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Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang)

What is Korean black bean paste (Chunjang)? Let’s learn!

Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang) |

Korean black bean paste (Chunjang, 춘장) is made from a salty fermented soybean and coloured with caramel. It is an essential condiment to make “Korean black bean sauce noodles (Jajangmyeon, 자장면)“.

It has a slightly bitter and salty taste on its own, so some sugar is added when making Korean black bean sauce (Jajang, 자장: stir-fried Korean black bean paste with meat & vegetables).

While Korean black bean paste may have been introduced by a Chinese merchant into Korea, it is different to Chinese black bean paste as it evolved to meet Korean’s taste buds.

Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang) |

The above container of black bean paste (500g) was purchased for $3.30 (AUD) and this or a similar one should be available from any Korean/Asian grocery store.

An alternative to this Korean black bean paste is Korean black bean sauce powder, as below. It is easier to use than the paste as all you need to do is dissolve the powder with water. However, it doesn’t give as deep flavour as the paste.

Korean Black Bean Sauce Powder (Jjajang Garu) |

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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37 thoughts on “Korean Black Bean Paste (Chunjang)”

  1. Hey I just brought black bean paste the first time I made jjajangmyeon I had made it with sauce from regular market but since I was in H mart I decided to get black bean paste but not sure how to store it

  2. Hi Sue. I’m wondering if there’s any uses for this paste besides making Jajangmyeon? I really like the taste but not sure what else to do with it. Can it be used for example as a stir fry base?

  3. Hello Sue! I wanted to make 짜장면, but the black bean past I have (same brand as pictured in this article) has an expiration date from 2014. Four years past it’s due date, can I still use it?

  4. Is it possible to substitute chunjang with ssamjang for black bean noodles? If not then would black bean garlic sauce work?

    • Hi Ivy, I’m assuming you want to make black bean noodles? If so, please, NO!!! They are totally different. Where do you live? Did you consider an online store?

  5. hola sue , como estas . tu me puedes decir cual es la diferencia entre la pasta de frijol koreana con la pasta de frijol chino. Y como se llamaria en chino . gracias

  6. Hello! I was watching some food videos on Youtube and got really craving for the black bean noodles I always see people eat with so much gusto. It looks so… hearty and fulfilling. Like it’s something you gobble gobble while your eyes roll up into your skull.


    I live in the outskirts of Japan and can’t really travel out into the metropolis just to get ingredients. At our local supermarket though, they have a very limited Korean aisle. At first, I tried the ready-to-eat Jajangmyeon packets they have there. But it must’ve been Japanified; its orange-color sauce is like tomato-based and really sweet and watery with lots of carrots for some reason. The meat inside is ground into tiny bits. It’s good, but I want the real experience.

    So I want to cook it on my own. I managed to get most of the ingredients… except for the most crucial one. Alas, they don’t have that Chunjang black sauce. So I was wondering if I can substitute it using 甜麺醤 (Tienmenjang)?

    • Hi Roland, I’m not familiar with the sauce you’re referring. If you’re really keen, you will have to give it a try and see if the taste comes close to the real Jajangmyeon sauce. Like you said, chunjang (black bean sauce) is very important in this dish. FYI – some people who tried Chinese black bean sauce told me that the taste wasn’t the same. (I’m not sure whether this Chinese black bean sauce is same as Tienmenjang or not.) Hope this helps!

  7. I tried making chunjang,the black bean paste. I thought I carefully followed the recipe that I found online. It was disappointing. The finished product was grayish and not smooth at all like I’ve seen on several blogs. I’ll use it, but I guess I should use the commercial product that is sold at the local Korean market.

    • Hi Mike, Sorry to hear your black bean sauce didn’t turn out well. I didn’t think it was an easy task! Though, I’m hoping to master this sauce one day too. 🙂

    • Hi, Mike.I tried making my own and it turned out greyish too. But I read somewhere they added some sorta caramel coloring before they ferment it so I guess that makes the black color? Does your homemade paste taste like the commercial ones?

  8. Any tips about how one could make this sauce oneself? I would want to start with fermented black beans and go from there. Maple syrup? minced ginger and garlic? Thanks for any tips.

    • Hi Pete, As I haven’t tried making the paste myself yet, I can’t offer you any useful tips. 🙂 Though main listed ingredients are soybean, wheat flour, salt and water. I hope to share this recipe one day!

  9. Hello, I have some allergies, therefore I was wondering if you can tell me the ingredients of this sauce, does it contains MSG or any beef related ingredients?
    Thank you!

    • Main ingredients are soybean, wheat flour, salt and water. I’m afraid to say that this particular brand contains MSG. (Other brand could be different though.) I don’t see any trace of beef.

  10. Hi sue..I have a question about this black bean paste brand. i just bought the same as yours. but I m wondering is this brand is suitable for vegetarian?

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