The Best Store-Bought Kimchi Your Money Can Buy: Our 6 Fermented Favorites

Use these in any dish or to snack on

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Kimchi, like lots of our favorite foods and drinks—pickles, beer, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, wine, and yogurt, to name a few—goes through a fermentation process, changing both the flavor and texture.

Kimchi is, and has been, a staple in many Korean dishes for thousands of years but requires a few days, a handful of ingredients, and a lot of patience to make at home. The fermentation process can get tricky, but luckily there are lots of pre-made options on the market that offer up that iconic sour taste. 

If you’re looking for store-bought kimchi to serve up as a side dish or to mix into a stir-fry, rice, egg, noodle, or other dish, brands have used traditional recipes to create ready-to-eat long-time favorites and unique new options. Here are the ones we recommend.

Best Overall

Mother-in-Law's Kimchi House Napa Cabbage

Mother-in-Law's Kimchi House Napa Cabbage


What We Like
  • Tried-and-true fermentation process

  • Crunchy cabbage

  • Consistent

What We Don't Like
  • May be too spicy for some

Only a handful of ingredients go into this kimchi, including Napa cabbage, onion, red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, sugar, fish sauce, shrimp, beef bone broth, and salt. It is made in small batches using the authentic, handcrafted fermentation process with chunky vegetables and high-quality chili pepper and tastes the same from jar to jar. The result is crunchy cabbage covered in a tangy umami sauce. It may be a bit too spicy for some palates, but pairing it with stews, rice, and eggs instead of eating it by itself can help cut some of the heat.

The company’s founder, Lauryn Chun, knows a thing or two about what goes into perfect kimchi—she shares "60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi" in her book, "The Kimchi Cookbook". The brand also offers up some of the essential ingredients needed to make the best kimchi at home, too, like gochujang and Korean chili pepper flakes.

Price at time of publish: $10

Size: 16 ounces | Flavor: Original | Organic: No | Vegetarian: No

What Our Experts Say

"This is definitely one of the better store-bought kimchi brands I've tasted. The cabbage is nice and crunchy with a consistent flavor across different batches. I also love how the company offers vegan varieties and a really delicious gochujang." Katherine Gallagher, Associate Commerce Editor

Best Vegan

Wise Goat Organics Organic Raw Vegan Kimchi

Wise Goat Organics Organic Raw Vegan Kimchi


What We Like
  • Contains lots of veggies

  • Tastes natural

  • Slightly pricey

What We Don't Like
  • Some cabbage pieces can be too large

The one caveat of buying kimchi pre-made is you don’t get to be picky about the ingredients. Traditionally it is made with seafood ingredients, meaning it is not part of a vegan diet. Innovations in flavors mean that some brands have vegan versions of kimchi that are still perfectly spicy and sour without fish sauce, shrimp paste, etc. 

This one from Wise Goat Organics has an ingredient list made up of lots of vegetables and more in addition to Napa cabbage, including carrots, spring onions, radish, ginger, garlic, seaweed, sesame seeds, Korean red pepper, and unrefined sea salt, giving it a homemade and natural taste. Also, all of these are organic. One jar is slightly pricey, but a little goes a long way, especially since there are some larger chunks inside. Use some in stews and broths, to top sandwiches, to snack on, or with tofu for a full vegan meal.

Price at time of publish: $13

Size: 16 ounces | Flavor: Traditional | Organic: Yes | Vegetarian: Yes

Best Spicy

Seoul Vegan Spicy Kimchi

Seoul Vegan Spicy Kimchi


What We Like
  • Crunchy

  • Right amount of spice

  • Original recipe

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller jar

  • Lack of umami flavor

This is another vegan kimchi made without any seafood ingredients like fish sauce or shrimp paste, but it still packs a punch. The crunchy Napa cabbage is fermented with chili pepper, garlic, green onion, sugar, sea salt, and ginger to give it heat without making it too spicy. We do miss the umami flavor, but if the spice is what you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. This kimchi is also non-GMO, kosher, gluten-free, and vegan certified.

