Soybean paste

Doenjang 된장

Doenjang is a signature ingredient in Korean cooking, used in many dishes, dips, soups and stews in Korean cuisine. It’s deep and rich, nutty and full of umami. Soup or stew made with doenjang are the most iconic and delicious of all Korean dishes.

Today most Koreans use commercially made soybean paste (it may or may not be labeled “fermented”), but traditionally we make it at home. The process takes about a year, my recipe is here if you want to try. It’s usually sold in brown tubs at the Korean grocery store. Keep in the fridge and use within 3 months. The top of the paste may oxidize a bit and turn brown, but it’s still edible.

It’s made by grinding soybeans into a thick paste and forming it into blocks that are dried and fermented for months before being soaked in brine for a few more months. The liquid becomes Korean soup soy sauce and the solids become doenjang.



This is my favorite brand, “Haechandul.” However, Wang or Soon Chang can also be pretty good.

Soy Bean Paste (Doenjang)I prefer doenjang that is not too dark or light, but a nice brown color like this one.

doenjangThis one looks a too light to me.


  1. maiv california joined 8/11 & has 2 comments

    hi maangchi…i was planning on making some jajamyun but i accidentley bought the soy bean paste other than the black bean paste, so i was wondering if you know any good and easy dishes i can make with the soybean paste….by the way, the soy bean paste taste really salty and funny when in the box, will it taste the same if used in any dishes?

  2. Neny Lily Lao Philippines joined 5/11 & has 12 comments

    Korean Foods and other mixing products are not very much available in our country. For that, I have to make use of my own. Can you specifically, show us the components in making doenjang?Hope you can assist. Thanks.

  3. kim chi US joined 3/11 & has 2 comments

    Can I substitute Thai soybean paste (Healthy Boy brand)?

  4. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11 & has 120 comments

    Hi Maangchi – I just bought the brand of soybean paste you use and on the top was a lot of white stuff that smelt very strong (and not pleasant). When I scrape it off the paste beneath appears to be okay – do you think it is safe to use?

  5. cuna86 Malaysia joined 12/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi~! ^^
    I looked upon the ingredients in Hae chan Deul Doen Jaang and I found that it contains Elthyl Alcohol.
    So I was wondering, do you usually put any alcohol to make doenjang to help the fermentation process?
    Thank you in advance~ =)

    • beckaivans joined 10/15 & has 21 comments

      Maangchi didn’t use alcohol in the doen jaang recipe she just developed. It’s possible that is one of the ingredients added to stop fermentation in commercial doen jaang so it doesn’t explode in storage. Alcohol kills lots of microbes, so I don’t think it would help fermentation. Usually salt is added to help good bacteria/fungi and kill the bad. I really don’t know for sure though

  6. shuhan90 Singapore, London joined 11/10 & has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    I know yous aid there is a difference between doenjang and miso, supposedy miso is milder? but the miso i have is a brown rice miso, it’s dark brown and chunkier, with a stronger taste.. will it be a good substitute for doenjang? also i’m a bit curious about WHEN to add soybean paste to the food. i heard that the fermentation process creates many healthy bacteria, so it’s best to add miso at the end of cooking, to preserve these living enzymes. Yet, in korean food, you seem to add doenjang at the start of cooking..Is there a reason?

    Please help, thank you! I look forward to more yummy food from you (:

    Love, Shuh

  7. KalbiQueen Indiana joined 8/10 & has 2 comments

    Oh, I have the same exact tub of soybean paste in my fridge! I love making jjigae with it using the huge zucchinis I buy from the Farmer’s market. I must admit I don’t make jjigae too often. How long does soybean paste stay “fresh?” I know it’s fermented so I don’t think it technically has an expiration date but thought I’d pose the question.

  8. what is the difference between black bean paste (chunjang) (sample picture:
    black bean garlic sauce? (sample picture:

    ~ i cannot find any chunjang here, how can i make my own recipe of chunjang? what are the ingredients and procedure?

    thank you ^^

  9. Hello Maangchi,

    I am a Filipino, but i love korean food… can i ask is it possible to do a bibimbap using soybean paste instead hot pepper paste? thank you so much!

  10. nona

    this is my first time making pork bone soup, and i used 2 tblespoons of i think chinese soy bean paste… would this still be okay to use for the dish? if not do u think if i added the korean soybean paste to the pot, would it still work? or should i just make a new soup altogether..

  11. Hi Maangchi,

    If I want to buy bean paste, but I don’t know what kind is the best please give me a recommendation.


  12. My container of Doenjang has a packet inside. Whats it used for?

  13. I have bought a box of the korean bean paste but it has a weird smell to it. is it suppost to have that smell? if yes is there a way to get ride of it?

  14. I ordered bean paste online at koamart and when I recieved it, it smelled like it was overdue. How are bean paste suppose to smell?

  15. Hi,

    I think i really bought the wrong sauce (because the one i bought looks like the picture of soy bean paste)

    i thought soy bean paste is the same as black bean paste, i thought i could make jjajiang myun.

    Maangchi, is there any more food that can fully utilizes soy bean paste? i thought i can still make other great korean food. =)

    Thank you in advance!

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