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 (it’s often sold out).

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.

Korean hot pepper flakes - Deolmaewoon gochugaru

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. wyomingfly Wy joined 7/23 & has 1 comment

    The good deol-maewoon gochu-garu that you recommend and I have used for years is no longer available in the 500g size. Now only 1kg.

    What is your next best deol-maewoon gochu-garu that would be in 500g size as 1 KG is too much

  2. 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

    See full size image

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

    See full size image

  6. cnaa_wawa malaysia joined 11/13 & has 1 comment

    Hi.. Can i cant find chili powder to make gochujang.. Just have flakes.. Can i grind them n use to make gochujang..

  7. Inbornhappy Houston joined 1/17 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi, I did not read this before I bought my gochugaru. ^^;; I bought this brand of gochgaru from this brand called foodcell. The peppers originate from China but the bag is in Korean. The bag has a picture of kimchi and it is coarse pepper flakes. It is not spicy really and it is coarse and flakey. Should I grind them a little bit to make it similar to the korean chili flakes? Thanks.

  8. loozenup3 california joined 12/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello, I live very close to 99 cent store and Walmart, but driving to an Asian market is too far, so I really appreciate it if you could post good alternatives for the red pepper flakes used for making Kimchi. I am craving for some cilantro kimchi right now, and I really just want to use generic typical ingredients nearby to make it. Can you please help with this matter. Thanks.

  9. ivydalcurbi Meycauayan Bulacan joined 11/16 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, I have a question regarding the chili flakes like this one on the picture. This is the one I mostly use as condiment when I want my food to be more spicy. If I were to process this into finer chili flakes, would it be the same as gochugaru?

    See full size image

  10. rami chan AMERICA joined 6/16 & has 7 comments

    Hey Maanchi I want to ask it’s ok to order on Amazon hot pepper flakes safe ?

  11. AdamB usa joined 12/14 & has 15 comments

    Hi Maangchi.

    I am confused about this product, which is among many at my Korean market. Is this good for kimchi? It comes from China.

    See full size image

  12. hey maangchi, very big fan of yours, i have a question, i went to a korean supermarket near me and they did not have any hot pepper flakes all they had was hot pepper powder the real fine kind that you would use to make hot pepper paste with, and they had dried red peppers if i bought the dried red peppers if i grind them up would that be good to use in making kimchi, or can i use the hot pepper powder at all, thanks

  13. Sally Fern Malaysia joined 3/15 & has 2 comments

    Hi, Maangchi. Will hot pepper flakes get expire? I’m worry I can’t finish it before it expires as many of the hot pepper flakes packaging stated the expiry date. Hot pepper flakes available at my place has short shelf life.

  14. Cookin905 Pickering, On, Canada joined 1/15 & has 3 comments

    Hi, Maangchi,
    I have enjoyed every recipe of yours that I have made. Tonight I would like to make Spicy Braised Chicken, but have been having trouble finding the correct Hot Pepper Flakes (I would prefer the milder version you mention). I shop at a local Asian Supermarket that only sells two brands. One of the brands lists salt as an ingredient and the other does not.

    This is the one I purchased yesterday. Can you tell me if it is correct, please?

    See full size image

  15. Hello, can you please tell me if I could substitute other dried pepper flakes? I have so many different ones at home and I don’t want to buy them if not 100% necessary.

    Thank you!

  16. Greg J. Michigan, USA joined 1/13 & has 2 comments

    Hi! I looked at 2 local Korean grocery stores, but neither had “Deolmaewoon gochugaru.” I can pronounce Korean (without knowing the meaning), so I looked for it in Korean (덜매-anything 고추가구) as well as asked the Korean salespeople. Presumably that means I have to order it online. I couldn’t find any at Amazon or HMart.com. Do you know of a link to a small package from any online seller? Thanks!

  17. Crazy in kitchen Cambodia joined 8/13 & has 1 comment

    I’m a new fun ^^ i watched alot of you’re video. I really love it.
    Hmm…. I want to ask can i make my own hot pepper flakes? If can pls showe me how?

  18. Casey New Jersey joined 4/10 & has 7 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I was buying red pepper flakes today and noticed there is a HUGE difference in prices between brands. For the same size package, the price started at $3.99 and went all the way up to $64.99! Do you know why some brands are so much more expensive? I bought one for $8.99. 65 bucks is a bit out of my budget, lol.


    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      $64.99? It’s made of gold? : ) I usually buy taeyangcho (hot pepper flakes made from sun dried hot peppers).
      I don’t know which brand is good or not. I usually just pick some that are expensive. But I have never seen a package that costs $64.99! Choose flakes with a nice and bright red color.

  19. ephinyus United States joined 3/12 & has 1 comment

    I wondered if this is the same type of hot pepper flakes? I found them on Amazon.


  20. eera94 kuala lumpur joined 12/11 & has 7 comments

    hot pepper powder and chili powder….is it different????
    i already bought chili powder to make my kimchi…

  21. Victoriaa Canada joined 8/11 & has 1 comment

    Hello! I just have a quick question, I had bought red pepper powder earlier this year and the expiry date hasn’t come yet, but the powder is beginning to form big soft clumps. Is it still usable or is it bad?

  22. nrebz Philippines joined 8/11 & has 2 comments

    hi… can i ask where i can buy hot pepper flakes.. i’m from Philippines. Even in online shopping does not have :(.. hope you can help me.. thanks

  23. seraph74 Sydney, Australia joined 5/11 & has 7 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I was sooooo excited to finally find some of these hot pepper flakes in a local Asian grocery store. They had the ones that are picured in your second picture, the ones that are labelled “red pepper powder – coarse”. My question to you is whether or not these are the hot spicy red pepper powder, or the less spicy pepper powder. Can you clarify, please? I’m hoping for hot spicy, as I’m particularly fond of hot/spicy food, but if these are the less spicy, then I’ll know to use more of them to satisfy my desire for spice!


    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      The second photo doesn’t say spicy or less spicy.
      You may find Korean words on the package like this, but not always.
      매운 고추가루: spicy hot pepper flakes
      덜매운 고추가루: less spicy hot pepper flakes

      매운means spicy and it is pronounced “Mae Woon”
      덜매운means less spicy and it is pronounced “Deol Mae Woon”

      Hope this helps! Buy coarse hot pepper flakes.

  24. cookkimchi joined 5/11 & has 1 comment

    What about your last picture? Is that hot or less hot? I keep finding packages that have the four characters on the right, but not the two or three on the left — they have altogether different characters on the left

  25. San Germany joined 6/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi, if you can’t get the korean version at the asia store in Germany, because they don’t have it or the last bag is expired (which happened to me yesterday *sigh*) you can use “Chillies Flocken” from Fuchs. They work fine combined with normal Paprika edelsüß. But since one 60g package of the Flocken costs 2,79€ it’s just advisable if you are in a pinch.
    AND you only need half the amount of what Maangchi’s recipe calls for. I used the “mixture” for Emergency Kimchi with half a 1/3 cup of Flocken/Paprika and it was spicy.

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