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

    oh, really? I don’t think they add MSG in hotpepper flakes. No need to make it tasty.
    Don’t worry about it and use it in your kimchi. It will be ok. I’m sensitive to MSG, too, but no problem for using hot pepper flakes.

  2. Hi Maangchi! I just got back from the Korean store, where I had bought a whole bunch of ingredients, mainly for kimchi, along with it hot pepper flakes.

    In looking at the different brands, I did notice most of them add ‘salt’ to the pepper flakes, including the brand in your photo. I did find one that did not and chose that, because sometimes the word ‘salt’ is used in place of MSG, which I’m sensitive to. Have you noticed this, and if so, will that change the taste of my paste?

    Thank you!!!

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

    Hi,there! Long time! : )
    Yes, of course you can use the photo of hot pepper flakes. I would appreciate it if you linked to me.
    Be sure to tell your blog readers that there are more different brand names for hot pepper flakes.

  4. Hello Maangchi,
    Is is ok if I use this gochugaru picture on my blog please?

  5. can i use “ground red pepper” instead??

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

    I’m not sure the hot pepper flakes you mention is good for kimchi or not. You should ask this question on the forum on my website.

  7. Anayong haseyo Maangchi!!

    i love spicy food but i have only one Asian supermaket in my city where i can find every korean product but there is only Indian hot pepper flakes
    can i use that is korean food and indian are similar?

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

    I keep it in the freezer after opening. How long do I keep it? You can keep it in the freezer for months as long as you seal it tightly before putting it in the freezer.

  9. Hi Maangchi,
    How do you store the hot pepper flakes after you open the bag? How long can you keep it for? Thanks!

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

    Yes, it’s the same. I think chili powder is different from hot pepper flakes or powder. Ask the question to others in forum.

  11. maaangchi,question i bought gochugaro in flake form. is the powdered form called the same?
    so from all the question above, the recipes that call for chili powder can i substitute the chili flakes?
    do i add less of it or the same amount as the recipe with the chili powder? thanks :)

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

    Yes, you can use hot pepper flakes for Yukgaejang. Don’t forget to mix it with oil before adding it to the soup. Actually you are supposed to make “hotpepper oil” by heating the mixture of vegetable oil and hot pepper flakes or powder in a pan. It’s called “gochu kierum” in Korean, but I skipped the process and mixed oil and hot pepper flakes to make it simple.

  13. hey maangchi!
    as i was watching your video for yuk gae jang, i noticed that you used hot pepper powder to mix in with the vegetables. i have hot pepper flakes, can i use that? are powder and flakes relatively the same for the soup or would i have to get the hot pepper powder?
    Thanks. =)

  14. thanks for the quick reply! i’ll try to make my first kimchi and i will let you know…but i hope i can find the perfect ingredients here in UAE soon..

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

    I don’t know what the hot chili powder tastes like. Why don’t you use it then if you can’t find any Korean grocery store there.

    • using hot chili powder will make your kimchi taste like a spicy cabbage taco, says my husband. I did not realize there was a difference between red pepper and chili podwer. So I used chili powder, thus the mexican kimchi was born.

  16. hello maangchi…i cant find hot pepper flakes here in abu dhabi, uae. can i use the hot chilli powder instead in making kimchi?

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

    Even though it’s expensive there, you should use hot pepper flakes. It’s your authentic kimchi! I have never used paprika in kimchi.

  18. maangchii…hot pepper flakes are damn expensive in germany…what do you think if i use dried paprika flakes instead??

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

    Yes, you can use hot pepper powder (dried chily pepper powder)
    Check out my written recipe before making it.

  20. Hi Maangchi,

    Can i just use chili pepper powder in this recipe? is it taste same as using hot pepper flakes? this Soon du bu jjigae look delicious..

  21. 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! :)


  22. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 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!

  23. 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.


  24. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 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”

  25. 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.

  26. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 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.

  27. 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!!!

  28. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 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.

  29. 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!!

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

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

  31. 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.

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

    Brand name does not matter actually.

  33. Hi,

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

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

    Sure, why not?

    Spicy hot pepper flakes:
    매운맛 고춧가루

    Less spicy hot pepper flakes:
    덜매운맛 고춧가루

  35. 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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