Asian Recipes/ Recipes/ Roundup

7+ Amazing Recipes to Make with Gochugaru – Korean Chilli Flakes

26/05/2022

Curious about gochugaru? Also known as Korean chilli flakes or Korean red pepper powder, this amazing spicy ingredient is essential in Korean cuisine! Find out what it is, how to buy quality gochugaru and what to use it in.

A small bowl of Korean red chilli flakes with a bowl of the powdered version in the background.

Why We Love It

Gochugaru is mildly spicy yet full of rich and complex flavour! If you’re cautious of spice intensity, this is a great ingredient to experiment with until you find the perfect balance to your taste. 

It gives Korean cuisine the iconic heat and rich red colour, but you can also use it as a substitute for regular chilli powder in fusion recipes or your everyday cooking. 

Related: 15 Ways to Use Gochujang / 8 Simple Tofu Recipes

What is Gochugaru?

Gochugaru is an essential ingredient in Korean cuisine, and alongside gochujang, is responsible for its classic spicy heat and rich flavour. 

The word gochugaru / 고춧가루 is made of the words gochu (고추 / chilli pepper) and garu (가루 / powder). In English, it’s also referred to as Korean chilli pepper flakes, Korean red pepper flakes or Korean chilli powder. 

Gochugaru is bright red, coarse and flaky in texture, similar to flaky sea salt. High quality versions are made from naturally sun dried, mostly deseeded, crushed red chilli peppers referred to as taeyang-cho.

Korean red pepper flakes have a unique flavour compared with other types of chilli flakes. They’re spicy yet sweet, smoky and a little bit fruity. The flavour is well-rounded and complex, yet milder in heat than regular chilli flakes or cayenne pepper powder, although the heat, flavour and quality can vary between brands.

Korean Chilli Flakes vs Korean Chilli Powder

Both are technically gochugaru, so what are the key differences?

Korean Chilli Flakes

  • Coarse, flaky texture
  • Valued for its flavour and heat
  • Used in a variety of dishes like kimchi, soups and stews

Korean Chilli Powder

  • Fine powder texture
  • Used to add intense colour
  • Primarily used to make gochujang paste
Two white bowls filled with red chilli powder on a blue background.

How to Choose the Best Gochugaru

Korean chilli flakes should have a rich, bright red colour and coarse texture, especially when compared to other types of chilli powder. If the colour is dim red or turning brownish, they’re probably getting close to their expiry date and will lack in flavour and intensity.

Many brands are labelled in English as “red pepper powder”, but where possible you want to use the flaky version instead of the finely ground version for most of our Korean recipes. The powder is mostly used for making gochujang.

Look for the label ‘coarse’ or ‘flake’ on the packaging, but this still may not be enough of a guarantee. Most packages have a clear / see-through section so, even if you’re unable to read Korean text, you can see and confirm the actual gochujang you’re getting. If you’re at the grocery store and you’re still unsure, just ask. 

Close up shot of Korean chilli flakes showing the correct texture and colour.

Best Substitutes

The best, most widely available substitute for gochujang would probably be paprika. This is available in sweet, hot or smoky versions. Try using one or a blend of all three depending on the flavour you’re trying to achieve in your chosen recipe, your taste preference or heat tolerance.

You could also try regular hot pepper flakes, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper powder, but note they won’t have the same well-rounded flavour and will be much spicier than gochugaru. Start by using half the recommended amount and build it up from there. Always use your best judgement.

For more ideas, check out this guide to gochugaru substitutes.

How to Store It

It’s important to store gochugaru in an airtight container to preserve the flavour and quality, and to avoid spoilage. Since it usually comes in large packages, we store the bulk of the powder in a big glass jar and keep a small jar in the kitchen for convenience.

For best results, you should store the bulk of your gochugaru in the freezer, and keep the small jar in the fridge. If it clumps together from being frozen, you can crush it back up or give it a quick pulse in a blender or food processor to loosen it up again. 

A large jar, a small jar, and a small white dish all filled with gochugaru chilli flakes.

So now you know all about gochugaru, try your hand at these amazing Korean recipes:

