Doenjang jjigae is a staple Korean stew that uses fermented Korean soybean paste to create a deeply flavorful broth accentuated with tofu and fresh vegetables. With the help of my step-by-step photos, preparing this stew at home becomes effortless.

Hot doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew) in a stone pot.

“Thank you so much for this recipe! It was simple and very delicious.”


Doenjang jjigae is a beloved Korean stew made with soybean paste, often considered the ultimate comfort food alongside kimchi jjigae and sundubu jjigae.

Korean restaurants typically serve it as the final course after a meal of Korean pork belly barbecue (samgyupsal), bulgogi, or galbi. The aroma of this authentic Korean stew evokes nostalgia for many Koreans, including myself.

Korean soybean paste stew (doenjang jjigae) boiling in a Korean stone pot.

I have fond memories of my mother making her signature doenjang stew, which my father adored. Her recipe was special because she made her own doenjang paste, although store-bought paste can still create a delicious stew.

If you’re a fan of Korean soups and stews, this recipe is a must-try.

Korean Soybean Paste (Doenjang)

As mentioned in my previous post about Essential Korean Ingredients, doenjang is a crucial component of primary Korean sauces and pastes collectively known as jang (장). Together with soy sauce (ganjang) and red chili paste (gochujang), these condiments are staples in every Korean household’s kitchen.

Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste with a strong, savory taste and a creamy texture that makes it an excellent seasoning for Korean soups, stews, sauces, and other dishes. It’s packed with protein and beneficial bacteria, and it’s made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a special culture.

Although it’s famously used to make the classic Korean soybean paste stew, it’s also a versatile condiment that can be used to create a wide variety of dishes. This soybean paste is a popular ingredient for many dishes, including maekjeok (Korean pork with doenjang marinade), soybean paste glazed salmon, and squid and shrimp stir-fry.

If you’re a fan of Korean cuisine, incorporating doenjang into your dishes can add depth and flavor to your cooking.

Korean stone pot (ttukbaegi)

Korean cuisine traditionally simmers doenjang jjigae in a ttukbaegi (뚝배기), which is a special type of Korean earthenware.

Ttukbaegi is made of a specific type of clay and is typically glazed inside for cooking purposes. In contrast, unglazed earthenware (onggi, 옹기) is more commonly used for storing food for fermentation.

Simmering jjigae in a ttukbaegi helps to retain heat, keeping the stew hot for a more extended period. Since ttukbaegi doesn’t have any metallic surfaces, it doesn’t interfere with the natural flavors of fermented foods, allowing the stew to absorb the unique taste of doenjang fully.

Tips for making the best Doenjang Jjigae

Korean soybean paste (doenjang), chili pastem and chili flakes for Doenjang jjigae.

Tip 1: Add a hint of gochujang

To create the stew with authentic flavor, you’ll need Korean soybean paste (doenjang) as a base. For an extra depth of flavor, try adding a small amount of Korean chili paste (gochujang) to your stew.

This might sound unusual, but it can really enhance the dish. You can also add a little bit of Korean chili flakes to give it a slight kick.

Note that this recipe is similar to the Korean BBQ restaurant-style doenjang stew recipe found in my cookbook; Korean Cooking Favorites.

By combining these three ingredients, you can create a delicious stew that will impress even your Korean friends.

Dried anchovies, sea kelp, and rice water for Korean soybean paste stew, doenjang jjigae.

Tip 2: Anchovy stock and rice water

As someone who uses a variety of Korean soup stocks in my cooking, it should come as no surprise that a good doenjang jjigae starts with a good stock. People typically use a high-quality anchovy stock. However, I like to take things up a notch by using rice water instead of plain water as the base.

The water left over after rinsing rice is simply rice water. It contains starch that can thicken the stew and add depth to its flavor. If you prefer a thinner stew, you can use plain water instead.

To make the stock, all you need to do is simmer dried anchovies and a piece of dried sea kelp in the rice starch water for 3-4 minutes. Then, simply discard the anchovies and sea kelp, and your stock is ready to use!

Tofu, onion, zucchini, mushroom, green chili, green onion for making doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew).

Tip 3: Veggies and tofu

Typical option: onion, zucchini, tofu, mushroom, fresh chili

Other choices: thin slices of beef or pork, clam, shrimp, crab, watercress, radish, potato, mushroom, bean sprouts, kale, turnip green, etc.

How to make Doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew)

Note: This recipe makes 2 servings, so feel free to double it if you want to feed more people.

Korean soybean paste (doenjang) smeared into anchovy stock.

Once your anchovy stock is ready, add the Korean soybean paste and chili paste into the stock. You can use a mini scoop strainer or a slotted spoon to smear the paste into the stock and loosen it up.

Diced onion added to doenjang jjigae (Korean soybean paste stew)

Next, add some onion and bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat.

Sliced zucchini and mushroom are added to doenjang jjiage (Korean soybean paste stew).

Once it’s about to boil, add some zucchini and mushroom, and continue to boil everything on medium-low heat.

Korean chili flakes and green chilies added to the boiling soybean paste stew (doenjang jjigae).

Toward the end of cooking, add some garlic, Korean chili flakes, and fresh chili slices.

Lastly, turn off the heat and garnish the stew with chopped green onion. And that’s it – you’ve got a pot of delicious, boiling hot Korean stew ready to serve!

Serving Suggestion

To enjoy your doenjang stew to the fullest, serve it hot alongside some freshly cooked Korean rice, your favorite Korean side dishes (banchan), and some kimchi.

Just be careful not to burn your tongue! If you have any leftovers, you can store them in the fridge and reheat them in the microwave for another tasty meal.

A bowl of doenjang jjigae (soybean paste stew) served with rice and kimchi.

I posted this recipe originally in November 2011. I’ve updated the recipe with a few changes, new photos, and more information.

More Korean Comfort Stews

Some of these stews are my favorite Korean stew recipes. If you love Korean jjigae, you will love them equally.

Hot boiling doenjang jjigae in a stone pot is a served with rice and kimchi

Classic Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)

This homemade doenjang jjigae recipe uses Korean soybean paste to create a deeply flavorful stew accented with tofu and fresh vegetables. It’s easy to prepare, and ready in 25 minutes or less.
4.94 from 16 ratings

Recipe Video


For Anchovy Stock

For Stew



  • To make the anchovy stock, combine rice starch water, dried anchovy, and sea kelp in a stone pot or heavy bottom pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Discard the anchovies and sea kelp.
  • To make the stew, smear the pastes in a mini scoop strainer or slotted spoon and incorporate into the stock. Add the onion and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
  • Add zucchini, tofu, and mushroom; continue to boil over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add garlic, chili flakes, and fresh chili and heat through. Sprinkle green onion and remove from heat. Serve hot with rice.


To make rice water (rice starch water):
  1. Rinse your rice with water briefly. Pour out the water and discard.
  2. Swirl the rice around rapidly with your fingers for 15 seconds to remove starch from the rice grains.
  3. Pour about 3 cups of water to the rice and rinse.
  4. Collect the milky rice starch water and reserve 2 cups to use for this recipe.
  5. Continue to rinse your rice 2-3 more times. Cook your rice by your usual rice cooking method.
Calories: 84kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 534mg, Potassium: 590mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 774IU, Vitamin C: 55mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 1mg
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