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Gochugaru (Korean Chili Powder and Korean Chili Flakes)

Learn about Korean gochugaru (Korean chili powder / Korean chili flakes / red pepper flakes) and how it can be used in Korean cooking.

Korean chili flakes and Korean chili powder in two separate bowls

What is Gochugaru?

Gochugaru (고추가루) has a few different English names under its belt. Namely, Korean chili powder, Korean chili flakes, Hot pepper flakes, red pepper flakes etc.

Gochugaru is one of the most important Korean ingredients. It is used in gochujang (Korean chili paste), kimchi, spicy Korean soups and stews (e.g. sundubu jjigae) and spicy Korean side dishes (e.g. Korean cucumber salad).

Gochugaru is often vibrantly red in color and it has mild to moderate spicy taste with a hint of sweetness.

However, gochugaru tastes quite different to other non-Korean standard chili powder and chili flakes varieties (e.g. cayenne pepper powder). It is much milder in taste in comparison, so it is best not to substitute with them.

The quality and level of spiciness in gochugaru will vary depending on its origin and its specific farming conditions.

 

Types of Gochugaru

There are mainly two different kinds of gochugaru and they are used for different cooking needs.

– Korean Chili Powder

This is a finer version of gochugaru. It is used when making gochujang and radish water kimchi. It is also used for some soup and side dishes when you want better color and smooth texture.

Korean chili powder in a clear bowl

– Korean Chili Flakes 

This is a more coarse version of gochugaru and it has more versatile usage in Korean cooking. It is used when making kimchi, and most Korean side dishes and Korean soups and stews.

Korean chili flakes in a clear bowl

How Gochugaru is Made

Many Korean households make their own chili powder. They try to source good quality dried Korean red chilies at a farmer’s market and once they bring them home they do the following.

  1. Cut the stems off the red chilies with a pair of scissors and open one side of the chili and shake off the seeds. (According to my mum, it is best to leave some seeds in still as it makes more tasty chili powder.) It is also possible to buy dried red chilies that are already trimmed and cleaned. If so, move on to the next step.
  2. Wipe clean the chilies with a dry cloth thoroughly and take it to local rice mill (Bangatgan, 방앗간) and ask them to be grounded according to their preferred particle size.

How to Store Gochugaru

Once you open the package, it needs to be kept in a cool shaded place. It can get moldy if you don’t store it well. I keep mine in an air tight container and in the fridge.

If you want to store it for a longer period, you can store in your freezer as well. Just seal it really well.

When gochugaru becomes hardened, you can use a food processor to separate it again. Just a few seconds pulse will fix it.

 

Other Popular Recipes Using Korean Chili Powder or Korean Chili Flakes

 

Where to Buy Gochugaru

You can find gochugaru in the condiment isle at a Korean grocer. Some large Asian grocers might also sell it as well.

If you’re looking for an online buying option, try Amazon or eBay. Don’t forget that there are mainly two different types of gochugaru (fine vs coarse), so read the label and descriptions well before purchasing.

Korean chili powder package
Korean chili powder
Korean chili flakes package
Korean chili flakes

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: November 20, 2020
Sue and My Korean Kitchen Profile

Welcome to my Korean kitchen! I’m so happy that you're here. I am Sue, the creator behind My Korean Kitchen (since 2006). I love good food and simplifying recipes. Here you will find my best and family approved recipes. Thanks for stopping by!

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31 thoughts on “Gochugaru (Korean Chili Powder and Korean Chili Flakes)”

    • No. If you can’t find gochugaru, a regular chili flakes (maybe mix with some spicy chili powder) might be a better substitute. This is not to say that the result will be the same or just as good as using gochugaru.

      Reply
    • Do you live near a Korean grocer? That’s the place to go. If you’re looking for an online solution, try Amazon or eBay too. Good luck!

      Reply
  1. Hi, I have Korean Hot chili Flakes in my fridge, forgot about it and I checked that it has passed it’s expiration date, but they don’t look moldy, or black. They are still reddish and apicy when use.

    Reply
  2. hi I am a fan of kimchi but live in Iceland. I am trying to get some korean chiliflakes to make kimchi but amazon does not send it for some readons to Iceland. I am a regular costumer at Amazon but when it comes to kimchi they don’t allow me to purchase it for some reason please can you advise me how and where I can get it. sincerely Margret

    Reply
    • Search in ebay.com. They send it start from Korea. Don’t get the ones made in China there not sun dried not too sure about that (some might be) but it’s best to get them: Made in Korea. Then they’ll most liked be sun dried.

      Reply
    • Possibly. Where / how did you store it? As I mentioned in the post, if you don’t store well, it can get mouldy.
      To be safe, if it has passed the expiry date, I would discard it.

      Reply
  3. Hi Sue,

    I bought the wrong type of Korean Chilli for my kimchi. Despite the packaging and wording is exactly the same, it is difference in terms of chilli powder vs. chilli flakes. Can I use the chilli powder instead of using chilli flakes? If the measurement calls for 1 cup of chilli flakes should it also be 1 cup of chilli powder?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • As long as it’s coarse chilli powder/flakes, you can use it for Kimchi. I wouldn’t caught up with the wording as different manufacturers use different wording. Fine chilli powder is for gochujang (most of the time) and it tends to be spicier.

      Reply
      • Hi Sue,
        I tried Kimchi first time and I found it very hot spiced, burned my tongue. I rinsed it with water and it was OK. What should I look for next time to buy a milder version?

        Reply
        • Unfortunately, Gochugaru sold at a typical Korean grocer doesn’t specify whether it’s mild or spicy etc. (It’s possible to buy less spicy pre-ground chilies at a traditional market in Korea though.) Perhaps you can use less Gochugaru than what the recipe calls for.

          Reply
        • Don’t ever use Water with spicy food! Capsaicin is an Oil, and Oil and Water doesn’t bind, it is non-polar to polar, Water throws it around more, making it worse!

          Reply
          • Oil, butter, sourcream, or cream cheese will help remove capsaicin from the tongue. Polar solvent for polar irritant. I always serve sesame oil and rice along with food made with spicy peppers like gochugaru and gochujang.

        • I’ve come across other people making kimchi with it. I personally wouldn’t know how it will turn out without testing it myself.

          Reply
    • I couldn’t get korean pepper powder so used 1/2 chilli flkes and 1/2 hot paprika. The paprika gave the slightly smoky/sweet flavour. You could adjust the amount of chilli flakes to taste,

      Reply
      • I use HOT, not SMOKEY paprika when I can’t find Korean pepper powder or paste. Hot paprika (finely ground Hungarian hot pepper)makes a very useful substitute for finely ground Korean pepper.

        Reply
  4. Hi Karlsfoodie
    I’m not sure whether Korean chili species are the same as Chinese’s
    Anyway, for chili powder (Gochutgaru) that Koreans use, sun-dried chilies are known as high quality chilies.

    Reply
  5. That looks very spicy. Have you ever tried making it yourself? Thanks for showing the photo of the bottle, makes it easier to look for it in the store 🙂

    Reply

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