South Koreans consume a whopping 1.85 million tons of kimchi per year, and since the raw food craze has taken off around the globe, they're not the only ones. Recently, kimchi has become extremely popular here in the UK too, to the extent that it's now a staple ingredient found in health stores and supermarkets. So whether you like it as is, with your noodles, mixed into fried rice or for making Korean pancakes with, we've got something for you.
With a delectable flavour and zesty bite, kimchi is not only tasty enough to enjoy straight from the jar but it's full of good bacteria to boost the immune system too. Cue our guide — which we have paired with the top 10 best kimchis available on Amazon, Asda, Waitrose and Japan Centre — to help you find your favourite combination of sourness, spice and umami. Yum!
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Table of Contents
Whether you've tasted kimchi already or you're a total newbie, it can be useful to have an idea of what to look for — as flavours, ingredients and health benefits of kimchi can vary a lot across products. In this guide, we will go through the important things to look for in a kimchi to ensure you find the best fermented veggie combo for your palate!
Kimchi usually contains napa cabbage, Chinese leaves or radish combined with gochugaru chilli, spring onions, ginger, garlic and sometimes bone broth or fish sauce — but lots of kimchi creators are really starting to experiment with different flavours and ingredients.
If you fancy being a little adventurous there are lots of exciting options ranging from all green kimchi made from fermented cucumber, apple, kale and jalapenos to kimchi offerings that are seasoned with turmeric and cayenne pepper.
Go for products that are made with raw, unpasteurised and natural ingredients for maximum health benefits and look out for kimchi containing thickeners, flavour enhancers or sweeteners — which may have a tempting taste but aren't as healthy as the ones made with good old Mother Nature in mind.
Kimchi can range from completely mild to extremely hot and spicy, and everything in between, so it's a good idea to consider your preferred level of spice before making a purchase. Those who like it mellow may want to choose a mild kimchi and work up from there, whereas spice lovers can go straight for the products packing the heat.
Most kimchi is somewhere in between, at a medium level of spice, unless the packaging specifies otherwise. Bear in mind that Korean-produced kimchi may also be spicier than those made in the UK, as tastes vary across the continents.
Being hailed as a "perfect" raw, vegan, and (sometimes) organic food by health bloggers and chefs these days, you might assume that you don't need to look at the label if you have specific dietary requirements. But we would encourage you to still check the ingredients list before buying, as kimchi can be made in different ways and can sometimes contain meat (bone broth), fish, or shellfish.
Many traditional Korean kimchi products contain bone broth or fish, giving an extra punchy and delicious flavour, so you may want to check the label if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Many UK-based brands seem to boast fully vegan ingredients, however, it's still worth making sure there isn't a smidge of fish sauce hiding in the ingredient list too.
The container type you choose will depend on the purpose of your kimchi, whether you want to eat it gradually, store it in your cupboard or even take it to a picnic or on a camping trip. A pot or jar is probably the best value for money if you intend to eat kimchi more than once, and a glass jar can be easily kept in the fridge and reused or recycled after you've eaten the contents.
Kimchi in a pouch is another popular option as this style of container keeps the kimchi super fresh, and some pouches can be resealed to save the rest of the pack for later. For a very affordable option that's easy to store in a cupboard for a long period of time, or to take on a camping trip or to work, canned kimchi is a great idea.
Canned kimchi serves one portion which can be really convenient but maybe not the best value if you eat lots of kimchi. However, additives like thickeners, flavour enhancers and other not-so-healthy ingredients are often added to cans of kimchi to help preserve it, which isn't as ideal as eating it fresh.
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Bursting With Beneficial Enzymes, Vitamins and Minerals
Spicy Fermented Chinese Leaves｜Pack of 3
Freshly Handmade in the UK - Loaded With Nutrients and Probiotics for a Healthy Lifestyle
Organic Hot 'n' Smoky Kimchi
A Moreish Kimchi With Smoked Paprika and Cayenne Pepper
Kimchi with Everything
Fermented & Unpasteurised Mellow Kimchi
Delightfully Flavourful, Tangy and Vegan
Organic Vegan Kimchi｜Pack of 2
Adapted From an Authentic Korean Family Recipe
A Traditional Kimchi Made With Fermented Cabbage, Radish, Garlic, Onions and Spices
Korean Pickled Cabbage Kimchi
Balanced and Flavourful at a Low Price
A Green Kimchi That's Gorgeous in Sandwiches, Salads and Burgers
Canned Kimchi Cabbage
For an Umami Addition to a Dish With Minimal Preparation
Made by an Authentic Korean Food Brand
Loving Foods create raw, organic fermented food and drink products and their range of delicious kimchis combine fermented vegetables with spices and Celtic sea salt. Their take on the classic kimchi is packed with flavour and goodness, for a perfect side dish or as part of a meal.
The naturally cultured cabbage, carrots, radish, onion, chilli, ginger and garlic are combined with cayenne pepper and Celtic sea salt for a flavour bomb that's full of vitamins. Loving Foods are also committed to reducing food waste and their jars are 100% recyclable too!
Good kimchi is so moreish that sometimes buying just one jar is not enough, so if you're a total kimchi lover, take a peek at this 3 jar deal by MR. KIMCHI. Based on an authentic Korean recipe, this jar of spicy fermented Chinese leaves is unpasteurised, naturally fermented, and handmade in the UK.
