Looking for a Doubanjiang Substitute? Here Are 6 Options

Doubanjiang is a spicy fermented mix of soy and broad beans that’s been used in Sichuan cuisine for centuries. It’s an essential ingredient for mapo tofu, which is one of the most popular dishes in China.

The Pixian doubanjiang, which takes up to three years to ferment, is the most popular kind of doubanjiang. The longer the fermenting period, the more expensive and higher-quality the doubanjiang will be. The fermentation process creates a complex taste that’s salty, earthy, and umami all at once.

It’s an essential ingredient to Sichuan cooking, but if you can’t find it where you live, here are some solid substitutes you can try.

1. Gochujang

Gochujang, a traditional and popular Korean condiment, is one of the good substitutes for doubanjiang. It is made with soybean paste and chili peppers or red pepper powder.

They are similar, but gochujang is sweeter and typically less salty than doubanjiang. I think it’s fair to say that gochujang is a very thick hot sauce, but with a distinctly Korean flavor. If you’re making a recipe that calls for doubanjiang but you can’t find it, you can use gochujang instead.

2. Doenjang


You can also use doenjang as a substitute for doubanjiang. They both have a slightly sweet flavor thanks to their fermentation. One difference between doenjang and doubanjiang is the amount of heat. Doenjang is not very spicy, while doubanjiang is quite spicy.

Although doenjang is commonly used in Korean cuisine, it is not always easy to find outside Korea.

3. Sambal Oelek

Credits: Jean Philippe Gilliot

Sambal olek is a popular substitute for doubanjiang. It is a chili paste made from red chilis, vinegar, and salt. It is commonly used in Indonesian cuisine to add a spicy and tangy flavor to dishes. The main difference is that sambal is not fermented while doubanjiang is. Sambal oelek tastes cleaner and less acidic than Doubanjiang because it is not fermented like Doubanjiang.

4. Ssamjang

Credits: Kyle Hex

Ssamjang is a spicy sauce that blends gochujang with duenjang, sesame seed, garlic, and sesame oil. It has a mildly sweet, nutty flavor with a pungent umami undertone. Ssamjang has the spiciness of chili peppers, the saltiness of fermented soybean paste, and a similar umami flavor to Doubanjiang. Ssamjang usually has a sweeter flavor than Doubanjiang, so it is not suitable for all dishes.

5. Douchi

Credits: John Stamatakis

Douchi is fermented black soybeans. You may have encountered it as an ingredient in dishes such as mapo tofu and twice-cooked pork. It is similar to Doubanjiang in that they are both fermented soybean products.

Compared to the other fermented soy foods, douchi is used only sparingly. It’s often used together with other strong ingredients, including chilies, garlic and ginger.

You can find packets of douchi at many Chinese grocery stores.

6. Tianmianjiang

Credits: Pauline Ma

Tianmianjiang is a thick, rich, dark-brown sauce made from fermented soybeans, wheat flour, sugar, and salt. It is also known as sweet bean sauce. Tianmianjiang is a common ingredient in many Sichuanese dishes. While it may not be as spicy or filled with umami as doubanjiang, tian mian jiang has many similar characteristics and can be used in recipes that call for doubanjiang. The sauce can be found in typical Asian supermarkets.

To sum up…

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was helpful in your journey to find a substitute for doubanjiang. Some of these are commonly used across the country, and some are more region-specific. If you are still unable to find one, try and make your own. Many recipes are available online that can help you make one.

And if you can think of a substitute for doubanjiang, please let us know! Be sure to leave a comment below.

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