Ssamjang Vs Gochujang: Key Differences

Most people tend to be confused about ssamjang vs gochujang, and if you feel you are the only one getting confused, you are wrong.

The major difference between these barbecue sauces is the ingredients used in their preparation. That said, the fact remains that the ssamjang and gochujang are not the same, but one can easily replace the other in a recipe.

There is just two major characteristic that distinguishes one from the other, and this is due to the versatility of the ssamjang other than the traditional gochujang recipe. Also, the gochujang has a bit more of an umami flavor than the ssamjang.

But that’s not all, there are other things you need to know about ssamjang and gochujang, which we’ll discuss in this article!

What Is Ssamjang?

The term ssamjang is from two Korean words, “ssam,” which means to wrap, and “Jang,” which means paste.

From the information given earlier about the versatility of ssamjang, you should be aware that it contains a long list of ingredients, with gochujang as one of its major ingredients.

Primarily, ssamjang comprises a few major components like the spicy and somewhat meaty gochujang combined with doenjang, a fermented soy paste that tastes similar to miso.

For a beautiful finishing, a bit of sesame seed is blended in it, and then a few extra spices are added to sum it all up.

The basic ingredients for ssamjang are the same everywhere, but there are a lot of variations to this recipe’s finish as some people opt for a unique flavor profile.

Unlike the regular recipe, some people prefer rounding up their recipes with either anchovies, brown sugar, or even dried shrimps.

See Also: Beef Shank Vs Beef Chunk: Key Differences

What Is Gochujang?

Like ssamjang, gochujang is also a Korean dish from the words gochu, which means “chili pepper” and “Jang.”

From just this, you should already have a hint of what this paste would taste like. Gochujang is a spicy and smooth concoction made with fermented chili paste that is then mixed with salt and rice powder.

Gochujang is very useful in many dishes like meat marinades and even pepper soups and stews as it gives it that special and umami taste.

Gochujang meal is made with kimchi, rice, soy sauce, sliced vegetables, and even diced beef or pork. You can choose to go extra and add fried eggs to your dish; that also works well.

Ssamjang Vs Gochujang: Major Differences

If you are a fan of Korean dishes, you must’ve heard of these amazing dishes, ssamjang, and gochujang, and if you haven’t, you should try these amazing dipping sauces one day. There is not much difference between these sauces as they appear very similar.

One of the greatest differences between these two dishes is their flavor. Ssamjang usually has a stronger umami flavor, and the gochujang tends to be sweeter and a bit spicier. After this difference, there is not much difference between these two.

I’m going to be providing you with a table showing the differences between these two amazing sauces below;

Dishes that they work well inVegetables, barbecue, octopus, beef, pork, and several other seafood plates.Soups, stews, sauces, and baked dishes.
Ingredients they are made withGochujang, doenjang, sesame seeds, garlic, and sesame oil.Chili pepper soybean paste, rice powder, and salt.
ColorSsamjang is a mild red pasteGochujang is more of a darker red, even if the colors are not too different.
Umami flavorSamsung comes with an intense and obvious umami flavor.Gochujang can be said to be a milder umami
Level of spiciness  Spicy but not too spicyA lot spicier than the ssamjang.

See Also: Yum Yum Sauce Vs Spicy Mayo

What Are the Similarities Between the Ssamjang and Gochujang?

Not surprisingly, the similarities between these two dips are much more than their differences ranging from their similar ingredients to their similar color. You would need expertise in Korean dishes to tell these two dips apart, as telling them apart goes way more than just tasting them.

Once you like the taste of one or both of these sauces, you can get a bit more creative and use them in whatever way you want. These sauces both have smooth flavor, and they are both red and spicy pastes.

Although ssamjang is better in barbecues and other dishes, the gochujang tastes better when used in stews and soups, and you can use them interchangeably and enjoy them.

What Can I Substitute Ssamjang With?

If you are out of ssamjang, there are a lot of amazing substitutes that can also work well for it. Some amazing substitutes for the ssamjang include:

1. Gochujang

Since I have already established that you can use the ssamjang and gochujang interchangeably, it should be your first option. This substitute would work amazingly well as you can already not able o tell the difference between these two dips.

Gochujang is a very good substitute for the ssamjang as you would not be able to see much difference in flavor as they are made with similar ingredients. When substituting gochujang for the ssamjang, you should do it in a ratio of 1:1.

2. Doenjang

You can also use the doenjang as a substitute for ssamjang as its smooth texture is similar to that of the ssamjang. You might not get the exact flavor from this substitute, but if that s your aim, you can also combine this substitute with a few other ingredients to give it that spicy taste.

3. Sambal Oelek

If you are a great fan of Thai dishes, it will interest you to know that sambal oelek can work as a substitute for ssamjang in most dishes. Sambal oelek is a chili garlic sauce that is very popular in Thailand but is rapidly gaining popularity in other parts of the world.

Its flavor is somewhat similar to ssamjang, even if it doesn’t taste as intense as it does, but you can fix that with a few ingredients. The sambal oelek works perfectly in stir-fries, soups, and even stews.

See Also: Poblano Vs Bell Pepper: Key Differences


Ssamjang and gochujang shouldn’t be a very complex food issue because they are very similar, and it takes only a good Korean food expert to spot the difference.

You can always substitute one of them for the other as they were made from almost the same ingredients and wouldn’t make much of a difference.