This spicy kimchi comes in a slightly smaller jar than others on this list, but it is cost-effective. This is a good thing—kimchi doesn’t last as long as other condiments because it is fermented, and therefore having to restock your supply regularly ensures you’re getting the youngest kimchi that will last the longest. Keep in mind, though, that the newer it is, the less tangy it is.

Price at time of publish: $6 

Size: 14 ounces | Flavor: Spicy | Organic: No | Vegetarian: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“I always pay attention to sell by date. I like my kimchi nicely aged. So whatever they say it will expire soon, is what I like. On the contrary, if you like your kimchi not sour, look for the latest expiration date.” — Seung Hee Lee, founder of @Koreanfusion and coauthor of "Everyday Korean"

Best White

Jongga White Kimchi

Jongga White Kimchi


What We Like
  • Contains pear

  • Mild

  • Made in Korea

What We Don't Like
  • May be sourer than others

  • Not resealable

White kimchi, or baek kimchi, is far less spicy than other varieties because no Korean chili flakes or gochugaru are used. This doesn’t mean it is any less flavorful, though. This one from Jongga is made in Korea, which means it probably will have been through a longer fermentation period in the package once you get it home than others, making it sour. (The longer the kimchi ferments, the more tangy and fizzy it is.) So while this one might be on the sour side, it definitely is not as spicy as others. In fact, the pear, leek, and kelp give it a mild and almost sweet flavor profile that lets the natural flavors of the cabbage and radish come into play a lot more. All the essential kimchi ingredients are still included, though, like garlic, salt, red pepper, and ginger for a slightly salty kick. 

We don’t love that this option comes in a sealed bag that, once opened, can’t be resealed. So it’s best if once you rip the bag open to store this kimchi in an airtight, sterile glass jar in the fridge so the fermentation process is slowed and it lasts longer.

Price at time of publish: $9 

Size: 17.6 ounces | Flavor: Mild | Organic: No | Vegetarian: Yes

Best No Sugar

Sunja's Oriental Foods Medium Spicy Cabbage Kimchi

Sunja's Oriental Foods Medium Spicy Cabbage Kimchi


What We Like
  • Sweetened with red peppers and carrots

  • Cheaper

  • Large cabbage pieces

What We Don’t Like
  • No umami flavor

If you are watching your sugar intake, you may be familiar with the fact that many foods contain added sugar—even savory ones. That’s the case with some jarred kimchi, as sugar is one of the main ingredients included to aid the fermentation process. Left out of traditional recipes, often there will be a few tablespoons of it in ready-made jars, but if you want an option without any sugar at all, look no further than this relatively cheap one.

Sunja’s Medium Spicy Kimchi comes in a 1-pound glass jar and is sugarless. Ingredients consist of large cabbage pieces, green onion, sea salt, crushed red pepper, and ginger for texture and spice, and carrots and sweet red peppers for a hint of sweetness. We promise you won’t miss the sugar, though, as this kimchi is spicy without making your eyes water, crisp-tasting, and crunchy. In addition to containing no sugar, there is no seafood ingredient to give it an umami flavor, but you can add a dash or two of fish sauce to this store-bought mixture if you wish before eating it as a side or adding it to your favorite dish. 

Price at time of publish: $7 

Size: 16 ounces | Flavor: Medium spicy | Organic: No | Vegetarian: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“I like [kimchi] sauted in butter and then braised with good chicken broth!  The most comforting food of all time.” — Seung Hee Lee, founder of @Koreanfusion and coauthor of "Everyday Korean"

Best Kimchi Making Kit

Mama O's Premium Homemade Kimchi Kit

Mama O's Premium Homemade Kimchi Kit

Umami Cart

What we Like
  • Comes with a large jar

  • Makes 0.5 gallons

  • Can buy extra supplies

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly pricey

Although there are some tasty kimchi options out there, it can (and traditionally has been) made at home. If the process overwhelms you a bit, not to worry, because the Kimchi Making Kit from Mama O’s makes it easy. The kit comes with a packet of kimchi paste, a packet of brining sea salt, a 2-quart glass jar, a fermentation lid, a solid lock lid, and a pair of gloves. All you need to supply is about 5 pounds of cabbage and viola, you can make your own kimchi at home in just a few days. We love that the brand also sells its kimchi paste individually, so you can grab more brining salt and cabbage and get to work on another batch whenever you want. 

