10 Best Gochujang Substitutes

Do you need a Gochujang substittue? I have a list of the 10 best gochujang substitutes. From homemade options to readily available alternatives. Each substitute has a description to help you decide which alternative to gochujang is best for you.

Gochujang on a spoon.

I first learned about Gochujang when I stayed at the Buddhist Temple for a weekend. The buffet was filled with vegan Korean food. I was in awe of how simple Korean cooking could have so much flavor. When I came home and dug into the subject, I learned about Temple Food, which has been the subject of NPR, cooking shows, and cookbooks filled with Korean recipes. Since then, I have been obsessed with Korean cooking.

What Ingredients are in Gochujang?

Gochujang is a Korean chili paste made from red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. Gochujang tastes rich, savory, and slightly sweet with moderate spiciness. The taste can be described as umami, with hints of smokiness.

How is Gochujang used in Korean cuisine?

Gochujang is a spicy paste that is a foundation for many Korean dishes. It is commonly used as a marinade or sauce for grilled meats, such as bulgogi or Korean barbecue. Gochujang also enhances the taste of stews, soups, and stir-fries. It can be used as a dipping sauce, a base for bibimbap (a mixed rice dish), or as a flavoring ingredient in kimchi. If you want a specific recipe, try one of these eight Korean tofu recipes.

How do I make Gochujang?

While you can make gochujang from scratch, it will take at least six months – a year before it is ready. That is because homemade gochujang needs to be fermented, which takes time.

Ten Best Gochujang Substitutes

There are many options; however, finding an exact substitute is unlikely. I recommend reading through the options to determine which one meets the needs of your dish. 10 best replacements for Gochujang

1. Sriracha Sauce

A bowl filled with sriracha chili sauce

Of all the gochujang alternatives, sriracha sauce is the best replacement for gochujang. Sriracha sauce is a popular spicy chili sauce with a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. It has a vibrant red color and smooth texture. While Sriracha and Gochujang have distinct flavor profiles, Sriracha has a thinner consistency than Gochujang. You might need to adjust the consistency of other ingredients to ensure the dish comes out as expected.

It is important to note that Sriracha lacks the fermented umami notes and thickness of Gochujang. Sriracha is easily found at most grocery stores, targets, and online.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

2. Sambal Oelek

A jar filled with Sambal Oelek.

Sambal Oelek is a spicy chili paste from ground chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. It has a bold, fiery flavor, straightforward heat, and a slightly tangy taste. The texture of Sambal Oelek is chunky and coarse, as it is made from crushed chili peppers. As a Gochujang substitute, Sambal Oelek can provide a spicy kick to dishes, but it lacks the fermented flavor.

Sambal Oelek is easily found at most grocery stores, especially in the Asian section or international food aisles. It can also be found in Asian markets or purchased online through various retailers.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio. Add a small amount of soy sauce or miso paste to add a fermentation flavor.

3. Red Pepper Flakes + Miso Paste

Combining red pepper flakes with miso paste creates a flavorful and spicy mixture. Red pepper flakes, or crushed red pepper or chili flakes, provide a fiery and pungent heat. Miso paste, on the other hand, is a fermented soybean paste that adds a rich, umami flavor to dishes.

When red pepper flakes and miso paste are combined, the result is a spicy and savory blend that can be used as a condiment or incorporated into recipes. The deep and complex flavors of the miso paste balance the heat from the red pepper flakes. I like this substitution because I can adjust the heat and umami taste to my desire.

Both ingredients are easily found in most grocery stores. The red pepper fakes are in the spice section, and the miso paste is refrigerated. When mixing the two ingredients, you can adjust the heat level to your preference by adding more or fewer red pepper flakes.

Recipe: Combine 2 parts red pepper flakes with 1 part miso paste. The combined amount will equal the 1 part needed for the substitute ratio.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

4. Red Pepper Paste + Soy Sauce

Red pepper paste is a Korean condiment made from fermented chili peppers, while soy sauce is a savory and salty sauce derived from fermented soybeans. The red pepper flake paste adds a distinct heat and a touch of sweetness, while the soy sauce contributes a salty taste. The combination of red pepper paste and soy sauce balances spiciness, depth, and umami flavors. Combined, they make an excellent Gochujang substitute.

This mixture can be used as a marinade, glaze, or sauce for various dishes. It works well with meats, vegetables, stir-fries, or even as a dipping sauce. The proportions of red pepper paste to soy sauce can be adjusted to achieve the desired level of spiciness and saltiness.

Red pepper paste and soy sauce are easily found at most grocery stores.

