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Sauerkraut Vs. Kimchi: The Ultimate Guide


Sauerkraut and kimchi represent some of the best probiotic-rich superfoods that can be made via fermentation. These two share not only a similar preparation method but also some of the ingredients. What's the difference? Kimchi includes vegetables, seafood, and seasoning, unlike sauerkraut, which contains only salt and chopped cabbages. This article seeks to uncover everything there is to know about sauerkraut and kimchi, their differences, and health benefits. 

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented dish that's prepared using fresh vegetables such as Napa cabbages, Korean radish, chili powder, spring onions, garlic, salted seafood (jeotgal), and ginger. During the 2- 3 week-long fermentation period, naturally occurring bacteria and yeast cultures break down the carbs in the ingredients producing lactic acid, which gives kimchi its characteristic flavor.


What Is Sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbages that have undergone a 20-day long fermentation. During this period, the naturally occurring bacteria and yeast on the raw cabbages begin to break down the carbs in the cabbages while the salt keeps off pathogenic bacteria from infesting the fermenting cabbages. The result is a probiotic-rich superfood that is also rich in dietary fiber.


Differences Between Sauerkraut And Kimchi


Sauerkraut - The Chinese first fermented cabbages in rice wine more than 2000 years ago. The name, however, is of German origin.

Kimchi - Kimchi is unique to its ethnic origins in traditional Korea, where Chinese cabbages were fermented with lactic acid bacteria and stored in earthenware more than 4000 years ago.


Sauerkraut - Raw sauerkraut tastes slightly sour, salty with spicy and sweet notes.

Kimchi - Kimchi has a sour, spicy taste with noticeable umami. The notes can also vary depending on the ingredients to a more salty or sweet flavor.



  • Shredded cabbages
  • Salt


  • Napa cabbages
  • Korean radish
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Fish sauce or shrimp paste
  • Scallions
  • Red pepper

Method Of Making

Sauerkraut - Sauerkraut is easy to make as all you have to do is pound and knead the salted finely cut cabbages to produce brine which is used for pickling the cabbages for the next 20 days

Kimchi - Kimchi preparation starts with the slicing of the Napa cabbage into long strips, which are then salted and kneaded to produce the brine that's used for pickling the cabbages. The brine is then mixed with other seasoning ingredients and fish sauce. Finally, the vegetables are pickled in a fermentation crock, and the liquid is added to fill and completely submerge all of the cabbage strips.


Sauerkraut - The color of sauerkraut will depend on the pigmentation of the cabbage used to prepare the sauerkraut. Red cabbage varieties will, therefore, produce red/ pinkish sauerkraut

Kimchi - The color of kimchi will depend on the most prominent ingredient used, especially the spices.

What To Eat With

Sauerkraut - Sauerkraut goes well with meat-based foods such as sausages

Kimchi - Kimchi matches perfectly with rice, or you can add it into stews and sauces


Health Benefits Of Sauerkraut

Improving Digestion - Unpasteurized sauerkraut contains billions of live probiotics that help restore the gut flora. Consuming sauerkraut regularly results in an increased population of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system; the bacteria act as the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and toxins.   As a result, common problems such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea are significantly reduced. Ref:

Boosting The Immune System - Sauerkraut contains probiotics which have a strong influence on the immune system. Probiotics usually improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut lining, which prevents gut-related illnesses. Sauerkraut is also rich in iron and vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system and hastens the healing process. Ref:

Supporting Weight Loss Activities - Sauerkraut contains dietary fiber, which makes you feel full for longer, thus reducing the number of meals you consume. This is coupled with its low carb count; thus, your weight loss activities will be more noticeable. While the mechanism of probiotics on weight loss is not fully understood, scientists have discovered that probiotics rich food encourages more weight loss.


Full Of Nutritional Goodness - Sauerkraut is considered to be a superfood due to its substantial concentration of the following nutrients: (per 1 cup serving amount)

  • 27 calories
  • 4 g of fiber
  • 1 g of protein
  • 41% DV Sodium
  • 23% DV vitamin C
  • 15% DV vitamin K1
  • 12% DV Iron
  • 9 % DV Manganese
  • 11% DV vitamin B6
  • 9% DV folate
  • 15% DV copper
  • 5% DV potassium:


4 Health Benefits Of Kimchi

1.  Full Of Nutrients

Kimchi is a superfood consisting of: (per 1 cup serving)

  • Calories: 23
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: less than 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Sodium: 747 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin C: 22% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 55% of the DV
  • Folate: 20% of the DV
  • Iron: 21% of the DV
  • Niacin: 10% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 24% of the DV

2.  Full Of Live Probiotics

During the fermentation process, billions of probiotics are added to the kimchi as the lactobacillus bacteria cultures feed on the carbs releasing lactic acid. These probiotics play a critical role in restoring the overall balance in gut bio upon consumption. Probiotics are also beneficial in treating hay fever and diarrhea. However, the effect is not instantaneous; instead, it is recommendable to consume kimchi or a regular basis to get its full probiotic benefits.


3.  Strengthening The Immune System

The probiotics in kimchi significantly reduce inflammation and improve the immune system's response to infections. However, it's important to note that research on the viability of kimchi to treat health conditions is still in its infancy. If you want to supplement your treatment with kimchi, you should seek the advice of your doctor first. Ref:

4.  Preventing Yeast Infections

Kimchi contains lactobacillus bacteria culture, which has a strong antimicrobial effect on the fungus that causes yeast infections. Due to the widespread misuse of antibiotics, vaginal yeast infections are developing resistance to treatment. Regular consumption of lactobacillus culture has been shown to reduce the activity of such drug-resistant fungal infections. Ref:


Which Is Healthier?

Kimchi contains more probiotics compared to sauerkraut. Kimchi also includes more primary ingredients that increase its nutritional content compared to sauerkraut, which relies on only 2 primary ingredients.  

Common Kimchi & Sauerkraut Dishes And Recipes

Baechu Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi) - Baechu kimchi is prepared using napa cabbages as the primary ingredient which are then covered with red chilli, garlic, fish sauce and ginger. For a full recipe check it out here.

Baek Kimchi (White kimchi) - Baek kimchi is prepared without red peppers and other flavoring ingredients that might change its hue from the whitish color. For a full recipe check it out here.

Kkakdugi Kimchi (Radish Kimchi) - Kkakdugi kimchi is prepared using cubed radishes which are then soaked in salt and spicing before undergoing fermentation. For a full recipe check it out here.

Classic Sauerkraut - Classic sauerkraut relies on salt and cabbages as the only primary ingredients. For a full recipe check it out here.

Flavored Sauerkraut - Flavored sauerkraut includes an additional flavoring ingredient which is mostly a fruit or vegetable. Get the full recipes here

Common Questions

Does Kimchi Or Sauerkraut Have More Probiotics?

Kimchi contains more probiotic content compared to sauerkraut; hence it has more pronounced probiotic benefits.

Can I Substitute Sauerkraut For Kimchi?

Yes, kimchi offers more health benefits and has a richer taste making it much better than sauerkraut.

How Is Kimchi Different From Sauerkraut?

Yes, kimchi contains more ingredients than sauerkraut, which results in a more pronounced flavor profile.

What Is The Difference Between Sauerkraut And Pickled Cabbage?

Pickled cabbages undergo pasteurization before pickling, which eliminates all probiotic content making pickled cabbages less effective compared to sauerkraut.

Is It Ok To Eat Kimchi Every Day?

Yes, it's perfectly healthy to eat kimchi every day as it leads to significant health gains.

Which Is Healthier Kimchi Or Sauerkraut?

Kimchi is healthier than sauerkraut due to its higher probiotic content and increased nutrients.

What 3 Foods Are Bad For Your Gut?

Diet soda, processed and refined foods make up some of the worst foods for your gut bio and overall health.

Can Kimchi Be Bad For You?

Kimchi is classified as a high-risk food just like other ferments. This is due to the possibility of harmful bacterial infection occurring after consuming contaminated kimchi.

Does Store Bought Kimchi Have Probiotics?

Most store-bought kimchi undergoes pasteurization before its packaged and therefore doesn't contain probiotics. Check the label to see if the manufacturer has stated if the kimchi contains live or added probiotics.

Can You Eat Too Much Fermented Food?

It's not recommended to eat too much fermented food due to the possibility of developing side effects such as diarrhea and stomach upsets.

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