This gochujang pasta recipe is like the Korean-inspired version of spicy vodka sauce. It’s got tons of flavor while being super simple to make. This spicy creamy recipe calls for 2 tbsp of gochujang which is a Korean fermented chili paste, but you could add more or less depending on your spice preference.
What is Gochujang Pasta?
Gochujang pasta is a Korean-inspired fusion pasta recipe. It's creamy, spicy, savory and incredibly easy to make.
It sort of resembled spicy vodka sauce pasta but with a gochujang twist.
You basically swap out the tomato paste for gochujang. Gochujang is a spicy korean paste that's made from fermented peppers, sticky rice, soy beans and more. Here's an awesome write-up if you'd like more information on what it is!
I got the inspiration for this dish after seeing the recipe on Spoon Fork Bacon's instagram and I knew I had to make my own version.
I love that it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish which makes it the perfect easy weeknight dinner or side dish.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Gochujang - this funky, spicy fermented Korean pepper paste is the star of the show so there is no swapping or subs here! If you need some, you can order directly off amazon.
- Heavy Cream - If you need to swap out heavy cream, you can try nut pods or another vegan alternative.
- Pasta - I'm using Mafadine (I always buy it in this four pack because it's hard to find!) but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand or whatever you prefer.
- Onion - You can swap onion out for shallots.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic is best but you can definitely used the jarred variety if that's all you have.
- Basil - If you don't have basil, you can either leave it our or swap it for something different like furikake.
- Parmigiano - I think the nuttiness from this cheese pairs perfectly with the nuttiness from gochujang so I recommend that but I also read on Food 52 to try feta cheese.
Detailed Cooking Instructions
Making gochujang pasta sauce is super simple. But before we begin, let's talk about cooking the pasta.
I'm using Mafaldine which is a curly edged italian pasta. I love this shape because sauce sticks to the noodles perfectly and it's super pretty.
However, you can use whatever pasta you desire. Just make sure that the water is adequately salted, you cook it al dente, and be sure to save a little pasta water for finishing the recipe.
Once the pasta is cooking, it's time to start the sauce.
First we're going to add salty butter to a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Once it melts, add your finely chopped onion and cook it down for a few minutes.
Once it's softened slightly, add your finely minced garlic and cook for another minute or two until fragrant and slightly softened.
Now it's time for the Gochujang. We're going to treat it like tomato paste and stir it into the garlic and onions. Then we're going to let it cook up for a minute before adding the heavy cream.
I like to slowly add the cream so that it combines into the sauce easily.
Once the heavy cream is in, stir it and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sauce bubble and thicken while the pasta cooks.
Once the pasta is al dente, add it to the sauce along with ¼ cup pasta water. Cook the pasta for another minute more until all the sauce is silky looking and clinging to the noodles.
Now that it's ready, you'll just want to season with salt and pepper if needed before adding parmigiano and basil.
What is gochujang?
Gochujang is a fermented Korean paste that's made from chili peppers, soy beans, salt and sticky rice.
The flavor is funky, salty, spicy, and totally delicious.
If you're unfamiliar with this delicious stuff, then you might have had it if you've ever been to a Korean BBQ restaurant.
This ingredient is traditionally found in bulgogi beef or tteobokki.
I also use it in my shortcut Korean Fried Chicken Sandwiches and it's so delicious!
If you want to learn more about Korean food, be sure to follow my friend Irene at @yooeating on instagram - she's incredible!
What to pair it with
If I were making this gochujang pasta for dinner, I'd probably pair it with these delicious smashed cucumbers inspired by Xi'an Famous Foods in NYC. They're fresh and flavorful and the perfect thing to cut through the richness of this dish.
Save this recipe for later
Want to save this gochujang pasta recipe for another time? I got you!
You can pin any image on this page or use the pretty ones I made below specifically for your noodle pinterest boards.
And if pinterest isn't really your thing, you can always scroll down to the bottom of this post and print the printable recipe card.
- ½ lb mafaldine pasta
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- ½ medium onion finely diced
- 10 garlic cloves finely minced
- 2 tbsp gochujang paste more or less depending on desired spiciness
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup parmigiano grated
- 2 tbsp fresh basil torn
- Prepare pasta al dente in salty water according to the directions on the package. Save 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add salted butter to a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Then add minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the gochujang paste and stir it until it’s dissolved into the onion and garlic. Let the sauce toast for 1 minute.
- Stir in heavy cream and turn the heat to medium low. Let the sauce bubble and thicken as the pasta cooks.
- Add the al dente pasta to the sauce, along with ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water and toss. Gently cook this mixture for another minute or until the sauce looks silky and is clinging to the noodles. Taste and add salt if needed.
- Top with parmigiano and fresh basil before serving.