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Gochujang Caramel Cookies (Based On The NYT Recipe)

When my friends first started telling me about these new NYT cookies, I knew I had to make them. The gochujang caramel cookies are like a spicy sugared snickerdoodle and might be my new favorite cookie.

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Close up of a gochujang cookie with more in the background.

These spicy caramel cookies have a great texture, soft and chewy, and the spice is not overwhelming at all. It’s more of a warm flavor that cuts the sweetness of the cookie.

I’ve made these a couple times now and while the recipe ingredients are basically the same as Eric Kim’s original NYT red chili paste sugar cookie, I changed some things in how I make them to make it easier and quicker for me.

And of course I doubled the recipe because these are so good that we needed more gochujang caramel cookies.

Hand holding a spicy caramel cookie against a subway tile background.

What is gochujang paste?

Gochujang paste is a Korean condiment made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It has a spicy-sweet flavor and is often used in Korean dishes such as bibimbap and bulgogi.

Gochujang paste comes in different spice levels, so make sure you choose the one right for you. I personally like the slight hot (2) and medium hot (3), but you can find levels from 1 to 5 in terms of spiciness.

It has a ton of umami, which is why it works great in these unique sugar cookies. You can also use gochujang paste to make sauces, marinades, and dressings.

 It is relatively thick, like miso, so when you use it, you generally need to thin it with some sort of liquid. This recipe, of course, is the exception.

Where do you buy gochujang paste?

Gochujang paste is becoming more popular as people cook a wider variety of cuisines at home. I can find it in the Asian section of some of my local supermarkets, but definitely not all of them.

If you have a Korean market near you, they will for sure have it. Otherwise, you can always find it online at Amazon or other stores.

How do you store gochujang paste?

Once you open gochujang paste, you want to store it in the refrigerator. Keep thinking about it like miso paste.

It is a fermented food, so it has a long life, but it will eventually harden, so try to use it before that point. As it gets older, it will darken in color, but it is still fine to use.

Is it hard to make caramel for these cookies?

No! In fact, this is caramel in name only but not a traditional caramel at all. It does not use the stove or require anything more than mixing.

The “caramel” for these spicy sugar cookies is just a mix of butter, brown sugar, and the gochujang paste. You don’t even heat it until you bake the cookies.

How to make cookie dough less sticky

When you make some cookies, especially sugar cookies and cookies with a lot of moisture and warm ingredients – and yes, room temperature ingredients make for better cookies, so don’t skip that! – they cookie dough can be too sticky to work with.

Sometimes, the dough recipe is off just a little and doesn’t have enough flour in it. In that case, you need to add a little extra flour, but this should not be the issue here.

Instead, you need to chill your dough which gives the butter and eggs a chance to cool down and become less sticky. The chill time also lets the flour absorb more of the moisture, which helps.

For these gochujang caramel cookies, you need to let the dough chill 10-15 minutes to help make your cookie dough less sticky. You don’t want it as firm as a rolled sugar cookie where you chill it for far longer.

How to make gochujang caramel cookies

Be sure that your eggs and butter are room temperature. Let them sit on your counter for 45 minutes or so, depending on the temperature in your house.

If they aren’t room temperature, you can place the egg in a bowl with warm – not hot – water for five to ten minutes. You can microwave your butter for 10 second increments, flipping it each time, until it’s just soft – don’t let it melt!

Add two tablespoons of butter to a small bowl with the brown sugar and gochujang. Stir this together with a fork, and set it aside.

This is your caramel. No cooking involved for this one.

Orange bowl with gochujang caramel sauce and fork in the bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining butter and white sugar, and beat until it comes together. You want it lightened in color, just as you do for most cookie dough.

Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix until it forms a uniform mixture.

Add the flour, and stir gently either by hand or on low speed with your mixer just until it’s incorporated. Place the bowl into your fridge for 10-15 minutes to chill it.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line your cookie sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

You can do up to this part with a stand mixer or handheld mixer. Do the last step needs by hand.

Add dollops of the “caramel” you made to the dough in various spots. For this doubled recipe, I did about six dollops. If you make (what is now) a half recipe, do three to four dollops.

Bowl with cookie dough and dollops of gochujang caramel sauce and spatula in the back of the bowl.

With a stiff spatula, run the spatula through the chilled cookie dough in a circular pattern to disperse the caramel into the dough. Mix less than you think you need to, as you want big ribbons of caramel which will get distorted somewhat as you scoop the dough.

Bowl of cookie dough with gochujang caramel ribbons in it.

Use a regular size cookie scoop to scoop cookies into your cookie sheets. Do eight cookies per sheet as four rows of two in an offset pattern, as these cookies really spread.

Cookie sheet with unbaked spicy caramel cookies on it.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for 11 to 13 minutes until you start to see cracks in the tops of the cookies. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before you remove them.

These cookies are very soft when they first come out of the oven and will break if you try to move them too soon. Letting them sit on the hot cookie sheets also lets them finish baking a bit.