Compared to the jars of kimchi we have on this list, this kit is a bit pricey. However, it makes 0.5 gallons of kimchi in each batch (which is equivalent to about four jars of several of the options on our list) and makes a great gift. It also can be used in fermenting any other type of vegetable—like cauliflower, beets, garlic, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and more.

Price at time of publish: $40

Size: N/A | Flavor: Regular | Organic: N/A | Vegetarian: N/A

Final Verdict

If you don’t want to make kimchi at home, get a jar of Mother-in-Law’s Napa Cabbage Kimchi and no one will ever know it didn’t ferment right in your own fridge. If you’re looking for a sugar-free option, we love Sunja's Medium Spicy Cabbage Kimchi that is the right amount of spicy but still sweetened with carrots and sweet red peppers.

What to Look for in Store-Bought Kimchi


There are some staple ingredients used to make kimchi for thousands of years—cabbage, salt, garlic, ginger, water, sugar, radish, ginger, onion, fish sauce, shrimp, and Korean chili pepper flakes. Lots of variations have come around, though, from different regions including some with different types of cabbage and other vegetables, some without gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes), some that are vegan, and more varieties. When buying store-bought kimchi, it is best to look at the nutritional label to find the exact ingredients since it can vary so much. 


With a variety in ingredients comes a variety in flavor. It’s safe to assume that most kimchi will contain a bit of a crunch, but some are spicy and hot while others are sour and mild. If there are seafood ingredients in the kimchi like fish sauce or shrimp paste, expect a umami flavor. Most kimchi is salty, since that is needed to ferment.

Expiration date

When making kimchi at home it takes a day or two to ferment at room temperature, and a little bit longer in the refrigerator since the cold air slows down the process. Store-bought kimchi is securely sealed, meaning the process is slowed down even further and the kimchi will taste newer when you open it. 

You should check the expiration or "Best By" date every time you buy kimchi. A jar or bag with an expiration date that is soon has probably been on the shelf for a bit, while one with an expiration date that is further away is newer. Those with a longer life are less sour and fizzy than ones with a date coming up.


How is kimchi made?

Kimchi is made when cabbage, radish, and other ingredients are fully fermented. First is a brining process for the vegetables, and then all the ingredients like onion, sweet rice flour, gochugaru, fish sauce, shrimp, chives, garlic, ginger, and sometimes sugar, are mixed together before sitting for a few days until the desired sour flavor has developed. Then it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Is kimchi vegan?

Kimchi is traditionally made with fish sauce and shrimp paste or pieces, meaning it is not vegan. There are lots of options out there, though, that do not include seafood or any dairy products, making them vegan. Check the ingredient list before you purchase so you know exactly what is in the kimchi.

How long does opened store-bought kimchi last?

After opening, store-bought kimchi will last for about a week or two in the refrigerator. However, it depends on your flavor preference. If you like it more sour and tangy, then you can probably tolerate it longer. 

How We Researched

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best kimchi on the market, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, spice level, and price—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Amanda McDonald is an editor at The Spruce Eats and has over seven years of experience researching, writing, and editing about all things food — from what new products are at the grocery store to chef-approved hacks that keep tricky leftovers fresh for days.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Labeling organic products.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. How GMOs are regulated for food and plant safety in the United States. Updated April 22, 2020.

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Gluten-free labeling of foods. Updated August 12, 2020.

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