Easy Korean Beef Bulgogi

Everybody loves Korean Beef Bulgogi. A sizzling plate of this easy Korean BBQ classic deserves a regular place in your dinner rotation!

Korean beef bulgogi on a plate with green onions sprinkled on top

There’s a reason why everyone loves Korean Beef Bulgogi.  Fast, tasty, and on the table in 30 minutes.  You’ll be wondering why you never made it before!

I grew up loving and eating this iconic dish.  Korean Beef Bulgogi was a staple at barbecues and for weeknight dinner. Now, you can make it a part of your table, too! 

What is Korean Beef Bulgogi?

Korean Beef Bulgogi is a fast-cooking, thinly sliced beef dish that’s often served at Korean BBQ. The flavor is salty-sweet, garlicky, and a little smoky.

Served with rice, and lettuce wraps, and various side dishes — beef bulgogi is a Korean BBQ classic. You can’t get enough of that delicious, juicy meat marinated with garlic and onions!

For home cooks, bulgogi is especially appealing. Simply marinate meat with a few staple pantry ingredients. A fast cooking time over high heat puts dinner on the table quick! So easy!

Ingredients:

  • Beef. Thinly sliced rib eye is weeknight friendly because it takes very little time to marinate. Also, it cooks up fast! Look for it in the refrigerated section or the freezer section.  If there’s only frozen rib eye available (the kind used for hot pot), then defrost overnight before using.
  • Onion. Use 1 large onion — 1/2 is pureed and added to the marinade. 1/2 is sliced and cooked in the pan.
  • Korean Pear (optional). If you have it, pureed Korean pear adds subtle sweetness and wonderful texture.
  • Soy Sauce. Deep, umami-rich, salty flavor and depth!
  • Garlic. For that garlicky flavor!
  • Green onions. Essential Korean flavor.
  • Sugar. Adds sweetness.
  • Mirin. Sweet Korean/Japanese cooking wine.
  • Sesame Oil. For nutty fragrance.

Instructions:

  1. Whizz onion, garlic, and ginger.  (Or, grate onion and mince garlic and ginger.)  
  2. Mix marinade together.
  3. Add thinly sliced beef. 
  4. Cook bulgogi! Different options are listed below!
  5. Serve with rice, kimchi, lettuce wraps, and enjoy!

How do I cook Bulgogi?

There are several ways to cook Bulgogi at home. Choose the option that’s easiest and most accessible for you:

  • Non-stick skillet. The classic cooking pan used for Korean bulgogi. The non-stick coating will make sure the marinade doesn’t stick and burn.
  • Wok. Similar to non-stick skillet but it adds a slightly smoky flavor.
  • Cast iron skillet. For charred, smoky bits that mimic the Korean BBQ flavor.
  • Sheet pan. Broil on high heat on a foil lined sheet pan. Easy for cooking large portions. Double or triple the recipe and spread out in one even layer. You can also get those little crispy, charred bits with this method.
  • KBBQ-style Grill pan. Fit over a butane gas burner in the center of the table. If cooking several different kinds of meats (KBBQ style), save it for last as the sauce easily burns.

Note: Korean Beef Bulgogi is not a dry meat dish. As you cook, the meat will release its juices. Save those juices and scrape into your serving platter. There’s nothing so good as bulgogi juice spooned on top of rice!

Korean beef bulgogi on a plate with rice and lettuce wraps on the side

FAQ:

What’s the difference between Bulgogi and Galbi?

Bulgogi and Galbi are made with different cuts of meats. Bulgogi refers to thinly sliced meat without bones. Galbi refers to meat that’s attached to a bone, which typically takes longer to cook. Think long-braised, stewed dishes like Galbi Jjim [Beef Short Ribs] and Spicy Galbi Jjim [Babyback Pork Ribs].

Why are there so many different kinds of bulgogi?

Bulgogi as a general Korean term that describes fast cooking, thinly sliced, salty-sweet-garlicky marinated meat. It literally translates “fire meat” and there’s many different kinds!

Some of my favorites:

I don’t have access to thinly sliced rib eye. Is there another cut of beef I can use?

Yes, thinly sliced flank steak or beef brisket also works. Make sure to slice against the grain and as thin as possible so it’s not too touch and chewy!

How else do I eat Korean Beef Bulgogi?

There are many ways to enjoy Korean Beef Bulgogi. Be as creative as you dare!

