Skip to Content

Savory Tweaks: 5 BEST Gochugaru Substitutes

Searching for a scrumptious way to add flavor to your meals? Then, Gochugaru is the ideal ingredient.

But, don’t have it? No problem.

Check out these five wonderful substitutes to get that zesty taste.

You won’t believe how simple it is to create an incredible dish without Gochugaru.

What is Gochugaru?

Gochugaru is a Korean ingredient with heat and spice.

It is commonly made from dried, ground red chili peppers.

This seasoning is used often in Korean cuisine, such as kimchi, bulgogi, and tteokbokki.

If you are interested in learning more, here is the scoop.

Gochugaru stands out for its unique flavor; sweetness, smokiness, and a moderate spiciness.

It has a coarse texture that adds visual appeal and a crunch.

It can be used in marinades and as a finishing spice.

Gochugaru has less oil content and more flesh, making it less pungent and more colorful.

It can also be hydrated without losing its texture.

Gochugaru comes in different grades or coarseness levels, which affects its intensity.

Finer gochugaru is spicier than the coarser varieties.

However, even the mild gochugaru can still enhance the flavor of a dish.

If you don’t have gochugaru readily available, you can substitute with other chili flakes or powders.

But, you may need to adjust the other spices accordingly as the flavor profile will be different.

The 5 Best Gochugaru Substitutes to Consider

If you can’t find Gochugaru or can’t use it in your recipe, The 5 Best Substitutes are great options.

Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Red pepper flakes, Chili powder – these all make good alternatives.

1. Gochujang

Gochujang is a great gochugaru substitute.

It contains chili powder, glutinous rice powder, and fermented soybean paste.

Plus, sugar and salt give it a sweet and savory flavor.

Gochujang is thicker than gochugaru, as it contains more liquid ingredients.

Mix gochujang with water to make a thinner consistency.

Or use less than you would with gochugaru.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Add it to marinades for more flavor.
  • Stir it into soups or stews for a spicy kick.
  • Brush it on grilled meats or veggies for a Korean BBQ flavor.
  • Use it as a dipping sauce for extra spice.
  • Mix with mayo or ranch for a tasty dip.
  • Add a dollop to pizza before baking.

You can find gochujang in most grocery stores, especially those with international foods.

2. Chipotle Powder

Chipotle powder is a great choice for adding smokiness to a dish.

Here’s the scoop: it’s made from dried & smoked jalapeno peppers.

It’s not as spicy as gochugaru, so start with a small amount & adjust as needed.

You can find it at most grocery stores or online.

If not, try smoked paprika for a similar flavor.

Chipotle powder won’t bring the same heat as gochugaru, but its smokiness is great in Mexican & Southwestern dishes.

Use it instead of cumin in tacos or enchiladas for a unique twist.

Next up is cayenne pepper, another spice that packs a punch.

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a great alternative for gochugaru in many Korean dishes.

It’s made from dried and ground cayenne peppers, with a heat level of 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville units.

When using cayenne pepper as a substitute, remember it will be much hotter than gochugaru.

Start with small amounts and add more according to taste.

You can also combine cayenne pepper with other spices like paprika or chili powder.

Although, this won’t give you the same sweet smokiness as gochugaru.

Be careful not to inhale cayenne pepper when cooking, as it can irritate your throat and lungs.

Lastly, you can adjust the spiciness of your dish by adding more or less cayenne pepper.

4. Chile Pasilla

Chile Pasilla is fourth in line on our list to replace Gochugaru.

It is a kind of dried chili pepper found in Mexico, Central and Southern America.

It measures between 1,000-4,000 Scoville units.

Here are some things to know:

  • It has a complex flavor with fruity and herbal hints.
  • It can also give a smoky taste to dishes.
  • It may stain food due to its dark color.

If you’d like to try Chile Pasilla in place of Gochugaru, start with a small amount to avoid overpowering the dish.

Furthermore, removing the stem of the chili before cooking can prevent it from becoming bitter.

There are several types of dried chilis that can be used as a substitute for Gochugaru, but Chile Pasilla stands out for its unique flavor.

If you’re looking for a new flavor to experiment with in your kitchen, give this one a go.

5. Paprika

Paprika is a spice with a sweet but mild flavor.

It comes from grinding dried bell peppers or chili peppers.

Paprika is easy to find in local supermarkets and is an excellent option if you are looking for something not too spicy.

When using it as a substitute for gochugaru, there are five points to note:

  • Different varieties such as sweet, smoked and hot are available.
  • It gives a reddish-orange coloring when used.
  • It won’t give the same taste profile as gochugaru.
  • In recipes where the flakes of gochugaru are required, grind up paprika flakes into smaller pieces.
  • It adds mild heat without changing the original taste of the dish.

Using paprika will work well with dishes where spiciness isn’t the primary focus, but still adds flavor and color.

So, next time you need a substitute for gochugaru, but don’t want something too spicy, grab some Paprika.


Gochugaru is a key ingredient in Korean cooking.

It adds heat, flavor, and color.

If you can’t find it, there are five substitutes.

Red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper keep the spiciness.

Chili powder gives a diverse taste.

Sriracha has its own unique flavor, while smoked paprika has moderate spice and smokiness.

It depends on your liking and the dish you’re cooking.

Try different substitutes until you find one that works.

So if you can’t find gochugaru, give one of these alternatives a try and see how it enhances your dish.