Korean Beef Bulgogi (2024)

by Jenny Park · Published:

This Korean Beef Bulgogi recipe is a version of my mom's recipe I enjoyed so much growing up (and still enjoy today!). It's so simple to make at home and the beef is tender, packed with tons of classic Korean bbq flavor! It's the best homemade version you'll find!

Korean Beef Bulgogi (1)

Korean Beef Bulgogi is something my mom made for dinner frequently while I was growing up. My mom’s bulgogi is a family favorite and I still look forward to it whenever we get together. Since my parents live in Chicago and I live in LA, I decided I needed to learn to make it myself, so I could enjoy it whenever I wanted.

I love that this dish can be enjoyed in so many ways. You can simply serve it with a side of steamed rice, in tacos and burritos, as a filling ingredient for kimbap, in nachos, tossed together with noodles, diced and cooked into a fried rice, the options are really endless!

What is Bulgogi and What Does it Taste Like?

Bulgogi is a popular Korean BBQ dish (literally translating to “fire meat”) made of thinly sliced marinated beef ribeye or sirloin. The beef is marinated in a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, asian pear, and black pepper. It’s marinated for several hours which flavors and tenderizes the meat.

The flavor of bulgogi is savory, salty and sweet. Our recipe has a mildly sweet and salty flavor – more mild than other recipes or what you may have tasted from a Korean bbq restaurant. If you want to up the sweetness or the saltiness or both, just add a couple more teaspoons of brown sugar and soy sauce (or a couple extra pinches of salt) to the marinade. Also, always taste the marinade before combining it with the beef to ensure the flavor is to your liking.

How to Make Our Korean Beef Bulgogi

Ingredients

Korean Beef Bulgogi (2)

Process

  1. Place all marinade ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
Korean Beef Bulgogi (3)
Korean Beef Bulgogi (4)
  1. Place beef and thinly sliced onion into a mixing bowl and toss together.
  2. Pour marinade over beef and onion mixture.
Korean Beef Bulgogi (5)
Korean Beef Bulgogi (6)
  1. Mix together until all beef is well and evenly coated.
  2. Cover beef and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
  1. Remove from refrigerator, uncover and allow mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot add half vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Add half beef and onion mixture and cook, stirring beef as needed until cooked through. Transfer beef to a plate. Add remaining oil to skillet followed by remaining beef and onion and repeat until beef has just cooked through and sliced onions just begin to soften. Remove from heat and combine with rest of the cooked bulgogi.
Korean Beef Bulgogi (9)
Korean Beef Bulgogi (10)

Best Cuts of Beef to Use for Bulgogi

Boneless ribeye steak is our cut of choice for this recipe and the most popular because it is tender and flavorful with nice marbling. Sirloin is also commonly used to make bulgogi and is slightly leaner that ribeye. You can also use flank steak in a pinch with good results, but the texture won’t be quite as tender.

Where to Find Pre-Shaved Beef for Bulgogi

Shaved (or very thinly sliced) beef can be found at practically all Korean, Chinese and Japanese markets and most other asian markets. Some Trader Joes locations also sell shaved ribeye!

If you’re unable to find pre-shaved or thinly sliced beef, you can buy a boneless steak and slice it yourself. If you do decide to slice it yourself make sure to partially freezing the beef first in your freezer (about 15 to 30 minutes) before attempting to slice it. Partially freezing the beef makes it way easier to slice very thin and even pieces.

Korean Beef Bulgogi (11)

Grilling vs Pan Searing

Bulgogi can be cooked on both a grill or in a pan/skillet. If using a pan or skillet natural juices will release and gather in the pan, which is often enjoyed with the cooked beef. If using a grill, there will be a distinct ‘char-grilled’ flavor. The flavors will be ever so slightly different depending on how the beef is cooked, but equally delicious!

Can Bulgogi be Frozen?

Yes, our Korean Beef Bulgogi recipe can be marinated and frozen (uncooked) ahead of time for up to 2 months.

