Gochujang Substitute – Top 5 Alternatives (+ 2 MORE)

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Journal

A popular and delicious Korean paste, gochujang is a sweet and spicy addition that can make meals come alive in a very special way!

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But what about when you’re out of gochujang? Is there a gochujang substitute?

Actually, there is, and quite a few of them at that! Join us as we break down your various options for substituting gochujang when cooking.

Table of Contents

gochujang in silver bowl

What Can I Substitute For Gochujang?

Gochujang has plenty of things you could substitute it with. Although gochujang offers its own unique blend of sweet, savory, and fermented flavors, you can still mimic this flavor in a variety of dishes. Check out the following ingredients you can use to substitute for gochujang in your favorite Korean dishes. 

Can I Use Tomato Paste Instead of Gochujang?

Because tomato paste is a paste, it can be used to substitute for gochujang when you don’t have any gochujang on hand. However, it won’t have quite the same flavor.

Tomato paste is made from tomatoes and is virtually void of any additional flavor that gochujang would typically add. This means you’ll be missing out on the fermented savory flavor of gochujang and also, the sweet flavor that it adds. To make up for missing flavor, you may wish to add a dash of chili powder, a bit of honey or sugar, and some red pepper flakes to help spice up your tomato paste a bit. 

Another option? Simply combine your tomato paste with sriracha sauce for a very similar flavor and texture to that of gochujang. Otherwise, simply use your tomato paste at a 1:1 ratio to gochujang. 

Can You Substitute Harissa For Gochujang?

Yes, you can substitute harissa for gochujang, however, you will want to keep a few things in mind when you do.

Harissa is an African spice blend. As such, the flavoring of harissa won’t exactly match that of gochujang. What harissa does bring, however, is sweetness and heat. Because of that, harissa can be a good substitute for gochujang, but only if you’re in a pinch. 

When substituting harissa for gochujang, feel free to do so at a 1:1 ratio. Spices included in harissa include mint, caraway, and other spices that aren’t similar to gochujang, so be prepared for a change in the overall flavor profile of the dish when using this substitution. 

Can I Substitute Sambal for Gochujang?

Gochujang Substitute Sambal Oelek

The main difference between sambal oelek and gochujang include a difference in texture and in heat and flavor. 

Sambal oelek is made mostly of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. The texture is similar to stewed tomatoes. On the other hand, gochujang consists of sticky rice, fermented soybeans, chili flakes, and more. Therefore the flavors are a bit different. 

Also, gochujang is thicker in texture and will resemble a paste (hence its name) more than would sambal oelek. 

Huey Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste 8 Oz (2 Pack)

Can I Use Gochugaru Instead of Gochujang?

Substituting gochugaru for gochujang will be difficult. 

As mentioned previously, gochujang is a thick paste that resembles tomato paste, though it is much smokier, more savory, and sweeter than tomato sauce. 

Gochujang is also quite spicy. 

Gochugaru, on the other hand, is also spicy but is completely different in terms of taste and texture. Gocchugaru is a fine powder and is usually used as a spice much in the same way that we use red pepper flakes to spice food. In the U.S. and U.K. As such, adding gochugaru to a dish in place of gochujang isn’t going to work because it won’t add the flavor or the consistency to the dish that is needed to make it a worthy gochujang substitute. 

Can I Use Ssamjang Instead of Gochujang?

Yes, you can certainly swap gochujang for ssamjang, although these sauces are not the same.

Ssamjang, like gochujang, is a paste, but it is often thought of as tasting a bit more umami than gochujang. Still, ssamjang actually contains gochujang as one of its main ingredients, making ssamjang a wonderful substitution for gochujang when you have none on hand!

Is Gochujang the Same as Sriracha?

Although the two may look similar given their spicy red hue, sriracha and gochujang are not the same things. Sriracha has red chilies, garlic, salt, sugar, and vinegar. And though this sriracha is not the same thing as gochujang which contains sticky rice and soybeans, the two do resemble each other in terms of flavor.

With that said, sriracha can make a decent substitute for gochujang when you don’t have any on hand, especially since sriracha is more commercial and widely available in most supermarkets. 

