10 Gochujang Substitutes [What To Use Instead]

I am going to share a cooking secret with you. Gochujang. It is one of my secret, go-to ingredients that I use to liven up my meals.

I have made gochujang chicken wings, gochujang noodle bowls and even gochujang vinaigrette to pour over salad. 

All those gochujang recipes means that I very often run out of gochujang! Luckily there are quite a few substitutes that add a lot of flavor and spice. 

The best substitute for gochujang is thai chili paste. It has a similar flavor and texture and is easy to find in most grocery stores. Miso paste is another good substitute for gochujang and has a nice fermented flavor. Sriracha can also be used to give your foods a spicy, sweet taste. 

Best Gochujang Substitutes

1. Miso Paste

Miso paste and gochujang are both made with fermented soy beans which give them a very similar flavor base.

That salty, umami taste is super strong in miso and will give your foods that funky flavor you are looking for.

Miso paste is also very easy to find. It is much more popular in western grocery stores than gochujang and you can grab some miso almost anywhere.

Miso Paste

I love Chaganju miso because it is non GMO, non MSG and it comes straight from Kyoto, Japan. 

While miso paste has the umami taste of gochujang, it is not spicy. To replace gochujang with miso paste, I start with one tablespoon of miso paste then mix in 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.

This spicy mix will replace gochujang perfectly on a sandwich or as a marinade. 

Miso paste has about 40 calories per tablespoon which is much higher than gochujang. It also has 5.3 grams of cabs and 2.3 grams of protein.

There are a lot more soybeans in miso which is why the calories and protein are so much higher. 

2. Sriracha

Sriracha sauce is a super popular red, hot sauce that you can find everywhere. People are crazy about sriracha!

I must say that it is a good substitute for gochujang. You can find the Huy Fong sauce everywhere and it is one of the best. 

Sriracha is made from jalapenos while gochujang is made from Korean red chili peppers. The flavor will be a little different but the heat levels will be the same. 

Sriracha has a thinner consistency when compared to gochujang. You can use half the amount of sriracha to replace gochujang in any recipe.

Sriracha makes a great sandwich spread or sauce drizzle over a fish dinner. 

Sriracha

One tablespoon of sriracha has 19.5 calories. It has zero grams of fat so it is a great low fat substitute for gochujang. 

3. Thai Chili Paste

I love Thai chili paste almost as much as I love Gochujang. I use it just as often to marinate chicken, spread across my lunch sandwich and even tossed into my noodle bowls. 

Thai chili paste is made primarily with chili peppers and garlic. It is much spicier than gochujang so keep this in mind when you are using it.

You only need about ¾ of the amount of Thai chili paste to replace gochujang. 

One tablespoon of Thai chili paste has about 80 calories with 5 grams of fat. It is much higher than gochujang but still quite delicious! 

Thai Chili Paste

4. Sambal Oelek- Best Spicy Substitute for Gochujang

Sambal oelek is a fantastic substitute for gochujang. Both are types of Asian chili paste made from red chili peppers.

Sambal Oelek is a little bit thinner than gochujang so it is best when used as a marinade or dip rather than a spread. 

To replace gochujang with sambal oelek, use only half as much. If your recipe asks for 1 tablespoon of gochujang, ½ tablespoon of sambal oelek will do!

I love Hung Foy Chili paste which is one of the original sambal oelek on the market. 

I like to stir in ¼ tsp of white granulated sugar into my sambal oelek. It gives it the sweetness of gochujang that I think really enhances the taste. 

Sambal oelek is a very spicy substitute for gochujang so that little sugar helps mellow it out.

Skip the sugar, though if you want some extra heat!  It is definitely one of the best spicy substitutes for gochujang. 

Sambal Oelek

One tablespoon of sambal oelek has only three calories and 0 grams of fat. It is nutritionally quite similar to gochujang. 

5. Harissa Paste

Harissa paste is a smoky, African spice blend. It has a very different flavor than gochujang but is still a great, unexpected substitute. It adds a lot of heat and spice to any dish.

Use the same amount of harissa paste to replace gochujang in any recipe. It is perfect as a spread or mixed into noodles.

I especially love stirring it up with some olive oil to create a tasty dip. 

I love Mina harissa paste; it has just 10 calories per tablespoon and just .5 grams of fat making it very similar to gochujang. 

 Harissa Paste

6. Cayenne Pepper

Many of us already have cayenne pepper in our spice cabinets which means it is a convenient substitute for gochujang. Ground cayenne will add a lot of spice to any recipe. 

Since ground cayenne is a powdered spice rather than a paste, you will use it a little differently than gochujang.

I like to mix 1 teaspoon of cayenne with 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and ¼ tsp sugar and use it to replace 1 tablespoon of gochujang. This creates a delicious mix that is sweet, spicy and umami, just like gochujang. 

 Cayenne Pepper

Use this mix to spice up your favorite Asian noodle bowls or as a fish marinade. 

7. Tomato Paste – Fat Free Substitute for Gochujang

Tomato paste is the same texture as gochujang but it lacks the flavor of the sweet chili paste.

I love this substitute because it is so easy to find (I always have some tomato paste on hand!) but it does take a little doctoring to get it right. 

