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5 Best Substitutes for Gochujang in Your Kitchen Adventures

Korean cuisine has soared in popularity, showcasing a rich tapestry of flavors, spices, and unique ingredients.

At the heart of many Korean dishes is gochujang, a fermented chili paste known for its distinctive sweet-spicy umami flavor.

But what if you can’t find gochujang in your pantry or at your local grocery store, or you’re just looking to experiment with new flavors? Fear not, as culinary exploration is all about creativity and resourcefulness.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore five outstanding substitutes for gochujang that will keep the essence of Korean dishes alive, even with a twist.

These alternatives are readily available, infusing your home-cooked delights with a burst of authentic Korean taste or a fusion of sensational new flavors.

Ready to revamp your recipes? The following substitutes are your golden ticket to an international culinary adventure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Gochujang substitutes can range from homemade options like sriracha and doenjang + gochugaru to store-bought alternatives such as sambal oelek and ssamjang.
  • Each substitute has its own unique flavor profile and texture, so be sure to experiment with ratios and usage tips for the best results.
  • From marinades to dips to glazes, these substitutes offer a versatile and delicious way to add a touch of Korean flavor to your dishes.

5 Best Substitutes for Gochujang

1 – Homemade Gochujang

If you’re invested in your culinary craft and enjoy a hands-on approach, making your own gochujang can be a rewarding project.

Homemade gochujang is characterized by its bold, complex flavor with a slightly tangy, spicy kick and a thick, sticky texture.

Crafting gochujang at home calls for patience and an assortment of unique ingredients such as fermented soybean powder, sweet rice flour, and red pepper powder. For the uninitiated, it might be a laborious process, but the rich, authentic taste of homemade gochujang is often well worth the effort.

Homemade Gochujang Paste

To create a basic gochujang paste, you’ll need:

  • Red pepper flakes
  • Fermented soybean paste
  • Sweet rice flour
  • Fermented glutinous rice paste
  • Malt syrup or sugar
  • Rice wine

2 – Sriracha

Widely available and much loved for its kick, Sriracha is a close cousin of gochujang, making it an excellent emergency stand-in.

Sriracha has a tangy, sweet, and garlicky profile, with a smooth, thick texture

The magic is in the ratio when substituting. For a tablespoon of gochujang, start with a teaspoon of Sriracha. This tangy condiment also has a hint of garlic, which makes it a fantastic choice for stir-fries, marinades, or to add a zesty element to your savory dishes.

Sriracha works wonderfully in place of gochujang in Asian-fusion recipes or those where the spiciness is a key element. Try it in a spicy chicken stir-fry or mix it into mayonnaise for a delectable dip.

3 – Doenjang + Gochugaru

When combined, doenjang and gochugaru mimic the rich depths and spiciness of gochujang, with a unique umami undertone.

Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste with a deep, savory flavor that is less spicy and more sweet than gochujang. Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper flakes, brings in the heat and vibrant red color.

Mix one part doenjang with one part gochugaru. Adjust the ratio to your liking, keeping in mind that you may need to add a little sweetness with sugar or honey to replicate gochujang’s characteristic balance of flavors.

This combination is best used in stews and soups, like the classic tofu stew, where the flavors have time to meld and develop. It also works well in marinades and as a rub for meats before grilling.

4 – Sambal Oelek + Maple Syrup

If you enjoy Indonesian or Southeast Asian cuisine, you probably already have Sambal Oelek in your pantry. Adding a touch of sweetness balances its robust spiciness, transforming it into a gochujang alternative.

Sambal oelek has a simple profile—ground chili, salt, and sometimes vinegar—resulting in a punchy, somewhat sharp heat.

For that missing gochujang umami, stir in just enough maple syrup to round out the flavors. The ratio is generally 1:1, but tinker with it to suit your dish and your palate.

Sambal oelek with a hint of maple syrup is brilliant in glazes and sauces. Try it as a quick and fiery brush-on for grilled meats or roasted vegetables.

5 – Ssamjang

Combining the best of both the fermented soybean world and the chili realm, ssamjang offers a rich umami with a spicy kick all its own.

Ssamjang has a deeper, more fermented taste than gochujang, with a thicker texture and a bolder savory profile, thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like garlic, sesame oil, and a touch of sugar.

Use ssamjang as a 1-to-1 substitute for a bold and slightly different twist on your dish. It’s particularly well-suited for grilling or dipping, offering layers of flavor that complement the smokiness of the BBQ.

Ssamjang is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes but shines in application such as bibimbap or as a marinade for grilled meats. Its depth of flavor can also enhance simple weeknight meals.


In conclusion, there are plenty of alternatives to gochujang that can still deliver a kick of Korean flavor to your dishes.

Whether you prefer the convenience of store-bought options or enjoy the challenge of making your own gochujang at home, these substitutes are sure to add an exciting twist to your recipes.

So don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different flavors to find your perfect substitute for gochujang.

Homemade Gochujang Paste

Homemade Gochujang Paste

Learn how to make your own gochujang paste at home with this easy recipe. Perfect for adding a kick of Korean flavor to your dishes!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4 people
Calories 244 kcal


  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 Blender or food processor


  • 1 cup gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar


  • In a saucepan, mix together gochugaru and hot water until well combined.
  • Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • In a small bowl, mix together rice flour and soy sauce until smooth.
  • Add the mixture to the saucepan and stir until well combined.
  • Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  • In a blender or food processor, blend together the sauce, honey, minced garlic, and rice vinegar until smooth.
  • Transfer the sauce to a jar or container and let it cool completely before using.


  • This gochujang sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • For a spicier sauce, increase the amount of gochugaru used. For a milder sauce, decrease the amount of gochugaru.
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of honey and rice vinegar to find your desired level of sweetness and tanginess.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 244kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 10gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 1476mgPotassium: 1194mgFiber: 21gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 17537IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 204mgIron: 11mg
Keyword homemade gochujang paste
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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating