Gochujang Vs. Sriracha: PepperScale Showdown

Gochujang and sriracha are two chili pepper preparations that look similar and offer similarly understated spice levels. Gochujang is sometimes referred to as the Korean sriracha; however, they have some important differences and are not interchangeable. If you want to find out how gochujang and sriracha compare to each other, take a look at our PepperScale Showdown below that breaks it all down.

How does gochujang differ from sriracha?

Both gochujang and sriracha have an umami flavor component to go with their heat — the big difference between the two is the intensity of that characteristic. Gochujang gets its burst of umami from fermented soybean paste while sriracha gets its savory quality from the garlic it contains, which is much milder. Aside from the umami factor, you will also be able to notice from gochujang’s ingredients label that it does not contain any garlic at all while garlic plays a big part in sriracha’s flavor profile.

The fermented aspect of gochujang is also an important difference between it and sriracha. Gochujang has the tangy and funky qualities that you find in all fermented foods, while sriracha does not have that quality. 

You should refrigerate gochujang after opening it; sriracha can be stored at room temperature for prolonged periods without too much concern.

Gochujang has glutinous rice among its ingredients, which you will not find in sriracha. The glutinous rice dives it a thicker and starchier texture than sriracha along with a little sweetness. 

Can you use gochujang in place of sriracha and vice versa?

Gochujang offers everything that you will get from sriracha and more of it. It gives you the heat combined with sweetness, and a strong savory background note that is enhanced by fermentation. Everything that sets it apart from sriracha will be an asset in all areas but one — it is not as versatile a finishing sauce. While Korean eaters might enjoy its strong flavors, they might me too intense for others.

Sriracha is milder because it is meant to be an additive for cooked food; it can bring heat without excessively masking the flavors. The mildness is a big part of why it is enjoyed all over the world and many people add it on prepared food at the table exactly as they would add ketchup. Sriracha’s gentle heat and lack of strong flavors also allows it to serve as a complement for a vast number of dishes. Gochujang is a great marinade and glaze but some might find its fermented soy notes too assertive for it to be a good table condiment.

Sriracha’s subtle qualities are why it is generally not considered a good gochujang substitute. While some people claim that the combination of sriracha and miso or soy sauce is a good replacement for gochujang, those people are probably not Korean. Even so, the combination might be workable if you are not familiar with gochujang and do not plan to cook Korean food regularly. 

When should you use gochujang and when should you use sriracha?

Use gochujang in cooked Korean dishes like sundubu jjigae or as a sauce for galbi, which is the Korean name for barbecued beef short ribs. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for Korean-style fried chicken and to marinate pork or chicken that you plan to roast or grill. In short, you can use it for any dish where you want the strong umami note along with a mild or moderate heat. 

You can use sriracha in any dish where you might use another basic hot sauce or need a touch of plain spiciness.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on August 17, 2019 to include new content. It was originally published on March 13, 2019.