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5 Gochugaru Substitutes You Need to Try Right Now

Hey there, food aficionados! Today, I’m dishing out the inside scoop on one of Korean cuisine’s integral ingredients — gochugaru. If you’re part of the ‘spice is life’ brigade, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about this authentic Korean hot pepper that’s the very heartbeat of classics like kimchi and bulgogi.

But what if, in the midst of whipping up a culinary storm, you find your pantry devoid of this crimson magic? I’m here to guide you through five fantastic substitutes that promise to keep the flames alive in your Korean-inspired dishes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gochugaru is a must-have ingredient in Korean cuisine, known for its moderate heat and subtle sweetness.
  • In a pinch, crushed red pepper or paprika can be used as substitutes for gochugaru.
  • For a similar flavor profile, try using gochujang or homemade kimchi powder as replacements.
  • Experiment with these substitutions to find the perfect balance for your taste buds. Remember to adjust amounts and don’t be afraid to stray from the recipe.

What’s the Sizzle with Gochugaru?

Before we start jotting down replacement notes, it’s essential to familiarize ourselves with gochugaru.

This hero-in-a-jar is more than a mere pantry staple; it’s the soft-spoken powerhouse that tends to linger at the back of a dish, adding a smoldering sweetness and depth to every bite.

Its coarser texture and moderate heat make it a winner in everything from stews to marinades, where it subtly flavors without overpowering.

5 Gochugaru Substitutes You Need to Try

1 – Crushed Red Pepper

When you’re in a pinch, a trusty bottle of crushed red pepper can leap into action. It’s a common household item that packs a fiery punch and mimics the coarse texture of gochugaru. Keep in mind, though; it’s much hotter than its Korean counterpart. So tread lightly and adjust according to your taste buds.

To tame the flames, use a 3 to 1 ratio — that’s ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper for every teaspoon of gochugaru in your lost recipe.

2 – Paprika

Paprika comes in various forms, each presenting a delightful array of vibrant colors and distinct tastes. When seeking a spicier kick, the hot variety is the way to go.

Unlike gochugaru, paprika lacks the coarse texture but offers a more subdued, earthy flavor profile. To ensure your dishes retain their color and flavor balance, simply substitute paprika in equal measure for gochugaru in your recipes.

This simple swap will infuse your dishes with a tantalizing depth of flavor that is sure to impress your taste buds.

3 – Gochujang

We’re staying in the ‘gochu’ family with this one. Gochujang is gochugaru’s paste cousin, a little wetter but equally vibrant in color and flavor. Made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and hot pepper flakes, its earthy sweetness makes it a fantastic gochugaru alternative.

It brings the perfect combination of hot, sweet, and savory to the table, just in a slightly different form. Use about half the amount of gochujang when you’re trading for gochugaru in a dish.

4 – Cayenne Pepper Flakes

For those who like it hot, cayenne is the maverick in the spice drawer. Its heat level mirrors that of gochugaru, and its fine texture adds an extra kick to any dish, making it a great substitute in soups, stews, and marinades. However, tread carefully when using cayenne as a substitute as it can quickly overpower your dish if used in excess.

Its flakes are feistier and finer in texture, so be cautious — they might sneak up and set your taste buds ablaze. The ratio here is 1:4, so a little pinch goes a long way against gochugaru’s measured dash.

5 – Homemade Kimchi Powder (The Winner)


The most bespoke of the bunch is creating your own homemade kimchi powder. It requires a little more effort and time, but the end results will control every Korean foodie’s heart.

Begin by drying out some Korean chili peppers (gochugaru) and grinding them to your desired texture, adding in salt and garlic powder, perhaps even a pinch of ginger. This homegrown option mimics gochugaru’s profile gloriously, ensuring your dish still sings its praises.


Homemade Gochugaru Powder

This DIY gochugaru recipe is perfect for when you run out of your store-bought jar or want to add a personal touch to your dishes. Made with dried Korean chili peppers, this powder mimics the texture and flavor of traditional gochugaru, adding depth and spice to any recipe.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine Korean
Servings 2 cups
Calories 772 kcal


  • Oven or dehydrator
  • Grinder or blender


  • 2 cups Korean chili peppers dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Optional: pinch of ground ginger


  • Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature setting (usually around 170°F/77°C) or set up your dehydrator according to its instructions.
  • Spread out the chili peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet or dehydrator tray.
  • Place them in the oven or dehydrator and let them dry for about 6-8 hours, flipping halfway through. They should be completely dried out and brittle by the end.
  • Once dried, let the peppers cool for a few minutes before grinding them into a fine powder using a grinder or blender.
  • Mix in the salt, garlic powder, and ground ginger (if using).
  • Store your homemade gochugaru powder in an airtight container for up to 6 months.


Serving: 1teaspoonCalories: 772kcalCarbohydrates: 166gProtein: 25gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1379mgPotassium: 4442mgFiber: 68gSugar: 97gVitamin A: 62667IUVitamin C: 74mgCalcium: 108mgIron: 14mg
Keyword homemade gochugaru, substitutes for gochugaru
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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Friday 22nd of March 2024

Wow, I never knew there were so many alternatives to gochugaru! Which one do you think would give the closest flavor?