How To Make Homemade Gochujang - Recipe

Gochujang (고추장) is a thick, pungent Korean fermented red chili paste that plays an important role in Korean cuisine. It provides a rich, savory umami flavor along with a touch of sweetness and heat from the chilies.

How To Make Homemade Gochujang - Recipe

Gochujang is made from glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, red chili powder, sweeteners like sugar or rice syrup, and salt. It goes through a long fermentation process which allows the ingredients to meld together into a smooth, dense paste with a deeply complex flavor profile.

This Korean seasoning paste is used as a base for many popular Korean dishes like bibimbap, tteokbokki, and budae jjigae. It also serves as a versatile condiment that can be mixed with items like vinegar and sesame oil to make flavorful sauces and marinades.

While store-bought gochujang is readily available, many Korean cooks prefer to make it fresh at home. The homemade version often has better quality ingredients and a better, traditional taste compared to commercial varieties.

Why Make Homemade Gochujang?

Here are some of the main benefits of making gochujang yourself rather than buying it pre-made:

  • You can control the ingredients and customize them to suit your taste preferences for spiciness, sweetness, etc.
  • Avoid additives or preservatives found in some store-bought versions. Homemade gochujang only contains natural ingredients.
  • Experience the full depth of flavor that develops through the long, slow fermentation process.
  • Save money compared to buying high-quality pre-made gochujang.
  • Connect with Korean culture and traditions by making this staple ingredient from scratch.
  • Have pride in your homemade gochujang that will taste better than what you can buy.
  • Make large batches to enjoy for months and share with friends and family. Properly fermented gochujang keeps for a very long time.

How to Make Gochujang at Home

Making gochujang is a time-consuming process but straightforward if you have the right ingredients and equipment.

You'll need:


  • Korean red chili powder (gochugaru) - Finely ground powder is best to make a smooth paste. Go for extra spicy if you like heat.
  • Glutinous rice powder (chapssalgaru) - Also called sweet rice powder. Provides sweetness and texture.
  • Fermented soybean powder (mejugaru) - Sold as powder, not the whole beans. Imparts a savory, fermented flavor.
  • Malt barley powder (yeotgireumgaru) - Made from sprouted barley. Adds sweetness and aids fermentation.
  • Salt - Traditionally Korean solar sea salt, which has a clean flavor.
  • Rice syrup (jocheong) - For subtle sweetness and shine.
  • Optional: Korean rice wine (soju) - Helps prevent spoilage during fermentation.


Traditional onggi
  • Traditional onggi (earthenware crock) - Porous material allows the paste to breathe during fermentation. Must be sterilized first.
  • Cheesecloth - For straining the liquid ingredients.
  • Glass or plastic lid - Lets air circulate while keeping out moisture and pests.


  • Soak the malt barley powder overnight to extract the starch and enzymes.
  • Strain out the solids, reserving the milky liquid. Repeat the soaking and straining process.
  • Mix the glutinous rice powder into the strained malt barley liquid and let rest for a few hours to break down starches into natural sugars.
  • Cook the mixture down to concentrate flavors and thicken slightly. Let cool completely.
  • Blend in the chili powder, fermented soybean powder, and salt. Add rice syrup for sweetness.
  • Transfer to the sterilized onggi crock and smooth the surface. Cover with cheesecloth and a lid.
  • Ferment for 2-3 months outdoors or in a sunny spot, exposed to light during the day. Stir periodically.
  • The finished gochujang will be a rich, shiny red paste with a complex sweet, salty, and spicy flavor.

Tips for Making Great Gochujang

Follow these tips for the best homemade gochujang result:

  • Use high-quality ingredients, like solar sea salt and organic rice syrup.
  • Adjust the rice syrup to suit your preferred level of sweetness.
  • If the paste seems too dry, blend in a little more malt barley liquid.
  • For a smoother texture, pass through a food mill after fermenting.
  • During summer, use less chili powder so fermentation doesn't accelerate too quickly.
  • If any mold appears on the surface, scrape it off immediately.
  • Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container after fermenting.
  • For longer shelf life, add a tablespoon of soju or vodka to stabilize.
  • Consider making gochujang collaboratively with friends or family members. It's a fun, hands-on project!

