23 Recipes to Use Up That Tub of Gochujang
The Korean chili paste adds zest to everything from traditional Korean dishes to Korean-style tofu, sauces, and spaghetti
Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.
Growing up in a Korean-American household, there was never a time when gochujang, the Korean hot pepper paste, wasn’t in our kitchen. It was just a household necessity like toilet paper or toothpaste, and panic would erupt when we were down to the last spoonfuls. As an avid Korean-American home cook, I appreciate how gochujang’s versatility and increased availability have made it a competitive product on the hot sauce market alongside Sriracha and Tapatío. But bear in mind, gochujang is not Korean hot sauce, or Korean miso paste, as it’s been inaccurately branded. It's most often used as an ingredient in cooking, rather than as an at-the-table topper to add spice.
Gochujang is a thick, pungent paste with a flavor and culinary history to match. But beyond that, gochujang can be put to good use in many unique applications. So while at first glance, an entire tub might seem like a major ingredient investment, I promise that once you make these 23 gochujang recipes you’ll never want to be without the red pepper paste again.
Before we dive in, let’s get a pinch more granular about this Korean pantry staple.
Jump ahead to:
Note: The Yummly Meal Planner is available to paid subscribers.
What is gochujang?
Korean gochujang is a thick and pungent red paste made from red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt. The chili peppers provide heat while the fermented soybeans act as an anchor, providing an umami flavor quality. Sticky rice contributes to the thickness of the paste and brings a touch of sweetness to round out the spice. Traditionally, the Korean people fermented large amounts of gochujang in their backyards over the course of many years in large ceramic pots called jangdokdae.
How to store gochujang
Gochujang paste should be stored in the refrigerator after opening. Similar to many fermented soybean products, it has a shelf life of about two years and can be enjoyed as long as there is no change in color, texture, taste, or smell.
Banchan and small bites with gochujang
The tasty side dishes that usually accompany Korean meals, called banchan, are a great place to start your gochujang explorations, but keep the Korean chili paste in mind for perking up mainstream American snacks and lunches, too.
If you want to eat kimchi but can’t squeeze in time (or kitchen space) to ferment a big batch of cabbage kimchi, these gochujang cucumbers have your name written all over them. The recipe takes 10 minutes, with no fermentation required.
Sticky, crunchy, and spicy gochujang-coated lotus root is one of my top banchan, but to be quite honest, I’ve never taken a stab at making it from scratch. Now that I’ve unlocked this recipe, which has a minimal ingredient list and cooks in an air fryer, I’ll never have to beg my favorite Korean restaurant for their secrets. Look for the fresh lotus root at an Asian market.
These pudgy potstickers filled to the brim with ground pork in a gochujang and sesame oil marinade are tasty fare to serve as a starter, but nothing should stop you from treating them as a main dish. As is the case with any kind of dumpling, these are exceptional either steamed or pan-fried — so make as many as you want, incorporating your favorite preparation. I love to eat a handful of these potstickers for dinner dipped in chili crisp; nevertheless, if you’re averse to extra spice, soy sauce can do no wrong!
Somewhere between red sauce meatballs and spicy Korean beef stir-fry are these gochujang meatballs. You can enjoy them as an appetizer but I also love to tuck them into a butter bun for a mean meatball sub. Or to make the ultimate feel-good meal, I put together a plate with a few meatballs, pillowy mashed potatoes, and roasted veggies. To finish, I’ll plop on a heaping spoonful of kimchi, because no meal is complete with at least a little kimchi.
For me, the trick to doctoring up canned tuna is dressing it in mayo (preferably a variety with tang, like Kewpie) and gochujang for a creamy, punchy combo that goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Green onions add a little bite. A vehicle as versatile as gochujang tuna salad is a great companion not only for crunchy celery sticks and buttery Ritz crackers, but to smear on thick bread with cheese for the ultimate Korean-inspired tuna melt.
I will happily take a crispy stack of savory Korean pancakes over their fluffy, syrup-drenched All-American counterparts any time of the day, for breakfast but especially for lunch and dinner.
Gochujang-based soups, stews and noodles
In Korean cooking, gochujang forms the backbone for dozens of guk (thin soups), jjigaes (thicker, more solid soups), and noodles so satisfying, they will have you running back for another bowl.
All you need for this spicy Korean chicken stew is a bit of patience and of course, your tub of gochujang at the ready. What does gochujang do here? Everything. It creates a spicy-sweet sauce, which is flavorful but also serves as the braising liquid for the chicken pieces and potato chunks. Definitely eat this with a big bowl of steamed rice.
Spicy gochujang beef stew is a glorious one-pot wonder. Cook up beef in a pool of spices, aromatic vegetables, and a gochujang-sesame-soy-based stock for a mouthwatering, stick-to-your-ribs dinner.
