Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef). Tender, succulent beef in a sweet, savoury marinade. A popular Korean meat dish that comes together easily. Great as a main dish for a weeknight meal. Ready in just 35 mins.
There are many bulgogi recipes online but mine is quite easy and comes together quickly without long marinating times (20 mins to be exact!)
What exactly is bulgogi?
Bulgogi, also known as Korean BBQ Beef, is a popular grilled meat dish in Korean cuisine served in many Korean restaurants and households. It consists of tender thinly cut beef marinated in a sweet and salty sauce with onions, garlic and sesame.
What does beef bulgogi taste like?
The bulgogi flavor tastes sweet, savoury and salty. The sweet flavours from the brown sugar. Honey and apple or pear. The savoury saltiness originates from the soy sauce accented with the aromatic flavours from the beef, onions and garlic.
What do you eat bulgogi with?
I love eating my bulgogi with some steamed rice, leafy greens and well fermented kimchi. It’s so simple but it hits the spot!
You can of course eat it with noodles if you fancy or with other veggies like carrots, bean sprouts, fresh lettuce, cucumbers, pickled daikon, sauteed spinach and more.
Sometimes it is served in Bibimbap if you order the bulgogi bibimbap version.
Easy Bulgogi Recipe!
Korean Bulgogi is easy to make! You’re simply preparing your marinade ingredients and mixing it into your thinly sliced beef. Then you’ll set the beef aside to marinate for 20 minutes. When your pan is heated, you’ll add the marinated beef and the marinade into the pan to cook for about 4-6 minutes or until the beef is brown. That’s it!
Watch how I made it!
For this recipe you’ll need the follow bulgogi ingredients:
- Shabu Shabu style beef, or Top Sirloin, Flank Steak, or Tenderloin sliced very thinly
Bulgogi sauce marinade:
- White onion
- Green onion
- Apple or Asian Pear
- Regular Soy Sauce
- Brown Sugar
- Sesame Oil
- Rice Mirin
- Black Pepper
- Sesame seeds (optional garnish)
How to make Bulgogi Beef
Prepare your marinade ingredients as instructed above. Add marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well (shown differently in video – both methods work fine).
In a larger bowl, add your thinly sliced beef and pour the marinade over top. Gently mix well with hands or chopsticks until the marinade has thoroughly coated the meat. Cover and marinate for 20 mins or up to 1 hour (for even more flavour) in the fridge.
Then in a hot pan set over medium heat, add your marinated beef and cook until brown, about 4-6 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds. Remove off heat and enjoy!
If you’d like to make this advance, you may marinate the beef and store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze to thaw and cook later.
Tips for making Bulgogi
Below are tips on making the best Korean beef bulgogi:
- Source quality beef with some fat running through it. I highly recommend buying hot pot style shabu shabu beef that has already been pre-sliced thinly for you. You can find this at Asian grocers.
- If you’re slicing the beef yourself for this recipe, wrap your refrigerated beef in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Then cut thinly on an angle. The freezing action will help you achieve a very thin slice of beef versus cutting it at room temperature.
- Mix your marinade ingredients in a small bowl for even distribution. However, if you don’t do this, don’t worry – adding the marinade ingredients to your beef one by one and mixing it later will achieve the exact same affect.
- Marinate that beef! 20-minute marinating time is good enough for a delicious bulgogi but if you want ultimate flavour, marinate for 1 hour covered in the fridge.
- Use a non-stick pan. It’ll make life so much easier when cooking that tender flaky beef preventing it from sticking to your pan.
Below are frequently asked questions about Korean Bulgogi Beef:
What cut of meat is bulgogi?
It ranges from Shabu shabu style beef to thinly cut Top Sirloin, Flank Steak or Beef Tenderloin with fat running through it. I recommended using shabu shabu style beef for best taste and purposes of ease. This can be found at Asian grocers in the meat section and it comes frozen.
You may even use this same marinade for ground beef bulgogi.
Can I omit the onions or garlic?
I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re intolerant. These aromatics truly uplift the taste profile of this meat dish.
Can I use dark soy sauce?
I wouldn’t recommend it as dark soy sauce will make your beef very dark in colour unless you’re fine with that and it’s not as salty as regular soy sauce so you will need to add more.
Can I omit the sugar and honey from the bulgogi sauce recipe?
No, I wouldn’t recommend it either as these two ingredients give the beef that sweet taste to balance out the saltiness from the soy sauce. You may substitute the brown sugar with more honey, but the beef may not turn out to be as sweet.
Can I use any apple or pear?
Any sweet-tasting apple like Red Apple, Gala, Pink lady, Mc-Intosh will work. Usually, Asian Pear is recommended but if you have a normal pear at home, feel free to use that too.
May I omit the sesame seeds or sesame oil? I’m allergic.
Yes, if you’re allergic. Unfortunately, there no substitute for these ingredients.
How to fry bulgogi?
I recommend using a non-stick wok or pan to fry the beef. You may also use a grilling plate if you’re grilling this in front of guest at the dinner table.
What is bulgogi made of?
It’s made of a fattier cut of beef marinated with white onion, green onion, garlic, apple or Asian pear, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice mirin, black pepper and sesame seeds. Sometimes grated ginger is used as well but not in my recipe.
Is bulgogi spicy?
Sometimes but my recipe is not.
Is bulgogi gluten free?
No, Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) contains soy sauce which contains gluten. If you’re gluten-free, please substitute with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari sauce.
Can I make this in advance?
Yes! In fact, this is commonly done in many Korean households. You can refrigerate the marinated beef up to 4 days or freeze it in an airtight container to thaw and cook later.
Other Korean recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed my bulgogi recipe, you may enjoy these other Korean recipes:
PORK BELLY KIMCHI FRIED RICE
SWEET STICKY KOREAN CHICKEN
KOREAN BULGOGI CHICKEN WINGS
BULGOGI BEEF RAMEN
KOREAN SEAFOOD PANCAKE (HAEMUL PAJEON)
MILD BUDAE JJIGAE ARMY STEW
BULGOGI BEEF TRIANGLE KIMBAP
BEEF BULGOGI KIMBAP
Well, I hope you give my Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try.
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Easy Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- 1 lb Hot pot style shabu shabu beef or Top Sirloin, Tenderloin, or Flank steak cut thinly
- ⅓ cup White Onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup Sweet Apple or Asian Pear grated
- 1 stalk Green onion chopped
- 2 tbsp Garlic minced
- 3 tbsp regular soy sauce
- 2 tbsp Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp Rice Mirin
- 1 tbsp Sesame oil
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- ½ tsp sesame seeds optional garnish
- Prepare your marinade ingredients as instructed above. Add marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well (shown differently in video – both methods work fine).
- In a larger bowl, add your thinly sliced beef and pour the marinade over top. Gently mix well with hands or chopsticks until the marinade has thoroughly coated the meat. Cover and marinate for 20 mins or up to 1 hour (for even more flavour) in the fridge.
- Then in a hot pan set over medium heat, add your marinated beef and cook until brown, about 4-6 minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds. Remove off heat and enjoy!