7 Substitutes for Korean Chili Powder (Gochugaru)

Gochugaru is a Korean chili powder made from sun-dried red chili peppers. It adds a vibrant and flavorful touch to Korean dishes like Kimchi, Tteokbokki, and Gochujang.

Substitutes for Korean Chili Powder (Gochugaru)

But what if you can't find Gochugaru or can't use it for some reason? Don't worry. You can still enjoy delicious Korean food with these seven fantastic Korean chili powder substitutes.

Before we explore the substitutes, let's see what you should look for in an alternative.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Heat Level
  • Texture
  • Flavor

Gochugaru is moderately spicy. It has 1500 to 10000 SHU. You don't want a substitute that is too mild or too hot. It will ruin the flavor balance of your dish.

Gochugaru is also coarse. It affects the texture of your dish. You may not find an exact match but try to find a similar one.

The texture of Gochugaru
The texture of Gochugaru

Substitute 1: Aleppo Pepper Powder

You can use Aleppo pepper powder instead. It comes from a Syrian chili pepper. It has a smoky and sweet flavor like Gochugaru but is slightly spicier. It has 10,000 SHU of heat. It also has a similar texture. This makes it a great substitute.

Use half as much Aleppo pepper powder as Korean chili powder in your recipe. For example, use one tablespoon of Aleppo pepper powder if your recipe needs two tablespoons of Gochugaru. You can add more if you want more spice.

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Substitute 2: Ancho Chili Powder

You can use Ancho chili powder instead. It comes from dried poblano peppers. It has a mild heat of 1,000 to 2,000 SHU. It also has an earthy and slightly smoky flavor.

But Ancho chili powder is finer than Gochugaru. So your dish may have a different texture. If you want to try Ancho chili powder as a substitute, use the same amount first. Then adjust it to your taste.

Substitute 3: Paprika

You can use paprika instead in many dishes. Paprika comes from dried and ground bell peppers or sweet chili peppers. It has a sweet and slightly smoky flavor. But it is milder, with a 500 to 1,500 SHU heat level.

To replace Korean chili powder with paprika, use the same amount and taste as you go. You can add some cayenne pepper if you want more spiciness. Paprika is easy to find and versatile.

Substitute 4: Cayenne Pepper

If you want a spicier substitute, try cayenne pepper. It comes from dried and ground cayenne chili peppers. It has a similar red color and slightly smoky flavor but is hotter. It has a heat level of 30,000 to 50,000 SHU.

Use less cayenne pepper than Gochugaru in your recipe. For example, use a quarter or half a tablespoon of cayenne pepper for every two tablespoons of Gochugaru. You can always add more if you like it spicier.

Substitute 5: Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

You can use crushed red pepper flakes instead as well. They come from dried and crushed red chili peppers. They are hotter but have a similar look and feel.

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Use half of what the recipe says for Gochugaru and see how it tastes. You can add more if you like it spicy.

Substitute 6: Guajillo Chili Powder

A good alternative is Guajillo chili powder. It comes from dried and ground guajillo chili peppers. They have a fruity and slightly smoky flavor. They also have a similar heat level of 2,500 to 5,000 SHU.

However, Guajillo chili powder has a fine texture. This may change the texture of your dish. If you want to use Guajillo chili powder instead, start with the same amount and adjust it to your taste.

Substitute 7: Thai Chili Powder

Thai bird's eye chilies
Thai bird's eye chilies

If you want a spicier replacement, try Thai chili powder. It comes from dried and ground Thai bird's eye chilies. They have a heat level of 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. That's much hotter than Korean chili powder. But they also have a similar red color and slightly smoky flavor.

You don't need much Thai chili powder for replacement. Use a small amount and taste as you go. Use a quarter or half a tablespoon of Thai chili powder for two tablespoons of Gochugaru. Then add more if you like it spicier.

Tips for Using Gochugaru Substitutes in Recipes

To make your Korean dishes delicious, use these tips when substituting with another spice:

  • Add less than the recipe says. Then taste and adjust.
  • Mix a milder substitute with a bit of a hotter one. This will boost the spiciness.

Conclusion

Gochugaru gives Korean dishes their distinctive flavor and texture. But what if you don't have it? You can still make delicious Korean food with these substitutes. They have similar heat, texture, and flavor. Try them and see how they spice up your recipes. You won't miss the authentic taste of Korean cuisine.

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Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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