Gochujang caramel cookies, inspired by a New York Times recipe, bring a spicy twist to classic sugar cookies. Blending sweet and spicy with rich gochujang caramel, they offer a unique, crispy-yet-chewy cookie experience.

Gochujang caramel cookies on a parchment paper.

When my college daughter shared a New York Times post about gochujang cookies, I was intrigued. The idea of using gochujang, a Korean chili paste, in cookies or any sweet dessert had never crossed my mind.

However, it made me think: if bacon can be a donut topping or transformed into jam, why not experiment with gochujang in cookies?

A stack of gocjunag cookies showing the crispy and chewy texture.

Eric Kim’s Gochujang Caramel Cookies

These gochujang caramel cookies, introduced last year by Eric Kim, a food columnist for the New York Times, initially sparked curiosity. But, much like many others, I was pleasantly surprised by their taste after trying them.

They boast a delightful texture, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, reminiscent of classic snickerdoodle cookies. The cookies feature a subtle hint of caramelized gochujang, adding a slight spicy note that cuts through the sweetness, balancing the flavors without being overwhelming.

Even my husband, who is a self-proclaimed cookie purist, was impressed. He enjoyed them so much that he suggested we make them for the Christmas cookie exchange party. Perhaps we will!

I am adding my own touch to Eric Kim’s cookie recipe, with a slightly different approach to making the dough. I also use an electric hand mixer instead of mixing by hand, to make the process easier.

Korean Gochujang Paste

A bowl of homemade gochujang (Korean chili paste).

Gochujang is an essential Korean condiment, made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. This fermented Korean red chili paste is spicy, slightly sweet, and full of umami flavor, making it a great fit for this unique gochujang sugar cookies recipe.

In Korean cuisine, gochujang is often used to add warmth and complex flavor. It’s a main ingredient in ‘tteokbokki’, a dish with spicy, sweet rice cakes, and in ‘bibimbap‘, a mixed rice dish with vegetables and meat. Beyond these, it enhances stews, marinades, and sauces with its distinct Korean flavor.

With the growing trend of exploring diverse cuisines at home, finding gochujang has become more convenient. It’s typically available in the Asian section of your local supermarkets, Korean or Asian grocery stores, or through online retailers.

For those who are curious about making their own gochujang at home, I’ve included a simple, quick recipe that shows you how to make gochujang in just 10 minutes. Incorporate this flavorful Korean paste into your culinary creations, starting with these delightful spicy caramel cookies.

Ingredients You’ll need

Ingredients for making gochujang caramel cookie recipe.

This recipe combines everyday pantry items with the unique addition of Korean chili paste. Here’s a breakdown of how each ingredient:

Butter: Provides richness and a soft texture. It also helps in creating a tender crumb in the cookies.
Gochujang (Korean chili paste): The star ingredient! It adds a subtle heat and depth, complementing the sweetness of the sugars.

Sugars (both white and brown): White sugar adds sweetness and helps in achieving a crisp texture, while brown sugar imparts moisture and a slight molasses flavor.

Egg: Acts as a binder, giving structure to the cookies and contributing to their chewy texture.
All-purpose flour: The base of the cookie dough, it provides structure and ensures the cookies hold their shape.

Baking soda: A leavening agent that helps the cookies rise and become fluffy.

Salt: Enhances the flavors and balances the sweetness.

Cinnamon: Adds a warm, spicy note that pairs beautifully with the gochujang.

Vanilla extract: Rounds out the flavors with its sweet, aromatic essence.

How to Make Gochujang Caramel Cookies

Gochujang caramel ingredients combined in a small bowl.

Prepare the Gochujang Caramel Paste:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of butter with brown sugar and gochujang to make a paste. Set aside.
Dry ingredients mixture added to wet mixture.

Make the Cookie Dough:

  • Beat the rest of the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy.
  • In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add this to the creamy mixture. Stir well.
  • Let the dough chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
Gochujang caramel paste combined to cookie dough in marbling pattern.

Marbling look with Gochujang Caramel Paste

  • Take the dough out of the fridge. Add the gochujang caramel paste in small amounts.
  • Gently mix to create a marbled look. Don’t overdo it – you want to see the caramel swirls.
Cookie dough balls are placed on a line cookie sheet.

Bake the Cookies:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Get two baking sheets ready with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Use a big cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) to form 12 cookies. Place 6 on each sheet, spaced apart. (If using a smaller scoop, you can make 24 cookies.)
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes until they look cracked on top and are golden brown at the edges. Halfway through, swap the sheets in the oven.
  • Let them cool a bit on the sheets, then move them to a cooling rack.
A spatula lifting a baked gochujang cookie.

Storing the Cookies

Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. However, it will disappear quickly!

More Korean Fusion Recipes

Gochujang caramel cookies on a parchment paper.

NYT Gochujang Caramel Cookies

Gochujang caramel cookies bring a spicy twist to classic sugar cookies. Blending sweet and spicy with rich gochujang caramel, they offer a unique, crispy-yet-chewy cookie experience. Makes 12 large cookies
Adapted from New York Times Cooking
5 from 6 ratings

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp (113 g) unsalted butter, softened, divided
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang)
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions 

Preparing the Gochujang Caramel Paste:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of butter with brown sugar and gochujang until it forms a paste.

Making the Cookie Dough:

  • Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat the remaining butter with sugars, egg, and vanilla until the mixture is creamy and fluffy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually add this to the butter mixture, stirring until combined. Refrigerate the dough for 10-15 minutes.
  • While the dough chills, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge. Add dollops of the gochujang caramel paste to the cookie dough. Use a stiff spatula to gently swirl the caramel into a marbling pattern in the dough, ensuring you maintain a visible color contrast.

Baking the Cookies:

  • Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, until they show cracks on the top and are golden around the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through for even baking.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Store the cookies Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. They'll stay good for up to three days.
Calories: 268kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 199mg, Potassium: 43mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 22g, Vitamin A: 269IU, Vitamin C: 0.01mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @beyondkimchee on Instagram. I love to see your masterpiece.