What Does Kimchi Taste Like


What does kimchi taste like? That’s a good question, especially if you’ve never had the opportunity to try this flavorful Korean dish.

kimchi ready to eat in bowl
kimchi ready to eat in bowl

We’ll answer this question, along with how to make it, where to buy it, and what to eat with kimchi. And there’s something you’ll want to be sure to know about its aroma before you dive in.

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a Korean dish. It’s made from spicy seasoned pickled cabbage. It can be eaten hot or cold, alone or with other dishes to make a complete meal.

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

There are many flavors that are present in the popular Korean dish. It’s important to keep in mind that flavors will vary according to the recipe.

However, a sour and spicy flavor tend to be the most predominant because of the fermentation and presence of spices. We’ll go through each of the potential flavors.

It has a salty, spicy, sour, and umami flavor with a pungent aroma.

Sour Taste of Kimchi

The sour or tangy flavor of kimchi is one of the most predominant flavors present in this dish. That’s because of the process of fermentation that takes place in the preparation of it.

Some compare the sour or tangy flavor to that of sauerkraut. The texture is also similar to sauerkraut because of the use of cabbage.

Spicy Taste of Kimchi

Kimchi traditionally has a spicy flavor because of the use of Korean chili flakes and Daikon radish.

If you’re making a homemade version of kimchi, you can tone it down by not using so many chili flakes if preferred.

kimchi ready to eat in black plate
kimchi ready to eat in black plate

Sweet and Salty Taste of Kimchi

There is indeed a sweet and salty aspect of kimchi which comes from the addition of sugar and salt as well as the salt brine that’s used for fermentation.

Garlic Taste of Kimchi

Garlic is one of the predominant seasonings used, after the chili flakes. If garlic is present, most likely you’ll taste it.

Taste of Vegetables in Kimchi

Vegetables such as carrots, radish, onion, and garlic are often included in kimchi recipes. Be sure to include those for a wonderful additional flavor enhancement.

Umami Taste of Kimchi

Does kimchi taste like fish? If your kimchi includes ingredients such as fish sauce or fermented shrimp, most likely you’ll notice that umami taste.

Where to Buy Kimchi

You can easily make homemade kimchi with a little extra lead time to allow for the proper fermentation. Or you might choose to purchase it.

If you are wondering where to buy kimchi, you’ll want to know that it can be found in grocery stores, specialty stores that carry Korean foods. It’s usually found in the refrigerated produce section near pickles and sauerkraut.

Is Kimchi an Acquired Taste?

Some say that kimchi is an acquired taste and others love it immediately. Have you tried kimchi? Which is it for you?

kimchi ready to eat in black plate
kimchi ready to eat in black plate

Does Kimchi Taste Good?

Whether kimchi tastes good is a matter of personal preference. Some say it’s an acquired taste, while others fall in love with it immediately.

If you’re not sure if you’ll like it, why not give it a try and see what you think!

What Does Kimchi Smell Like?

If you’ve never had kimchi, you’re in for a treat. That is if you’re not turned off by the smell of it.

Some people compare the smell of kimchi with the smell of dirty laundry or stinky socks. But that’s likely because of the fermentation that’s taking place.

Others compare its smell to fermented seafood or sulfur, but that can be attributed to so much use of garlic and ginger as staple ingredients in this dish.

What Are Fermented Foods?

Fermented foods are foods that are typically soaked in a brine to speed up the process of fermentation. In the case of kimchi, the cabbage is soaked in a saltwater brine to encourage fermentation.

Some examples of fermented foods include: sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, cider, and kimchi.

kimchi ready to eat in black plate
kimchi ready to eat in black plate

How to Store Kimchi

Kimchi can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Because it’s a fermented dish, it has quite a lengthy shelf life compared to many other prepared foods.

Room Temperature. Kimchi can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week, after it has been opened.

Refrigerator. For a longer shelf life, consider putting your homemade kimchi in the refrigerator for a maximized shelf life that will last for up to 3- 6 months.

Freezer. We don’t recommend freezing kimchi because it is mainly cabbage. Cabbage doesn’t freeze and thaw well and includes texture changes that are not so desirable.

What Do You Eat Kimchi With?

What are the uses of kimchi? You can eat kimchi however you wish, and we’ve included some popular ideas for you. Here are some recommended ways for how to eat kimchi.

With Eggs. Kimchi goes great with eggs. Whether you prefer scrambled eggs, fried eggs, or an omelet, adding eggs gives a bit of protein in your meal.

Quesadillas. Quesadillas make the perfect accompaniment with your kimchi. Chicken quesadillas or cheese quesadillas add flavor, texture, and protein and make a complete meal.

Stew. Add kimchi to your stew for a Korean flair along with a spicy added flavor.

In a Pancake. Fry kimchi into a crisp pancake for another way to enjoy this tasty dish.

Ramen Noodle Soup. Add kimchi to your ramen noodle soup for additional flavor and texture.

kimchi ready to eat in glass jar
kimchi ready to eat in glass jar

What Is Kimchi Made of?

Kimchi is a popular Korean dish that’s made of many delicious ingredients and seasonings that vary from recipe to recipe but can include the following.

Napa cabbage

Sea salt

Cooking salt

Rice flour

Korean chili flakes

Daikon radish

Korean fish sauce

Fermented shrimp







How Long Does Kimchi Last?

Because kimchi is a fermented dish, it has quite a lengthy shelf life. It can last up to 1 week at room temperature after it’s opened.

In the refrigerator it will last up to 3-6 months. As time goes by, it continues to ferment which increases the tangy flavor.

How to Make Kimchi

When making a homemade kimchi recipe, you’ll want to be sure to follow the ingredients and instructions for the best results.

Making kimchi involves the fermentation and pickling of cabbage with salt for several hours. After it’s soaked, it gets cooked, and vegetables and seasonings are added to the mix.

There are so many ways that kimchi can be eaten. See our list of ideas above.

kimchi ready to eat in black plate
kimchi ready to eat in black plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to what does kimchi taste like? If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Does kimchi taste like sauerkraut?

Some people say that kimchi tastes like sauerkraut, likely because of the presence of cabbage as well as the fermentation process, but that’s a matter of personal opinion.

Does kimchi taste like fish?

Kimchi has a bit of an umami and fishy flavor to it because many recipes contain fish sauce in the ingredients.  

Does kimchi taste like achaar?

Kimchi has a spicy, tangy flavor and is immensely sour. And other than the sour flavor many say it tastes a lot like achaar.

How would you describe kimchi?

Kimchi is a dish that’s made with fermented cabbage, onion, garlic, and a variety of spices to give it flavor.

Because kimchi is a fermented dish, its most prominent flavor is a sour flavor. It also contains a tangy flavor that’s similar to sauerkraut.

Do you just eat kimchi by itself?

Kimchi can be eaten by itself as a main dish, snack, or appetizer. You might also choose to serve kimchi with meat for some added protein.

Is kimchi healthy?

Kimchi is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Consuming it can help to reduce the risk of health issues such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes because of the antioxidant properties it possesses.

Is kimchi spicy?

Yes, kimchi is spicy when made according to authentic Korean recipes. But the best thing about making it at home is that you can customize it according to your personal preferences.

Should I eat kimchi hot or cold for better taste?

Whether you eat kimchi hot or cold is a matter of personal preference. It can be eaten either way.

Other Ideas:

what does kimchi taste like Pinterest Pin
what does kimchi taste like Pinterest Pin

For more posts like this one, follow us on PinterestFacebookInstagram and YouTube.

Photo of author
Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

Leave a Comment