Best Homemade Gochujang Substitute

The Best Gochujang Substitute?

If you like gochujang – the spicy fermented chili paste used to enhance the flavors of Korean cuisine but are having a hard time finding it in a store near you, please keep reading to see how simple it is to make your own go-chu-jang substitute using my easy recipe!

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What Is Gochujang?

Gochujang – sometimes referred to as gochu-jang is a fermented chili paste that is used in Korean cooking.

Gochujang is not a simple condiment, however, it is used more often in recipes to enhance the flavor of meats and vegetables.

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It may be used to marinate a Korean steak or ribs, for example, before cooking, much like my favorite barbecue sauce may be used as a marinade to enhance the flavors of meats in American cuisine.

Why Are You Making Your Own Gochujang Substitute?

First, I like to know how to combine flavors and find it exciting to try to mimic different foods and sauces using readily available ingredients in a creative way.

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Second, if you’ve checked out any of my other recipes on the blog, such as my Somen Noodle Salad, you’ll know that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE ASIAN CUISINE.

I try and take any opportunity I get to create recipes with such wonderful flavors.

And I find the different sauces used in Asian cuisine a very intriguing part of many cultural recipes.

This is just one of the many reasons I created this Vietnamese Dipping Sauce to go with my Fresh Spring Rolls.

Now I wanted to tackle Gochujang to see what I could produce!

What Does Gochujang Taste Like?

Everyone experiences flavors differently, but – to me – gochujang tastes smoky, spicy, sweet, and savory (in that exact order).

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What Ingredients Are In Gochujang?

And, according to this article on what NOT to use as a Gochujang substitute, occasionally a sweetener, such as honey, sugar, or syrup may be added in small quantities.

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Is Gochujang Gluten Free?

Not if it includes barely malt, which is one of the main ingredients typically used to make actual Gochujang.

Why Do We Need A Gochujang Substitute?

A typical question could be: why not just use gochujang itself instead of trying to create something that tastes like this Korean chili paste, but is not actually gochujang?

In my experience, go-chu-jang may be difficult to find, is somewhat pricey, and even if you order gochujang paste online, you will have to wait for it to be delivered.

Best Gochujang Substitute – The Ingredients

I am going to give you a super simple and quick Gochujang substitute recipe in this section that gets the job done.

Then I will include a few more steps as we proceed and in the recipe card below that will make this gochujang paste taste and even look exactly like the real thing.

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Let’s start with the two basic ingredients I use to mimic this fermented and funky Korean chili paste…

That’s it!

Now you know the secret to making your own really good super simple go-chu-jang substitute yourself!

With these 2 Ingredients ONLY it is possible to re-create a gochujang that tastes a LOT like the real thing: Sriracha and Hoisin Sauce.

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Best Gochujang Substitute – Recipe Equipment Needed

So, there really isn’t much you need to prepare this recipe.

All you need is a small sauce or dipping bowl and spoon to mix your ingredients together!

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(NOTE: If you follow this recipe all the way through as discussed below, a small sauce pot will also be needed).

Is It Really That Easy To Make A Good Gochujang Substitute?

Yes, but the trick is in the proportions of the two ingredients shown above.

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Before we get into the exact proportions I used in this easy gochujang substitute recipe, it’s important to know what gochujang flavors we get from the Sriracha and which flavors come from the Hoisin.

We will then be better equipped to know how to combine these ingredients to more closely match the exact flavor profile of that Korean gochujang paste we are looking for!

Flavors from Sriracha: Heat (spice), Smokey, Savory

Flavors from Hoisin Sauce: Sweet, Tangy, Funky (if that’s a flavor!)

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Below, I have my Sriracha in my dipping bowl and am starting to mix in my Hoisin Sauce.

Here is my recommendation for the ingredient percentages:

Sriracha: 70%
Hoisin Sauce: 30%

An easy way to do this is to fill up a small sauce or dipping bowl exactly half with Sriracha and half with Hoisin.

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Mix together thoroughly.

At this point, taste your gochujang substitute – to me, it is too sweet at a 50/50 mixture.

Next, gradually add in more Sriracha, while simultaneously stirring and tasting.

Again, everyone experiences flavors differently, but that 70/30 mixture of Sriracha to Hoisin sauce tastes the most like real Korean gochujang to me.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Your Two Ingredient Gochujang Recipe – It Seems Too Simple?

I know what you’re thinking…

It CAN’T be that easy!

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Well, yes and no.

You can stop reading here if you have the two main ingredients, mix them together as I suggested above and – with a little experimentation – have a very good approximation of gochujang.

BUT…

1) It will not be quite the correct shade of dark red – so visually it may not look exactly like you may be familiar with.

2) I feel that the mixture isn’t quite salty enough yet.

3) Using just Sriracha (sometimes spelled Siracha) and Hoisin sauce, it will not have the actual paste-like consistency of the real thing.

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Remember, Gochujang is a Korean red chili pepper paste, after all!

So How Can We Make Our Gochujang Substitute Look and Feel More Like Actual Gochujang?

Simply add in 4 large spoonfuls of Heinz ketchup from the bottle (for color and taste/consistency).