MR. KIMCHI was founded by Korean food developer, Sharky Yoon, who is passionately bringing traditional kimchi to lucky British foodies. His range of kimchi completely avoids additives and preservatives, but this kimchi does contain fish sauce — which creates a delicious kimchi but won't be suitable for some diets.
If you like spice, this Hot 'n' Smoky Kimchi really brings it, along with some exciting flavours which will have you going back for more. Cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and tamari are combined with the usual ingredients for kimchi that veers slightly away from tradition and a little further towards adventure.
Packed full of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, this kimchi will please both your tummy and your tastebuds, while the heat gets your blood pumping! It's a little different but it works on all kinds of foods — even scrambled eggs — which is why it had to be our number one kimchi!
Every jar of kimchi from Kimchi with Everything is lovingly homemade in the UK from the freshest ingredients which are naturally fermented for a minimum of 4 weeks. Their range includes options for different levels of spice and the Not as Hot jar has a great balance of flavour and spice.
Kimchi with Everything is a small business based in London with a large reputation — their highly positive reviews say it all! Containing delicious ingredients such as daikon radish and green scallion, this kimchi is also suitable for vegans.
This napa cabbage kimchi is made from an authentic family recipe and has been lovingly adapted to suit a Western palate and is certified organic, raw and unpasteurised. It has also been naturally and locally made in a zero-waste, sustainable way.
Fermented for over two weeks, it has a distinct and delicious sourness and is made without fish sauce, and totally suitable for vegans. Great by itself or as an accompaniment to soups, salads, and stir-fries — it also comes in a handy pouch to keep it fresh.
Yutaka is a leading Japanese brand based in London specialising in ingredients for sushi, sauces, soups, rice, noodles, and easy-to-use meal kits. Their Korean Kimchi is 100% natural, gluten-free, vegan — and all at a very fair price.
Made with classic kimchi ingredients, it has a delicious flavour but has no spice at all, which seems to have cost this Korean Kimchi some stars. It tastes healthy and delectable, but if you prefer your kimchi with a little bit of a kick you may want to go for another on our list.
In a world of expensive, artisanal kimchi options, Ajumma Republic's Korean Pickled Cabbage Kimchi stands out as a wonderfully flavourful kimchi — at a very low price!
Coming in at less than two pounds (!), this kimchi is very highly rated on Asda, with reviews praising its flavour, balance and level of spice. It's a great option for an easy go-to single serving, but it does contain fish, crustaceans and a small amount of flavour enhancer. But it's still a total bargain, especially for those on a tighter budget.
It's not exactly a traditional Korean kimchi, but the Super-Green Kimchi by Vadasz has plenty of spice and flair, with the usual probiotic goodness you'll find in a classic jar. Featuring cucumber, apple, kale, and green jalapeno alongside more conventional kimchi ingredients — it will transform your sandwich, salad, or burger!
Fresh, green, and zingy, it's a great go-to if you're already a kimchi convert. However, some reviewers found the chillis a little too hot and some of the vegetable cubes are a little soft after the fermentation process, but it still has an interesting and novel concept.
If you love kimchi but don't love the short use-by dates that the jars often have then this Canned Kimchi Cabbage may just be a revelation to you. Expect juicy red pepper, Korean leek, and succulent cabbage with a crisp bite — all in a tin that's easy to store and serve and could even be taken to work or on a camping trip.
We really like the convenience of this little can but unfortunately, there's a couple of less desirable ingredients in the form of guar gum and d-sorbitol. If you're particularly eating kimchi for its natural benefits, it might be best to pick one of the handmade, jarred kimchis to avoid these additional nasties.
This Sliced Kimchi by Bibigo comes in a pouch that ensures freshness, and the use of traditional ingredients in an age-old fermentation process that results in Korean kimchi that tastes like the real deal.
The salted napa cabbage is sliced for convenience, and the pouch makes it easy to serve this kimchi either as a snack, side dish or part of a Korean dish. As delicious as it is, it's not suitable for vegetarians as it contains anchovy extract. The ingredients list also has some less than desirable additions such as thickener, flavour enhancer and sweeteners — which unfortunately undermines the healthiness of this kimchi.
Kimchi originated in Korea somewhere between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD, and by that time, families had long used food preservation methods to ensure a constant food supply during harsh winters. Over time, cabbage and later chilli peppers were preserved and combined with other ingredients such as; radish, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce, and from there kimchi was established as a culinary staple.
Baechu (napa, or Chinese cabbage) kimchi is the type we simply know as "kimchi" but it's in fact just one of around 200 different types including; mild baek (white) kimchi, cubed radish kimchi and Nabak (red water) kimchi which is something between a vegetable soup and a punch.
The Chinese cabbage-based kimchi we're all familiar with can come in many variations with a wide selection of additional ingredients like pear, kale, and gochugaru chilli. But pungency, bite, and a healthy pop or hiss upon opening the lid or pouch are all things that good kimchi has in common.
Author: Melanie McPhail
No. 1: Loving Foods｜Organic Kimchi
No. 2: MR. KIMCHI｜Spicy Fermented Chinese Leaves｜Pack of 3
No. 3: Loving Foods｜Organic Hot 'n' Smoky Kimchi
No. 4: Kimchi with Everything｜Fermented & Unpasteurised Mellow Kimchi
No. 5: YUMCHI｜Organic Vegan Kimchi｜Pack of 2
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