Creamy Gochujang Pasta (Pasta of the Month, January 2024)

Last updated: June 4th, 2024

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Make this creamy gochujang pasta in just 15 minutes! Inspired by penne alla vodka, this fusion dish is the perfect comfort food dinner.

A bowl of gochujang pasta.

It’s a new year, which means it’s time for a new food of the month recipe – and 2024 is going to be all about PASTA. Creative sauces, funky fusion takes, and recreations of our favorite restaurant dishes, starting with a creamy gochujang pasta to keep you warm as we ride out the rest of winter!

You’ve probably seen this fusion pasta concept all over TikTok and Instagram the past few months, so we’re not going to pretend like this was an original idea. However, we wanted to make our own spin on a Korean inspired gochujang pasta that you can easily make in just 15 minutes with simple, flavorful ingredients, inspired by penne alla vodka.

The final result? A creamy, smooth tomato sauce with the pungent flavor of gochujang balanced by a touch of lemon juice and salt that clings to penne pasta the way any creamy sauce should. With just a little heat to it, this spicy pasta dish is the perfect comfort food dinner for winter.

A bowl of creamy gochujang pasta.

What Is Gochujang?

Gochujang is a highly concentrated chili paste with a pungent flavor thanks to fermented soybeans. It’s a staple ingredient in Korean cooking that’s often used for marinades, sauces, or adding flavor to soups or stews.

You might be wondering if you can put gochujang in pasta – and the answer is yes! It’s basically just red chili peppers in paste form, which adds a unique heat and creamy consistency to traditional pasta sauce.

Creamy Gochujang Pasta Ingredients

Here’s a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to make our creamy gochujang pasta recipe:

  • Penne pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Yellow onion
  • Fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • Heavy cream
  • Gochujang
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Vodka
  • Lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Chives

Our gochujang pasta recipe was inspired by penne alla vodka, so it’s made with heavy cream and parmesan cheese to achieve the signature creamy texture of vodka sauce. The recipe also calls for vodka, of course – it brings out the flavors in the tomato sauce (and most of the alcohol burns off during cooking)! 

We don’t recommend skipping the vodka, but if you don’t have any vodka on hand don’t bother buying it just for this recipe. You’ll only use about a quarter ounce per 2 servings of pasta, and the acidity of the lemon juice does a fine job on its own bringing out the flavors in the sauce.

We like to use fire roasted crushed tomatoes for their sweet and smoky flavor – it’s a great complement to the gochujang! If you don’t have these, you can substitute with regular canned crushed tomatoes.

You’ll also need some of the pasta water to stir into the sauce at the end. The starches in it help thicken the sauce to make it super creamy and help it cling to the pasta.

Finally, don’t skip the chives! Although it’s tempting to skip fresh herbs and garnishes, this ingredient is absolutely necessary for a well balanced gochujang pasta. The sauce is thick and heavy, so this dish really benefits from the added zing and freshness of the chives.

Pasta with a spicy gochujang sauce.

How To Make Creamy Gochujang Pasta

Since you can prepare the creamy gochujang pasta sauce during the time it takes the pasta to boil, you can make this simple recipe in under 15 minutes! Here’s how:

  1. First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, then stir in the crushed tomatoes and lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Next, stir in the heavy cream, gochujang, grated parmesan, and vodka. Simmer while the pasta finishes cooking.
  4. When the pasta is ready, add some of the pasta water to the sauce before draining.
  5. Then, finish the sauce with lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Stir well to combine, taste, then adjust lemon juice and salt as needed.
  6. Finally, add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until it’s completely coated – the sauce should cling easily to the noodles – and remove from heat. Serve hot, topped with minced chives.

The gochujang sauce comes together as easily as a traditional tomato based pasta sauce. All you really have to do differently is add in the gochujang, and do a quick taste test to adjust the acid and salt before stirring in the pasta.