  • Serve with rice and steamed green vegetables
  • In a rice bowl with fried egg and Gochujang sauce!
  • Korean BBQ style with lettuce wraps, kimchi, and Ssamjang
  • Wrapped in Gimbap, Onigirazu, or even burritos!
  • Tossed on top of tator tots with kimchi and Cheese Whiz
  • Stuffed into Bahn Mi with pickled daikon and carrot
korean beef bulgogi on a plate

Other easy Korean recipes you may enjoy:

Korean beef Bulgogi on a plate

Easy Korean Beef Bulgogi

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
A sizzling plate of delicious Korean Beef Bulgogi deserves a regular place in your dinner rotation!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Marinating Time 30 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4
Calories

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb thinly sliced beef rib eye

In the food processor:

  • 1/2 onion cut into chunks
  • 1/2 Korean pear, peeled, cored, cut into chunks (optional, can be subbed with Bosc pear, bartlett pear, or fuji apple)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch ginger peeled and cut into chunks

In the prep bowl:

  • 1/2 onion sliced thinly
  • 2 green onions chopped (save some for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (not the low sodium kind)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor, combine 1/2 onion cut into chunks, pear chunks, garlic, and ginger. Whizz until pureed. You may have to scrape the bowl down several times during the process. (Alternately, you can grate the onion and pear, mince the garlic and ginger.) Scrape into a large bowl. 
    pureed onion, ginger, garlic
  • Add 1/2 onion (thinly sliced), green onions, soy sauce, sugar, Mirin or rice wine, sesame seed oil, and sesame seeds. Mix with a spoon until combined. 
    korean beef bulgogi marinade in bowl
  • Add beef and mix well with hands. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
    marinated korean beef bulgogi in bowl
  • Non-stick skillet: heat over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and add the bulgogi in one layer. Spread around with chopsticks and leave undisturbed for that bbq char, about 2-3 minutes. When the edges look cooked and the juices begin to release, mix around with a cooking spoon until the meat is no longer pink and cooked through. Continue cooking until the sauce has reduced somewhat and the meat is dark brown and caramelized.
  • Cast iron skillet: heat over medium high heat. When the cast iron is hot, add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and swirl around in the pan. The oil should be smoking. Add bulgogi in one layer. Leave the meat undisturbed, to get that bbq char on one side. When the bulgogi looks brown and crispy on the edges, mix around with a metal spatula and finish cooking. The meat will release a lot of juice. The cooking process should take 5-8 minutes total!
    beef bulgogi in cast iron skillet
  • Wok: heat over high heat. Add 1 Tbsp neutral oil and swirl around. Add the bulgogi in one layer. Spread around with chopsticks and leave undisturbed for that bbq char, about 2-3 minutes. When the edges look cooked and the juices begin to release, mix around with a cooking spoon or metal spatula until the meat is no longer pink and cooked through, tossing as you go. Continue cooking until the sauce has reduced somewhat and the meat is dark brown and caramelized.
  • Sheet pan: Adjust the oven rack so the top rack is 5-6 inches from the heat source at the top. Turn the oven to broil function and let it preheat for 10 minutes. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy clean up. Spread out bulgogi in an even layer, making sure it's not too crowded. When the oven has fully preheated, broil until fully cooked with crispy edges, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Transfer bulgogi to a serving platter. Garnish with additional green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with lettuce wraps, rice, and kimchi for a complete meal. Ssam sauce is also a nice addition.
    Beef Bulgogi with rice and lettuce
Keyword Beef, Bulgogi
30 minutes, All Recipes, Beef, Dinner with Friends, Korean, Main, Potluck, Weeknight Meals

7 Comments

  1. I’ve made this recipe a bunch of times and it’s so tasty! Have you ever prepared it ahead of time and frozen it, either before or after cooking? I would think that you could prep multiple batches worth of the marinade and mix with meat and onions, let it marinate a while first, and then portion it out into freezer bags. That way, you don’t have to lug out (and clean) the food processor on a weeknight, just thaw a portion in the fridge the night before (plus you could buy the meat in bulk). Freezing after you cook it would probably be less ideal, but even more convenient. Do you think it would mess up the flavor or texture of the dish at all?

    • Yes, this recipe freezes well. I defrost in the fridge overnight and it doesn’t taste frozen at all. This cut of beef freezes very well as does the marinade. I’ve never cooked it from a frozen state though or defrosted in the microwave FYI. Good luck!

  2. 5 stars
    Quick easy and delicious! Adding this to my weeknight meal menu rotation!

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  4. I just made this and I need to restrain myself from eating it all! So delicious. The charred bits are so amazing. I love your food, Lis!

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  6. Thanks for sharing! i really appreciate the meat explanation as I never know what meat to buy. Now I know!

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