Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder that gained popularity worldwide.
It’s made of dried chili peppers without seeds and it’s commonly used in many Asian dishes from soups to kimchi or salads.
If you want to cook a Korean dish in particular or an Asian dish that is spicy, chances are that you will need this powder. However, if you don’t have Gochugaru in your kitchen, there are some efficient replacements you can use.
The best substitutes for Gochugaru are Red pepper chili powder, Chipotle powder, Gochujang, Cayenne pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper, Indian chili powder, Jalapenos, Sandia chiles, Fish peppers and Guajillo.
You can use either one of the following Gochugaru substitutes in your recipes. They will add the smoky, spicy flavor and they will maintain the recipe at the standards you need it to be.
1. Red pepper chili powder
The first thing that comes to mind when you need a Gochugaru substitute is red pepper chili powder. It is easy to find and also easy to make.
You can buy it from any grocery store or you can dry the chili peppers and smash them into a powder yourself. How spicy this will be, depends on the type of peppers you use.
You can use the same quantity of red pepper chili powder that you would use Gochugaru. But taste the chili powder first. If it is a mild taste, add two parts instead of one.
2. Chipotle powder
Chipotles are actually made of the moisture inside smoked jalapenos. Chipotle powder is sweet, spicy, smoky, and very similar to the Gochugaru so you can use it with no fear.
It will give your food almost the same taste as the Korean ingredient you are missing. This powder might be challenging and time-consuming to make at home. However, you can find this ingredient fairly easily in plenty of stores.
The ratio of chipotle powder should be similar to the ratio of Gochugaru. If you want your food spicier, you can always add more of this substitute.
Gochujang is a controversial product since it takes Gochugaru to make it. Also, Gochujang is a paste, not a powder or flakes. Meaning, it will add a different consistency to your dish.
Gochujang is a mix of rice, soybeans, and salt which makes a paste that can replace Gochugaru. It is the powder or flakes from the Gochu peppers.
If you want to use this product you should add it to your dish with caution. It adds much more than the spice from the peppers as it contains more ingredients itself. Taste it beforehand and add it according to your preferences.
4. Cayenne pepper flakes
The cayenne pepper flakes are very close to Gochugaru flakes and you can find them in powder form as well. Cayenne peppers are used in Korean cuisine as well.
They can replace the Gochu peppers thanks to the similar taste and texture they provide. Keep in mind that the Cayenne flakes are stronger in taste than the powder.
As far as the ratio goes, Cayenne flakes or powder are a bit spicier than Gochugaru. So, you will have to add less of them in order to obtain the same spicy taste.
5. Aleppo pepper
Aleppo peppers are great for replacing Gochugaru flakes or powder. They will add the spiciness you want to your food as long as you use the right quantity.
However, what is the right quantity? To get the answer, you need to learn about the taste of these peppers.
Aleppo peppers come from Syria. They are mild. You can find Aleppo powder or flakes in stores. However, unless you live in Syria, you might not be able to find these peppers in a raw shape so you make your own.
These peppers are not as strong as Gochugaru, so you will have to add slightly more. Don’t overdo it tho. Mix the Aleppo pepper powder with vinegar and salt according to your needs.
6. Indian chili powder
Another great substitute for Gochugaru is Indian chili powder. You will not be able to make this at home. But it is easy to find bags of it in different Indian stores around the globe.
Of course, if you are from India you can easily find all the ingredients to make this by yourself. Even if this is a spicy powder, it is also a sweeter one.
In terms of ratio, if you want a spicy but sweeter dish, add a bit more Indian powder than you would add Gochugaru. If you want just the same level of spice, adding the same quantity will do the trick.
Jalapenos are a great alternative to Gochugaru. You don’t have to convert them into powder or flakes. You can use them just as they are but chopping them into small pieces so they blend well with your food. These peppers are easy to find in raw form all over the world.
If you are wondering about ratio, you might have to add a bit more jalapenos to obtain a similar taste with a dish that has Gochugaru. However, ultimately, it is up to your preferences so taste your food and season it accordingly.
8. Sandia chiles
Sandia chiles peppers are usually consumed while they are green. Meaning, you will not get the red tint to your food that Gochugaru gives it. But you will get the same amount of spice minus the smokey taste.
You can easily grow these peppers in your garden and use them raw or dry them so you make them into flakes or powder. They are just as spicy as Gochugaru. Thus, you can use the same amount of them in your dishes.
9. Fish peppers
Fish peppers are an old strain of peppers dating before 1947. They are spicy in a mild way so you might want to add more of them to obtain the Gochugaru taste.
However, they are easy to grow in your garden and you don’t need to invest a lot in the upkeep either. These peppers are ideal for spicy dishes that contain fish or seafood.
If you replace Gochugaru with fish peppers, you will have to add 1.5 times more fish peppers to get the same level of spice.
We couldn’t end this list of Gochugaru substitutes without the famous Mexican Guajillo peppers. These peppers are very close to jalapenos in terms of how spicy they are. You will use them the same way as you would use jalapenos.
They are less spicy than Gochugaru and not smoky unless you let them dry and turn them into flakes or powder. If you use this alternative, you need to add a pinch more than you would add Gochugaru if you want the same type of spiciness.
Can I use red pepper flakes instead of Gochugaru?
You definitely can replace Gochugaru with red pepper flakes as long as you use the chilli red peppers. Not all red peppers are spicy and without the spice, you will not be able to replace the Gochugaru ingredient successfully.
When you use red chili pepper flakes make sure to taste your food in order to check for how spicy it is. There are different strains of chili peppers and some are hotter than others.
Is Gochugaru same as Paprika?
Gochugaru is not the same type of powder as paprika, even if there are some resemblances.
Paprika might contain red chili peppers but it is in general made of a variety of red fruits from the Capsicum annuum family.
The red chili peppers in paprika are not as spicy as Gochugaru so you will not obtain the same taste at all. However, both Gochugaru and paprika look the same in powder form which is why they are easily confused.
Also, the peppers used to make the famous paprika seasoning have a thinner flesh so they are very different from the Gochu Korean peppers.
Is Gochugaru the same as chili powder?
Gochugaru is not the same as chili pepper because it is not made from the same type of peppers. Chilli pepper powder is made of red hot chili peppers while Gochugaru is made of a specific Korean pepper called Gochu.
However, in terms of spiciness, they are very much alike. This is why we listed chili powder as one of the first replacements for Gochugaru.
Is Gochugaru the same as Gochujang?
Gochujang is not the same as Gochugaru but contains Gochugaru. To make Gochujang, you need Gochugaru as well as soybeans, sticky rice, and salt. You can find Gochujang already made in Asian stores and use it as a spice in your food in order to replace the Gochugaru.
Keep in mind that these two ingredients are not the same. Gochujang also adds more flavor to your food as it contains more types of ingredients besides the Gochu pepper.
As you can see, you can still save your spicy Korean dish even if you are lacking this important ingredient. Use one of the Gochugaru substitutes in this guide and amaze your friends and family with a delicious Asian recipe.
Make sure to respect the quantities as you prepare your dish. Also, keep in mind that some substitutes have different degrees of spiciness and you don’t want to end up with a dish that is too hot or not spicy enough for your taste.