Soybean sprouts

Kongnamul 콩나물

Soybean sprouts (kongnamul) are  one of the most commonly used ingredients in Korean cuisine. I think almost every Korean family makes cooked and seasoned soybean sprouts (kongnamulmuchim), and soybean sprout soup (kongnamulguk) at least once a week. It’s that popular.

You can sprout your own kongnamul at home, and they are tastier and nuttier than the ones you buy in the store.


1 cup of dried soybeans will make 1½ pounds of sprouts. When the beans are sprouted, more vitamins and minerals are created, making them even more healthy than the original beans. And homegrown kongnamul have wonderful, long roots, unlike kongnamul sold in grocery stores.

You can use the whole sprouts in your cooking or snip the roots off with fingers. But don’t throw them away: you can make another beautiful side dish with them. Some Koreans think that the roots have more vitamins and minerals than the stems. Soybeans used for sprouting (called kongnamul kong in Korean) are smaller than usual soybeans, so be sure to choose the right one! Regular soybeans won’t sprout easily; they’re used to make things like doenjang (fermented soybean paste), tofu, and soy milk.

Early one morning, when I was in elementary school visiting my grandmother, I saw how she sprouted her soybeans. She kept her kongnamul in the room where she slept, behind her head, so she could always look after it. Traditional Korean heating systems have heated floors, so the floor is always the warmest. I saw her pulling back a black cloth from an earthenware bowl on top of a basin, and then using a gourd to scoop water from the basin to the bowl.

Traditionally Koreans used to sprout the beans in an earthenware bowl with holes in the bottom for the water to drain out, called a siru. This was kept above a basin of water with 2 wooden sticks, and my grandmother would use a gourd to bring the water from the basin back over the sprouts. Then a black cloth was put over top to keep it all dark.

I remember the finished product was a huge amount of kongnamul, grown very crowded together. The color of the beans were a beautiful yellow.

I found growing kongnamul is very easy: all you need are soybeans for sprouting, water, and a little effort! I place my kongnamul planter right next to my kitchen sink, so I can water it as many times as possible. It’s really fun watching these beans grow and seeing the large quantity of kongnamul sprout from such small amount beans.

soybean sprouts




  1. Rinse the soybeans in cold water and soak for 24 hours.soybeans for sproutingsoybeans for sprouting
  2. Pick out dead beans or broken beans and put  the cleaned soybeans into a planter that has small holes in the bottom.soybeans sprout
  3. Pour water over the planter, little by little, till the beans are wet evenly. The water will drop out the holes in the bottom but the beans will be wet.
  4. Cover the planter with a black cloth to keep the light out. If too much light gets in, the beans will turn green instead of a nice yellow color.kongnamul
  5. Repeat watering every 3 or 4 hours for 4 to 6 days until the beans grow about 4 bean sprouts
  6. Rinse the sprouts a couple of times and drain. Drain and store them in the refrigerator.

soy bean sprouts



  1. Joebear30 Arizona joined 5/17
    Posted June 30th, 2017 at 10:23 am | # |

    Hello Maangchi,

    I made these last weekend and the flavor was amazing! I put them in my 킴치 찌개 which added an awesome nutty flavor and also made 반찬. These are so much better than store bought and well worth the wait for them.

    They grew kinda wild looking going all over the place but tasted 진짜 맛있어요!!!

    감사합니다 for an awesome recipe!


    See full size image

  2. Stupidman2009 Johor Bahru, Malaysia joined 7/14
    Posted August 31st, 2014 at 11:43 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi. Is there any difference between usual soybean and soybean for sprouting? Can I use usual soybean instead of soybean for sprouting because it is difficult to find it.

  3. snoogles Baltimore joined 5/14
    Posted May 7th, 2014 at 9:46 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, First of all, thanks so much for this site – you can really tell it’s a labor of love! I had a basic knowledge of Korean cooking but you’ve inspired me to try even more dishes. :)

    I had three questions… first, do you know if the soybeans for sprouting are non-GMO? Second, do you know where I can find a planter like yours? Or would a small plastic colander work? (Although I guess since they need to be encouraged to grow straight down, maybe not?) Third, does the holding container need to be glass, or does it not matter? Thanks in advance for your help – I’m super excited to try this!!

  4. Samimation United States joined 9/13
    Posted September 12th, 2013 at 7:04 pm | # |

    Im on day 3 of the growing, I just cooked some really quick to make a dish, boiled them the same ammount of time I do for store bought. The yellow beans at the top are much more crunchy and dont seem to cook as fast? Did I do something wrong when growing? Did I leave them growing too long?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 13th, 2013 at 3:11 pm | # |

      It sounds like your kongnamul growing went well. Congratulations!
      Homegrown kongnamul is much more delicious and nutty than store bought kongnamul. Cook it longer until it reaches your desired taste if you want.

      • Samimation United States joined 9/13
        Posted September 14th, 2013 at 8:50 pm | # |

        Great thankyou, yes I have to boil these for 15+ minutes and store bought for only 2-3 Ive noticed.

  5. wan Singapore joined 1/10
    Posted September 9th, 2013 at 1:12 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi
    tks so much! I have been hunting for ways to do this for more than a year already – and trying all sorts of buckets,. but you make it look so simple. Can;t wait to try it. I have got my beans all ready!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 9th, 2013 at 5:16 pm | # |

      good luck! You will have so much fun when you see how fast they grow.

    • mykwan81 Singapore joined 4/17
      Posted April 25th, 2017 at 2:24 am | # |

      Hi Wan,
      Where to buy soybean for sprouting in Singapore?

  6. Katralla Cleveland joined 6/13
    Posted June 27th, 2013 at 4:59 pm | # |

    I am trying this with mung beans. I want to make sookjoo namul. I wanted to know if I should peal the beans after soaking them or should I leave them until they have sprouted?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted August 2nd, 2013 at 12:23 pm | # |

      no you don’t need to peel the skins from soybeans or mungbeans when you sprout them.

  7. indelibledotink Honolulu joined 5/11
    Posted June 23rd, 2013 at 6:12 am | # |

    hi maangchi, my kongnamul turned green! is it just a matter of light seeping in? will they taste the same? I am going to try another batch.

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm | # |

      yes, I think the beans were exposed to the light. They need to be in darkness. They will taste all right.

      • indelibledotink Honolulu joined 5/11
        Posted August 2nd, 2013 at 3:55 am | # |

        maangchi! help! I made more batches of kongnamul and they started to rot. there was an odd smell with my first batch, but it was very mild. now I grew two more batches and the smell was very strong. the second two bunches went bad.

  8. jaylivg Houston joined 7/10
    Posted June 11th, 2013 at 12:21 pm | # |

    This is awesome Maangchi !! i think i might do this for our little project with Nick .. i think it’ll be fun . Plus we get to cook and eat the result ! Thanks for showing us how to grow them :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 11th, 2013 at 6:13 pm | # |

      Olivia, yes, this is for hardcore Korean cooks like you and some of my other readers. I’m sure you are excited about growing your soybean sprouts! They taste better than store sold soybean sprouts. Let me know how yours turns out!

      • jaylivg Houston joined 7/10
        Posted June 25th, 2013 at 9:35 pm | # |

        Hi Maangchi ,

        On sunday i started making this .. they’re growing really good , today is day 4 , when i opened them this morning to water , i smelt something from there , is it supposed to be like this ? It’s a very light smell , sour smell .. everything looks good though , top to bottom .

        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
          Posted June 25th, 2013 at 11:21 pm | # |

          It sound like your kongnamul are growing well. The smell is usual. It smells because you can’t water it all the time. I think it’s time for you to harvest them. I can’t wait to see the photo. : )

          • jaylivg Houston joined 7/10
            Posted June 26th, 2013 at 2:20 pm | # |

            Yes , i woke up and immediately checking my kongnamul , like you said it’s time to harvest them , they do have long legs LOL . I washed and put them in the plastic bag , then i shared the home grown kongnamul with a korean friend , and she shared her home made gochujang that she brought from Korea !! Food just brings people together !!! :D

            Thank you again for showing us how to grow them !!

