Gochujang Substitute – Top 3 Fiery Hot Chili Paste You Should Try

Looking for the best gochujang substitute or alternative for Korean chili paste? Sure there are many hot sauces to substitute gochujang but which ones have the most demand?

Look no further because following below I’ll be sharing some of the decent substitutes you may want to consider if you do not have this chili paste.

Sunchang Gochujang - Korean Chilli Paste

Gochujang is one of the most popular and consumed household Korean chili pepper paste in Korea. It is made of glutinous rice combined with salt, red peppers and fermented soybeans.

They are very frequently and commonly used in Korean dishes such as stews, tteokbokki, kimchi, bibimbap, ssamjang and bulgogi.

Not only is gochujang used in many Korean recipes, it’s a great tasting chili paste that anyone who loves spice will like and it is getting popular in many kitchens of the country. This chili sauce is something not to be missed if you are whipping up some spicy home-cooked dishes.

In most of my tteokbokki recipes, I use the Korean chili paste Gochujang as one of the main necessary ingredients. However if you not able to get it, there is a good gochujang substitute that many people may not be aware of.

There are no short of alternatives for gochujang but if you are looking for one that is almost with similar taste and quality, then it may be slightly challenging.

One of the main ingredients of this chili paste is fermented soy. So if you are looking at homemade gochujang sauce, then that’s something you can’t miss out.

Where to Buy Gochujang Sauce?

Well you can find the chili sauce at most of the Korean markets. They are sold in the form of bottles or tubs. Be sure to check out their labels and expiry date before you purchase.

And oh, be careful of any knock-offs. Since it’s getting a huge demand from consumers, some companies are trying to imitate few of the well-known brands.

Here are some of the decent and best gochujang brands that I normally use.

Sunchang (by Chung Jung Won)

This chili paste is believed to be one of the best gochujang by the Koreans. It is rich in flavour, spicy with some sweetness and the perfect sauce for cooking Korean dishes. I like this brand very much.


I would consider this chili paste as a 1st or 2nd choice as an alternative to gochujang. This chili paste is also rated as No.1 best seller in Korea. The spicy level is around medium hot while containing a little bit of sweetness. Goes quite well with Bulgogi and Bibibap.


This brand uses sun-dried red peppers and give a good spicy flavor. Can be used as a marinade with some Asian ingredients and sauces. Price is reasonable. Goes well with bibimbap too.


Seldom do I use this chili paste though it’s kind of very common in the market. It is great for all kind of cooking and contains no preservatives! 100% sun-dried peppers are used for fermenting. You may find the spiciness suitable to your taste buds.

Which Are The Most Popular Gochujang Substitutes?

Usually I would only recommend that you find a replacement or substitute for gochujang if you do not have one at home or run out of stock but at the same time need it urgently. Else in my own opinion I would still prefer using gochujang in most of the Korean dishes.


Harissa Chilli Paste

Photo Credits: Simply Delicious Food

Harissa is one of less-known gochujang substitutes and not that commonly used by consumers.

It is a hot chili paste originated from North African, to be specific Maghreb. The ingredients used for the chili paste are spices, garlic paste, capsicum peppers, red peppers, Baklouti peppers, cumin, lemon, olive oil and coriander seed.

Harissa is normally used in chick pea soup, fish stews and meats such as lamb and goat. The flavour can taste quite smoky and fiery hot.

If you are someone who can really take fiery hot stuffs or loves to eat spicy food (even though you may have to sip a mouthful of cold water with every spoonful of spice), then Harissa could be your one of your choices.

When comparing Harissa to Sriracha sauce, the latter hot sauce is as spicy and taste as good. However most of the times Sriracha can be more overpowering on the taste of your food.

 Sambal Oelek

Gochujang Substitute - Sambal Oelek Chilli Paste

Photo Credits: Taste Spotting

Sambal Oelek is a chili paste that is brighter in red and tastes really hot as it is made from raw chili pepper and salt grounded in mortar.

However it may not have a thick texture like a paste, it’s generally thinner compared to other types of chili paste.

It is used by many as a gochujang substitute and commonly used as an ingredient for other cuisines as well as a base for making other types of sambal chili sauce.

One interesting fact is that the name came from a Dutch spelling, the Indonesians called it Ulek instead and they have the same pronunciation.

Oelek mean grinding so this is a ground chili sauce.

Both gochujang and sambal oelek will definitely add some chili heat to the dish that you are preparing. But since oelek is made from fresh chilies, you will most probably be getting a slight difference in the taste between them.

If you really wish to have sambal oelek as a good alternative to gochujang, then there’s some ways you can try to make it closer to the taste of the Korean hot chili paste.

First you will need to thicken the texture of sambal oelek (I mentioned earlier that this sauce is actually thinner compared to other sauces), so we’ll need a starch thickener.

Add 1 teaspoon of either arrowroot starch/flour, cornstarch or miso paste to the sauce. I personally prefer arrowroot though as its flavour is more neutral to the already flavored chili sauce.


Gochujang Substitute - Sriracha Chilli Sauce

This chili sauce is getting more popular nowadays as they are quite frequently used as a dipping sauce or as a condiment. Definitely a great choice as a gochujang substitute.

The naming of Srirachi actually came from a Thai port city called Si Racha. The brand is easily recognizable. Why? Because there’s a huge visible rooster brand/logo on the bottle of this chili sauce.

It is made of sugar, salt, red chili peppers, garlic and vinegar. I would normally use this sauce for any food that need some spice such as hamburgers, fries, pizzas, pastas and even noodles.

Try using this chili sauce on almost any food that goes well with spice and it should tastes good! I have tried it with cheese rabokki and it tastes better than I expected.

Srirachi when compared to sambal oelek has a smoother texture though. The company Hu Fong Foods is the market leader in Asian chili sauces.

Sriracha is their most popular and best-selling product, so it may be safer to purchase from this company and be careful of other knock-offs.

Though Srirachi can be an alternative to gochujang, there are some differences between them. You could taste more garlic in Srirachi but not that much in gochujang. On the other hand, gochujang contains rather a strong umami flavor that Srirachi is lacking.

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  1. Toobs January 3, 2017
    • Katy Greene January 3, 2017

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