What’s The Best Gochujang Substitute? Our Ultimate List!

More and more people are riding the Hallyu wave, and we’re here for it!

The beautiful country of Korea and its addicting dramas encouraged everyone worldwide to delve into their cuisine. And it’s definitely worth trying, with delicious meals like Korean soft tofu stew, bibimbap, tteokbokki, and many more!

If you’re planning to make any of these dishes, they have one thing in common: they all use gochujang, a Korean chili paste with that bold and spicy miso-like flavor.

However, the more popular it became, the harder it was to find in supermarkets. So, if you’re looking for a good gochujang substitute, read on!

What’s Gochujang Anyway?

This is a Korean fermented chili paste made of fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chili, and salt. It’s prevalent in Korean cuisine, giving it a bolder and slightly spicier flavor. (*)

Not only is it part of Korean dishes, but we can use gochujang as a marinade, a dip for meat or fresh vegetables, or a condiment paired with rice. It has a combination of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors with savory scents!

With the way the rich flavors blend, it goes well with anything, which is why it’s one of Korea’s favored condiments.

The Best 8 Substitutes For Gochujang

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Sometimes, we can’t find traditional gochujang in our supermarkets as well! But that’s alright; there are gochujang substitutes you can use, depending on what you have at home and what you’re whipping up.

Here are the best alternatives to gochujang you can try:

1. Thai Chili Paste

Thai chili paste has an identical texture to gochujang, though the garlic flavor may be much more intense, which you can’t find in the Korean condiment.

That said, it’s still a good substitute for gochujang because of the sweet and spicy flavor it brings. Plus, Thai chili paste brings the texture you want from your dish and makes a great alternative if you love garlic!

When using this gochujang alternative, start with half the amount required and add more until it reaches your desired taste.

2. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste isn’t the best recommendation, but it’s suitable when you have none of the ingredients on this list, like red pepper flake paste. The tomato paste will bring texture and some acidic sweetness to the dish, though it changes the flavor.

You can add red pepper flakes to increase the heat, but it won’t have the flavors you want, especially in Korean cuisine. We recommend using this only when you don’t have any of the mentioned gochujang substitutes around.

Learn more:

3. Red Pepper Flake Paste with Soy Sauce

While this isn’t the perfect substitute for gochujang, this is the quickest and easiest solution if you have it in the kitchen. You can make it on your own, too!

Mix the following in a small bowl:

  • One tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • A few dashes of soy sauce
  • Dash of sugar

You get heat from the red pepper flakes, a bit of sweetness from the sugar, and savory flavors from the soy sauce. The soy sauce will help combine all the ingredients to get a pastier consistency like gochujang.

Note that the flavor won’t be precisely the same, but it works excellently!

4. Sriracha Chili Sauce

If you aren’t using gochujang for traditional Korean food, you can use sriracha, a savory chili sauce with many flavors. Alternatively, you can use other Korean chili sauce or hot sauce substitutes, too.

It won’t give the authentic flavors in Korean cuisine since it has a different taste and thinner texture, with more garlic than miso flavors. However, it is still a good heat source with a hint of sweetness.

Learn more: Does Sriracha Go Bad or Expire? How Long Can It Last?

5. Miso Paste with Korean Chili Powder

You can use miso paste mixed with Korean chili powder for more authentic versions of the flavor. Gochujang and miso use fermented soy to give you the desired flavors you need in authentic Korean dishes.

Use a 1:1 ratio with miso paste, adding enough chili powder to suit your taste buds and spice tolerance. If you have no Korean chili powder, you can use paprika or cayenne powder as an alternative.

6. Harissa Paste

Harissa Paste gives you a mild smokey flavor and a lot of heat. This is mainly used for Moroccan cuisine, so expect a different taste.

That said, we like how it offers the same consistency and the unique flavor and spice it brings to dishes calling for gochujang! Besides this, Harissa paste may be easier to find in major supermarkets.

Learn more: Does Harissa Paste Go Bad? How Long Can It Last?

7. Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek looks like gochujang and has a similar consistency, which is a good start. Plus, it’s a well-loved condiment in Southeast Asia!

We highly recommend using this ingredient when you’re making soups, bibimbap, or meat dishes that require gochujang. You can also make homemade Sambal Oelek with an easy-to-follow recipe! (*)

8. Dates and Spices

If you or your household members are vegan or can’t eat gluten or soy, you can use dates and other spices. This creates a similar consistency as gochujang and a slightly similar flavor with the sweetness, saltiness, and spice blending well together.

All you need to do is to blend the following ingredients:

  • 6 pitted Medjool dates
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Frequently Asked Questions

Before concluding our article, let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions our readers wonder about:

1. What can I make with gochujang?

There are many dishes you can make with gochujang, especially in Korean cuisine! Here are a few recipes that call for this popular Korean condiment:

  • Bibimbap sauce
  • Soondubu Jjigae
  • Tteokbokki
  • Gochujang Saequ Gui (marinated shrimp)
  • Dak-Twigim (chicken wings
  • Fried rice
  • Buldak (fire chicken)

2. Can I make homemade gochujang paste?

Yes, you can make homemade gochujang paste! Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 cup miso
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup chili or red pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sake

To make a homemade version, follow these directions:

  • Stir water and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Then, add the miso and stir until it has a thick and smooth texture.
  • Add your chili pepper powder and let the sauce thicken.
  • Switch the heat off and allow the mixture to cool down until it reaches 100 degrees F.
  • Add your salt, rice vinegar, and sake, stirring until it combines well.
  • Allow the sauce to cool down until it reaches room temperature. Afterward, store the sauce in airtight containers.

While it does take some time to make homemade Korean chili paste, it’s worth trying! As a result, you get great-tasting chili paste you can readily use when cooking Korean food.

Get the recipe: pickledplum.com

3. Can I substitute gochujang for gochugaru?

Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder and isn’t the best alternative for gochujang, a thick paste. You can use it as a substitute by mixing it with miso paste, though! (*)

Both gochujang and gochugaru come from the same red peppers, so you get the same heat and color. Combine gochugaru with miso paste, and you can capture the miso flavor and pasty consistency you need.

Learn more: Does Gochujang Go Bad or Expire? How Long Can It Last?

4. What’s the best gochujang substitute for kimchi?

If you’re making kimchi and need gochujang, you can use cayenne pepper, sweet paprika, or chili pepper as a substitute. Using those spices is also great when you need a gochujang alternative.

Learn more: Does Kimchi Go Bad? How Long Can It Last?

5. What’s the difference between doubanjiang vs. gochujang?

Doubanjiang is a chili bean paste from China, whereas gochujang comes from Korea.

Both sauces are made of fermented bean paste but have a different flavor profile. Doubanjiang is saltier with more umami and a chunky consistency, while gochujang is sweeter with subdued flavor and smooth texture.

It’s possible to use doubanjiang as a gochujang substitute, but given its more potent and savory flavor, you’ll want to use less than what the recipe asks for. That said, it isn’t the best gochujang alternative because of its different taste and consistency.

Wrapping It Up

If you’re looking for a gochujang sauce substitute for your spicy food, then check out this list!  You can achieve the complex flavors you need in your dish without having to stress over finding this Korean fermented soybean paste.

We hope you found the ingredient to replace gochujang. Check out more of our blog posts and learn about food and cooking with us!

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