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7 Perfect Gochujang Substitutes To Know About

Korean based dishes for Gochujang substitutes are becoming very popular for both food enthusiasts and those who love to cook. Whilst it is great to get to work on creating a complex, yet simple looking Asian dish, the hardest part can actually be sourcing the ingredients.

Gochujang is one of those ingredients. Whilst you can buy it from somewhere like Amazon, some people may even find it in their local grocery store or Asian store.

However, unless you have time to wait for it to arrive, or perhaps maybe your local store doesn’t have it, then you will need to find a substitute.

7 Best Gochujang Substitutes That Work

Fortunately, you have come to the right place. Gochujang has a distinctive flavor due to the fermentation which creates a spicy yet sour flavor with a sweet undertone.

The chili paste can work in numerous dishes, with many adding it to something like bibimbap, a popular Korean dish.

In this article we shall be looking at how to substitute Gochujang if you can’t get a hold of the real thing. So, let’s get to it!

Gochujang Substitutes Includes:

1. Thai Chili Paste

If you are lacking time, then Thai chili paste bought from your local grocery or Asian store can do the trick. Whilst it doesn’t taste very similar to Gochujang, the paste itself looks and feels like the real thing. 

Whilst the flavor profile isn’t similar due to garlic being an overwhelming taste, it does have that same spiciness that you associate with Gochujang.

How To Substitute

This alternative is bought from your local Asian or grocery store. Use it with caution however, because the ingredients of this paste can overwhelm many delicate flavors of a dish.  The latter needs extra care when added to a dish because it has strong flavors that can overtake other flavors.

2. Chili And Miso

For a substitute that tastes the most similar to that of Gochujang, then chili and miso is a great alternative. It has a very similar flavor of the spiciness along with a sweet undertone.

This is because both Gochujang and miso go through a fermentation process as they include soy. This means that once you add both miso and chili powder, it has a similar look and taste. 

How To Substitute

To create this Gochujang substitution, you will need to add chili powder to miso in equal parts. Whilst you can use any form of chili powder, the most authentic flavor will come from Korean chili powder. This is the kind of substitute that you can mix into dishes or use as a dipping sauce.

3. Spices And Dates

If you, a family member, or guest suffers from allergies such as from soy or gluten, then using dates and spices is a great alternative. It can also make a really good vegan substitute too!

Despite being the most ingredient heavy of the lot, it is still pretty simple to create and considered healthy. This is because no sugar is added, because the sweetness comes from both the tomato puree and the dates.

How To Substitute

To create this substitution, you will need to blend up to 6 dates alongside 4 tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of tomato puree, half a teaspoon of garlic powder, and 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper. It is a great substitute for those who would like Gochujang in their food, but can’t eat it due to allergies.

4. Tomato Paste

7 Best Gochujang Substitutes That Work (1)

If you are really struggling for time and need to make a quick chili sauce that is similar to Gochujang, then tomato puree could work, though it is considered a last resort due to it having little similarity to Gochujang apart from how it looks.

Yes, they are both red and can be used as a dip or mixed into a dish, but tomato puree will taste incredibly like tomatoes – obviously.

Gochujang does not taste like tomatoes, however, once mixed with other ingredients, the tomato will bring the sweetness through. 

How To Substitute

To create a tomato based Gochujang, you will want to add some form of chili to it, whether that is cayenne pepper or some other spice that you have available. To follow, add a pinch of salt too. You can always add ingredients, but you cannot take it away.

RELATED: 8 Options To Substitute Tamarind Paste

5. Flakes Of Red Pepper

If you are looking for a simple alternative, then some red pepper flakes can do the job nicely. The red pepper flakes will add both the spiciness and the sweetness to a dish, though it won’t be as smooth as something like a paste.

Due to it having that crunchiness, look for a dish that would benefit from such a thing, otherwise, whilst you might be able to replicate a similar flavor, the texture will feel out of place.

For example, you might not want to add it to a bibimbap, but you could substitute Gochujang for crunchy flakes of red pepper in a crispy chicken recipe. 

How To Substitute

To create this easy condiment, in a small bowl add a few splashes of soy sauce followed by a teaspoon worth of red pepper flakes. Add a tiny quarter of a teaspoon worth of sugar, and then mix together.  Because this alternative includes adding sugar, be mindful of how much you add. Whilst Gochujang has a sweet undertone, it is very minimal, so think about this before you add too much sugar.

6. Sambal Oelek

If you have a good Asian store nearby, you might have already come across sambal oelek. It looks similar to Gochujang, and is a popular ingredient used in South East Asian cooking.

The reason it is great as a substitute for Gochujang is because it not only looks like the real thing, but it is made with chili paste. 

How To Substitute

Whilst you can go and buy this paste, you can also make your own version too. All you will need is some chili peppers made into a paste, along with a splash of water, vinegar, and a pinch of salt.  Sambal oelek works alongside a number of dishes, but particularly Korean dishes that are soup or meat based, and once again, that delicious bibimbap!

7. Harissa Paste

Lastly, we have harissa paste. Whilst it is very much commonly used in Moroccan dishes, it can be served as an alternative to Gochujang. Why? Because it is spicy and has a red color, not to mention all that flavor. 

What harissa paste also has is a smokey flavor. This means that when choosing this type of paste, make sure you choose one with a milder smoky undertone. Some can be rather strong, and this will take away the kind of taste that you are aiming for.

How To Substitute

Harissa paste can be bought from your local grocery store. It can be used as a substitute for Gochujang due to the heat that comes from it. Add it to meat based dishes for the ultimate experience with this paste.  Just like Gochujang, this will look great served in a small side bowl for dipping purposes. But it can also be placed onto the food for an extra kick straightaway.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gochujang Paste Healthy? 

Gochujang is a type of Korean fermented red chili paste that is used in a variety of dishes. While it is not traditionally made with wheat flour, it is now made with rice flour, which makes it gluten-free. The paste is most commonly used as a condiment for meat dishes and is often served with rice and vegetables.

Is Gochujang The Same As Red Pepper Paste?

The traditional Korean red pepper paste is made from red peppers, fermented soybean paste, salt, and rice syrup. The fermented soybean paste is mixed with red peppers and salt to create a thick paste. The red pepper paste is then mixed with rice syrup to create a thick liquid. The liquid is left to ferment for at least a month.

How Do You Make Gochujang?

 Gochujang is a fermented, chile-flavored paste that is popular in Korean cuisine. To make gochujang, red chilies are soaked in soy sauce, rice syrup, and glutinous rice. The mixture is allowed to ferment for a few days, then blended and seasoned with salt and ground red chiles.

Why Is Gochujang Black?

Gochujang is a fermented Korean red chili paste that has been popular in Korea for centuries. Traditionally, it was produced by mixing the paste with glutinous rice powder and making it into balls. These balls were then buried in a jar of water to ferment for several months. The resulting paste is dark red and has a slightly salty, smoky flavor.

7 Best Gochujang Substitutes That Work

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In this article we take a look at 7 substitutes for Gochujang, from using miso to making your own sambal oelek


  • Thai Chili Paste

  • Chili And Miso

  • Spices And Dates

  • Tomato Paste

  • Flakes Of Red Pepper

  • Sambal Oelek

  • Harissa Paste


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith