9 Best Substitute For Gochujang

Gochujang Substitute

In the culinary universe, flavors traverse borders, melding into global gastronomies and lending distinct personalities to dishes. Among these flavor powerhouses, Gochujang, a staple in Korean cooking, stands out. This bright red chili paste packs a punch with its unique blend of sweet, savory, and spicy notes. This versatile condiment can amplify the taste of everything from marinades and stews to stir-fries and dips.

Yet, as essential as Gochujang is in Korean cuisine, it’s not always readily available in every pantry or local supermarket. Furthermore, dietary restrictions or personal preferences may require alternatives. Thankfully, a variety of substitutes capture the essence of Gochujang’s unique flavor profile, each offering a twist of its own. Whether it’s the fiery Sriracha, the smoky chipotle in adobo sauce, or the umami-rich miso paste, the substitutes explored in this article maintain the balance between heat, sweetness, and savoriness, making them viable stand-ins when Gochujang is out of reach.

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang, often termed the backbone of Korean cooking, is a red chili paste that boasts a complex and distinctive flavor profile. It’s a fermented condiment that incorporates glutinous rice, chili powder, meju (fermented soybean) powder, and barley malt powder. This paste is thick and sticky with a bold, spicy flavor that’s tempered by a mild sweetness and a profound umami taste. From soups to stir-fries, gochujang is a versatile ingredient that enhances any dish it graces.

A Quick Flavor Swap: Substitutes For Gochujang

  • Sriracha
  • Harissa
  • Tomato Paste with Red Pepper Flakes
  • Miso Paste and Chili
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Thai Chili Paste
  • Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • Red Curry Paste
  • Hoisin Sauce

Best Substitutes For Gochujang


If you’re searching for a readily available alternative to gochujang, Sriracha is your best bet. Like gochujang, Sriracha offers a fiery, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor profile, making it a versatile addition to many dishes. However, it’s important to note that Sriracha, being less pungent and sweeter, might not provide the depth of flavor inherent in gochujang.

Despite the flavor difference, Sriracha’s versatility makes it an excellent stand-in. Its tangy edge works well in marinades, dressings, and sauces, where the spiciness and sweetness can shine. And when it comes to consistency, Sriracha, being less thick than gochujang, distributes more evenly in sauces, providing a uniform taste throughout the dish.

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To best mimic the flavor of gochujang using Sriracha, you can add a hint of soy sauce or miso paste. This step will boost the umami element and help recreate the complexity of gochujang’s flavor in your cooking.


Harissa, a North African chili paste, is another feasible substitute for gochujang. With its fiery heat and smoky undertones, harissa brings a unique depth of flavor that can rival that of gochujang. However, it lacks the sweet and umami characteristics that define gochujang, thus requiring a few tweaks to emulate the Korean paste’s flavor profile.

Despite this difference, harissa’s complex spiciness makes it a valuable addition to dishes like stews, soups, and meat marinades. Moreover, its vibrant red color can give your dishes the appealing look that gochujang would.

To get closer to gochujang’s flavor, consider adding a touch of honey or sugar to harissa. This addition will contribute the necessary sweetness, while a dash of soy sauce will bring in the umami flavor. With these modifications, harissa becomes a more-than-adequate stand-in for gochujang.

Tomato Paste with Red Pepper Flakes

An ingenious blend of tomato paste and red pepper flakes serves as a makeshift gochujang substitute, especially when pantry options are limited. Tomato paste provides a rich and slightly sweet base that somewhat resembles the flavor of gochujang, while red pepper flakes bring the heat.

While this substitute might not fully capture the complexity of gochujang’s taste, it does offer a unique flavor that can enhance various dishes. The umami-rich tomato paste works well in stews and sauces, and the heat from the red pepper flakes can be adjusted to suit your taste.

To better mimic gochujang’s flavor, you can add a little sugar for sweetness and soy sauce for umami. This DIY substitute will not exactly replicate gochujang’s unique taste but can fill in quite admirably in a pinch.

Miso Paste and Chili

Miso paste and chili combination is an interesting alternative to gochujang. As a fermented product, miso shares the savory umami flavor that gochujang is famous for, while the addition of chili brings in the spicy kick.

