Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage

5 from 5 votes

It’s easy and quick! This crunchy Japanese pickled napa cabbage takes only 5 minutes to prepare with just three ingredients.

Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage or Hakusai in Japanese is a popular winter vegetable in Japan. We cook it for soup, simmered dishes, salad and so on.

And one of my favorite way to cook is this pickled napa cabbage.

Japanese pickles are called Tsukemono, and authentic tsukemono takes a few days and many steps to complete, but this recipe is the super quick version!

Put all ingredients in a plastic bag, massage it, and leave it in the fridge. Then you can have this nice side dish within a couple of hours.

    This recipe is for you if:
  • You love Japanese food
  • You love Japanese tsukemono
  • You want to make simple Japanese pickles
  • You are looking for a Japanese napa cabbage recipe

Do you wanna try this simple Japanese pickles? Let’s get started!


Here are the ingredients (amounts are in the recipe card below).

Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage-ingredients

You may not familiar with some of the ingredients so if you have questions, feel free to ask me in the section below.

  • Napa Cabbage (Hakusai): We use 1/4 napa cabbage. Let’s choose the one the leaves are fresh and lively.
  • Shio koji: It’s a fermented seasoning made from rice koji, salt, and water. It’s salty and a little bit sweet. I use a homemade one, but you can buy it at a store or substitute it with regular salt. (more details: how to make shio koji)
  • Shio kombu: It’s kombu (kelp) seasoned with salt, soy sauce, and sugar. It adds umami and flavor to plain napa cabbage. (more details: what is shio kombu)


I will walk you through how to make it step by step. You can also watch this video.

Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage-step by step
  1. Cut napa cabbage: Cut it into small pieces.
  2. Put all in a plastic bag: Put napa cabbage, shio koji, shio kombu in a plastic bag.
  3. Massage: Massage them until napa cabbage gets a little softer.
  4. Leave in the fridge: Let the air out, close the bag, and leave it in the fridge for more than 2 hours.
Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage

Once it’s pickled, transfer it from the bag to the container and enjoy!

By the way, the picture above is pickled overnight.

You can keep it in the fridge for 5 days.


Once you try this simple recipe, you can be creative by adding other ingredients. Here are some delicious ideas:

  • Add sesame oil and soy sauce to bring a nice aroma and flavor
  • Add carrot and cucumbers to make it more crispy
  • Add red pepper (small portion) to make it a little spicy

Thanks For Stopping By

Pickles is great way to enjoy fresh and juicy napa cabbage. It’s so crunchy and tasty!

If you love pickles, please try making this. You will love it!

Thank you for taking time to read my blog♡ If you’ve tried this recipe(or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!

Also feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

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Japanese Pickled Napa Cabbage (Hakusai Tsukemono)

5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep: 5 minutes
Rest: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Juri Austin
It's easy and quick! This crunchy Japanese pickled napa cabbage takes only 5 minutes to prepare with just three ingredients.


  • 1/4 Napa Cabbage, 430g
  • 1 Tbsp Shio Koji, 20g
  • 2 Tbsp Shio Kombu, 10g


  • Cut napa cabbage: Cut it into small pieces.
  • Put in a bag: Put napa cabbage, shio koji, and shio kombu in a plastic bag.
  • Massage: Massage them until napa cabbage gets a little softer.
  • Pickle: Close the bag, put it in a container, and let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours.



  • Storage: It will last for 5 days in the fridge.
  • Substitute: You can substitute shio koji with 1 tsp of salt. You can also substitute shio kombu with 1 tsp of dashi powder and 1 tsp of sugar.
  • Enjoy variations by adding: Sesame oil and soy sauce to add more flavor, or carrot and cucumber to make it more crispy, or red pepper to make it spicy.
  • If you are not in a hurry, let it sit overnight to absorb the flavor.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 22kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.6g | Protein: 1.7g | Sodium: 1136mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Japanese pickled napa cabbage
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5 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is a quick and excellent recipe. In addition to the napa, shio koji, and shio kombu, I added some carrot and daikon cut Julienne style (matchsticks). I also use a Japanese pickle press instead of a plastic bag.