5 Fiery Hot Sauces That Are Great Gochujang Substitutes

  • Gochujang is a fermented Korean condiment that has a complex spicy and sweet taste. It is made with red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. The soy in the sauce is fermented for months to give it that multi-layered taste.
  • Gochujang is the principal ingredient in many Korean dishes including ,, , , and . However, Korean cuisine isn’t the only one that benefits from this flavorful condiment, in fact, gochujang can be added to nearly every dish that needs a bit (or more) of spice.
  • Though gochujang can be made at home, there is simply no replacement for the fermented soy. This is also the reason why the sauce isn’t readily available in all parts of the world.
  • While you can buy some at Amazon, you won’t be able to use it for a week or so it takes for Amazon to ship to you. Also, this is just a solution for people who have access to Amazon, all others are left with no choice but to wait.
  • While no single sauce can be named the perfect gochujang substitute, we have put together a list of sauces that comes really close. Some of these sauces taste so well, you might shift over to them entirely.

Gochujang Substitutes

Gochujang is a sauce so complex in taste that no single substitute can capture its essence in all entirety. However, the sauces mentioned below come very close to replicating the flavor and texture of this delicious sauce:

1. Harissa

Via: Amazon.com

  • Harissa is a North African gem that, though extremely underrated as a gochujang substitute, delivers on every front. This fiery hot chili paste is no joke; it is certainly for all the spice lovers out there. It mimics the same hot flavor of gochujang but doesn’t overpower the dish, giving it a slightly smoky taste.
  • Harissa contains a list of ingredients that are readily available in the market; it is made by mixing spices, capsicum peppers, garlic paste, red peppers, lemon, Baklouti peppers, coriander seeds, and olive oil. Though you can find this sauce in the market, making it at home is a special treat, especially since you can manage the spice level of the sauce. If you want to try your hand at this amazing sauce, try this easy recipe.
  • The hot and smoky flavor of Harissa makes it a must have condiment with a number of dishes. As a rubbing sauce, Harissa goes well with chick pea soup, fish stews, and meats like goat and lamb. If you want to see how versatile Harissa really is, try out these delicious recipes at home.
  • Harissa is also a good substitute for gochujang because it isn’t as difficult to get your hands on as the latter. You can find this sauce in all major stores and on Amazon

Via: Amazon

2. Sambal Oelek

Via: Amazon.com

  • Sambal Oelek is another great substitute for gochujang sauce as it is similar in taste undertones and appearance.
  • It also mimics gochujang in the versatility of use. Sambal Oelek is a very red, spicy sauce that is made by grounding raw chili peppers and salt in a mortar. This gives the sauce a real kick of spice instead of a muted peppery flavor.
  • In addition to chili pepper and salt, Sambal Oelek also contains ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and vinegar. You can also add sugar and lime zest to add a nice sweet and tangy undertone to the sauce.
  • This sauce is fairly easy to make and can be put together in minutes. Use this recipe to try making this sauce at home.
  • Due to the use of raw chili peppers, Sambal Oelek is spicier than gochujang sauce. To neutralize the taste, you may add a teaspoon of arrowroot starch, corn starch, or miso paste to the sauce.
  • Sambal Oelek is also thinner than standard gochujang sauce. While that really doesn’t matter when you are using this sauce as a rub or seasoning, the texture may present a problem when the sauce is served as a condiment.
  • To thicken the sauce, you can add any kind of starch thickener. Just make sure to add it in little by little so as to prevent over-thickening. Try these recipes to see this sauce in action.
  • Sambal Oelek goes well with chicken, fish, pork, vegetables, and even fruit drinks. Try making this at home or buy a jarful from here.

3. Sriracha Sauce

Via: Amazon.com

  • Sriracha sauce needs no introduction. This Thai sauce has been gaining popularity for some time and with good cause. The spicy chili sauce is as delicious as it is versatile and makes for a great alternative to gochujang sauce.
  • Sriracha sauce is made of garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar, and red chili peppers. It is a chili sauce that goes well with almost anything that you need to add spice to; this includes chicken, fish, vegetables, fruits. It also goes well with soups, stews, snacks, and some desserts. Though it is easily available in the market, you can also make this sauce at home. Use this recipe for best results.
  • Sriracha is a good substitute for gochujang not just because of taste similarities but also because it is readily available. There may be some differences in taste; like Sriracha has more garlic than gochujang sauce while gochujang has a strong umami flavor that is absent in Sriracha. But these differences can be easily remedied if you make the sauce at home. Here are some recipes to inspire you to get your hands on this sauce.

If you don’t want to make this sauce at home or prefer the taste of the store bought version, you can buy the original product here.

4. Miso Based Chili Sauce

Via: t3921.cpcdn.com

  • Gochujang sauce gets its sweet, spicy flavor from Korean spices that are fermented for months. This is why the sauce has such a unique flavor profile. To mimic the same flavor in a shorter period of time we need to trick our taste buds by making a homemade sauce that has some of the same flavors.
  • Since all the spices and ingredients for making an authentic gochujang sauce aren’t readily available everywhere, the next best alternative is to make a miso based sauce. Miso, just like gochujang, is made from fermented soy, so you are able to get the same flavor undertones from this ingredient. Though miso paste is readily available in the market, you can make one at home as well.
  • There are miso based chili sauces available in the market, but they don’t have a taste or texture that is consistent with a traditional gochujang sauce. But don’t worry, we have the perfect miso chili sauce recipe for you that will make you forget gochujang sauce altogether. Head here for the recipe.
  • Miso chili sauce is as versatile as gochujang and goes well with literally every dish. It was difficult to choose a favorite, but we opted for the Grilled Lamb with Miso Chili Sauce recipe only because it is so easy to make and so delicious.

5. Red Chili Paste

Via: Amazon.com

  • When pressed for time and ingredients, the best substitute for gochujang sauce is a plain old red chili paste. The best thing about this paste is that you can get creative and add as many (or as little) ingredients you want to get the desired taste. This three-ingredient paste is so easy to make, you can literally put it together in minutes.
  • While the red chili paste might not have the complex gochujang flavors, it does the job of being a tangy, spicy sauce with a sweet undertone. It acts well as a condiment and as a rub. It goes well with all dishes.
  • We have quite a few favorite red chili paste recipes, but two that stand out the most are Fresh Chili Paste recipe and the Turkish Red Pepper Paste recipe. You can vary the amount of red chili in the former recipe and substitute soy sauce for olive oil to give the sauce a more gochujang-y taste. In the latter recipe, you can add more sugar to adjust the sweet undertones.

The Final Word

Gochujang is a Korean delight with a truly unique taste. It isn’t just a delicious sauce, but it is one that can be used in a variety of ways and in a number of dishes. This makes the sauce even more appealing.

Unfortunately, as with everything as precious, the sauce isn’t easy to come by. Hence we have listed substitutes for the sauce here that might not taste exactly the same but still come very close. 

We hope you liked this list and would like to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to let us know of any other substitutes for gochujang sauce.

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