Hot pepper flakes

Gochugaru 고추가루

Korean hot pepper flakes are an essential ingredient in Korean cooking, used in many side dishes, soups, and stews, and in the most important Korean side dish of all, kimchi. They come in mild (deol-maewoon gochu-garu 덜매운 고춧가루) and hot (maewoon gochu-garu 매운 고춧가루) versions. For dishes like kimchi, I use the milder flakes so that I can add a lot for color without making the dish too spicy. My favorite is Bitggalchan brand from Yeongyang, Korea.

My readers often ask me if they can use chili powder or other crushed chili flakes as a substitute, but they won’t work with Korean dishes because they have a different flavor and are too spicy. Sometimes Korean hot pepper flakes may be mislabeled on the package as “powder,” but all packages will be at least partially transparent, so look inside and make sure they are coarse flakes. Beautiful bright red is best; avoid any that are purplish or brownish. When the flakes go bad, they become a yellowish-red and the flavor goes off.

After opening, store the pepper flakes in a zipper-lock plastic bag in the freezer for up to 6 months, and keep a small amount in a jar in the refrigerator for everyday use.

Deolmaewoon gochugaru

Buying hot pepper flakes can be difficult if you don’t read Korean because many Korean manufacturers will mislabel the product in English so it’s hard to know if you’re getting hot pepper flakes at all.

Take a look at the product in the package if at all possible. Hot pepper flakes are always coarse and chunky.

Korean hot pepper flakes

This one is tricky because in English it says “Red Pepper Powder,”and underneath that it says “Piment” which is French for “red pepper” or “spice,” and then there’s another label that reads “Coarse.” But this is really a bag of hot pepper flakes. You can tell by looking at the big flakes through the transparent part of package.

Red pepper powder is actually something very different. They’re a lot finer and mainly used for making gochujang, so you need to be careful of what you’re buying.

Assi brand hot pepper flakes

Recipes that use hot pepper flakes (gochugaru):


  1. dickyp Jakarta joined 5/18 & has 3 comments

    Dear Maangchi,

    I want to try to make a tteokbokki in a big portion but then i realize that the korean hot pepper flakes in my country, Indonesia, is so expensive. I looking for alternation and i found some local brand (i don’t know about the taste, bout they must be use the Indonesian Dried Chili instead of Korean xD) So, i need your opinion. This is the pepper flakes you mention about? It’s fine for my tteokbokki? Thanks

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  2. farahaszar Indonesia, Surabaya joined 8/17 & has 3 comments

    hi Mangchi!
    can I replace this with a pepper? the fresh one?
    cause I cant found Gochugaru in my town?

  3. Tnnx Netherlands joined 12/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi
    So i bought the wang red pepper flakes to make dishes like spicy pork/spicy chicken stew/jamppong/spicy rice cakes but the flakes taste verry weird? So do i have to buy red pepper powder or is it because of the brand?

  4. Autumnthing Malaysia joined 9/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I just bought the hot pepper powder and I’m worried after reading your article above because I’m going to make kimchi with it. Can you advise if this can be used or is it correct? It’s fine powder not coarse or flakes. Please advise. Thank you.

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