4 Best Ssamjang Substitutes

Outside Korea, Ssamjang isn’t that rampart, so finding it can be a pain in the ass. 

Fortunately, this article will discuss some of the best Ssamjang substitutes. 

I know this Korean paste is difficult to replicate, but if you’re running out and can’t find some within your local grocery stores, you might want to consider an alternative. Or better still, make yours at home. 

The recipe is pretty straightforward, don’t let the cult-like follow deceive you. It takes less than 5 minutes to make once you have all the ingredients. 

And I will show you how to make this condiment from scratch. 

What Is Ssamjang? 

Ssamjang is a Korean dish wrapping various foods in lettuce or other leafy greens.

Meanwhile, Jang refers collectively to fermented condiments such as doenjang (soybean paste), gochujang (red pepper paste), and ganjang (Korean fish sauce).

Therefore, Ssamjang is a spicy Korean condiment made with gochujang, doenjang, a flavor profile simulations, and in most cases, brown sugar.

The most common way to eat ssamjang is as a dipping sauce for lettuce wraps, an accompaniment to Korean BBQ.

It can be used in place of ketchup or barbecue sauce on sandwiches or hamburgers, as well as on baked potatoes or rice cakes for dipping purposes. It also works well with stir-fries and other dishes where soy sauce is typically used.

You can also add ssamjang to soups such as ramen noodles or congee (rice porridge) and stews and soups with vegetables such as potatoes or carrots. 

Most people use it to marinate the meat before cooking it at high temperatures—it will add extra depth of flavor without overpowering the taste of the food itself!

4 Best Ssamjang Substitutes

1. Doubanjiang

Photo by Badagnani via Wikimedia

Doubanjiang can help hold the fort for ssamjang whenever you’re in a pinch

The only downside of doubanjiang is it’s saltier. But that explains why it is traditionally preferred as an ingredient instead of a condiment.

In addition, it lacks that touch of sweetness ssamjang has.

2. Doenjang

Remember ssamjang is made with doenjang, so using it in place of ssamjang is doable. 

Moreover, it’s also a fermented soybean paste native to Korea.

Its rich, earthy flavor is a staple of classic Korean dishes like doenjang jjigae.

I’m sure it will share some of ssamjang’s flavor because it provides much of the umami and earthiness found in that condiment.

Sadly, doenjang alone is an incomplete ssamjang experience.

Thus, adding more spice and sweetness is essential if you want your homemade barbeque sauce recipe to taste like the real thing.

Adding a little chili pepper and a sweetener to doenjang can make it taste more like the real thing.

3. Gochujang

Ssamjang and Doubanjiang are both Korean cuisine.

The two dishes share some similarities —they have a similar texture and less taste.

Like doenjang, gochujang is a crucial ingredient in making ssamjang, which is quite interesting.

You are sure to get many of the same flavor properties of ssamjang when using doenjang, including the robust umami flavor.

Although doenjang will give you a more sweet and spicy flavor, instead, the well-balanced savory taste of Ssamjang. 

Doenjang also lacks other essential ingredients that ssamjang has, like gochujang, sesame seeds, and oil, and sweetener. It ONLY has barley malt powder, chili powder, fermented soybeans, and salt. 

This is why they’re pretty different in flavor. And ssamjang is ideal as a dipping sauce in ssam, while gochujang works best in stews, soups, bibimbap, and many more. 

4. Home Made Ssamjang

If all else fails, making your Ssamjang won’t. It only takes about eight ingredients and 5 minutes of your time. 

Let me show you the following: 

List Of Ingredients

  • ¼ cup doenjang (fermented soybean paste)
  • One tbs gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • Two ts honey
  • One stalk of minced green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • Two ts toasted sesame seeds
  • One clove of minced garlic
  • Two ts toasted sesame oil

Step 1

In a medium-sized bowl, place all the ingredients and mix until they are thoroughly combined.

Step 2

You can transfer it to a small bowl before serving it with rice, lettuce, meat, or any of your desired meals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Cook Ssamjang?

Ssamjang is a versatile, no-cook dipping sauce that combines doenjang (Korean soybean paste), gochujang (red pepper paste), and other seasonings.

Is Doubanjiang A Miso?

Doenjang and miso—are two different but similar ingredients that add a salty, umami kick to East Asian foods.

Both Korean doenjang and Japanese miso are fermented foods made from fermented soybeans.

They are both gluten-free, but they also have many differences:

For instance, they appear to be both East Asian ingredients, but Miso is from Japan, whereas doenjang is from Korea.

Aside from that, if you take out the name miso, miso is a combination of soybeans, grains, koji starters, and salt.

Meanwhile, traditional doenjang is ONLY made with soybeans and salt –although some store-bought versions may contain other additives.

Texture-wise, doenjang is chunkier, while Miso has a smooth consistency.

Even the making process shows how different these condiments are. 

Does Ssamjang Paste Expire?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the expiration date on ssamjang paste.

Some people claim that the date on the jar is accurate and should be used as a guideline, while others say that it needs to be a precise gauge of how long the paste will last.

The truth is, most Koreans don’t think about dates at all when they’re buying things like this.

They just assume that if it’s been sitting in your pantry for more than two months, it will probably go wrong—and probably faster than you’d like.

Yes, some Ssamjang Paste does expire. It is essential to know that all food products have a shelf life, and in some cases, the expiration date is more than just a formality.

The most common reason is that the paste has been exposed to high temperatures.

While this may sound obvious, it’s essential to remember that heat will eventually cause the paste to lose its flavor, consistency, and nutritional value.

Therefore it’s imperative to store it in your refrigerator after each use. 

Can You Eat Ssamjang By Itself?

We recommend eating something other than ssamjang. It is better to use it as a side dish with different foods like rice or lettuce wraps.

That way, you’re getting the whole experience.


Frankly, I think the original is better than the ssamjang substitute, but they should do the trick for a quick fix.

Make it from scratch if you can instead of depriving your meal of other flavors note by using these alternatives.

And I understand there will always be missing ingredients in your kitchen, but you can make ssamjang out of what you have.

Moreover, these ingredients are easy to find. Check for any Asian store.