Mar 12, 2019

Creamy Gochujang Noodles

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
The perfect creamy spicy noodles made in under 30-minutes with fermented Korean gochujang paste with sesame seeds.

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I went to a popup dinner in a warehouse in Venice with some friends recently (does this make me sound cool and trendy?). Creamy gochujang noodles with with strips of tender squid were served for the pasta course and I was instantly inspired by the noodles. In this recipe I opt to keep it simple with a quick and easy version.

This sauce is creamy and spicy, tangy and sweet all at the same time, and as soon as I slurped up the first forkful I knew I had to recreate it. I wanted to pare it down so that it was an easy recipe that just about anyone could whip up for a quick dinner. It’s a pasta sauce made from scratch with minimal effort. This is also a great cheaper meal!

Creamy Gochujang Noodles

garlic head and shallots peeled on a marble surface

What is gochujang?

If you aren’t familiar with gochujang, it’s a Korean fermented red pepper paste that adds some sweet and savory heat to any dish. In this recipe it’s whisked together with a base of shallots, garlic, tomato paste and cream for a non-traditional but delicious and easy noodle dish.

The Korean cooking staple can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores these days. I like to keep my fridge stocked with gochujang so this recipe requires little to no shopping or foresight. Plus most of these ingredients are under $1.00 so it makes for a cheap meal that can feed multiple people. For other recipes using gochujang I’d recommend these braised garlic gochujang chicken legs, sweet chili wings or crispy pork belly with a cashew gochujang sauce.

Creamy Gochujang sauce bright red with spatula

Ingredients in Creamy Gochujang Noodles

Gochujang

This Korean fermented chili paste adds umami flavor and some spice to these noodles.

Shallots

Shallots add a mild, slightly sweet flavor to this recipe and are finely chopped so the sauce is still fairly smooth. Finely chopped yellow onion can be substituted instead if needed.

Garlic

As the garlic is sautéed the flavor mellows so it’s not very pungent. I always recommend using fresh peeled cloves rather than the pre-minced jars.

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes that have been cooked down until it becomes a thick, dense paste.

Heavy Cream

I add heavy cream, the thick part of the milk that rises to the top due to its high fat content to the pasta sauce to create a rich, creamy sauce. Adding some of the pasta cooking water makes the sauce glossy and even creamier.

Parmesan

I always recommend freshly grating cheeses, especially when they will be used in sauces. Many pre-grated cheeses include preservatives to keep them from clumping in the bag. Freshly grated Parmesan will create a more smooth sauce. 

Spaghetti

While I use standard dried spaghetti in this recipe you can easily swap in your favorite dried pasta of choice or even ramen noodles.

creamy gochujang noodles spaghetti in bowl with chopsticks

Steps to Make Creamy Gochujang Noodles

step 1 cooked spaghetti noodles in strainer
Step 1: Cook the pasta

Cook the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Then drain and set the noodles aside.

sautéed shallots and garlic
Step 2: Sauté shallots and garlic

Return the pasta pot to the heat, add the remaining olive oil and butter. Sauté the shallots and garlic.

sautéed tomato paste with gochujang in pan
Step 3: Add the tomato and gochujang

Stir in the tomato paste and gochujang, cooking for just 30 seconds to mellow the acidity.

creamy gochujang sauce in sauté pan with wooden spoon
Step 4: Finish the sauce

Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth then whisk in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.

creamy gochujang noodles in pan
Step 5: Toss the pasta in the sauce

Toss the cooked noodles in the sauce, adding the Parmesan until the sauce is smooth. Add the pasta water 2 tablespoons at a time if the sauce is too clumpy until it’s creamy and smooth.

plated creamy gochujang noodles in bowl with sesame seeds
Step 6: Serve

Divide between warmed pasta bowls and serve hot. Top with sesame seeds (optional).

Tips and Tricks for this recipe

Additions
  • Add a protein like shrimp, chicken or ground pork (though a lean meat like ground turkey also works) to these gochujang noodles for a more complete meal. Simply sauté in a skillet over medium-high heat and add over the noodles.
  • Add greens like sautéed spinach or kale with the noodles.
  • Veggies like sautéed mushrooms or broccoli also make a great addition.
Swaps/ Substitutions
  • For a gluten-free version swap the spaghetti for rice noodles.
  • For a dairy-free version,
How to Reheat Noodles

To reheat creamy noodles like this, add them to a pot with a bit of water. Cover with a lid and warm, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat. The water will help to loosen the sauce and make it creamy again.

Creamy gochujang noodles recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this quick and easy gochujang noodle recipe, I recommend checking out these:

Creamy Gochujang Noodles

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

Instructions:

  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid then drain the noodles and set aside. Toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  • Return the pasta pot to medium heat, then add the remaining olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt then add the shallots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, just a few seconds.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and gochujang, cooking for just 30 seconds to mellow the acidity.
  • Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth then whisk in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the pasta and toss to combine slowly add the Parmesan until the sauce is smooth; add the pasta water 2 tablespoons at a time if the sauce is too clumpy.
  • Divide between warmed pasta bowls and serve hot. Top with sesame seeds (optional).

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    Such a hit!! My partner and I agreed on making this a part of our regular rotation from now on.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe has become part of my family’s normal rotation now. It’s just so good! I’m trying out more Asian recipes this year and this is a perfect introduction. Perfect to pair with the chili oil roasted broccoli recipe!

  3. Very much a hit! Our dinner group hands down raved at this and said it was a better version of “vodka” sauce … whatever that means. Spicy! Salty! Rich on the palate! Very nice. Only quibble is to add a bit more of the cream/stock mixture at the end to make it a bit more “saucy.” Very nice all in all!

  4. This is a great fusion-y dish. It checks all my boxes of creamy, spicy, savory. I use these refrigerated chinese egg noodles found at my asian market.
    I add cast-iron cooked chicken breasts (cut into strips right before plating) and a side of sautéed baby bok choy or brussel sprouts for a full meal!
    I can’t remember how I stumbled on this recipe but I’m sure glad I did!

    • I’m so happy to hear you like the recipe!! I will have to try it with egg noodles next time – I bet it’s awesome! And great pairings recommendations for a full well-rounded meal! Thanks for sharing!

  5. OOOH WOW! I made this last night an this is gone straight to my list of favourites! I swapped the spaghetti for zucchini noodles and left out the butter and oil. Because I had no heavy cream I used a local low fat creamy quark I had in the fridge. What an amazing recipe: a touch spicy, creamy. Delicous. I had it with some white fish but will absolutely try it with squid. Thank you so much!

  6. Such a fun and yummy recipe! Super easy to follow. The extra parmesan cheese really brings the flavors home for me. Might add some ground pork next time to make it like an Asian-fusion bolognese type. So glad you discovered this!!

  7. OMG! I have had this in my “to do” file for so long now and finally got to it. I topped the noodles with a fried egg and have have refilled my bowl with the pasta 3 times already! So, so, so good!