What can I substitute for Korean chilli powder?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for Korean chilli powder?” with an in-depth analysis of Korean chilli powder, how we can use Korean chilli powder and for which purpose it can be used.

Read on to know all the possible substitutes for Korean chilli powder.

What can I substitute for Korean chilli powder?

We can have different substitutes for Korean chilli powder which include chipotle powder, cayenne pepper, chile pasilla, paprika, gochujang, chile de Arbol, and red pepper powder.

The supply of chilli peppers has increased by 50% in the past 6 years (2015-2020). Producers from outside Europe have a relatively large share in the supply of chilli peppers to Europe. The European Union imported 46,000 tonnes from outside the EU in 2020, and the United Kingdom imports another stable volume of 6,000 to 6,500 tonnes annually. Morocco and Turkey are mainly responsible for this growing supply (1).

Korean chilli powder

Korean chilli powder is a seasoning powder, which is used as a key ingredient in many Korean cuisines. It is also one of the staple ingredients in household stores.

Korean chilli powder is synthesized from peppers that are seedless and dried over the sun perfectly for several days. This is a traditional method of drying and grinding peppers. However, sun-drying is a slow process and depends on weather conditions. Moreover, sun-drying can result in insufficiently dried red peppers, which are susceptible to fungal contamination and subsequent mycotoxin production. Alternatively, since 1980, some Korean farms have used bulk-type dryers based on the conventional air-drying method to dry red peppers using electric heating (2).

These peppers are also used for colouring the recipes and to give authentic heat levels.

Seedless red dried peppers result in the formation of a bright red-coloured spice. Hot peppers are grounded, dried into a fine texture as compared to the flakes of red chillies which are not in fine powdered form.

Substitutes for Korean chilli powder

Sometimes, Korean chilli powder is not easily available in stores or local grocery shops. In that case, you can substitute it with some of the good substitutes which are described below:

Chipotle powder

Chipotle powder is an alternative product of Korean chilli powder. It is a seasoning powder used to make dishes spicy to some extent, or it may be a compulsory part of the recipes which give an extra touch to the flavour and the taste of the recipes.

Chipotle powder is also considered as one of the nearest substitutes for Korean chilli powder because these both have almost similar spice nature.

Chipotle powder is not a form of pepper powder itself. It is synthesized from smoked and completely dried jalapeno peppers which gives almost a similar taste to Korean Chilli powder. Chipotle pepper is a mexico smoked ripe jalapeno pepper and is processed through smoking when the fruit reaches its red color, which gives it a pungent sweet taste. According to studies, the capsaicin content in chipotle is 883 mg/kg (3).

Chipotle powder and Korean chilli powder both have almost quite similar heat levels. In a study, the calculated Korean chilli powder had a SHU value of 32,000 (4)(SHU is a heating unit) while chipotle powder has almost 3000 to 30,000 SHU. In another study, the calculated SHU value of chipotle pepper was 23,000 (3). 

Korean chilli powder has a little bit more smoky flavour as compared to chipotle powder, this more smoky nature in Korean chilli powder gives an extra kick to the spice of the recipes.

To balance the taste of Korean chilli powder and chipotle, some of the crushed red pepper should be added to the chipotle powder. Chipotle powder is a little bit darker in colour than Korean chilli powder. Chipotle has a dark, fiery colour. 

Chipotle powder is easily available in almost all supermarkets and grocery stores.

Cayenne Powder

Cayenne powder is another substitute for Korean chilli powder. In texture and flavour, the cayenne powder is almost the same as the original Korean chilli powder.

In terms of colour, cayenne pepper is darker in colour along with a brownish-orange tint. Cayenne is a perfect choice as an alternative to Korean chilli powder in respect to texture and spice level.

Cayenne powder is one of the spices which can be used in many Korean recipes. If you add the cayenne powder in your kitchen store then other Korean dishes such as Kimchi can be prepared with this seasoning powder.

Cayenne powder can exist in both forms such as also in flakes and powdered form, whereas flakes are spicier. This extra spicy nature of flakes is due to the presence of crushed pepper seeds which are present along with cayenne flakes.

Cayenne, whose scientific name is Capsicum frutescens, is a good substitute along with this good substitution product. It is also enriched with a variety of nutrients that may be Vitamin C, A, and E. It also consists of some other nutrients such as some antioxidants and flavonoids. Antioxidants play a vital role in the protection of cells from the destruction that can be done by radicals (5).

Chile pasilla

Chile pasilla is another substitute for Korean Chilli powder. It is not spicier. It can be used to make dishes for kids or those people who don’t like to eat more spicy food. Or it may be a good substitute for those who cannot bear more spices.

Capsicum annuum L. pasilla, a long chili pepper between 20 and 25 cm with a low level of pungency; it is grown from the central to the northern regions of Mexico. According to studies, in the green stage, the pepper is richer in flavonoids, which decrease and degrade as the peppers ripen, however, certain carotenoids appear during ripening (6).

Chile Pasilla is a good alternative to Korean chilli powder if you want to cut down on extra spices. These less spicy Chile pasillas originated from Mexico and have a dark colour that has quite a resemblance to black colour.  


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for Korean chilli powder?” with an in-depth analysis of Korean chilli powder, how can we use Korean chilli powder and for which purpose it can be used along with all the possible substitutes for Korean chilli powder.

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The European market potential for fresh chilli peppers. 2021. Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EU.


Ku, Kyung-Hyung, Kyung-A. Lee, and Jae-Bok Park. Physicochemical properties and sensory evaluation for the heat level (hot taste) of korean red pepper powder. Prev nutr food sci, 2012,17, 29.


Olatunji, Tomi L., and Anthony J. Afolayan. The suitability of chili pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) for alleviating human micronutrient dietary deficiencies: A review. Food sci nutr, 2018, 6, 2239-2251.


Barrientos-Sotelo, Víctor Rodrigo, et al. Photoacoustic characterization of green, red and dehydrated Capsicum annuum L. variety Pasilla. Food biophys, 2015, 10, 481-486.