How to Use Gochujang

This versatile Korean chili paste enhances all kinds of recipes. Here are some classic ways to use homemade gochujang:

  • Mix with soy sauce, vinegar, and other ingredients as a marinade or dipping sauce.
  • Add to soups, stews, and braises for rich, spicy depth.
  • Stir into rice along with vegetables and meat or tofu for bibimbap.
  • Smear on meats before grilling for Korean-style barbecue.
  • Spread on sandwiches in place of ketchup or hot sauce.
  • Swirl into pasta dishes, fried rice, or noodles for flavor and color.
  • Use in place of other chili pastes like sambal or harissa.
  • Combine with mayo for a quick spicy condiment or spread.
  • Add to burgers or hot dogs for a flavor boost.
  • Mix with melted butter for a unique savory-spicy compound butter.
  • Make popular Korean street foods like tteokbokki or hotteok.

With its complex umami richness yet simple ingredient list, homemade gochujang is easy to incorporate into both Korean and non-Korean recipes alike. Adjust the level of sweetness and spice to suit your personal tastes.

Is Making Gochujang Worth the Effort?

While the process is undeniably time-consuming, many Korean cooks agree that homemade gochujang is entirely worth the effort.

The depth of flavor simply can't compare to store-bought versions. Over months of fermenting, the ingredients meld together into a harmonious savory-sweet balance with the addictive taste that only real gochujang has.

Making it yourself also allows you full control over the quality of the ingredients and the spiciness. You can customize it to suit your palate.

The pride in creating this handcrafted Korean staple ingredient is very rewarding. Use it for months in all sorts of recipes and share jars with friends and family.

So for gochujang lovers willing to be patient, making homemade gochujang can be a fun and gratifying kitchen project. The final product will bring hugely flavorful depth and authenticity to your Korean cooking.


What's the difference between gochujang and sriracha?

While both are spicy chili pastes, gochujang has a much more complex flavor with fermented, sweet, and savory notes compared to sriracha's simpler heat and vinegar taste.

How spicy is gochujang?

Spiciness depends on the amount and type of gochugaru chili powder added, but generally, gochujang provides medium heat along with its other flavors. Buy extra-spicy powder if you like more kick.

Does gochujang need to be refrigerated?

Once fully fermented, gochujang can be kept at room temperature, but refrigeration is recommended for the longest shelf life, especially during hot weather. Keep in a sealed container.

Can I make gochujang gluten-free?

Yes, you can make gluten-free gochujang by using a gluten-free malt powder rather than barley malt powder. Also, confirm your other ingredients like soybean powder are gluten-free.

What's the best way to store homemade gochujang?

For the longest shelf life, transfer fully fermented gochujang to clean airtight containers and store in the refrigerator. Avoid introducing moisture or double-dipping utensils.


With its sweet-spicy complexity and umami richness, homemade gochujang is a flavor powerhouse that brings authenticity and depth to a wide variety of Korean and fusion dishes.

Making your own allows you to control the quality and customize it to your tastes. While the process is time-intensive, the insane flavor payoff is well worth the effort for any Korean cooking enthusiast.

How To Make Homemade Gochujang - Recipe

Homemade Gochujang (Korean Chili Paste)

Gochujang is a fermented Korean chili paste that adds spicy, sweet, and savory flavors to dishes. This homemade version lets you control the ingredients and customize the heat level.
Makes 1 quart


  • 1 cup Korean red chili powder (gochugaru)
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice powder (chapssalgaru)
  • 1/4 cup fermented soybean powder (mejugaru)
  • 1/4 cup barley malt powder (yeotgireumgaru)
  • 1/4 cup rice syrup (jocheong)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine (soju) - optional


  • Mix the rice powder into 5 cups water and let rest 2 hours for starches to convert to sugars.
  • Cook rice mixture over medium heat until reduced by half. Let cool completely.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix well until uniform paste forms.
  • Transfer to sterilized jar, cover, and ferment 2-3 months.
  • Refrigerate after fermentation for long term storage.


Gochujang can be used as a condiment, sauce base, marinade, or cooking ingredient to add spicy-sweet umami flavor to a variety of Korean dishes. Adjust ingredients to control the heat level and sweetness.
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