Recipe: The combined amount of 3 parts red pepper paste mixed with 1 part soy sauce. The total combined amount will equal the 1-part ratio. You can add a touch of blue agave or honey for sweetness.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

5. Chili Garlic Sauce

A small jar filled with chilie garlic sauce.

Chili garlic sauce is made from a blend of chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, and sometimes other ingredients such as sugar or spices. It has a fiery and garlicky flavor profile. Chili garlic sauce may have a different consistency and flavor compared to gochujang. Gochujang has a thicker and more complex taste due to its fermented ingredients. At the same time, chili garlic sauce tends to be thinner and focuses more on the spicy and garlicky elements, with a slightly sweet taste.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

6. Hot Sauce + Brown Sugar

Hot sauce typically contains chili peppers, vinegar, and spices, providing a spicy kick, while brown sugar adds a touch of sweetness and caramel notes. Combined, they mimic the general characteristics of gochujang.

Hot sauces can differ greatly depending on the pepper and other ingredients used to make the sauce. I recommend tasting a small sample before adding a hot sauce and brown sugar mix to your recipe. Start by combining equal parts hot sauce and brown sugar. Adjust the taste as necessary so that it will complement your recipe.

Recipe: Combine equal parts hot sauce and brown sugar. The combined amount will equal the 1 part needed for the substitute ratio.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

7. Thai Red Curry Paste

A mortar filled with red Thai chile paste.

Thai red curry paste is a popular and easy-to-find ingredient. Typically red curry paste is made from red chili peppers, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, shrimp paste, and various spices blended into a smooth paste. I say typically because the most popular jarred version in the US, Thai Kitchen, makes their red curry paste vegan.

In most Asian grocery store sections, you can find small jars of different Thai chili pastes. Look for a jar filled with a deep red paste.

While Thai red curry paste can be used as a flavorful substitution, it will lack the fermentation flavor. Gochujang brings. Red curry paste is also easily found at most grocery stores and online.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

8. Cayenne Pepper + White Miso Paste

Cayenne pepper is known for its heat and spiciness. White miso paste, on the other hand, is a fermented soybean paste that offers a rich, umami flavor. Combined, they create a spicy umami flavor that mimics gochujang fairly well.

Cayenne peppers are ground into a powder. Before you mix the cayenne powder and white miso paste into your recipe, I recommend first tasting a small sample. Start by mixing equal parts in a small bowl. Adjust the ratio as necessary so that it will complement your recipe.

Both cayenne pepper and miso paste can be found in most grocery stores, usually in the spice and the refrigerated international section (at my store, miso paste is tucked away on an end cap).

Recipe: Combine equal parts cayenne pepper and miso paste. Add a pinch of sugar or a splash of maple syrup to round out the flavors. The combined amount will equal the 1 part needed for the substitute ratio.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

9. Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Bowl filled with chipotle sauce with dried red chiles next to the bowl

Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapeño peppers. The peppers are rehydrated and canned in a spiced tomato paste sauce (adobe sauce). Chipotle peppers provide a distinct smoky and slightly spicy flavor, while the adobo sauce adds a tangy, sweet, and savory flavor.

The strong flavors of gochujang and chipotle peppers differ. Chipotles bring a smoky taste that gochujang lacks. On the other hand, Chipotle peppers bring a lot of flavor to any dish.

Chipotle peppers are typically found in a small can near the green chilis in most grocery stores. For the best outcome, blend the peppers and adobe sauce into a smooth paste for the best possible substitution.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

10. Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) Soy Sauce + Sugar + Vinegar:

Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder. This powder has a distinctive red color and is a staple in Korean cuisine. r.

Gochugaru has a unique balance of heat, fruitiness, and slight smokiness. It has a slightly sweet, earthy undertone and, overall, is a very mild chili.

Gochugaru can be found at Korean or Asian grocery stores and online.

Recipe: Combine two parts of gochugaru, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part sugar, and 1 part vinegar to create a spreadable consistency. The combined amount will equal the 1 part needed for the substitute ratio.

Substitute at a 1:1 ratio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gochujang Vegan?

The traditional recipe for gochujang is vegan. However, some store-bought brands might include fish sauce or shrimp paste. Always read the label before purchasing.

What is the Texture of Gochujang Like?

Gochujang has a unique thick, sticky, and paste-like texture. There is a slight graininess due to the fermented soybeans.

Where can I Buy Gochujang?

You can buy gochujang at most grocery stores, Asian markets, or online. Gochujang is a shelf-stable product and can be found on shelves at stores.

Picture of gochujang bottle you can buy at a grocery store.

Before you go, check out some of my other guides

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