Freezing Instructions

Marinate beef for at least 6 hours. Transfer mixture to a freezer-proof ziploc bag, removing all the air, and seal. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, thaw beef in the refrigerator overnight. Drain off any excess liquid from the bag. Cook bulgogi in skillet with oil over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through, and serve.

Korean Beef Bulgogi (12)

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Korean Beef Bulgogi (17)

Korean Beef Bulgogi

5 from 17 votes

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This Korean Beef Bulgogi recipe is a version of my mom's recipe I enjoyed so much growing up (and still enjoy today!). It's so simple to make at home and the beef is tender, packed with tons of classic Korean bbq flavor! It's the best homemade version you'll find!

RECIPE BY Teri & Jenny

Prep Time: 10 minutes mins

Cook Time: 12 minutes mins

Marinade time: 6 hours hrs

Total Time: 6 hours hrs 22 minutes mins

Servings: 4 people

INGREDIENTS

beef

  • pounds boneless ribeye shaved or very thinly sliced
  • ½ small yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

beef marinade

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 small Asian pear (about 6 ounces) peeled cored and chopped (or 1 sweet apple such as gala)
  • ½ small yellow onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp minced ginger

garnish

  • 1 green onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

beef

  • Place beef and thinly sliced onion into a mixing bowl and toss together.

marinade

  • Place all marinade ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

  • Pour marinade over beef and onion mixture and mix together until all beef is well and evenly coated.

  • Cover beef and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

  • Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot add half vegetable oil and swirl to coat. Add half beef and onion mixture and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring beef as needed until cooked through. Transfer beef to a plate. Add remaining oil to skillet followed by remaining beef and onion and repeat until beef has just cooked through and sliced onions just begin to soften. Remove from heat and combine with rest of the cooked bulgogi.

  • Top bulgogi with remaining green onion and sesame seeds and serve with rice.

NOTES

Best Cuts of Beef to Use for Bulgogi

Boneless ribeye steak is our cut of choice for this recipe and the most popular because it is tender and flavorful with nice marbling. Sirloin is also commonly used to make bulgogi and is slightly leaner that ribeye. You can also use flank steak in a pinch with good results, but the texture won’t be quite as tender.

Where to Find Pre-Shaved Beef for Bulgogi

Shaved (or very thinly sliced) beef can be found at practically all Korean, Chinese and Japanese markets and most other asian markets. Some Trader Joes locations also sell shaved ribeye.

If you’re unable to find pre-shaved or thinly sliced beef, you can buy a boneless steak and slice it yourself. If you do decide to slice it yourself make sure to partially freezing the beef first in your freezer (about 15 to 30 minutes) before attempting to slice it. Partially freezing the beef makes it way easier to slice very thin and even pieces.

Freezing Instructions

Marinate beef for at least 6 hours. Transfer mixture to a freezer-proof ziploc bag, removing all the air, and seal. Freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to use, thaw beef in the refrigerator overnight. Drain off any excess liquid from the bag. Cook bulgogi in skillet with oil over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through, and serve.

Grilling vs Pan Searing

Bulgogi can be cooked on both a grill or in a pan/skillet. If using a pan or skillet natural juices will release and gather in the pan, which is often enjoyed with the cooked beef. If using a grill, there will be a distinct ‘char-grilled’ flavor. The flavors will be ever so slightly different depending on how the beef is cooked, but equally delicious!

Calories: 338kcal Carbohydrates: 55g Protein: 7g Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 6g Sodium: 1580mg Potassium: 204mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 14g Vitamin A: 114IU Vitamin C: 6mg Calcium: 43mg Iron: 1mg

CUISINE: korean

KEYWORD: Beef, korean bbq, korean marinated meat

COURSE: dinner, lunch

Korean Beef Bulgogi (2024)

FAQs

What is Korean bulgogi sauce made of? ›

Mix some soy, apple juice and sugar in a sauce pan. Heat until the sugar melts. Mix in some ginger, garlic, green onions and sesame oil. Literally that's it.

What cut of meat is beef bulgogi? ›

Bulgogi is typically made with almost paper-thin slices of the most tender cuts of beef. Rib-eye is the most common cut of beef with top sirloin coming in a close second. That being said, I have used both rib-eye and flank steak for this Beef Bulgogi recipe and honestly, I could barely tell a difference!