To use tomato paste in place of gochujang, start with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, then add ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp soy sauce, and ⅛ tsp sugar.

Mix it together and you can use this substitute to replace gochujang with a 1:1 ratio in any recipe. 

Tomato paste is best as a substitute for gochujang in recipes like noodle bowls or as a marinade. It is also a good spread on a sandwich. 

Tomato Paste

One tablespoon of tomato paste has about 13 calories. It is also a great fat free gochujang substitute. 

8. Dates and Peppers – Best Non Spicy Substitute for Gochujang

I love Medjool date paste and found that it can be a great substitute for gochujang. Date paste is thick and sweet. It just needs a little spice! 

Add 3 Tbsp of sweet date paste to a food processor and add ½ tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar and ¼ tsp garlic powder.

Pulse the ingredients together and then your homemade gochujang substitute is ready to use!

I especially love this substitute as a marinade on chicken. It makes a perfect sweet and spicy dish that is so close to the flavor of real gochujang. 

You can skip the cayenne pepper flakes in this mini recipe to make a non spicy substitute for gochujang.

I have done this many times as one of my kids does not like spice. The date paste is perfect for anyone who wants a non spicy substitute for gochujang! 

Date paste is much higher in sugar than gochujang. It has about 54 grams of sugar per 100g of paste which also increases the calorie count to 314. Keep this in mind when using this substitute. 

9. Gochugaru

Gochuaru is a Korean chili powder that is made from red chili peppers. It is often used to make kimchi and is not as spicy as other dried pepper powders. It has a smokey, sweet heat that I absolutely love. 

Gochugaru is a powder so it is used a little differently than gochujang. You can sprinkle it right onto fish or meat as a seasoning.

Use 1 tsp of the powder to replace 1 tbsp of gochujang. I like to mix 1 tsp of gochugaru with 1 tbsp of tomato paste and ½ tsp sugar to make a thicker, substitute that is closer to the texture of gochujang.

Gochugaru

Gochugaru has about 15 calories per teaspoon and zero grams of fat. It is also rich in vitamin A and E so it is a fairly healthy substitute for gochujang. 

10. Doenjang

Doenjang is another one of my secret cooking ingredients. It adds a whole lot of flavor with just a little bit of the thick soy bean paste. I thought it would make a great substitute for gochujang!

Doenjang is a fermented soy bean paste that is a little bit sour. It has the fermented taste like gochujang and the same texture too. All it needs is a little heat!

I mix 1 tablespoon of doenjang with ½ tsp cayenne pepper and then use this spread on sandwiches and mixed into noodle bowls. 

Wang Korean doenjang is my favorite brand. It has a great texture and real authentic flavor. Add that cayenne pepper and you’ll have the perfect gochujang substitute. No sacrificing flavor here!

One tablespoon of doenjang has 50 calories but 4 grams of protein. It may be higher in calories than gochujang but you do get all that natural, vegan protein in the mix.

What is Gochujang?

Gochujang is a type of chili paste made from ground red chilies. The chilies are fermented with glutinous rice, soy beans and salt.

The result is a thick paste that is a versatile condiment and ingredient.

Gochujang is a staple in Korean cooking. It is added to soups, stews and often mixed with sesame oil to create a dipping sauce.

Gochujang can be brushed over chicken as a marinade or used to make a spicy salad dressing. It is incredible!

What is Gochujang Taste Like?

Gochujang has a spicy, salty and sweet taste. It has a strong umami taste that will grow in your mouth as you eat. It is a very full flavored sauce that compliments so many dishes. 

Gochujang gets its spice from the red chili peppers that are used to make the sauce.

The sweetness comes from the fermented rice. The starches in the rice turn to sugar as the rice ferments. 

The taste of gochujang is very unique and quite addictive. I will warn you that once you try it, you will crave it all the time! 

Is Gochujang Healthy?

Gochujang is actually quite healthy. It is very rich in plant based protein thanks to the fermented soy beans in the mix.

Eating spicy foods has also been shown to help with weight loss by speeding up metabolism. 

Gochujang does not have a high quantity of vitamins or minerals. However, it is just a condiment! It should be a flavor enhancer to a balanced diet.

Here is a quick look at the nutritional content for one tablespoon of gochujang. 

Calories3.2
Fat.1 gram
Protein.1 gram
Carbs.6 grams

Final Considerations

Gochujang is a delicious sauce that is quite powerful and unique. Everyone in my family is crazy for gochujang and they put it on everything! 

Try these substitutes if you can’t find gochujang and you will get just as much flavor. Let me know which substitute you like the best! Happy cooking. 

Homemade Gochujang

Easy Homemade Gochujang

Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

When you can’t find gochujang in stores, try making your own! I have a fantastic gochujang recipe below that will work perfectly as a dip, a spread or a marinade. 

While real gochujang requires months of fermentation, my recipe is a little faster and easier.

My homemade gochujang only takes about 5 minutes to make. It is so simple that you may never buy real gochujang ever again!

This gochujang tastes authentic and will add so much flavor to your favorite tempeh, chicken wings and crackers!

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup miso paste
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup korean chili flakes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well blended. 
  2. Add more water if you’d like a thinner gochujang. 
  3. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. It will also keep in the freezer for about a month. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 70Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1150mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 3g
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