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. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

  2. 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?

  3. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

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

  5. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

  6. Mari& has 13 comments

    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 :)

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

  8. 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. =)

  9. nesrin& has 2 comments

    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..

  10. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

    • marie& has 1 comment

      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.

  11. nesrin& has 2 comments

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

  12. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 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.

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

  14. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,051 comments

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

  15. 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..

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