What do Koreans eat with bulgogi? ›

You can serve this over a bed of rice (white rice, brown rice, fried rice, any kind of rice) with a side of kimchi, cucumbers, perilla leaves, and ssamjang.

What's the difference between Korean bbq and bulgogi? ›

The difference between Korean Kalbi and Bulgogi

This recipe showcases the difference between two popular Korean bbq methods. The difference between bulgogi and Kalbi is that one uses Short Rib, and one uses Ribeye, both using basically the same marinade and grilled over fire.

What are the three types of bulgogi? ›

There are three types of bulgogi that are typically served at restaurants today – Gwangyang-style of South Jeolla Province, Eonyang-style of South Gyeongsang Province and last but not least, the Seoul-style.

Is Korean bulgogi healthy? ›

It's packed to the rafters with veggies, yet still feels naughty thanks to the sweet n' salty bulgogi sauce. It's pretty much perfect in terms of “healthy-ish comfort food”.

Why is beef bulgogi so good? ›

The beef is marinated in a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, asian pear, and black pepper. It's marinated for several hours which flavors and tenderizes the meat. The flavor of bulgogi is savory, salty and sweet.

Can you use chuck steak for bulgogi? ›

Using a peeler, peel 4 inches carrot into thin ribbons or strips (or slice thinly). Add the onion, green onions, and carrot to the marinade, and mix all together. Add 1½ lb thinly sliced beef (chuck or ribeye) to the marinade, separating each slice. Mix it all together to coat with the marinade.

What compliments bulgogi? ›

Garnish. Top with sesame seeds and sliced green onions if desired and serve while hot. Enjoy the bulgogi with rice and side dishes or as a wrap with rice, kimchi, and lettuce.

What drink pairs well with bulgogi? ›

The taste of Bulgogi is typically sweet from the marinating sauce, but it can get spicy from the grill. It is served with a few side dishes, such as lettuce or ssamjang (spicy-sweet bean paste). We recommend pairing Bulgogi with a dry red wine like Chianti.

How often do Koreans eat bulgogi? ›

Bulgogi is eaten any time of the year; however, it is common for people in Korea to enjoy grilling the marinated meat on special occasions or in social settings.

Does bulgogi taste like teriyaki? ›

Bulgogi is a sweet, salty beef dish that is comparable to teriyaki but much more rich and flavorful. Whereas teriyaki is solely sweetened with sugar, bulgogi relies also on fruit sugar to add an extra depth of flavor.

Why is bulgogi called fire meat? ›

Early History and Origins. The term 'bulgogi' comes from Korea and translates to 'fire meat' as it was originally cooked using skewers on a hwaro grill. This ubiquitous meal's early history and origin date back to the Goguryeo era (37 B.C. to 668 A.D.), when it was initially called maekjeok.

Why is galbi so expensive? ›

As galbijjim is usually made from only the center part of ribs from a calf while the rib ends used to make soup stock, galbi was more expensive than other cuts of beef in South Korea, and has been regarded as a high-class dish.

What does Korean bulgogi taste like? ›

The flavor of bulgogi is savory, salty and sweet. Our recipe has a mildly sweet and salty flavor – more mild than other recipes or what you may have tasted from a Korean bbq restaurant.

Is bulgogi sauce the same as teriyaki? ›

Bulgogi is a sweet, salty beef dish that is comparable to teriyaki but much more rich and flavorful. Whereas teriyaki is solely sweetened with sugar, bulgogi relies also on fruit sugar to add an extra depth of flavor.

Is Korean BBQ sauce similar to bulgogi sauce? ›

Bulgogi sauce, a type of Korean BBQ sauce, boasts a complex, slightly sweet yet umami flavor profile.

Is bulgogi sauce spicy hot? ›

What does it taste like? Savory soy umami, somewhat sweet and spicy*, nutty, garlicky with a touch of tartness. *The heat level is medium spicy. Adventurous eaters may not find it hot enough in which case, you can try dipping it in our gochujang sauce.

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