9 Recommended Doubanjiang Substitutes to Try

Doubanjiang, also known as fermented broad bean paste, is a savory and salty condiment commonly used in Chinese cooking. 

Oftentimes, it is used as a flavor enhancer for soups and stews. It is also one of the most important ingredients in authentic Sichuanese cuisine.

Unfortunately, not everyone can find this special condiment at their local supermarket or Asian grocery stores. Thankfully there are plenty of ways you can get your hands on some bean paste substitutes

Some great doubanjiang substitutes include gochujang, sambal oelek, miso, or toban djan. You might even try making your own!

What is Doubanjiang Sauce Made of?

This Chinese staple is usually made from a mixture of fermented beans, soybeans, and chilies. That’s why you can also find it under the common name: Chinese chili bean paste. 

This iconic paste from the Sichuan region of China is essential to the flavor of dishes from this part of China. 

What Does Doubanjiang Taste Like?

This lovely red paste has a complex flavor profile that will add some spice and those desired umami flavors to any dish you drop it in. 

While there are different varieties of Doubanjiang, most of them are quite spicy. It’s often added specifically for its color and heat. The spicy varieties are known to have 12,000 units on the Scoville Heat Scale. That’s hot compared to the average of 5,000 for the popular jalapeño pepper. 

How is Doubanjiang Used?

Mainly, it’s added for that added umami kick with a wonderful blend of savory, tangy, and spicy flavors. The non-spicy variety does just that, with a little bit of added salt and no heat, it adds those umami flavors to create depth to your dish.

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Classically used with tofu and pork, doubanjiang can be added to stir fry, meats like chicken or beef, rice, and noodles. 

Even if you don’t add it while you’re cooking, it can also be used as a condiment or dipping sauce. Just make sure to balance the saltiness of this paste with the rest of your ingredients. 

What Can I Use Instead of Doubanjiang?

1. Gochujang

This popular Korean bean paste is a good Doubanjiang substitute. With a similar texture and color, this paste can match that rich color that Doubanjiang adds to your dish.

Gochujang is commonly a mixture of fermented soybeans, salt, sticky rice, and red chilies. With similar ingredients, it’s only a little sweeter than doubanjiang due to the addition of the rice. 

2. Sambal Oelek

If you like your spice and want a Doubanjiang substitute that will add even more spice, then this Indonesian hot chili paste is your pick. 

This mixture of fresh red chilies, salt, spices, and vinegar is quite simple to make, even if it possesses a slightly different texture than bean paste. 

3. Tianmianjiang

This thick, dark-brown sauce made from fermented soybeans does not have those same, powerful umami flavors as doubanjiang. However, despite its sweetness, it has many of the same characteristics as doubanjiang and can therefore be used to substitute doubanjiang in a pinch. 

It may be best to combine this paste with other spices to bring out more of the umami flavors and create a closer flavor profile to that of doubanjiang. 

4. Doenjang

This Korean paste is also created with fermented soybeans and salt. The addition of doenjang, however, develops the flavor even more as a replacement for dozens of different spices in one ingredient. 

The blend of flavors and the pungent aroma will dominate your dish with all those deep umami flavors. 

The fermentation process for this paste can take from six months to years to develop the complex flavors that take over your taste buds. 

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5. Miso

Another fermented soybean paste, Miso combines bean paste with koji (a mold commonly used in saki), salt, spices, and a grain that gives a paste very similar in texture to doubanjiang. 

On the mild side, miso paste can be used as a substitute for doubanjiang sans heat, or you can add a little chili pepper flakes or hot sauce to get that desired heat. 

Miso paste can also take your umami flavors even higher. Some miso has been fermented for years. The longer it ferments, the more deep and complex the flavors become. 

6. Toban Djan

Simply put, Toban Djan is the less spicy variety of doubanjiang and therefore an excellent doubanjiang substitute. 

If you’re not a fan of spice, you can get all the other flavors of doubanjiang without the heat using Toban Djan. 

7. Korean Soy Sauce

If you like doenjang, then Korean Soy Sauce may also be an excellent doubanjiang substitute for you. Why? They are both parts of the same fermenting process.

When soybeans are fermented the solids left at the end are turned into doenjang, while the liquid leftover is what becomes Korean Soy Sauce. 

Soy sauce is very versatile in cooking and provides that umami flavor that adds so much depth to your dishes. 

Again an alternative for doubanjiang, Korean soy sauce adds the savory, mildly sweet umami taste without the heat. 

8. Douchi

As the oldest known soybean product, we had to put Douchi on this list. Douchi is made by fermenting black soybeans in earthenware containers. 

Being another popular flavoring paste in both Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine, douchi is a good substitute for doubanjiang. 

Due to its extreme salt content, use it sparingly. Its strong umami flavors can quickly overpower your dish. 

9. Homemade Doubanjiang

While not the easiest and most timely option, you can always make your own. Many of those who live in the Sichuan province of China where it’s most popular make it in their own homes. 

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While requiring commitment and time, this is an option to make an amazingly rich and unique paste to your taste.

How to Make Homemade Doubanjiang

By soaking broad beans, steaming them, and adding mold spores and flour for the fermenting process, you can make your own fermented bean paste at home. 

The longest part of the process is fermenting the beans in a damp, dark place.

Once they’re fermented, chop up your favorite chili peppers and other spices to create the flavor profile you desire.

The hardest part of this process is the time. Once your mixture is complete it needs to age and ferment for another 3 months before you can enjoy it!

FAQs

Does Doubanjiang go bad?

If stored properly, doubanjiang will keep for up to a year. If your doubanjiang came in a pouch, it’s advised that you transfer it to an airtight container for long-term storage. 

Does Doubanjiang need refrigeration?

Yes. After opening, doubanjiang should be refrigerated. If stored in proper, airtight containers, it can last up to a year in the fridge. 

Can I Use Ssamjang instead of Doubanjiang?

While it has a sweet, nutty flavor with undertones of that craved umami, Ssamjang is significantly sweeter than doubanjiang and would not be a suitable substitute for all dishes. 

To End

If you can’t find any of these options, then you can go for the doenjang or miso doubanjiang. In terms of flavor, these two are the best bets.

If you want to get an even richer umami flavor, then you can also add some more grains like cereal or rice.

When you make your own homemade doubanjiang, you can customize it to your tastes as well as tweak it with other ingredients to create your own signature condiment.