Note: Sriracha is quite a bit hotter than gochujang. Make sure to keep this in mind if you choose to substitute sriracha for gochujang in recipes. 

sriracha condiment bottle

Other Gochujang Substitutes

Again, there are many substitutions that can be made for gochujang when you need an alternative. The following is a list of the most common substitutes used for gochujang that offer flavor and consistency similar to that of this tasty Korean paste:

What Meals Can I Substitute Gochujang For?

Gochujang Substitute for Bibimbap

When making bibimbap, a popular Korean dish featuring meat and rice, and chili paste, you can use gochujang and mix it with a little garlic, oil, sugar, water, and sesame oil to make your own bibimbap sauce. If you don’t have gochujang, however, feel free to use Thai chili paste or even tomato paste mixed with sriracha to substitute for gochujang in a bibimbap sauce recipe

Gochujang Substitute Gochugaru

Remember that gochujang isn’t a great swap for gochugaru and the same goes the other way around. In other words, neither gochujang nor gochugaru are interchangeable due to the taste, texture, and consistency differences between the two. Still, if you’ve got no other choice, you can try using twice the amount of gochugaru in a recipe that you would use of gochujang. 

Gochujang Substitute For Kimchi

Interestingly, not all Kimchi recipes call for gochujang. Instead, many call for gochugaru. For this reason, it is best that you use gochugaru rather than gochujang for Kimchi. If, however, you have a recipe that calls for gochujang and you have none, you may consider the aforementioned substitutes or you may make your own gochujang using the recipe published at the end of the post! 

Gochujang Substitute Miso

When making miso soup, you may really benefit from adding gochujang to the pot. Gochujang lends the miso soup a savory and spicy kick that is flavorful and unique. If you have no gochujang for your miso soup, try adding a little Thai chili paste or sriracha to spice things up a bit. The taste won’t be exactly the same as gochujang, but it will provide your miso with a little kick that’d be missing if you left the miso soup without it. 

D.I.Y. Gochujang

Now that you know what types of substitutes work well for gochujang, we thought we’d offer you a recipe to make your own gochujang yourself! While you may not have everything to make this in your cupboard, we promise that buying the ingredients necessary for this delicious gochujang D.I.Y. is well worth the investment. 

Check out the details on how to make your own gochujang paste below:

  • ½ cup Gochugaru
  • ⅔ cup Water
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • 6 Tablespoons Red Miso Paste
  • 3 Tablespoons Sake
  • 1 Teaspoon Rice Vinegar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper

Directions:

How to make Gochujang

  1. Combine and heat

    Combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles. 

  2. Cool

    Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

  3. Add ingredients

    Add the sake, vinegar, and salt.

  4. Store or eat

    That’s it! Store the mixture in the fridge for up to one month.

*Adapted From PickledPlum

Chung Jung One O'Food Medium Hot Pepper Paste Gold (Gochujang), Chili Paste, Korean Traditional Sunchang Brown Rice Red Pepper Paste, No Corn Syrup 1.1lb, Medium Hot (500g)

If you’re a visual learner, you can follow this authentic Korean gochujang recipe from Korean chef, Maangchi!

FAQs

What Is Gochujang Sauce Made Of?

Gochujang sauce is primarily made of short-grain Japanese glutinous rice (or sticky rice), salt, fermented soybeans, and red pepper flakes. The result is a deep red sweet and spicy paste that is added to recipes while cooking to provide them with heat, sweetness, and umami flavor that is both unique and appetizing. 

Is Gochujang the Same as Chili Paste?

Gochujang is, in essence, the same thing as Korean chili paste, but shouldn’t be confused with Americanized or otherwise non-Korean chili pastes. In other words, some chili pastes will taste differently than others, and depending on the part of the world from which they originated, chili pastes can’t always be swapped. 

Gochujang Substitutes Are Plenty!

If you run out of gochujang, don’t worry… there are plenty of substitutes you can use instead to substitute this delicious Korean chili paste with. Be wary of using gochugaru as a substitution for gochujang as the two aren’t quite the same, although they have similar names. 

Also, feel free to whip up a batch of your own gochugaru at home or use any of the aforementioned substitutions to make up for flavor and texture lacking from a dish that’s missing gochujang. 

More chili substitutes here:

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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