Cucumber Kimchi Pickles

kimchi pickles, lacto fermented
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This cucumber kimchi recipe makes a batch of kimchi pickles. These crunchy, spicy pickles are the perfect accompaniment to Asian-inspired dishes like Fried Rice or Furikake Fried Chicken.

These cucumbers are fermented pickles and have probiotic benefits plus a mouth-watering spicy Korean garlic-ginger flavor.

kimchi pickles served with rice an eggs

Truth be told, you don’t have to ferment this cucumber kimchi at all. These pickles can be eaten right away and served as a quick and easy side. This spicy crunchy side dish has a ton of flavor right from the beginning.

Cucumber kimchi is a spicy Korean side dish. It’s typically more of a quick pickled kimchi recipe. Essentially, the cucumbers are tossed with all of the ingredients and then served right away.

This recipe works perfectly fine as a quick pickle recipe. I like to add a few days of fermentation to get the benefit of the probiotics. You decide.

However, allowing the cucumbers to ferment for 3 to 5 days has a few benefits.

  1. Fermented foods contain beneficial probiotics which a great for gut health.
  2. Fermentation gives these pickles an extra layer of flavor. Which means they will even be better after a few days of fermentation.
easy spicy cucumber pickles

Cucumber Kimchi Ingredients

Most of these ingredients can be found at most grocery stores. Depending on the area that you live in you may need to find an Asian market or order a few ingredients online.

  • Cucumbers. Choose either English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers for this recipe.
  • Salt. Kosher salt or fine sea salt. Do not use iodized salt.
  • Carrot. The julienned carrot adds color and crunch to kimchi. You can also add in daikon radish.
  • Green onion. Use green onion or chives.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic minced.
  • Ginger. Fresh ginger grated.
  • Honey or sugar.
  • Gochugaru or gochujang. You can use either gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) or gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • Fish sauce (affiliate link). I like red boat fish sauce.
  • Salted shrimp. Salted shrimp can be an obscure ingredient and sometimes hard to find, you can leave it out if you can’t find it.

Tools For Making Pickles

  • Mason Jars (affiliate link)— I like to use quart-sized Mason or Ball jars to make pickles and small batch fermentation like my Jalapeno Sauerkraut or Carrots and Jalapeños.
  • Airlock lids (affiliate link) — These lids are awesome! They allow you to vent the jars so that you don’t have to bother burbing the jars during the fermentation process. As an added bonus, the layer of water traps any stinky gases so you won’t any stinky odors in the kitchen while your waiting for these babies to ferment.
  • Pickle weights (affiliate link) — Glass pickle weights are used to keep the vegetables combletely submerged in the brine. You can also use a plastic bag filled with water.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Prepare the cucumbers. Start by washing and cutting the ends off of the cucumbers. Discard the end pieces. Slice the cucumbers into rounds about 1 inch thick. Toss the cucumbers with salt and allow them to sit in a colander in the sink. (Do not rinse)
  2. Make the kimchi paste. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor or a bowl.
  3. Add the salted cucumbers to the bowl. Toss everything together.
  4. Pack the kimchi cucumbers in glass jars. Top off with filtered water, make sure that the cucumbers are completely submerged. The salt from the cucumbers and the water will create a brine for fermentation.
  5. Add a fermentation weight. Place the glass jars on a baking sheet to catch any liquid that might bubble over during the fermenting process. Weigh the cucumbers down and cover them with the airlock lids. Ferment in a cool place for 3 to 5 days.

Recipe Variations

I’ve made this recipe for fermented pickles so many times. I’ve tried out many methods of brining. You can either pre-brine the cucumbers or create a brine after packing the cucumbers.

How to Brine Cucumbers

When making pickles brine is an important part of the pickling or the fermentation process.

Brine is essentially a salt solution that helps to maintain the proper pH balance during the fermentation process. While this might sound complicated it is super easy and honestly, it doesn’t have to be exact.

lf you are super nerdy, like me, you can make a brine using a scale. Or you can also just measure it out.

I created a handy dandy chart to illustrate the correct brine solution to use when fermenting. You can also download my guide to making brine so that you’ll always have it on hand.

