Spicy and sweet Gochujang Caramel Cookies inspired by Eric Kim's NYT recipe. These Korean-inspired cookies are chewy, sweet and spicy, with a lovely caramel crust.
This post is part of The Sweetest Season event and is dedicated to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Please see below for more details on how to donate this Christmas.
Table of contents
Gochujang Caramel Cookies are a unique blend of American baking and Korean ingredients. These large cookies are inspired by Eric Kim's gochujang caramel cookies NYT recipe. This recipe combines classic chewy sugar cookie goodness with the bold heat of Korean gochujang paste. Each bite is a delightful fusion of sweet and spicy, chewy and crunchy.
These unique cookies have strong snickerdoodle vibes, but with an unexpected spicy twist! Ever since I first made these cookies I’ve become addicted to them. I just love the sweetness and spiciness they bring!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Unique Flavor: These Gochujang Caramel Cookies blend the sweet flavor of caramel with the spicy kick of traditional Korean cuisine. The combination of sweet and spicy creates a truly unique cookie.
- Perfect Texture: Each gochujang cookie boasts a perfect texture with a chewy interior and a slightly crunchy bottom. The chewy cookie center contrasts beautifully with the caramelized, crispy edges.
- Easy to Make: This cool recipe is surprisingly easy to make and only take a few minutes to prepare. They're the perfect treat for those looking to try something different without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Modern Twist: These gochujang cookies are a modern twist on baking, mixing the bold flavors of Korean ingredients with the beloved American cookie. This unique cookie is ideal for adventurous bakers who love Korean inspired treats!
What are gochujang caramel cookies?
Gochujang caramel cookies are a type of sweet and spicy cookie made with gochujang, a type of Korean red pepper paste. The recipe was created by New York Times food columnist Eric Kim. He is also the author of the cookbook Korean-American: Food that tastes like home, one of my favorite cookbooks.
Gochujang cookies became viral last year and have become a staple Korean-American fusion ever since. These cookies have a lovely spicy kick, and a unique flavor combination. Their texture is chewy, like a snickerdoodle, and have a caramelized and crispy bottom.
What is gochujang?
Gochujang (고추장), also known as a fermented Korean red chili paste, is a staple ingredient in Korean cuisine. It has a thick, rich texture and deep red color.
It’s made with a blend of Korean red chili pepper flakes (known as gochugaru 고추가루), glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.
Gochujang is spicy in flavor, with a subtle sweetness that comes from glutinous rice. This Korean paste is traditionally fermented in earthenware pots over years, which further deepens its flavors.
Unlike simple hot sauces, gochujang offers a rich umami flavor, thanks to the fermentation process. This umami quality, combined with its spicy-sweet character, makes gochujang an essential ingredient in various Korean dishes. It's used not only for its heat but also for the depth and richness it adds, making it a distinct and irreplaceable element in Korean cooking.
- Gochujang – essential for this recipe. I recommend using traditional Korean gochujang paste. Do not use gochujang sauce, as it’s much runnier in texture.
- Brown sugar – used to make the gochujang butter. I recommend using either dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar.
- For the cookie dough you can use granulated sugar.
- Butter – used to make the gochujang butter. I recommend using unsalted butter for the best results.
- Flour – use plain all-purpose flour. Self-rising flour or bread flour cannot be used as the texture wouldn’t be the same.
How to make this recipe
1. In a small bowl, prepare the gochujang butter by mixing gochujang, butter and sugar until creamy.
2. Separately, in a large bowl, prepare the cookie dough, the refrigerate to set slightly.
3. Create long circular strokes of the gochujang mixture into the cookie dough. Do not overmix, as we want distinct strips of gochujang.
4. Scoop out the marbled dough using an ice cream scoop, place 2-3 inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown in color.
Success Tips & Tricks
- Room temperature ingredients – the eggs and butter need to be brought to room temperature before use. This is especially important for the gochujang butter, as the butter needs to be fully pliable, but not melted.
- Distinct strips – When adding the gochujang caramel butter into the cookie dough, make sure to leave it as large strokes. Use a flexible spatula to gently create strokes, but do not mix it in. This way the gochujang butter becomes caramelized when baking and creates a beautiful marbled texture.
