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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Gochugaru

Alright, folks, let’s get real. Spice makes everything nice, right?

And in the world of spices, gochugaru holds a special place in our hearts.

his Korean chili powder turns dishes from meh to wow with just a sprinkle!

But what do you do when your pantry’s all out, and the local store’s looking like a ghost town in the gochugaru aisle? No sweat!

We’ve been there, and guess what? There are some pretty awesome stand-ins that can save your dish without needing a culinary SOS.

Today, we’re spilling the beans on the top five substitutes that’ll keep your cooking game strong.

Ready to knock some socks off with your spicy creations?

Buckle up because we’re about to dive deep into the spice substitutes that don’t just work, they rock.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Gochugaru

Gochugaru, a Korean chili pepper powder, is widely used in Korean cuisine to add heat and flavor to dishes.

However, if you don’t have gochugaru on hand or are looking for alternatives with similar characteristics, there are several options to consider.

In this guide, we will compare the top 5 substitutes for gochugaru, discussing their key characteristics and suggesting proper ratios to help you find suitable alternatives.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
GochujangFermented chili paste; complex flavor profile; adds heat and tanginessUse an equal amount of gochujang as a substitute for gochugaru
Chipotle PowderSmoky and earthy flavor; moderate heatUse half the amount of chipotle powder compared to gochugaru
Cayenne PepperFiery and pungent; high heat levelUse 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of cayenne pepper compared to gochugaru
Chile PasillaMild to medium heat; rich and slightly fruity flavorUse an equal amount of chile pasilla as a substitute for gochugaru
PaprikaMild heat; vibrant red color; sweet or smoky flavor, depending on the varietyUse an equal amount of paprika as a substitute for gochugaru

Now, let’s dive into each substitute in more detail:

1. Gochujang


Who doesn’t love a good Korean BBQ? Gochujang is a key ingredient in many Korean dishes, and it gives the food its signature spicy-sweet flavor.

This fermented chili paste is made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.

While gochujang can add a touch of heat to your meal, its flavor is much more complex than that.

The fermentation process creates a unique umami taste, while the chili peppers contribute sweetness and fruitiness.

And because gochujang is so concentrated, a little goes a long way in flavor.

Gochujang has been used in Korean cuisine for centuries, and it’s now gaining popularity worldwide.

Gochujang is the perfect ingredient if you’re looking to add a little spice to your life.

Whether you’re making Korean BBQ or simply adding it to your stir-fry, this chili paste will give your dish an authentic flavor.

When substituting gochugaru for gochujang, use half the amount of gochugaru called for in the recipe.

  • Key Characteristics: Gochujang is a fermented chili paste with a complex flavor profile. It adds both heat and tanginess to dishes, making it a suitable substitute for gochugaru.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of gochujang as a substitute for gochugaru. Adjust other ingredients based on the desired flavor and spiciness levels.

2. Chipotle Powder

chipotle powder

For those who love a little spice in their life, the chipotle powder is the way to go.

Made from smoked and dried jalapeño peppers, this powder packs a punch.

It has a deep, smoky flavor with a hint of heat that can elevate any dish.

Add it to your favorite dishes for an extra kick, or use it as a rub for grilled meats.

You can also use it to make a quick and easy rub for grilled chicken or fish.

Just combine the chipotle powder with garlic powder, paprika, and salt, and rub it all over your food before cooking.

The chipotle powder can be used in tried-and-true favorites like chili and enchiladas, or it can add a new twist to more mundane dishes like pasta or rice.

And because it’s so easy to find, it’s a great way to experiment with new flavors without breaking the bank.

  • Key Characteristics: Chipotle powder offers a smoky and earthy flavor with moderate heat. It can provide a similar depth of flavor to dishes as gochugaru.
  • Proper Ratio: Use half the amount of chipotle powder compared to gochugaru. Consider the smoky flavor when incorporating it into recipes.

