Everybody loves Korean Beef Bulgogi. A sizzling plate of this easy Korean BBQ classic deserves a regular place in your dinner rotation!
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!
- 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.
- Whizz onion, garlic, and ginger. (Or, grate onion and mince garlic and ginger.)
- Mix marinade together.
- Add thinly sliced beef.
- Cook bulgogi! Different options are listed below!
- 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!
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
Other easy Korean recipes you may enjoy:
- Korean Steamed Egg (Gyeran Jjim)
- Seafood Soondubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew)
- Gochujang Chicken
- Korean Purple Rice
Easy Korean Beef Bulgogi
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Add beef and mix well with hands. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- 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!
- 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.