  9. Peedee San luis obispo, CA joined 5/10
    Posted June 8th, 2013 at 2:11 pm | # |

    Thank you for posting this. I remember my father growing his own when I was a child using a bucket with holes, but I didn’t pay attention. Now I live in a small town where I have to drive 3 hours to get to a Korean market, so I can only buy 1 bag of kongnamul since it won’t keep for long in the fridge. Now I can grow my own & my daughters will love this project. Thanks Maangchi!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 9th, 2013 at 8:31 am | # |

      That’s awesome! Growing kongnamul will bring back a lot of good memories! Actually I have a bucket with holes to grow a large quantity of kongnamul, too! : ) But for the video, I used just 1 cup of dried kongnamulkong (dried soybeans for sprouting). Good luck with you and your daughters’ kongnamul project!

  10. Andra Alexa T Europe joined 4/13
    Posted June 4th, 2013 at 4:50 pm | # |

    Indeed – interesting post… awesome ideea to try! Now – what I want to know if there can be used some other types of beans… if the “soybean for sprouting” connot be found!!! There are parts of the world where it can be more than difficult to find out soybean for sprouting or it’s not something usual to find in markets… but if I’m looking at your shared ideea…maybe you can give us an answer… so It can be replaced with some other types of beans?! Anyway – excellent post!

  11. Nicole4ever Las Vegas, Nevada joined 2/11
    Posted June 4th, 2013 at 1:49 pm | # |

    Wow!!! That is so awesome. This is a perfect project to share with my kids. I never new you could grow them like that. Thank you Maangchi :)

  12. bexn Seattle joined 12/12
    Posted June 4th, 2013 at 9:21 am | # |

    What an incredibly timely post!! I’ve been trying to sprout my own soybeans ever since I discovered that my local market only carries sprouts grown from GMO seeds. (Yes, I know they’re supposed to be safe but I’d feel better waiting for the results of more independent and long term testing.)

    Thank you so much for your very clear directions. The first couple of times I tried, I used the wrong variety of soybeans not realizing that some are better than others for sprouting. I then purchased soybeans for sprouting from Sprout People, where I purchase my other sprouting seeds, but I could only get 1/4″ tail. Their directions are very different from yours. They recommend only soaking for 2-12 hours initially and only rinsing 2-3 times a day there after but then they like their soybean sprouts with a short tail. I can’t wait to give your directions a try. I’ve really missed eating your kongnamulguk (spicy vegetarian recipe) and have been wanting to add soybean sprouts to my stir-fries.

    Does your bag happen to specify which variety of soybean it is other just “soybean for sprouting”? I’ve read that the best sprouting varieties are Chief, Ebony, Illini, Lincoln, Richland, Peking, Cayuga and Otoot. If your bag specifies the variety, I thought I’d write to Sprout People to see if they use the same one though hopefully, I’ll have good luck with any of the sprouting varieties if I follow your directions.

    Thanks again for the great directions. I’ll let you know how mine come out. I’m going to go look for a good bowl to use today. Do you think a colander or Easy Sprout work or are larger holes needed in the bottom like yours?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 7th, 2013 at 1:39 pm | # |

      “I’ve read that the best sprouting varieties are Chief, Ebony, Illini, Lincoln, Richland, Peking, Cayuga and Otoot.” haha I don’t know anything about these strains. It sounds like you know a lot about beans and sprouting. What I do is go to a Korean grocery store and get the beans: kongnamulkong (soybeans for sprouting).

  13. Miss Kim78 socali joined 3/13
    Posted June 4th, 2013 at 3:24 am | # |

    I love kongnamul. It’s so versatile and healthy. Excellent lesson! You make it look so easy.

  14. Alastor78 Spain joined 10/12
    Posted June 3rd, 2013 at 6:36 pm | # |

    Such an interesting post! Thank you so much! I’m all ready to give it a go :) Just a question, how would you keep the sprouts? I cook just for one (me!) and I wonder what can I do with so many sprouts, and how long will they last fresh…

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 7th, 2013 at 11:24 am | # |

      Put them in a plastic bag and store them in the fridge up to 1 week.

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