Top 10 Gochugaru Substitutes You Must Try

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Guide

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Gochugaru is a coarse chili powder popular in Korean meals and dishes. It comes from the Gochu pepper and is moderately spicy. Most reports state that it gets to around 8,000 Scoville units!

More specifically, Gochugaru is popular in meals like kimchi and bulgogi. Sometimes, however, this ingredient can be hard to find in American grocery stores and other locations. If you want to create a Korean recipe that calls for this spice, consider a Gochugaru substitute such as those listed below.

Table of Contents

What Can I Substitute for Gochugaru?

  • Gochujang
  • Cayenne
  • Chile Powder
  • Chile Pasilla
  • Paprika
  • Chile de Arbol
  • Aleppo Pepper Powder
  • Fish Paper
  • Guajillo Powder
  • Crushed Red Pepper

1. Can I Use Gochujang Instead of Gochugaru?

Gochujang is one of the best substitutes that you can choose for Gochugaru as it is another Korean spice. It comes from the same pepper used in the original ingredient. You will notice that the taste between the two ingredients is remarkably similar, leaving behind the same amount of spice.

The primary difference between the two ingredients is the texture that they each have. The Gochujang is a thick paste, while the Gochugaru is more like a powder. You will have to adjust the methods you use when cooking with this ingredient in the recipe.

Gochujang is naturally much saltier. It contains ingredients like salt, soybeans, and sticky rice in it, meaning you will have to adjust the amount that you want to use in your recipe. You will half the amount of Gochugaru listed. If the recipe calls for one teaspoon of Gochugaru, for instance, you will only put in half of a teaspoon of Gochujang.

When using Gochujang, you may be able to eliminate some of the salt that the recipe asks you to add. It is up to you to taste test the recipe after you finish it to determine if you would like the additional flavor.

2. Gochugaru vs Cayenne Paper

Cayenne pepper is a little bit spicier than Gochugaru. It has a similar texture as the original ingredient as it is a powder. Sometimes, however, cayenne pepper flakes are too spicy for those individuals who cannot handle a harsh flavor profile.

Cayenne pepper is a common ingredient in a wide variety of Asian and Korean dishes. You may already know about the flavor of this seasoning due to the many other recipes that require it.

Sometimes, Gochugaru is available in flake form if you do not want to use the powder variation of this ingredient. If you use the former, you will get a spicier flavor profile than is present in the ground-up version. You will also find numerous nutritional benefits from the ingredient, including antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

If you want to eliminate some of the spicinesses of the cayenne pepper or the cayenne pepper flakes, you can soak the ingredient in lukewarm water. Leave it for at least a few hours to mellow out some of the spice.

You will use a little bit less cayenne pepper than Gochugaru when considering this substitute. For every teaspoon of Gochugaru, for instance, you will use three-quarters of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or of the cayenne pepper flakes.

3. Chili Powder a.k.a Chipotle Powder

Chili powder, also known as chipotle powder, comes from smoked Jalapeno peppers. The goal is to remove as much moisture as possible from the plant. The result will leave a similar profile to what you may enjoy when you use Gochugaru in Korean recipes.

Chili powder gives your meals an extra kick. Most know Jalapeno peppers for being spicy, making this ingredient the perfect option for those who want a little more flavor. Make sure that you warn your friends and family members when you decide to use chili powder or paprika, however, as it can be overwhelming.

Sometimes, the spiciness is not the only thing that you will experience more of when using chipotle powder instead of Gochugaru. The smokiness is much more intense in the former, which can bring an entirely different smoky flavor profile to your recipe. You likely will need to make some adjustments when cooking for this reason.

Most individuals choose to mix chili powder and crushed red pepper flakes. The latter ingredient will help to pull out some of the smokiness and the smoky flavor that you may not want. Make sure to use equal parts chipotle powder and Gochugaru, however, whether you mix it with red pepper flakes or not.

Top 10 Gochugaru Substitutes You Must Try

4. Chile Pasilla

The three aforementioned options are each full of spice and flavor. As mentioned, however, some individuals cannot handle the extensive spiciness that you may enjoy. If you want to make a Korean meal with a Gochugaru substitute that is not as powerful, consider using a Chile Pasilla.

