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12 Best Gochujang Substitutes (Korean Chili Paste)

Last Updated on August 23, 2023

If you’re looking for a Gochujang substitute because you can’t find the Korean chili paste at your local grocery store, don’t worry.

There are 12 best Gochujang substitutes that will work in a pinch.

three pics of chili sauce

Gochujang: What is it?

In Korean cuisine, Gochujang is a fermented chili paste that contains red chili peppers, glutinous rice powder, fermented soybeans, and salt.

.A paste is formed by mixing the powdered ingredients with water. Before it can be used, the paste must ferment for several months.

a spoonful of chili paste


Korean Gochujang sauce has a strong, pungent flavor that is both spicy and sweet.

It is a condiment or ingredient in Korean foods such as bibimbap, noodles, and bulgogi.

Gochujang Ingredients

Gochujang is also known as Korean red chili paste, it is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment popular in Korean cuisine. 

The ingredients are gochu-garu (chili powder), glutinous rice, meju (fermented soybean powder), and yeotgireum (barley malt powder).

What does It taste like?

What does this Korean Chili Paste taste like? Well…I’d say it’s a bit spicy, a bit funkysalty, and deeply savory.

Traditionally, gochujang gets its sweetness from fermentation, which converts the starches in rice into sugar over several years.

vegan-Gochujang-mayonnaise

Is it hot? When it comes to spice, there’s no one-size-fits-all. What might be a mild kick for some can be downright fiery for others. But if you’re looking for something with a little heat, Gochujang is a good place to start.

vegan-Gochujang-mayonnaise


To give you a more specific answer, Korean fermented chili paste can be measured on the Scoville Scale, which rates the spiciness of peppers and other hot ingredients.

And while it falls somewhere in the middle of the scale, Gochujang can pack a punch depending on how much you use.

So if you’re looking to add some spice to your next meal, go easy on the Gochujang at first. You can always add more later if you want more heat.

12 Best Gochujang Substitutes or Alternatives

It is a staple of Korean cuisine. This chili paste has a unique flavor that can be tricky to replicate, but there are some substitutes that come close.

.What we’re looking for is a gochujang substitute that’s sweet, salty, smoky, and umami-packed. Here are the most suitable substitutes that are closer to gochujang:

three type of bean pastes (miso)

1. Sriracha

Sriracha

Sriracha is a popular hot sauce that originates from Thailand (the taste is similar to Tabasco).

The ingredients of sriracha are red peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It has a similar tangy taste and heat level but a much thinner consistency to gochujang. You can use it as a 1:1 substitution.

However, not all Sriracha is vegan-friendly. For example, the products manufactured in the United States often contain sugar that has been processed with bone char.

If you have concerns, always contact the company for more information.

2. Sambal Oelek

a bowl of sambal ole (Indonesian chili sauce)

Sambal Oelek is an Indonesian chili paste that is similar in taste and spice level to Gochujang. It is made from ground red chili powder, vinegar, and salt.

Often used as a condiment or as an ingredient in cooking. It adds a spicy kick and acidic sweetness to dishes. You can add one tablespoon to anything from stir-fries to soups.

Just a reminder, traditionally, Sambal Oelek contains shrimp paste, so it isn’t vegan. But luckily, there are a lot of vegan options on the market to choose from.

3. Thai Chili Paste (Red Pepper Flake Paste)

chili sauce

Thai chili paste is a thick, red pepper flake paste made from chili peppers, vinegar, and oil.

It’s a common ingredient in Asian cooking and has a similar flavor to Gochujang.

Made from either fresh or dried chili peppers, and its hot level depends on the type of chili pepper used.

4. DIY Miso-Based Sauce + Korean Gochugaru

a bowl of red chili paste

If you can’t find gochujang at your local grocery store, don’t worry! You can easily make a substitute with miso paste and a few teaspoons of Gochugaru (Korean chili powder) with a dash of sugar syrup to add a bit of sweet taste.

Simply mix together equal parts of each ingredient, and you’ll have a delicious, spicy paste that’s perfect for marinating or adding to stews and soups.

If you want a more authentic Gochujang flavor, you can also add a bit of rice vinegar or a bit of sugar to the mixture.

5. Ssamjang (Korean Chili Sauce)

Ssamjang is a Korean condiment that is great as a substitute for Gochujang.

A variety of ingredients go into making it, including doenjang, Gochugaru, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Kimchi dishes and dips often use ssamjang as a dipping sauce because of its strong flavor.

6. Doenjang

Korean soy bean paste

Do you know you can substitute Doenjang (fermenting soybean paste) for Gochujang?

While doenjang has a strong, savory flavor, it is not as spicy as gochujang.

There are many dishes that use doenjang in the same way, such as stews, soups, and marinades. In the absence of gochujang, Doenjang is a good alternative.

7. Miso paste

miso paste

Miso paste is a popular ingredient in Japanese cooking, a fermented food made from soybeans, rice and/or barley, and salt, and it has a savory, umami flavor.


If you can’t find Gochujang at your local grocery store, miso paste makes a suitable substitute.

Just add a little bit of water to thin it out and add some Gochugaru to spice it up and you’re good to go!

8. Tomato paste

tomato paste

Tomato paste has a similar consistency to Gochujang, which makes it one of the suitable substitutes for Gochujang, moreover, it’s easy to find and usually already in your pantry.

Here are a few tips for using tomato paste as a Gochujang substitute:

– Add a bit of water to thin it out so it’s easier to work with.
– Mix in some sugar to balance out the acidity.
– Stir in a bit of chili powder or flakes for some heat.

9. Chinese Spicy Bean Paste (La Doubanjiang)

a brown of Chinese spicy bean paste

When you can’t find Gochujang in your local grocery store? You can use La Doubanjiang, a Chinese spicy bean paste, as a substitute. It has a very similar texture and a milder fermented bean flavor.


The ingredients in La Doubanjiang are fava beans, chili peppers, salt, and sugar. It’s similar to Gochujang in both flavor and texture. If you can’t find La Doubanjiang at your local Asian market, you can order it online.

When substituting La Doubanjiang for Gochujang, keep in mind that it is slightly sweeter and not as fiery hot. You may want to adjust the amount you use accordingly.

10. Turkish Red Pepper Paste (Biber Salcas)

Turkish pepper paste, or biber salcasi, is a tasty red condiment with a thick texture and is made from sweet peppers. 

It has an amazing flavor with just a moderate amount of heat which makes it an ideal replacement for gochujang.

11. Harissa Paste

Harissa paste is a fiery, bright red condiment originating from North African regions, especially Tunisia.

Made from hot chili pepper powder (cayenne pepper), garlic, coriander seeds, cumin, salt, and olive oil, harissa paste has a slightly smoky and slightly sweet flavor. This flavor makes it suitable as a gochujang substitute.

12. Homemade Gochujang

This is also a good idea to make your own gochujang at home. If you like to learn how to ferment your chili paste, here is an authentic Korean homemade gochujang recipe from Maangchi. Feel free to try it out!

Final Thoughts on Gochujang Substitutes

In conclusion, the key to finding good substitutes for Korea’s gochujang is to look for a chili paste that has a similar heat level and depth of flavor.

For those who are looking for a little bit of spice in their lives. I hope you find this post helpful.

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FAQ – SUBSTITUTES FOR GOCHUJANG

Q: Is Gochujang vegan?

The answer is yes and no. Traditional gochujang recipes do use fermented soybeans, which are technically vegan. However, some commercial brands of gochujang may use honey or other animal-based ingredients. So be sure to check the label before you buy.

If you want to be 100% sure that your gochujang is vegan, you can make it at home using vegan ingredients. There are plenty of recipes online that use sugar or agave nectar instead of honey. Give it a try and see how you like it!

Q: Is Gochujang low-carb?

The short answer is no. Gochujang is made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. The main ingredient, glutinous rice, is a type of rice that is high in carbohydrates.

So, if you’re on a low-carb diet, gochujang is not for you. However, if you’re looking for a delicious way to add some flavor to your food, gochujang is a great option!

Q: Where can I buy gochujang?

Some supermarkets carry Gochujang in their international aisle or Asian section. If you have trouble finding it, you can also buy it online from websites that sell Asian ingredients.

When ordering Gochujang online, make sure to read the product description carefully to make sure you’re getting what you want.

Q: Is gochujang gluten-free?

Although gochujang is made with glutinous rice, it is actually gluten-free.

The fermentation process of the paste breaks down the gluten proteins into smaller fragments that are not harmful to people with celiac disease or wheat sensitivities. 

Q: Does Gochujang need to be refrigerated?

The answer is yes and no.

Once opened, Gochujang will last about six months in the fridge. However, unopened gochujang can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.

If you live in a warm climate, it’s best to store your gochujang in the fridge to prevent it from spoiling.

Q: How long does Gochujang last?

Once opened, Gochujang will last for up to six months in the fridge. Be sure to keep it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

You may also notice that the color of Gochujang changes over time – this is normal and doesn’t affect the taste or quality of the product. However, always check to see if there are any signs of spoilage before use.

Q: What are some recipes using gochujang?

There are many different recipes that use gochujang as an ingredient. One popular dish is bibimbap, which is a rice bowl topped with vegetables and meat.
.
Another popular dish is jjigae, which is a type of stew made with gochujang.

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Gochujang Substitutes

12 Best Gochujang Substitutes (For 2023)

Looking for Gochujang substitutes because you can't find the Korean chili paste at your local grocery? I've got you the 9 best alternatives that will work in a pinch.
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Author: SHU-CHUN

Instructions

  • The key to finding good substitutes for Gochujang is to look for a chili paste that has a similar heat level and depth of flavor.

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