As a general rule when making pickles you will want to use a 3.5 to 5% brine solution. So how do you do this?

brine recipes for making pickles

How to pre-brining the cucumbers

Another method of preparing the cucumbers is to pre-brine them in salted water for 4 to 5 hours and then drain and reserve that brine to use later. Pre brining is the method is used when making kimchee with napa cabbage.

I have found that it doesn’t make a lot of difference when making cucumber kimchi, so I typically just salt my cucumbers and add the water on top. This method will create the brine in the jar.

How To Store Pickles

Cucumber Kimchi can be stored in the fridge for server months. Just make sure to keep them covered with liquid.

The pickles will continue to ferment in the fridge, albeit at a slower rate, and have even more flavor the longer you let them sit.

eggs with rice, spam, and furikake

What To Serve With Kimchi Pickles

You can top the cucumber kimchi with sesame seeds before serving.

Serve cucumber kimchi pickles with a bowl of rice and some spam and eggs — heaven in your mouth. You can eat these spicy pickles with anything really, but I love it with my favorite Hawaiian Food.

Furikake Fried Chicken is a number one choice. You must try a big bowl of Spam Fried Rice.

More Fermented Pickles Recipes to try

If you want to try your hand at a few more fermented veggies I highly recommend the Spicy Jalepeño Sauerkraut or the Spicy Carrots and Jalapeños and my Escabeche recipe.

FAQs and Expert Tips

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kimchi pickles, lacto fermented

Cucumber Kimchi Pickles

This cucumber kimchi recipe makes kimchi pickles. This recipe for fermented pickles is easy and has all the gut benefits that you want from lacto-fermented pickles. These tasty kimchi pickles have a spicy Korean garlic-ginger flavor that will will get you mouth watering.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Fermentation Time 5 days
Total Time 5 days 20 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine Hawaiian, Korean
Servings 8
Calories 17 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 lb cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (affiliate link)
  • ¼ cup carrots, jullienned
  • 2 tablespoons chives, or green onions
  • 2 tablespoons gochogaru
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (affiliate link)
  • ½ tablespoon salted shrimp, optional
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce (affiliate link)
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, grated

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the cucumbers. Start by washing and cutting the ends off of the cucumbers. Discard the end pieces. Slice the cucumbers into rounds about 1 inch thick. Toss the cucumbers with salt and allow them to sit in a colander in the sink. (Do not rinse)
    1 lb cucumbers, 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Make the kimchi paste. Add the chili, garlic, sugar, salted shrimp, ginger, and fish sauce to a food processor or a bowl. Mix everything together to form a paste.
    2 tablespoons gochogaru, 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ tablespoon salted shrimp, ½ teaspoon fish sauce, ½ teaspoon ginger
  • Add the salted cucumbers to the bowl. Add the carrots, green onion, and the apple. Toss everything together.
  • Add the kimchi paste and coat the cucumbers in the paste. You can use gloves for this.
  • Pack the kimchi cucumbers in glass jars. Top off with filtered water, make sure that the cucumbers are completely submerged. The salt from the cucumbers and the water will create a brine for fermentation.
  • Add a fermentation weight. Place the glass jars on a baking sheet to catch any liquid that might bubble over during the fermenting process. Weigh the cucumbers down and cover them with the airlock lids. Ferment in a cool place for 3 to 5 days.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

Ingredient Notes
  • Cucumbers. Choose either English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers for this recipe.
  • Salt. Kosher salt or fine sea salt. Do not use iodized salt.
  • Carrot. The julienned carrot adds color and crunch to kimchi. You can also add in daikon radish.
  • Green onion. Use green onion or chives.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic minced.
  • Ginger. Fresh ginger grated.
  • Apple. Fresh shredded apple. 
  • Honey or sugar.
  • Gochugaru or gochujang. You can use either gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) or gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • Fish sauce (affiliate link). I like red boat fish sauce.
  • Salted shrimp. Salted shrimp can be an obscure ingredient and sometimes hard to find, you can leave it out if you can’t find it.

YOUR OWN NOTES

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Nutrition

Calories: 17kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 906mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword cucumbers, Kimchi, Pickles
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