Fresh homemade kimchi in a bowl.
Easy Korean Kimchi – Fermented Spicy Cabbage
Seasoned and fermented to perfection, this easy Korean Kimchi is one very versatile dish. Eat it by itself or add to a myriad of meals including Korean Army Stew and Pajeon Kimchi Seafood Pancakes.
Easy Korean Kimchi – Fermented Spicy Cabbage
Bowl of Tteokbokki with boiled eggs and chopsticks.
Tteokbokki Recipe – Korean Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry
This fiery Korean Tteokbokki recipe features a quick and easy sauce base you can make in less than 10 minutes! We'll simmer chewy cakes in a spicy sauce of gochujang and dashi stock in this delicious and satisfying homemade street food recipe.
Tteokbokki Recipe – Korean Spicy Rice Cake Stir Fry
Tteokkochi skewer with sesame seeds.
Tteokkochi – Korean Street Food Skewers
Make your own Korean street food skewers in just 10 minutes! Tteokkochi are spicy rice cakes that are fried on a skewer and slathered in a sweet gochujang sauce. Perfect for entertaining with friends and family.
Tteokkochi – Korean Street Food Skewers
Top view of budae jjigae heated up and ready to eat.
Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
Learn how to cook this easy Korean-American hot pot recipe. Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) transforms simple everyday ingredients like spam, noodles, mushroom and veggies into a mouth-watering spicy stew. Budae Jjigae is perfect for sharing and entertaining too – if you have a table top cooker, why not cook it all together with friends!
Korean Army Stew (Budae Jjigae)
Bowl of dubu jorim in white bowl with onion slivers.
Dubu Jorim – Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
Everyone will love this sweet, savoury and spicy Korean braised tofu! Dubu jorim is vegan and vegetarian friendly AND ready in less than 20 minutes! Serve it as a side dish or all on its own for a quick and healthy meal. 
Dubu Jorim – Korean Spicy Braised Tofu
Spicy Korean Chicken stir fry in a pan.
Dakgalbi with Cheese – Korean Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
Featuring succulent pieces of Korean spicy chicken stir fried in a mouthwatering Dakgalbi sauce and smothered with melted cheese. Cook it on the stove, or better yet, in the middle of the table surrounded by friends.
Dakgalbi with Cheese – Korean Spicy Chicken Stir Fry
Spicy dak bulgogi topped with sesame and spring onion.
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi
Chicken bulgogi (dak bulgogi) is one of the easiest Korean BBQ style dishes you can make at home. Just marinate and fry! Think tender chicken thighs coated in a spicy gochujang based sauce and fried to juicy perfection in 15 minutes. Ready to turn up the heat?
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi
Close up shot of a Korean haemul pajeon pancake showing the crispy fried batter and green onions.
Crispy Korean Seafood Pancakes – Haemul Pajeon
An epic Korean street food, perfect for a snack or dinner. Get these golden and crispy fried Haemul Pajeon (aka Korean Seafood Pancakes) on the table in just 20 minutes!
Crispy Korean Seafood Pancakes – Haemul Pajeon
Close up of Korean chicken burger slathered in gochujang.
Quick Korean Gochujang Chicken Burgers
Turn up the heat! Slathered in gochujang, these spicy Korean chicken burgers are waiting for your next barbecue. Marinated chicken mince patties are wedged between kimchi and gochujang mayo for the ultimate flavour burst.
Quick Korean Gochujang Chicken Burgers

Bonus Recipes to Use Up Gochugaru Instead of Regular Chilli Powder

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Deviled Potatoes – Sri Lankan Potato Fry (Ala Thel Dala)
With a big flavour punch, this Sri Lankan dry potato curry is no ordinary side dish! Also known as Ala Thel Dala, fry these simple spicy potatoes in just 20 minutes.
Deviled Potatoes – Sri Lankan Potato Fry (Ala Thel Dala)
Spicy chilli oil in a white dish with a spoon.
3 Ingredient Simple Rayu Chilli Oil (La Yu)
Spice lovers – here's a chilli oil which only needs a minute to infuse! With just 3 ingredients, drizzle your homemade Rayu Chilli Oil all over your favourite Japanese dishes like Tantanmen Ramen and Gyoza.
3 Ingredient Simple Rayu Chilli Oil (La Yu)
Stuffed eggplant on a plate garnished with slices of green bell pepper.
Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
Karniyarik is the perfect family dinner recipe! Featuring juicy eggplants stuffed with beef, tomatoes and aromatic Turkish spices. Easy to make, baked to perfection, and generous servings.
Karniyarik – Turkish Stuffed Eggplants
Close up shot of Burmese lemongrass curry in a bowl with rice.
Burmese Lemongrass Chicken Curry
Burmese Lemongrass Chicken Curry features juicy chicken simmered down with fresh lemongrass and aromatic spices for an easy weeknight curry. Serve it as a main meal with rice or as a tasty side dish alongside Burmese stuffed eggplants.
Burmese Lemongrass Chicken Curry
Bowl of chicken larb loaded with fresh herbs.
Lao Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai)
This 15 minute chicken salad is light, fresh and filled with your favourite Southeast Asian flavours. A fragrant blend of herbs and spices give Lao Larb Gai the perfect combo of salty and sweet.
Lao Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai)
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Gulyas – Traditional Hungarian Goulash Soup with Noodles
Gulyas is the ultimate comfort food. What’s not to love about one pot slow-simmered beef and potatoes infused with spicy paprika and homemade galuska noodles? Hungarian goulash is zero effort, ALL flavour.
Gulyas – Traditional Hungarian Goulash Soup with Noodles
7+ Amazing Recipes to Make with Gochugaru - Korean Chilli Flakes

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