Earthenware crock

Onggi 옹기

Korean Traditional Earthenware Jars and Crocks

These traditional Korean earthenware crocks can be used for making and preserving many things: soybean paste, soy sauce, hot pepper paste, fermented salty fish, makgeolli, and of course kimchi. They’re made from clay, and when fired leave microscopic holes that allow them to breathe, which makes them great for fermentation.


These crocks are called “onggi” which means “Korean earthenware” and technically includes the entire range of Korean pottery, tableware, and tools made by firing clay this way. But jars are the most common kind of onggi and most of the time, the word onggi means “earthenware crock.”

Many Koreans also refer to onggi by their size: danji (단지) is a small jar, hangari (항아리) a medium sized jar, and dok (독) is a large one. These jars can be made of anything, not just earthenware.

Traditionally, Korean pastes, sauces, and vegetables including kimchi were fermented in earthenware dok, which are a few feet high and kept outside in a corner of the yard set aside for this purpose, called the called a jangdokdae. Jang, or sauces, were kept in jangdok and kimchi in kimchidok. Kimchi crocks were often buried underground in winter, so the kimchi inside didn’t freeze.

earthenware jar

Cleaning an onggi

Don’t use any soap or detergent to clean an earthenware crock because soap will get into the microscopic holes and eventually get into your food. So wash with only cold, warm or hot water, and scrub it well. Rinse a couple of times and dry it well with a kitchen towel and then set it out to air dry.

Some smells will remain even after washing, so if this bothers you give it a deeper cleaning by filling it with hot water and letting it sit for 24 hours. Then pour out the water and fill it up again and let it sit another 24 hours. You can do this until you’re satisfied that it’s clean and doesn’t smell at all.

I keep an onggi exclusively reserved for making rice beer (makgeolli), which otherwise sits empty. I can use the same onggi to make soy sauce or doenjang or fish sauce because all of them are fermented and pungent, and once a crock has been used to make those things the smell never totally goes away from it. For this reason I keep one onggi reserved for makgeolli and never use it for anything else, because I don’t want that flavor in my drink.






  1. Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12
    Posted September 1st, 2012 at 7:18 pm | # |

    The small ones run from 20 dollars. (the 4 inch ones are around 10-15) and the medium ones good for one head of kimchi are about 30. The large ones can run up to 80. the ones in the K-drama where they are in the yard are more like 100 bucks.

    I had hell trying to find mine.

  2. eanl Philippines joined 7/11
    Posted July 20th, 2011 at 3:47 am | # |

    Hi I am just new here!..^^, how much is the small onggi pots? I am interested in making my own Kimchi..please help me..thanks!..^^,

  3. Smashley NYC joined 4/17
    Posted April 21st, 2017 at 3:58 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! I’ve been looking all over for a large dok and maybe a few hangari and I’ve had no luck, even here in New York! I know that there are several small ones on amazon, but we’re really just interested in larger ones. Do you have any suggestions where we might find them? Thanks!

  4. mamagucci Kuwait joined 2/16
    Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 10:01 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’m almost frustrated finding a huge (2feet tall at least) Hangari/Onggi “Dok”, to be shipped to my country Kuwait. I didn’t find an importer online that fits my requirement. Please guide me on how I can acquire the largest possible Dok vessel. I love Korean food and would like to make my own soy sauce and kimchi, using the most traditional method.

    Thanks&shops your early reply:-)

  5. danahess1974 Davenport IA USA joined 4/14
    Posted October 4th, 2015 at 4:01 pm | # |

    Trying to find a place to buy one large enough to make this…please help me!

    • danahess1974 Davenport IA USA joined 4/14
      Posted October 4th, 2015 at 4:02 pm | # |

      Needs to be at least 8 quart for makgeolli…

  6. KrynauwOtto2 Pretoria, South Africa joined 9/13
    Posted September 2nd, 2013 at 8:57 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    I was thinking of buying a small onggi pot for kimchi at a Korean supermarket. Are they expensive?
    Thank you!

    • cday138 joined 5/15
      Posted May 21st, 2015 at 8:51 pm | # |

      I found a 16.23oc one on amazon for 24.99 so you can find them, and they aren’t that expensive.

  7. Displaced Korean Utah joined 10/12
    Posted October 21st, 2012 at 9:43 pm | # |

    Where can you locate them? As the previous post states they are hard to find.

    • cday138 joined 5/15
      Posted May 21st, 2015 at 8:52 pm | # |

      Amazon sells them. found a 16.23oz one for 24.99


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