The Most Relevant Gochugaru Substitute

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Gochugaru Substitute Options – If you love to cook spicy Korean dishes, gochugaru is perhaps a well-known ingredient to you. It is widely used in several traditional Korean dishes such as tofu, bulgogi, spring rolls, dumplings, and kimchi. However, today, it has evolved beyond an important Korean spice.

This is because even several Western dishes have now started using it for giving that typical hot taste. Due to its wide usage, it is in high demand.

However, it is a fact that gochugaru is not that easily or readily available in grocery stores in your area. Further, in this case, finding it also not an easy job. This is where you would find its substitutes, as it is a much simpler task.

Many Korean food buffs are of the opinion that re is no substitute for gochugaru, the reality is that there are quite a few adequate alternatives. You may need one of them if you live in an area without a specialty grocery store.

Flavor of Gochugaru

The term gochugaru comes from the word gochu, which refers to the chilies from which it is made as a powder with a coarse texture after removing the dried seeds. This powder has a startlingly distinct spicy flavor although its heat is not genuinely overwhelming.

Thus, gochugaru is moderate in terms of spiciness. This is perhaps why there are many options contending in the list of an ideal gochugaru substitute. The spice can be more sweet or spicy, or even fine or coarse, depending on its type.

Although the spice may be believed to be exotic; technically, it is only a kind of crushed chili pepper. This also is the reason why there are options, each of which can be a feasible gochugaru substitute.

Top 6 Gochugaru Substitute Options

As the spice is available only at a specialty shop, you may need to go outside the box to choose the right alternative. In simple words, you need to know your dish and the preferred taste.

1. Gochujang

This is perhaps the closest alternative to gochugaru. It is made from gochu but has totally different texture, a miso-like flavor, and makes up a thick paste due to the inclusion of rice and fermented soybeans. For most dishes, you can use both the chili powder interchangeably.

See also: Best Fermentation Crock

This alternative has a salty and sweet taste, which can restrict its preference to some dishes. As this is a thick paste, you can use it well in soups, stews, and sauces.

For a salty taste, gochujang can be sufficient. So, you may have to avoid adding salt to your dish. Further, the texture can add sufficient dampness and sticky. So, you may have to consider using the right amount.

2. Crushed Red Pepper Powder

This is perhaps the most convenient gochugaru substitute, which is likely to be in your kitchen right now.  However, it is not the optimal option in terms of flavor. This is because crushed red pepper comes from cayenne pepper, which is far spicier than gochugaru.

It also retains seeds, unlike gochugaru, giving you much more heat. The flavor is also neutral without any smoky or sweet taste.

3. Chipotle Powder

This alternative is the result of smoking Jalapenos and taking away their moisture. Chipotle has a smoky, spicy, and sweet flavor. It is the best option for those who love to have the smokiness equal to that of or even more than gochugaru.

However, it is recommended to focus on your recipe, as too much smokiness can overwhelm its flavor. In case of a doubt, you can consider using it with crushed red pepper so that the flavor gets balanced. Although the heat becomes more, you are near to lighter smoky aroma of gochugaru.

You can easily get chipotle powder as supermarkets do have it. However, the flavor may differ from one brand to another.

4. Jalapenos

Consider getting Jalapenos chilies if chipotle powder is unavailable. These medium peppers deliver a pleasingly burning sensation without blazing your taste buds. However, the texture is not similar to gochugaru.

5. Cayenne Pepper Powder or Flakes

This spice is also popular in Korea due to which no one doubts in experimenting it. Both the texture and color are same as gochugaru. However, the powder is less spicy than the flakes. However, the powder does not have seeds, which is a plus point over flakes for some recipes.

The spice is spicier than gochugaru. So, again you will have to think about the right amount. For instance, making kimchi would ideally have a blend of this spice and lukewarm water prior to adding it to the dish.

6. Chile de Arbol

This is comparable to Chipotle due to its spicy and smoky flavor. It is sold in many grocery stores at affordable rates. Chile de Arbol can be, however, hotter than gochugaru. Thus, consider adding it bit by bit.

See Also: Best Canned Chili


While there are many similar gochugaru substitutes, you need to decide the best option as per your recipe and preference. To do so, you need to know the flavor of this Korean spice.

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Jenny Flatoue

I am a mom of 2 kids, and I have spent my childhood days with my three sisters and parents. Although my parents have helped to be educated, they have enabled me to become savvy in the cooking process. Read More