4 Best Gochujang Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Knowing the best gochujang substitutes is critical if you do a lot of Korean cooking! Although they are relatively common, it is difficult to mimic the exact taste of this condiment.

Gochujang Substitutes 

Gochujang, also known as red chili paste, is a popular Korean fermented condiment. It is made from chili powder, fermented soybean, and barley powders, as well as glutinous rice, which gives it a touch of sweetness. The taste of gochujang is spicy and savory, with notes of miso. It is used to flavor dishes like Korean bulgogi and bibimbap.

Even though gochujang has gained popularity outside Korea, it can still be hard to find at the grocery store. When making a dish that calls for gochujang or Korean red chili paste, substitutions such as red pepper flake paste, miso and chili paste, sriracha, and Thai chili paste will help bring the heat and keep your dishes delicious!

Gochujang paste in a small white dish with fresh and dried chilies next to it

Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Red Pepper Flake Paste

This alternative to gochujang is easy and quick to make at home. Mix one tablespoon of red pepper flakes with a few drops of soy and a pinch of sugar. This will give your recipe the bite, while the soy contributes savory umami and the sugar gives it just enough sweetness to ground the heat. It’s not perfect, but chances are that you have most of these items in your cupboard.

Miso and Chili Paste

This is another substitution that is easy to make at home. Essentially for a homemade gochujang, combine two tablespoons of miso paste and one tablespoon of chili garlic sauce, one teaspoon fish sauce, and six tablespoons toasted sesame oil. This mixture gives you all the essential flavor elements of gochujang, but since it’s not fermented, there will not be as much depth.

Sriracha

While it can be tempting to grab your trusty bottle of sriracha from the cupboard, this chili sauce is not going to give you quite the same flavor profile as gochujang, and will not be appropriate for all recipes. Sriracha has much stronger notes of garlic, no sweetness, and no savory miso flavor. It is also much thinner. It is best used as a substitution for the needed heat of gochujang, but should not be used in a recipe that calls for large amounts.

Thai Chili Paste

Thai chili paste is much closer in texture to gochujang than sriracha, but still has heavy notes of garlic. It is an appropriate substitution for recipes like meats and stews, where the chili flavor needs to stand out in a thick sauce. However, it should also not be used in large amounts, as it will drastically alter the taste of certain Korean dishes.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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