3. Cayenne Pepper

cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is a popular spice with a variety of uses.

It can add flavor to food, or it can be used as a natural remedy for various ailments.

Cayenne pepper is made from the dried pods of a type of chili pepper.

The peppers are usually grown in hot, dry climates and are very spicy.

When cayenne peppers are crushed, they release a substance called capsaicin.

This substance is what gives cayenne peppers their heat.

Capsaicin is also responsible for many of the health benefits of cayenne pepper.

Compared to gochugaru, cayenne pepper is not as sweet.

It also has a more sharp, peppery flavor.

When substituting cayenne pepper for gochugaru, you will need to use less since it is more potent.

Start with ½ teaspoon and add more to taste.

That way, you can avoid overwhelming your dish with too much heat.

Cayenne pepper can be found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores.

  • Key Characteristics: Cayenne pepper is known for its fiery and pungent taste, providing a high level of heat. It can be used as a substitute for gochugaru if you prefer intense spiciness.
  • Proper Ratio: Use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of cayenne pepper compared to gochugaru. Keep in mind the higher heat level and adjust accordingly.

4. Chile Pasilla

chile pasilla

Chile pasilla is a type of dried chile pepper commonly used in Mexican cuisine.

The pepper is named after the Spanish word for “RAVEN,” It has a deep, rich flavor that is perfect for adding depth to sauces and stews.

Chile pasillas are typically considered medium-hot on the spice scale, but they can vary in heat depending on where they are grown.

The peppers are also available in both fresh and dried form, although the dried peppers are more common.

When purchasing dried chiles, look for flexible ones with a deep red color.

Avoid brittle or cracked chiles, as these may be old and past their peak flavor.

To use a chile pasilla, remove the stem and seeds and then chop or grind the pepper into the desired consistency.

Compared to gochugaru, chile pasilla peppers are not as sweet and have a more intense smoky flavor.

They are also considerably hotter, so you will need to use less when substituting them in a recipe.

When substituting chile pasilla peppers for gochugaru, it is best to use them in small amounts and taste the dish as you go to ensure that it is not too spicy.

  • Key Characteristics: Chile pasilla offers a mild to medium level of heat with a rich and slightly fruity flavor. It can be a suitable substitute for gochugaru, especially in Mexican and Latin American cuisine.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of chile pasilla as a substitute for gochugaru. Adjust other ingredients based on the desired flavor and spiciness levels.

5. Paprika


Who would have thought that such a small, innocuous-looking spice could pack such a flavorful punch? Paprika is made from ground dried peppers, and it comes in a variety of colors and heat levels.

The most common type of paprika is red paprika, which has a mild, sweet flavor.

However, paprika can also be found in shades of orange, yellow, and even green.

When it comes to heat levels, paprika ranges from mild to fiery hot.

As a result, it can add a subtle hint of flavor or give food a real kick.

Whether you use sweet or hot paprika, this spice is a great substitute for gochugaru.

Regarding the substitute ratio, use ⅓ to ½ teaspoon of paprika for every tablespoon of gochugaru called for in a recipe.

When it comes to flavor, paprika is not as intense as gochugaru.

It also lacks the smoky quality that gochugaru imparts.

However, paprika will still give your food a nice bit of heat and a lovely red color.

  • Key Characteristics: Paprika comes in various varieties, offering a mild level of heat and a vibrant red color. The flavor profile can vary from sweet to smoky, depending on the variety chosen.
  • Proper Ratio: Use an equal amount of paprika as a substitute for gochugaru. Consider the sweetness or smokiness of the paprika variety and adjust other seasonings accordingly.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Gochugaru

Looking to spice up your culinary creations without Gochugaru? Your search ends here! We've compiled a list of the 5 best substitutes that seamlessly replace Gochugaru, ensuring your dishes maintain that perfect touch of heat and flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Gochujang
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Chile Pasilla
  • Paprika


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for gochugaru
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