What is the Best Substitute for Gochugaru?

by Charlie
Gochugaru substitute

Gochugaru is a famous pepper variant that has become famous almost worldwide. Made of dried, seedless chili peppers, it has managed to become a regular in different dishes. 

There are different recipes where you can apply gochugaru. That versatility in itself makes it a must-have in the kitchen. However, there are situations where you might need to have something to stand in its place? 

What is the best substitute for gochugaru? The best substitute for gochugaru is actually chipotle pepper. Apart from having a relatively similar taste, chipotle pepper is more readily available than gochugaru. It is also a one-for-one substitute, so you don’t have to worry about measurements. 

An Overview of Gochugaru

Gochugaru is a chili powder that originates from Korea. Over the past half-century, its popularity has spread so much that it is now used almost worldwide. 

Known for its smokiness and spicy taste, gochugaru gained popularity for being an important part of Asian dishes – from salads and spicy foods to soups and even the famous kimchi.

While it gets mistaken for several other chili variants, gochugaru has a distinct taste and flavor profile. It’s the type of thing you want to have in your kitchen at all times for sure. 

Why Replace Gochugaru?

  • Taste accommodations: The first point will have to be gochugaru’s taste. Not everyone likes that blend of spiciness and smokiness. They might not be able to accommodate it.
  • Non-availability: Gochugaru is also quite scarce. If you can’t find it around, you need something to stand in its place. 

Options for Gochugaru Substitutes

Best Overall Substitute for Gochugaru: Chipotle Pepper

Chipotle pepper is what you get when you smoke red Jalapeno chilies and take out all of their moisture. It is especially ideal as a substitute for gochugaru because it provides that same smoky flavor that the latter offers. 

Some might point out that chipotle pepper offers a smokier flavor than gochugaru. To be fair, this is quite true, and you might need to make accommodations for that – we’ll explain how below. Still, they are relatively comparable, and there is hardly anything that gives you a comparable taste. All in all, chipotle pepper serves as the best option if you’re trying to get that extra kick of flavor and there’s no gochugaru in sight. 

Another benefit of chipotle pepper is the fact that you will be able to find it much more easily. So, if you can’t seem to find gochugaru and you need something for your meal on short notice, you should be able to get your hands on chipotle pepper instead. 

All in all, chipotle pepper is a great one-for-one substitute for gochugaru. You don’t need to do any measurements when applying it to your meal. 

As for the smokiness of chipotle pepper, you could counteract that with a little bit of crushed red pepper. If you notice that the chipotle pepper’s smokiness threatens to overcome the entire taste of your meal, crushed red pepper will come to your rescue.

While red pepper will increase the heat of the mixture even more, it helps to lighten the flavor and give you something even closer to gochugaru. Crushed red pepper will also add a bit of sweetness into the mix, but that isn’t much of a problem. 

Best Texture-Based Substitute: Cayenne Pepper

If you would like to use a specific spice as a substitute for gochugaru, you might want to check its texture. Cayenne pepper is the perfect substitute if you prioritize that same spiciness that gochugaru has. It is an ideal alternative, and it works wonders in any dish. 

Besides the resembling spiciness, another benefit of cayenne pepper is the fact that it works for several recipes. You can get cayenne pepper in the powdered form and the flaky form. Note that the flakes tend to be spicier, so you want to be careful with those. Like chipotle pepper, cayenne pepper is also much more readily available than gochugaru. So, you should be able to lay your hands on it when you need it. 

For health enthusiasts, cayenne pepper is an ideal source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You also get a healthy dose of flavonoids from it, making the pepper a great source of antioxidants. 

If you find that cayenne pepper is too spicy for you, there’s actually a bit of a solution. All you have to do is soak it in lukewarm water for a little while before you add it to your recipe. You will find that it reduces that spiciness a bit and makes the taste more palatable. 

Unlike chipotle pepper, cayenne pepper isn’t a one-for-one substitute. For every 1 tablespoon of gochugaru, you can use ¾ tablespoons of cayenne pepper. Note that this isn’t for everyone – you still have to taste it to be sure you’ve got the right stuff. 

Best Color-Based Substitute: Paprika 

One of the reasons why gochugaru has become so popular is its ability to deliver that red color in dishes. If you’re looking to achieve the same aesthetic but don’t want to use gochugaru, you’ve got a friend in paprika. 

Another easily accessible spice, paprika is easy to work with. However, note that there are three types available – smokes, hot, and sweet. Sweet paprika is the common one you find almost everywhere. It provides a mild flavor, which is great for people who can’t accommodate much heat in their palettes. 

Hot paprika is also relatively common. It is most famous for being used in Hungarian dishes, hence why it is known commonly as Hungarian paprika. 

The smoked paprika is prepared by smoking and drying. It can help to provide a smoky and sweet flavor to your overall recipe. 

Of all options, hot paprika is most likely the best in this scenario. However, you can choose whichever you prefer based on what you like. Paprika is a good one-for-one substitute for gochugaru, so you don’t have to worry about measurements.

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