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. Hi again, Maangchi,
    No, the mistake was mine. You didn’t say “powder” in the video, I just wasn’t listening closely. Thank you for your responses! :)


  2. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    I’m sorry I did not realize I said “hot pepper powder” in the video. Anyway, as you say, even if I used hot pepper powder, it wouldn’t be matter, which means you can use either hot pepper flakes or powder for any korean dish. Not much difference!

  3. Hi, Maangchi,

    I was surprised to hear that you use pepper flakes, not powder, for kimchi, because even though you said so in your kimchi recipe, I wasn’t sure you meant it. I never noticed flakes in the store, so I bought powder. I have used some to make ddeokbogi, which was yummy. Can I still use red pepper powder to make kimchi, or would that be a mistake?

    Thanks for your answer on the Asian Chives thread, too.


  4. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Yes, you are right. The hot pepper powder you saw is usually used to make hot pepper paste or hot sauce, and hot pepper flakes are for usual korean food such as kimchi making.
    I use hot pepper flakes. My favorite brand names are “tae yang cho” or “Wang pyo”

  5. Are the pepper flakes multipurpose or are some types better for specific foods? I’ve noticed that in the hot pepper section of our local market, there are some bags that have very finely chopped (almost a powder-like consistency) peppers, some rough cut, others medium, etc… Also, the colors vary, with some being a bright red and others almost a brick or red-brown color.

  6. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Most hotpepper flakes I use in Korean dishes is sold at a Korean grocery store. It’s different from the coarse hot pepper flakes served at Pizza Hut.

  7. Hi maangchi! i loved your videos and i have a question.
    does hot pepper flakes the same as the pizza hut flakes the give you in a small packet as the cheese ones? Please HELP MI!!!

  8. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Thank you for liking my recipes.
    For soon du bu, I would not use hot pepper paste because hot pepper paste has its own strong flavor that may ruin the taste of soondubu.

  9. hi Maangchi,

    love the site and all the recipes! my friends and i are all addicted to your blog. i was wondering, can i substitute hot pepper paste for hot pepper flakes in your soon du bu jigae recipe? and if so, how much should i use? thank you!!

  10. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    You can use any pot. I sometimes use my stainless pot.

  11. The Soup looks delicious i will try cooking it over the weekends. Just 1 question, do i need to use the same pot as you used in your video or can i use the any other pot? Please advice.

  12. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Brand name does not matter actually.

  13. Hi,

    Does brand matters? Do we need to get a particular brand of pepper in order to achieve that special taste?

  14. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Sure, why not?

    Spicy hot pepper flakes:
    매운맛 고춧가루

    Less spicy hot pepper flakes:
    덜매운맛 고춧가루

  15. Hello,

    Thank you for the pictures! Do you think you could write out the korean characters for very spicy and less spicy for these hot pepper flakes? When I try to pronounce them, no one understands me so if you could write them out, i could bring it with me to the market and try to look for the ones that match.

    Thank you and you rock!!

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