Overhead shot of gochujang cookies on a wooden board.

Store them in an airtight container on your counter for two to three days. Separate each layer with a bit of parchment paper to ensure they don’t stick to each other.

Close up of a gochujang cookie with more in the background.

Gochujang Caramel Cookies

Yield: 39 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 31 minutes

These spicy sugar cookies are based off Eric Kim's NYT cookie recipe. I updated the HOW to make these to make them easier to make and clarified some instructions.

Ingredients

For the "caramel:"

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang paste

For the cookie dough:

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups flour

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the caramel ingredients together with a fork until uniform, then set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together remaining butter and granulated sugar until lightened in color and texture. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until fully incorporated.
  3. Add salt, cinnamon, and baking soda, then mix well.
  4. Add flour and gently mix by hand or on low speed just until flour mixes in.
  5. Refrigerate dough 10-15 minutes.
  6. While dough chills, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  7. Once chilled, remove dough from fridge and add gochujang caramel to cookie dough in dollops. Use a stiff spatula to gently swirl the caramel into wide ribbons in the dough, using a C shaped stir, then turning the bowl and repeating. Do not overmix.
  8. Use a regular size cookie scoop to add 8 cookies per sheet. Make four rows of two, offset on the sheet.
  9. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes until cracks appear on tops of cookies. Let cool on cookie sheets at least 5 minutes, then move to cooling rack.
  10. Store in airtight containers on your counter up to three days, with layers separated by parchment paper.

Notes

  • You can find gochujang paste at some grocery stores or in Korean grocery stores or online. There are 5 spice levels, so choose the right one for you. I prefer level 2 (slightly spicy) or 3 (medium hot).
  • You can cut this recipe in half to make fewer cookies, but they do not last here, so go ahead and make them all.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 39 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 128Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 137mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 0gSugar: 12gProtein: 1g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Save this recipe to make your own spicy caramel cookies again!

Not up for a spicy cookie? Try one of my other favorites:

Gochujang caramel cookie with more in the background and text NYT cookie recipe gochujang caramel cookies.

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  1. Nina D. says:

    I tried refrigerating the dough and gochujang caramel separately for three days before baking. I don’t recommend it. I stored it in air-tight containers and let it warm up some on the countertop before mixing in the caramel. The dough was moist enough, but the cookies never spread and baked up dry. I’m going to remake them Christmas morning.

    • Michelle says:

      Cookie dough definitely doesn’t like being refrigerated like that. The flour absorbs too much of the moisture over time, and that’s exactly what will happen. I hope the remake worked better for you!

  2. Fiona Georgakis says:

    Yum! I used gochujang from Trader Joe’s. I ended up with nearly 40 cookies using a 1 oz scoop, most of which are in the freezer for when the mood strikes

  3. Kathie says:

    Oh my goodness forget my question for freezing these are being eaten. So,so good- those caramelly spicy bits, whoa!!!
    I slammed the pan to deflate even more when they come out of the oven for more crinkly chew…

  4. Kathie says:

    Hi, can these be frozen either scooped or already baked?

    • Michelle says:

      I haven’t tried freezing scooped dough to bake later, but there’s no reason why this shouldn’t work. And I HAVE frozen them and enjoyed them later, and they were still delicious. Either way, be sure that they’re tightly sealed when you freeze them and thaw dough in the fridge overnight and on the counter for baked cookies. Enjoy and good luck!

  5. Shannon says:

    Hi! I’m making these for some friends for Christmas! Can the dough be chilled/frozen a few days in advance of when the cookies will be baked?

    • Michelle says:

      I wouldn’t refrigerate the dough for days, as it’s likely to start drying out. I haven’t frozen the dough for these cookies, but it should work. If you plan to make it in advance, I would suggest you scoop it and freeze it in a single layer on a baking sheet then put the frozen cookie dough into a tightly sealed container in the freezer. To bake them, thaw them overnight in the fridge – and be sure they aren’t stuck together when you start thawing. Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

  6. Melissa says:

    I don’t have a “cookie scoop”. Approximately how much is a scoop? If I used a Tablespoon to scoop (heaping) would that be about right?

    • Michelle says:

      Yep, a standard cookie scoop holds about one tablespoon. That said, for the most even sizes and pretty rounds, look for a good cookie scoop on sale and snatch it up. It definitely makes things easier and faster!

  7. Michelle Fisher says:

    Omg. I’m obsessed! I’m not a baker, but have made these 4x lol!! I sprinkle with sea salt.

  8. Sue says:

    I made these and they came out perfectly. Sweet and spicy!
    I used half of the batter with the original recipe, and to the second half, I added some cocoa powder to make them chocolate.

  9. Michelle Fisher says:

    These are amazing.

    I put sea salt on some, bourbon smoked sugar on the rest!!!

  10. Karri says:

    The eggs aren’t listed in the ingredients.

    • Michelle says:

      They are there. Make sure you’re looking at the recipe card with all the ingredients. It lists two eggs as the third ingredient under cookie dough. Enjoy the cookies!

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