same texture or nutritional value, miso paste offers a similar fermented, salty flavor. Made from fermented soybeans, miso paste imparts a savory, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor. It is commonly used in soups, stews, sandwiches, and spreads. It is important to note, however, that miso paste does not add the desired crunch to dishes like kimchi does.

5. Radish Kimchi (Kkakdugi)

Radish kimchi, also known as kkakdugi, is a popular substitute and the second most common type of kimchi after cabbage. While it may be harder to find in Western countries, Asian supermarkets and online vendors often carry this type of kimchi. Diced radish kimchi has a crunchy texture and is less stringy than cabbage kimchi. It undergoes a similar fermentation process and typically contains flavorings such as chili powder, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Radish kimchi offers a unique flavor profile while retaining some of the characteristics of traditional kimchi.

6. Pickled Vegetables

In the absence of kimchi, a variety of pickled vegetables can be used as a substitute. Pickled cucumbers, carrots, daikon radishes, and other similar vegetables offer a tangy and crunchy alternative. These pickled vegetables can be enjoyed on their own or added to salads, sandwiches, or rice dishes for an extra burst of flavor. While they may not offer the same complexity as kimchi, pickled vegetables serve as a convenient and accessible substitute in many culinary applications.

7. Fermented Sauces

Fermented sauces, such as soy sauce, fish sauce, or fermented bean paste, can add depth and umami to dishes as a substitute for kimchi. These sauces are rich in flavor and offer a hint of fermentation. While they may not replicate the exact taste of kimchi, they provide a similar savory and spicy element. Adding fermented sauces to stir-fries, marinades, or dressings can enhance the overall flavor profile of a dish in the absence of kimchi.

8. Fermented Tempeh

Fermented tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, can be used as a substitute for kimchi in certain applications. While it does not offer the same texture or tang, it does offer a unique fermented flavor similar to kimchi. Fermented tempeh can be crumbled and used as a topping or ingredient in a variety of dishes such as stir-fries, salads, or grain bowls. It adds a nutty and earthy flavor to the overall flavor profile, offering a different but satisfying alternative to kimchi.

9. Fermented Pickles

Fermented pickles, such as lacto-fermented pickles or traditional pickled pickles, can be a tangy and crunchy substitute for kimchi. These pickles undergo a fermentation process similar to kimchi, resulting in a flavorful and probiotic-rich food. They can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or used as a condiment in sandwiches, burgers, or wraps. While the flavor profile may be slightly different, fermented pickles offer a satisfying alternative to kimchi in terms of texture and heat.
In conclusion, while kimchi is a beloved and popular Korean dish, it is important to find suitable substitutes when it is not readily available. Sauerkraut, homemade kimchi, pickled beets, miso paste, radish kimchi, pickled vegetables, fermented sauces, fermented tempeh, and fermented pickles all offer unique flavors, textures, and characteristics that can serve as alternatives to kimchi. Whether you prefer a tangy, spicy, or non-spicy option, these substitutes offer a wide range of choices to satisfy your culinary needs. Incorporating these substitutes into your dishes can provide a delicious and flavorful experience even in the absence of traditional kimchi.


What are some readily available substitutes for kimchi?

Some readily available substitutes for kimchi include sauerkraut, pickled beets, miso paste, radish kimchi (kkakdugi), pickled vegetables, and fermented sauces.

Can I make my own kimchi as a substitute?

Yes, making your own kimchi at home is a great substitute for store-bought varieties. It allows you to customize the flavor and texture to your liking.

How does sauerkraut compare to kimchi as a substitute?

Sauerkraut offers a similar fermented flavor to kimchi, but lacks the variety of vegetables typically found in kimchi. It can be adjusted by adding sugar, lemon juice, or vinegar to mimic the sweetness of kimchi.

Are pickles a good alternative to kimchi?

Yes, pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, and daikon radishes, are a tangy and crunchy alternative to kimchi. They can be enjoyed on their own or added to a variety of dishes for extra flavor.

Can fermented sauces be used as a substitute for kimchi?

Yes, fermented sauces such as soy sauce, fish sauce, and fermented bean paste can add depth and umami to dishes, providing a savory and spicy element similar to kimchi.

How does homemade kimchi compare to store-bought kimchi?

Homemade kimchi allows for customization of flavors, textures, and vegetable choices. It can be a cost-effective alternative to store-bought kimchi, which often carries a significant markup.