- Do not overmix – The secret to the great texture of chewy cookies is not overmixing the cookie dough. Stop mixing once the dough comes together to avoid a tough cookie.
- Leave enough spacing – These gochujang cookies spread a lot when baking, as they are meant to be quite flat. Leave at least 2-3 inches between the cookies and use large sheet pans to make sure they don’t touch when baking.
Frequently asked questions
Place them in an airtight container and store for up to 4-5 days at room temperature.
Yes, these gochujang caramel cookies are supposed to be quite flat. This is what makes them become caramelized and crunchy on the bottom.
Unfortunately for this recipe you cannot substitute gochujang paste with gochugaru flakes. I recommend using traditional Korean gochujang paste for the best flavor and texture.
No, I do not recommend using regular red chili paste, as Korean gochujang has a very unique flavor profile.
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Sweet & Spicy Gochujang Caramel Cookies (고추장 카라멜 쿠키)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 ¼ tablespoons gochujang Korean red pepper paste
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
Extra, for topping
- ¼ teaspoon gochugaru flakes Korean red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- In a small bowl, combine softened (not melted) unsalted butter, brown sugar and gochujang.
- Separately, in a large bowl, add unsalted butter, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla extract (optional). Use a hand mixer to combine until pale and fluffy.
- Sift in the flour, baking soda and ground cinnamon (optional), then use a spatula to mix until a dough forms.
- Cover the cookie dough bowl with plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Marbling the cookies
- Add 3-4 blobs of gochujang caramel on top of the cookie dough. Use a spoon or a knife to swirl the gochujang mixture into the cookie dough, without mixing it in. It should create large, distinct ribbons of color.
- Use a small ice cream scoop to form cookies, ensuring each cookie has some of the gochujang butter on top. Place the cookies on lined sheets, spaced at least 3 inches apart, as they spread a lot whilst baking.
- Optional, mix gochugaru and sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle a little of the mixture on top of each cookie.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden-brown in color. Allow cookies to cool down completely on the baking sheet.
- Storing: add to an airtight container for 3-5 days at room temperature.
- Nutritional value is estimative and is calculated per serving, without any optional ingredients. This recipe makes 10 large cookies.
The Sweetest Season
This recipe is part of The Sweetest Season, an annual virtual cookie swap co-hosted by Erin of The Speckled Palate and Susannah of Feast + West. Every year, food bloggers get together to share new holiday cookie recipes to make and give.
This year we are raising money for Cookies 4 Kids' Cancer, which is a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer.
Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $18 million to pediatric cancer research in the form of 100+ research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers across the country. From these grants have stemmed 35+ treatments available to kids battling cancer today.
Help us raise money for this important cause! Donate through our fundraising page.
Another exciting thing is that Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a matching window with their friends at OXO, meaning OXO will be matching every dollar raised through the end of 2023, up to $100,000. Whatever money we raise will automatically double on our fundraising page!
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer
About Cookies for Kids’ Cancer:
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for new, innovative and less-toxic treatments for childhood cancer. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $18 million to pediatric cancer research in the form of 100+ research grants to leading pediatric cancer centers across the country. From these grants have stemmed 35+ treatments available to kids battling cancer today.
How it all started:
When 2-year-old Liam Witt was diagnosed with childhood cancer in 2007, his parents Larry and Gretchen were shocked to learn of the lack of effective treatments for pediatric cancers due to lack of funding. They pledged to support the funding of research for safer, more effective treatments for children battling cancer. With the help of 250 volunteers, his mom Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies, raising more than $400,000 for research. Word spread, and people nationwide began asking, "How can I help?" From that giant cookie bake, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was born.
- Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease of children in the U.S.
- More than 40,000 U.S. children are actively battling cancer right now.
- The average age of a child diagnosed with pediatric cancer is 6.
- The combined 12 major groups of pediatric cancers receive 4% of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) federal budget.
- ⅔ pediatric cancer patients will develop long-term side effects, many life-threatening—a result of the treatments that "cured" them.
- Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is committed to funding research for new, improved and less toxic treatment options for kids.
- There are 300,000+ new cases of cancer affecting children worldwide annually. That’s more than 800 new kids affected every day.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a matching window with their friends at OXO, who will be matching every dollar raised through the end of 2023, up to $100,000. Whatever money we raise will automatically double on our fundraising page!