The lemon juice serves two purposes: one, to brighten the overall flavor of the dish; and two, to tone down the gochujang. Gochujang has a punchy flavor that requires an acid to balance it out. So if you taste test the sauce and it’s a little too spicy or not quite balanced, try adding a little bit more lemon juice or salt – or both – and see how the flavor changes.

Gochujang Pasta Serving Suggestions

We recommend serving gochujang pasta like you would serve any traditional creamy pasta – with a side of fluffy bread and a glass of wine! 

You can use fresh bread to sop up any extra sauce on your plate, or simply enjoy it plain or with butter as a palate cleanser between bites. Like we said, this gochujang pasta is super thick, creamy, and heavy, so it’s nice to have a side that you can snack on between bites of pasta.

This dish would also go great with a simple side salad, like some dressed greens or a garden salad.

Korean Italian fusion gochujang pasta.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

If you’re a fan of unique fusion recipes, you’re going to love this Korean-Italian fusion gochujang pasta! It’s like a spicy, funky penne alla vodka that’s so creamy you won’t want to stop eating it. The perfect dish for a cold winter night when you’re craving some comfort food

Try our creamy gochujang pasta recipe and let us know what you think – would you make this unique pasta recipe? Rate, comment, and share below, and sign up for our email newsletter here to find out what next month’s pasta will be!


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5 from 2 votes

Creamy Gochujang Pasta

Make this creamy gochujang pasta in just 15 minutes! Inspired by penne alla vodka, this fusion dish is the perfect comfort food dinner.
Servings 2 servings
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ pound penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ medium yellow onion minced
  • 14.5 ounces canned fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ fluid ounce vodka
  • ¼ cup pasta water
  • ¼ medium lemon juiced
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chives minced

Instructions

  • First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook until al dente.
  • In the meantime, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 2 to 4 minutes, then stir in the crushed tomatoes and lower the heat to a simmer.
  • Next, stir in the heavy cream, gochujang, grated parmesan, and vodka. Simmer while the pasta finishes cooking, about 8 minutes or so. When the pasta is just about done, add pasta water to the sauce. Finish with lemon juice and sea salt, stirring well to combine. Taste and adjust lemon juice and salt as needed.
  • Drain the pasta and then add it to the sauce. Stir until the pasta is completely coated, then remove from heat. Serve hot, topped with minced chives.

Notes

Gochujang: Gochujang is a highly concentrated chili paste with a pungent flavor thanks to fermented soybeans. It’s a staple ingredient in Korean cooking that’s often used for marinades, sauces, or adding flavor to soups or stews! You should be able to find it easily in the Asian foods section of your grocery store.
Notes on ingredients: This recipe was inspired by penne alla vodka, so we use a splash of vodka to help bring out the flavors! If you don’t have vodka, don’t bother buying it just for this recipe – skip this ingredient and add more lemon juice if needed to brighten the dish.
We also like to use fire roasted tomatoes for their sweet and smoky flavor (it complements the gochujang well). Regular crushed tomatoes will work fine if needed.
Finally – don’t skip the chives! They’re crucial in balancing the flavors in this dish and add some freshness that helps counteract the heavy, creamy sauce.
Balancing the flavors: Different brands of gochujang vary in spice level and flavor. This is why we recommend tasting the sauce after adding the lemon juice and salt – these two ingredients help balance the flavors. If the sauce tastes a little too spicy or not quite balanced, try adding a little more lemon juice, salt, or both and see how the flavor changes.
Serving suggestions: We like to serve gochujang pasta with a side of fresh, fluffy bread for sopping up the extra sauce. This dish also goes great with a simple side salad.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 797kcal
Course: Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Fusion, Italian, Korean
Keyword: chives, fine sea salt, fire roasted tomatoes, garlic, gochujang, heavy cream, lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan, penne, spicy, vodka, yellow onion

Nutrition

Calories: 797kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 363mg | Potassium: 1022mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 1439IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 169mg | Iron: 5mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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