If you’re like I was, you might not even know what Gochugaru is or what it’s used for in cooking. When it comes to heat for your dish, gochugaru ranks similar to a jalapeno, in the 4,000-8,000 Scoville heat unit range. It has a sweet, subtle smoky taste that can enhance the flavoring of your Korean dishes or kimchi recipes.
But for those who relish Korean cuisine or make their own kimchi, gochugaru is an essential ingredient that may be tough to find. If you get lucky, you can find it at your local specialty store, but if not, take heart, we’re going to give you the rundown on some of the best gochugaru substitutes. Moreover, you can read some of our other spice substitutes:-
Best Ideas for Gochugaru Substitute
- Chipotle Powder
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Chile Pasilla
- Guajillo Powder
- Indian Kashmiri Pepper Powder
- Gochujang Chili Paste
- Aleppo Pepper
- Indian Chili Powder
- Chile De Arbol
- Sandia Chile Pepper
If you’re not familiar with where chipotle powder comes from, it’s made by dehydrating and smoking red jalapeno peppers. This means the heat level is close to gochugaru, at 2,500 to 8,000 SHU but the smokiness will be more potent. In fact, using chipotle powder may mean that the smokiness will dominate your recipe so consider the other ingredients in your recipe carefully before selecting chipotle powder.
Crushed Red Pepper
When using crushed red pepper as a gochugaru substitute, keep in mind that it’s made from cayenne pepper which is a chili pepper that sits at the 30,000-50,000 SHU range. This is much more heat than what gochugaru lends to a dish. If using crushed red pepper, use a mortar and pestle to further pulverize the flakes. Start with ⅓ less than what is called for in the original recipe and gradually increase to taste. It’s best not to use more than two teaspoons unless you are looking for intense heat for your recipe.
One of the best gochugaru substitutes, if the coloring of your final recipe isn’t critical, is chile pasilla. This pepper ranks 1,000 to 4,000 SHU, very close to the heat of gochugaru though not quite as hot. When using chile pasilla as a gochugaru replacement, use a bit more than called for in your recipe. Keep in mind that the very dark color of this pepper tends to alter the coloring of your final dish.
Sometimes referred to as the “little gourd” because of its shape, the guajillo is a popular pepper in Mexico. In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find any Tex-Mex cuisine that doesn’t include guajillo. It’s a pepper with moderate heat which makes it a great gochugaru substitute.
Indian Kashmiri Pepper Powder
Although it may be just as difficult to find as gochugaru, this pepper from the northern India region of Kashmiri is one of the best substitutes for gochugaru on our list. If you can’t get your hands on the Indian Kashmiri pepper, the Byadgi chile is an easier to find an alternative.
Gochujang Chili Paste
Also known as Korean hot pepper paste, this is a slightly saltier gochugaru substitute that also comes from the gochu pepper. It’s a thick paste made with fermented soybeans and rice. Although the texture of gochujang is different, it can be used in the same amounts as Gochugaru in your recipes. To balance the saltiness of gochujang, you’ll want to reduce the amount of other salty ingredients.
A counterpart to the guajillo pepper is the Aleppo pepper. It has comparable heat to gochugaru with a nutty sweet flavor. Aleppo is more commonly used in the Middle East and the Mediterranean and is an essential element in many lambs, chicken, and steak dishes.
Indian Chili Powder
When you need an alternative to gochugaru, Indian chili powder with some added cayenne pepper can fit the bill. For sweet dishes use less cayenne and increase the cayenne to give your dishes a more spicy taste. To get the subtle smoky flavor, use a bit of Spanish smoked paprika for the best gochugaru substitute.
Chile De Arbol
Chile de arbol is a gochugaru substitute with more kick, it ranks at 15,000-30,000 SHU. It has a nuttiness that is similar to the smokiness of gochugaru. It can be found in grocery stores and comes in paste, powder, or flakes. It’s an affordable alternative for gochugaru. Start with ⅓ the amount of gochugaru called for in your recipe and increase to taste for best results.
Sandia Chile Pepper
This pepper can grow up to 7 inches in length and ripes to red but is often harvested while still green. It’s one of the best gochugaru substitutes but keep in mind the coloring of your final dish will lack the deep red appearance that comes with gochugaru. Use Sandia chile pepper as a gochugaru substitute when you desire a bit of heat without having it overwhelm your final dish.
So there you have it, our list of the ten best gochugaru substitutes. With careful consideration of the heat, smokiness, and coloring in your dish, you want to emphasize, one of these alternatives to gochugaru are sure to please.