4 Easy Gochujang Substitutes You Can Find Today

Desperately in need of a last minute gochujang substitute? Here are the best four backups to get you out of trouble.

gochujang substitute

While there are so many things I love about Korean food, there is always one ingredient in particular that i love: Gochujang.

For the unfamiliar, it’s the incredibly popular chili pepper paste that is often served as both an accompaniment and ingredient in a great number of Korean dishes.

It is such a key ingredient that I find that its flavors are what I’m constantly craving when I’m wanting Korean food. It’s fundamental to so many Korean recipes.

It is a mix of sweet, spicy and salty all rolled into one thick, delicious sauce.

And while at its core it is comprised of fairly simple ingredients (red peppers, salt, malt powder), the process in putting it together can make it difficult to obtain.

So what do you do if a recipe calls for it and you don’t have any at hand?

Unfortunately, it is near impossible to replicate gochujang’s unique flavor. The authentic versions of this recipe ferment for months, which gives it its truly unique sharp and sweet taste.

However when in need there are some adequate flavors that, while not quite a like-for-like replacement, they do offer something different that will still contribute greatly to your recipe.

Want to make your own? Find our homemade gochujang recipe here.


#1. DIY Miso-Based Sauce

When you don’t have months to spare to ferment your chili paste, using miso paste can be a great shortcut to replicate some of those flavors.

See, both gochujang and miso use fermented soy. So cutting straight to the miso can help cut out those months of waiting when making your own Korean chili sauce.

The other ingredients for the sauce are actually fairly easy to obtain. Korean chili powder might be slightly more of a challenge to pick up, but a cayenne pepper and paprika mix can also make an ample substitute.

#2. Red Pepper Flake Paste

It should be said that this doesn’t come close to ur miso alternative above, but if in a rut this on the fly mix gives you a sauce with a sweat flavor and a bite of heat.

It’s quick and easy to make, so makes the perfect alternative should you only realise on the spot that you’re out of gochujang.

You will need just a tablespoon of red pepper flakes, mixed with a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce and a dash of sugar. Simply combine all three ingredients together and enjoy.

The soy sauce acts as a tangy and moist binding agent, while the spice comes from the red pepper flakes, and obviously the sugar will guarantee sweetness.


#3. Sriracha

Full disclaimer: I love sriracha. I add it almost everything (omelettes, burgers, fries…) so I am perhaps being a little bit biased here. However, the sweet and spicy flavors of sriracha really do make it a more than adequate replacement for gochujang.

If you’re just looking for something to make the dish a little hotter then sriracha is for you. It is however much thinner and sweeter, so if you’re creating an authentic Korean dish then I’d give this a miss.

#4. Thai Chili Paste

A fairly better alternative than sriracha, thai chili paste will get you much closer to gochujang in terms of texture.

On the downside however is its flavor. It has a fairly strong garlic taste that is simply not present in gochujang.

As an emergency backup though it will fill in fine due to its heat and sweet flavor, and its thick texture will add a lot to your dish.

What do you use as a backup for gochujang? Let us know in the comments below!