Gochujang is a highly adaptable condiment/ingredient that can be utilized in a variety of applications. No matter if it’s used as a marinade, a dipping sauce, a stew or soup ingredient, a spread, or even a marinade, making gochujang versatile.
If you’re looking for a Gochujang substitutes because you can’t find the Korean chili paste at your local grocery store, don’t worry, there are many Gochujang substitutes such as Red Pepper flakes, Sriracha, Miso Paste, Thai Chili Paste, Sambal Oelek, Ssamjang, Harissa Paste, Tomato Paste
What is Gochujang
Gochujang is a spicy paste most often used in Korean cooking. It is made from fermented soybeans, rice, salt, and red chili pepper. While spicy, its flavor is also described as very savory. Gochujang is simultaneously sweet, sour, and spicy with prominent umami.
The starch of the rice in gochujang gives it a sweetness with a tart undertone perfected through the fermenting process. However, recently many people have fallen in love with a new recipe called slow-roast gochujang chicken.
Gochujang can be used to flavor eggs, rice dishes, and sauces, among other things. It is used as a sauce for octopus, a popular dish in Korea. When it comes to cooking in the United States, it can be found in various meals such as salad dressings, soups, meat, and vegetables.
It is a savory, sweet, and hot paste that can amp up the flavor of any recipe. Traditionally, gochujang is made by fermenting the ingredients in an earthen pot for years. This fermented chili paste is one of the most popular condiments in Korea, as it goes with almost anything.
While it’s traditionally eaten with octopus, gochujang is added to various stir-fries and stews. It’s even popular in the West now. We occasionally have trouble finding authentic gochujang at our local grocers!
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 Gochujang substitutes you can try:
Best Gochujang Substitutes
1. Red Pepper flakes
Making a paste out of red pepper flakes can replicate the flavor many searches for in gochujang. Red pepper flake paste can be made with red pepper flake with sugar, soybean, and thick paste flavor. It is nice and hot when entirely made and would certainly give you what you want.
But this substitute is more on the sweet side, so only consider it in cases where such a flavor is prominent. Soy sauce is also prepared from fermented soybeans, so you’ll get a hint that reminds you of the miso in gochujang. And for heat, red pepper flakes will come to the rescue.
This gochujang substitutes 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.
Red pepper flakes 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.
sriracha is somewhat close in texture to gochujang; it is usually sweeter and less salty. It will also often contain garlic, which your recipe may or may not needs. Sriracha, a famous hot sauce, has been around since the 1980s.
Sriracha has a strong flavor that can be pretty spicy. The sauce is made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It is usually used as a condiment or an ingredient in Asian cuisine. Many people enjoy the unique flavor of Sriracha and find that it enhances the taste of their food.
Ever it is also relatively sweet and tangy. On the plus side, Sriracha is easy to find, even in large grocery stores, so it may just be the most accessible gochujang alternative to reach out to. However, always consider what food you are cooking to be sure the flavors won’t clash.
3. Miso Paste
Authentic gochujang and miso paste both use fermented soy as a flavor base. This Gochujang substitute probably comes closest to the original and is even regarded as the best Gochujang substitute in many recipes.
Another great advantage of this miso-based recipe is that the fermentation process required to make Gochujang can be skipped as miso contains already fermented soy.
However, You won’t want to use miso paste alone; add chili powder and paprika to provide the heat and flavor of the hot peppers. Fermented soy gives that unique flavor that makes gochujang so popular.
There is no need of spending a lot of effort or time to make it, and the ingredients are straightforward to acquire too. Mix a cup of miso paste with an equal portion of water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add brown sugar and salt as per taste, along with Korean chili pepper flakes.
Once they form a thick paste-like consistency, remove them from the heat and let them cool. We get a Gochujang substitute to save the day. If you know Korean chili powder, you can use paprika or cayenne powder as an alternative.
4. Thai Chili Paste
Thai chili paste is another suitable gochujang substitutes. The upside is that its texture is the same as that of gochujang. Therefore, you can easily incorporate it into dishes that call for gochujang. Thai chili paste also has a spicy and sweet flavor, making it a suitable substitute.
The only disadvantage is that it has a unique garlic taste that gochujang does not have. But that is a plus side to this ingredient, which is also why this paste made it on the list; Thai chili paste is very thick. It has the same consistency as gochujang.
Thai chili paste adds a delightful and tangy flavor to meat dishes. Therefore, it is excellent for dishes where texture is more important than taste. If you do not like the taste of garlic, use one of the other substitutes.
5. Sambal Oelek
Sambal Oelek is commonly used as a seasoning or flavor enhancer in Asian cuisine. Sambal Oelek is a fantastic gochujang substitutes, and both are types of Asian chili paste made from red chili peppers.
Sambal Oelek chili paste is bright red, and it tastes hot as it is made from raw chili pepper, vinegar, and salt grounded in mortar. However, it may not have a thick texture like a paste, and it’s generally thinner compared to other types of chili paste.
It is used by many as a gochujang substitutes and commonly used as an ingredient for other cuisines, and a base for making different types of sambal chili sauce. Oelek means grinding, so this is a ground chili sauce. Both gochujang and sambal Oelek will add some chili heat to the dish you are preparing.
But since Oelek is made from fresh chilies, you will probably be getting a slight difference in the taste between them. Sambal Oelek can be used in both cooked and raw dishes. When substituting sambal Oelek for chili paste, use a 1:1 ratio. If you want to reduce the heat, add additional vinegar or salt to taste.
6. Harissa Paste
Harissa paste is commonly used in Moroccan dishes and can be served as an alternative to Gochujang. Harissa paste also has a smokey flavor, which means that when choosing this type of paste, make sure you choose one with a milder smoky undertone.
If you especially love spicy foods, harissa paste is the perfect gochujang substitute you need. There are multiple varieties of harissa paste with different levels of spiciness. But some can be relatively strong, which will take away the kind of taste that you are aiming for in your dish.
Harissa paste is a blend of spices, garlic, oil, chilies, and some acid like vinegar or lemon juice, and It is well esteemed in Moroccan cooking, and for a good reason. It makes an excellent foundation for many recipes.
You can use the paste as a gochujang substitutes in dishes such as hummus, lentils, chili, and paste sauce, to name a few. You can also add harissa paste to almost any dish that requires gochujang.
Ssamjang is a Korean condiment often used as a dip or sauce. It’s made from gochujang red chili pepper paste, soybean paste, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, and sugar. Ssamjang has a strong, pungent flavor similar to gochujang with slightly less heat.
Ssamjang makes it a good substitute for those who cannot handle the heat of gochujang. Ssamjang, like gochujang, is a paste, but it is often thought of as tasting more umami than gochujang.
Still, Ssamjang contains gochujang as one of its main ingredients, making Ssamjang an excellent substitution for gochujang when you have none on hand! Ssamjang is a good option if you want a gochujang substitutes with a similar flavor but not as spicy.
8. Tomato Paste
If you are desperate and do not have any of the substitutes discussed above, you can use tomato paste. Tomato paste has a thick consistency that will improve the texture of your dish. You can add a little chili pepper flakes to take things up a notch.
These chili pepper flakes will make up for the heat that gochujang provides. If you choose tomato paste as the substitute, remember that the flavor profile will not be the same.
The tomato paste will give your dish an entirely different flavor. Therefore, you should only use tomato paste when you do not have any other alternative.
Gochujang sauce can be found in most grocery stores in the Asian section. If you don’t care to buy it because you’re worried about being able to use it or you can’t place your hands on it, here is where this substitute comes in.
It won’t taste the same as the gochujang sauce, but it will give the sauce some sweet heat flavor you desire.