The Chile Pasilla is a pepper that comes from Mexico. Those who love Mexican food will recognize the flavors of the plant almost immediately. It is common in salsas, soups, sauces for certain meals, and more. Chile Pasilla peppers have been used in other international cuisines, however, including Korean food.

When you use a Chile Pasilla in your Korean recipe, you will notice that your food will turn out significantly darker. Do not worry, however, as this is normal due to the color of the pepper. You may want to warn your loved ones too, especially if they care about the appearance of their food.

If you do care about the appearance of your food, consider using one of the other substitutes that are on this list. If not, you will add equal parts of Chile Pasilla as Gochugaru. You can crush, dice, or slice the pepper, depending on the texture you want to create.

5. Gochugaru vs Paprika

Many Korean foods are bright red because of the ingredients used in the recipes, including Gochugaru. If you want your food to still have this coloration, consider using paprika and its rich taste as a substitute. This ingredient is common throughout America, meaning it should be easy to find in any grocery store.

When you get to the grocery store, you may wonder what kind of paprika to buy. There will likely be at least two or three variations on the shelf. It is up to you to determine the paprika option that will best work with the flavor profile of your dish.

The sweet version of paprika is the most common, and it is very mild in spice. Hot paprika, however, is extremely spicy if you want to make your dish more extravagant. It is common in Latin, Hungarian, and Middle Eastern foods.

Finally, as the name implies, smoked paprika brings smokiness to your recipe. Most agree that the hot variant is the best for Korean cooking, especially if you want a similar taste to Gochugaru, but you can choose any of the three you desire. Use equal parts of paprika and Gochugaru in your recipes.

Top 10 Gochugaru Substitutes You Must Try

6. Chile de Arbol

Chile de Arbol is best if, again, you want a little bit more spice in any of your Korean recipes. This pepper is extremely hot, so it is not for the faint of heart. It will add a fun flavor profile for those who are willing to experiment with their international cuisines, however.

Be careful when you first try Chile de Arbol in a dish. If you use too much, it runs the serious risk of burning your tongue and mouth. It is best to only start with a small amount, adding more over time if you end up needing more spice.

Chile de Arbol comes in several different forms, and it is inexpensive. You can buy it as a powder, paste, or as flakes, for instance. The last of these three options will be the one that carries the most spice in your Korean recipes.

When using Chile de Arbol, you will use half of the amount that the recipe requests of Gochugaru. If you need a tablespoon of Gochugaru, you will only add a half tablespoon of Chile de Arbol. You can add more, as mentioned if you want even more of a spiciness to your dish.

7. Gochugaru vs Aleppo Pepper Powder

Aleppo powder is a common ingredient used throughout the Middle East in cooking. It has a similar spice level to Gochugaru. If you already know how to work with this ingredient, you can impress your loved ones by showing them how to use it in other international cuisines.

Aleppo powder has a beautiful, bright red appearance. It is vibrant in its coloration, making it immediately recognizable to those who want to use it in their dishes. You will not use the traditional look of Korean dishes. Remember, most of the cuisine of this region is red.

Do understand that Aleppo powder has a strong aftertaste when you consume too much of it. Some report that this feature makes the spice worse than Gochugaru, but everyone has a different flavor profile. If you can handle the tanginess of spicy dishes, then you should not have a problem with this Gochugaru substitute.

In most cases, it is best to use equal amounts of Gochugaru and Aleppo powder. If you use too little, you may not achieve the full flavor that you need. If you use too much, just like with Gochugaru, your dish will end up being much too spicy.

8. Fish Pepper

If you live on the coast or are a fan of seafood then you likely know what fish pepper is. You probably use it on a wide variety of dishes, especially if you are a fish connoisseur. Not everyone knows what this Gochugaru substitute is, however, especially those individuals who are young.

Fish pepper can bring spice to your dish without neglecting the base ingredients. You can buy a plant version of this spice too so that you can grow it and harvest it yourself if necessary. It is easy to grow and requires very little care.

In flavor profile, fish pepper has a much milder taste. It is not near as spicy, so you will likely need to add more of the ingredient to your Korean dishes. You can also combine it with chili powder or red pepper flakes if you want the full level of spice.