Budae Jjigae is a showcase of Korean cuisine, past and present. The soup was conceived at a time when the Koreans had very little to eat, so much so that they began to rely on processed foods provided by American GIs for survival through the hardship of wartime. Budae jjigae persists as a staple dish among younger generations, who consider the one-pot stew a cure for late nights, cold winters, and other emergencies requiring comfort. Here, gochujang along with kimchi and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) are the trifecta of spice in a rich, filling stew composed of mushrooms, sausages, SPAM, beans, and instant ramen noodles.
A classic vegetable soup gets a makeover with a dollop of gochujang, showcasing the condiment’s power as a hero ingredient. Try adding gochujang the next time another dish turns out rather bland. It’ll shake things up.
Much as I love instant ramen on its own as a quick, cheap meal, this bowl of instant ramen dressed to the nines with planks of firm tofu, a bunch of spinach, and 2 tablespoons of gochujang fills me up like a complete meal. True to form, this instant ramen weeknight meal with a glow up won’t break the bank, either.
This gochujang-peanut noodle recipe is the definition of what I want to eat in the summertime — minimal cooking, a quick hit of light and bright energy, and a showcase of warm weather produce. Now all I need is a perfect park bench to take in some sunshine while I slurp up each saucy strand.
There’s no denying that classic spaghetti is a true delight, but adding gochujang in the vegetable sauce plays up the acidity while proffering a one-two punch of spicy fermented heat. For balance, you’ll tame the spicy blend with milk and both cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Adding pasta water transforms everything into a silky, cohesive sauce. Recipe developer Mandy Lee of Lady and Pups was spot-on when she said, “This dish is built on the premise that Korean gochujang (chili paste) goes splendidly, against all odds, with cheese.”
Stir-fries and oven mains with gochujang
Looking for quick meals to make on the stove-top or in the oven? These next recipes run the gamut from traditional to more loosely Korean-inspired.
Freezing tofu overnight before roasting it might seem unusual, but it’s a worth-it step that creates a crispy, chewy, craggy texture. All the better to capture my recipe’s fiery, garlicky, slightly sweet sauce made with gochujang. You can use either potato starch or cornstarch to create the crispy coating, but potato starch — sold at grocery stores with baking supplies — bakes up with a flavor reminiscent of french fries!
If you love Korean fried chicken but don't want to mess with deep frying, consider this stir-fry hack that delivers all the flavor but using a fraction of the oil (and in a fraction of the time). You'll brown pieces of boneless chicken thighs, then set them aside and quickly simmer a sticky sauce made with gochujang, mirin, honey, sesame oil, vinegar, fresh ginger, and garlic. Add the chicken back in, and dinner is done.
Growing up in a Korean household, we never threw out dried-out leftover rice that was languishing in the rice cooker. Instead, my mom used it to make a big pan of kimchi fried rice. She’d stir-fry the grains in oil and gochujang, right before letting it rain with various clean-out-the-fridge bits and bobs. You won't be able to stop making or eating kimchi fried rice, trust me!
Any sauce is a welcome addition to tteokbokki, the Korean stir-fried rice cake dish. But in the most classic approach, it’s mixed with a sauce made of gochujang and gochugaru (red pepper flakes).
Gochujang sauce is a grand start for any type of protein you experiment with, but when in doubt, juicy, succulent chicken is a foolproof partner. Make these oven-baked, spicy-sweet drumsticks and see what I mean.
Of all the dishes from Korea that use gochujang, bibimbap must be one of the most-loved here in the States. Marinated meat, vegetables, and a salty-sweet sauce top bowls of sizzling rice. Making your own simplified version at home still involves multiple pans (though no grill), but the payoff is totally delicious and worth-it. Look for the thinly sliced beef at Asian markets.
Gochujang sauces to slather on everything
In a matter of seconds, a tablespoon or two of gochujang swirled into a sauce will instantly take it into the big league.
This gochujang sauce is basic in the best way possible. Spicy and enhanced with a touch of sweetness, it’s the perfect sidekick to a Korean bbq meal, for simple grilling you have going, as dipping sauce for seafood, or coating for crispy tofu nuggets and creamy roasted potatoes.
A splash of Korean gochujang vinaigrette helps simple, work-from-home lunch salads go poof.
Garlic, eggplant, beet, pine nut, roasted red pepper: There’s no shortage of flavors in the hummus universe. To add to the lineup, here’s a gochujang hummus saturated with spice and nuttiness, and made using just four simple ingredients — three if you don’t count the freebie, water. Plate it with toasted pita bread plus pickled veggies and call it dinner.
This spicy yet cooling aioli can pair with fries, chicken fingers, and veggie sticks, but no judgment if you dunk your human fingers in there. Trust me, I’ve done it on numerous occasions because it’s simply that good.
More favorite Asian recipes
Keep exploring flavors from many Asian cuisines in these next articles.