Our Go-chu-jang substitute is becoming a bit more red in color and is slightly thicker due to using the thick Heinz ketchup from the bottle.

Remember how we also mentioned above that salt is an ingredient in actual gochujang?

The Heinz ketchup adds a bit of saltiness to our substitute and using bottled Heinz, which is a thicker ketchup, begins to thicken the consistency of our gochujang substitute.

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The only aspect we haven’t duplicated yet is the exact consistency of Gochujang.

But – at this point – I think that what we have created tastes very, very close to actual Gochujang.

I have to admit – this is where I STOP this recipe!

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I actually use this mixture as a dipping sauce for many of my recipes – even though, traditionally, gochujang paste isn’t used as a condiment.

This 3-ingredient gochujang substitute also makes a great marinade for many of my chicken dishes and gives them a nice Korean flair!

Admittedly, I usually do not complete the final step of this recipe, but I will share it here (and in the recipe card below) for completeness.

This final step is for anyone who really, really wants to mimic the paste-like consistency of actual Gochujang paste.

Best Gochujang Substitute – Final Step

To achieve a more paste-like consistency, we need to heat up our substitute mixture and then mix in cornstarch.

The exact instructions are included in the recipe card below

Cornstarch is a thickening agent that allows us to create a gochujang substitute with a more paste-like consistency.

This is becoming more truly representative of the real thing!

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In actual gochujang, the barley malt and glutinous rice combination is what thickens the paste.

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But – in order for cornstarch to thicken – it must be heated.

How Hot Does Cornstarch Need To Be To Thicken Our Gochujang Mixture?

According to this Science of Cooking Article, cornstarch needs to be heated to just over 200 degrees Fahrenheit before the thickening process begins.

I have read elsewhere that above 180 degrees F will do the trick – it’s okay to experiment.

The key is that – to really thicken our gochujang substitute – we need to heat it up and add cornstarch.

The instructions in the recipe card below explain how to add the cornstarch with our other 3 ingredients and how long to heat it up.

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Please let me know what you think of my recipe in the COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

The Best Gochujang Substitute?

5.0 from 3 votes
Recipe by Bill Course: SaucesCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

1

serving
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

10

minutes
Calories

90

kcal

Here is a super quick and easy recipe for a gochujang substitute that blends some more common household ingredients into a very good representation of this delicious fermented Korean chili paste!

Ingredients

Directions

  • Here is a quick visual depiction of the steps I took to make my Gochujang substitute.
  • Start by measuring out 7 fluid ounces of Sriracha and 3 fluid ounces of Hoisin sauce. Alternatively, I find it easier to simply fill a small dipping/sauce bowl half with Sriracha and half with Hoisin sauce.
  • Next, increase the amount of Sriracha and continue to taste-test the mixture until it begins to resemble the actual smoky sweetness of real Korean chili paste.
  • Add four large tablespoons of Heinz ketchup from the bottle. This will give the gochujang substitute mixture a more reddish brown color, slightly thicken the consistency, and add a bit of saltiness.
  • It’s perfectly okay to stop here. You will have a Korean chili paste substitute that tastes a LOT like the real thing. The only downside is that the consistency will not be exact.
  • Mix 4 tablespoons of your favorite powdered cornstarch with 8 tablespoons of cold water in a small measuring cup and stir until smooth and set aside (usually a 2:1 water to cornstarch ratio as described works best)
  • Heat up the 3-ingredient gochujang mixture over Medium-High heat in a small pot on the stove top. At this point, our gochujang substitute consists of Sriracha, Hoisin Sauce, and Heinz Ketchup.
  • Once the gochujang substitute ingredients are sufficiently hot, slowly pour in the cornstarch/water mixture you set aside earlier and mix thoroughly while keeping the heat high (about 3 minutes for the amount of ‘sauce’ shown above).
  • Let the mixture cool for five minutes, pour it back into a small sauce or dipping bowl, cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for about four hours (this allows the cornstarch to gel even further and increases the paste-like consistency).
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • The final steps of adding cornstarch and heating only serve to mimic the consistency of actual gochujang, but do nothing to enhance the flavor, and are totally NOT necessary!
  • Use this Special Gochujang Sriracha for even more of an authentic Gochujang flavor.
  • Use Heinz Ketchup from the bottle (available online) because it is a thicker ketchup that does a reasonably good job of increasing the consistency slightly.
  • If you want a really hot and spicy gochujang substitute, you can mix in some of the seeds from dried chili peppers.
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Is This Gochujang Substitute Recipe Gluten Free?

Most ingredients used here do not contain wheat, but I did use Hoisin sauce.

Even though traditional hoisin sauce recipes may be gluten free – many hoisin sauces that come from a jar do contain wheat (mine did), making this recipe NOT gluten free.

Is This The Best Gochujang Substitute?

I have to admit, I really don’t know!

I think my Korean chili paste recipe presented here is pretty close to the way gochujang tastes to me, at least.

But as I mentioned above, everybody experiences flavors differently…

Let Me Know What You Think!

Have you tried my recipe?

Does it taste like the real thing to you?

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Please let me know what you think in the COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

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