Most individuals agree that you should add a little bit more fish pepper to your Korean dish than Gochugaru. Again, this step is only for those individuals who enjoy a certain spiciness in their recipes. If this is not you, add the same amount and use other seasonings in tandem.

9. Guajillo Powder

Guajillo Powder is the crushed-up form of the Guajillo pepper. This ingredient is one of the most commonly used in Mexican dishes, including quesadillas and other entrees. The Guajillo pepper itself is the second most popular harvested in the entire country of Mexico.

When using the Guajillo pepper, you can dice, blend, julienne, or eat these vegetable whole. When blending the ingredient, you can turn it into a paste so that you can use it in its liquid form. Make sure that you do not use the seeds when substituting with this ingredient, as this part of the plant is where most of the spice is.

Guajillo peppers also have more of a spice to them than Gochugaru. It is easier to use than other substitutes such as cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Overall, the flavor profile is somewhat milder. You will more easily be able to control the amount of heat that your dish will have when using Guajillo peppers.

Typically, you will want to add three-fourths of the amounts of Gochugaru called for in your recipe. You should know, however, that when you use the Guajillo peppers, your dish will have a different color. It will present as a reddish-brown rather than vibrant red.

10. Gochugaru vs. Crushed Red Pepper

Most individuals choose to use crushed red pepper flakes when looking for a substitute for Gochugaru. In this article you can learn how to dehydrate red papers and crus them. This ingredient is inexpensive, easy to find, and widely available across American grocery stores. Plus, it has the same color as Gochugaru, meaning the appearance will be very similar to the original recipe.

Crushed red peppers are up to eight times spicier than Gochugaru. They can reach up to 50,000 SHU, which is extraordinary hot. It is imperative that you only start with a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes. You can add more if you need to after taste-testing your dish.

Typically, you should put in about half of the amount of red pepper flakes as you do Gochugaru. This step is only because of the extreme heat that comes from this substitute option. You do not want to overwhelm your guests, especially those who cannot handle spice as well as you can.

If your guests cannot handle spice, you may want to resort to one of the milder options on this list. If you want your dish to look the same, be sure to choose an ingredient that still has the rich red color. Ultimately, you will create a very similar flavor profile to that offered by Gochugaru.

Top 10 Gochugaru Substitutes You Must Try

Find the Perfect Substitute for Gochugaru

Gochugaru is one of the most popular ingredients that many Korean recipes ask that you add. Sometimes, however, Gochugaru can be hard to find, meaning you need to locate a substitute. Though you may not get the exact flavor profile, you will achieve something similar when using one of the ingredients on the list above.

If you care about the appearance of your Korean dish, make sure that you only use one of the ingredients that is red in color. If you use any of the brown-colored options, you will end up with a much darker dish. This appearance may turn off you loved ones from your food.


Is Gochugang a Replacement for Gochugaru?

Gochujang is an excellent replacement for Gochugaru. It has many of the same flavor profiles and is basically the same ingredient. The only difference is that Gochujang is a paste and Gochugaru is a powder.

When using Gochujang, you may need to adjust the amount you use. It is much saltier than Gochugaru, meaning it can make your dish taste completely different.

Most agree that you can use about half of the amount of Gochujang as required of Gochugaru. If you do not have the same level of heat, however, continue adding a little bit more at a time.

What Can I Substitute for Korean Chili Paste?

If you do not have access to Korean chili paste, opt for a substitute. Make sure that it has a miso base so that you get many of the same flavor profiles. In the grocery store, for instance, you can purchase the Sriracha chili paste, though it is quite spicy.

Some individuals choose to use tomato paste instead of Korean chili paste. You can add chili flakes to the mixture to give your dish some heat, but you will never achieve the same flavors that exist in Gochujang. You should only use this option when you do not have anything else available.

Can I Substitute Chili Powder for Gochujang?

Chili powder is one of the most popular substitutes for Gochugaru, so there is no reason why you cannot substitute it for Gochujang. Remember, however, that Gochujang comes as a paste while this option comes in flake or powder form.

Make sure that you use the same amount of chili powder as you do for Gochujang. If the taste is particularly mild, you will need to double the recipe with this ingredient. You will need to taste test the chili powder just as needed for many of the other options listed in the information above.