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Although this duo does not carry gochujang’s characteristic sweetness, its flavor profile can still complement many dishes. The miso-chili blend can be used in soups, stir-fries, or marinades to bring a warming depth of flavor.

A pinch of sugar can be added to this substitute to introduce the missing sweetness, making the mix a more complete alternative to gochujang. The amount of chili can also be adjusted according to your heat preference.

Tabasco Sauce

Tabasco sauce, though thinner and more liquid than gochujang, brings a fiery heat that can mimic the spiciness of the Korean chili paste. However, this hot sauce lacks the sweet and savory notes that define gochujang.

Despite these differences, Tabasco sauce can be a viable alternative in recipes that call for a spicy kick rather than the complete flavor profile of gochujang. The sauce’s intense heat can transform dishes like soups, stews, and sauces into fiery delights.

To get closer to the flavor of gochujang, consider adding a bit of sugar for sweetness and soy sauce for a savory touch. With these additions, Tabasco sauce becomes a makeshift, though significantly different, gochujang substitute.

Thai Chili Paste

Known for its spiciness, Thai chili paste (nam prik pao) is another potential substitute for gochujang. Like gochujang, this paste offers a balance of spicy, sweet, and savory flavors. However, Thai chili paste has a distinctly tangy note that isn’t present in gochujang.

Despite this difference, Thai chili paste’s intense flavor profile can still work in many recipes. Its spiciness and tanginess can lend an exciting edge to stir-fries, soups, or noodle dishes.

To make this substitute more similar to gochujang, consider reducing the tanginess by adding a bit of sugar or honey. This addition will bring the sweetness more in line with that of gochujang.

Chipotle in Adobo Sauce

Chipotle in adobo sauce, with its smoky and spicy flavor, can be an unexpected but effective substitute for gochujang. The sauce, made from smoked jalapeños in a tangy, sweet tomato sauce, echoes some aspects of gochujang’s flavor profile.

The smoky spiciness of chipotle in adobo sauce works well in dishes like soups, stews, and marinades. However, it lacks the umami richness of gochujang, and its smoky flavor is more pronounced.

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To better mimic the taste of gochujang, adding a dash of soy sauce can introduce the missing umami flavor, and a bit of sugar can balance the tanginess of the adobo sauce.

Red Curry Paste

Red curry paste, a staple in Thai cuisine, can serve as a gochujang substitute. This paste carries a robust flavor from various spices and herbs. However, it has a distinctive flavor, with notes of garlic, lemongrass, and shrimp paste, which are not present in gochujang.

Even with these differences, red curry paste can add a flavorful punch to soups, curries, and stir-fries. Its depth of flavor and heat can transform any dish.

To make it more similar to gochujang, consider adding some sugar to enhance the sweetness, and some soy sauce to provide a umami kick.

Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce, a thick, fragrant sauce commonly used in Chinese cuisine, can be used as a gochujang substitute. It offers a sweet and salty flavor that somewhat mirrors gochujang’s sweet-umami taste. However, hoisin lacks the spiciness that characterizes gochujang.

Despite this, hoisin sauce’s rich flavor can be a valuable addition to various dishes, from stir-fries to marinades. Its sweet-salty balance can provide a delightful contrast in many recipes.

To bring this substitute closer to gochujang’s taste, consider adding chili flakes or hot sauce to introduce the missing heat. This adjustment will make hoisin sauce a more balanced stand-in for gochujang.

Substitutes for Gochujang: Nutritional Profile

SubstituteGluten (g)Calories (kcal)Fat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Tomato Paste with Red Pepper Flakes07001743
Miso Paste and Chili0561813
Tabasco Sauce0300701
Thai Chili Paste08002000
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce0421731
Red Curry Paste0301601
Hoisin Sauce210012411

*These values are approximate and can vary based on the specific brand and preparation of each substitute.

Final Thoughts

The world of cooking is full of intriguing ingredients, and gochujang is no exception. But as we’ve seen, there are several options at our disposal when this Korean chili paste isn’t available. Whether it’s the fiery kick of Sriracha, the robust spiciness of harissa, or the sweet and tangy richness of hoisin sauce, each substitute brings its own unique flair to the table. So, the next time you’re cooking a recipe that calls for gochujang and you don’t have it, feel confident in trying one of these alternatives.

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