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.
Some links in this article are affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- In a small bowl, mix the caramel ingredients together with a fork until uniform, then set aside.
- 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.
- Add salt, cinnamon, and baking soda, then mix well.
- Add flour and gently mix by hand or on low speed just until flour mixes in.
- Refrigerate dough 10-15 minutes.
- While dough chills, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
- 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.
- Use a regular size cookie scoop to add 8 cookies per sheet. Make four rows of two, offset on the sheet.
- 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.
- Store in airtight containers on your counter up to three days, with layers separated by parchment paper.
- 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.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
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.
Save this recipe to make your own spicy caramel cookies again!
Not up for a spicy cookie? Try one of my other favorites:
- Chewy molasses cookies
- Peppermint chocolate shortbread
- Hot chocolate cookies
- Chewy lemon cookies
- Copycat Girl Scout S’mores cookies
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.