Savory, garlicky, utterly delicious Ssamjang (Korean BBQ Dipping Sauce) is an essential condiment for your next KBBQ party! Use as a dip or sauce with grilled meats, lettuce wraps, and rice. A simple recipe that’s so easy to make at home!
Yes, you can buy pre-made ssamjang paste at the Korean supermarket. But the homemade version is SO much tastier. And easy! Make it once to see how delicious and simple it is to make Ssamjang dipping sauce at home!
What is Ssamjang?
Ssamjang is a dipping sauce or condiment that’s frequently served at Korean BBQ. The tasty and essential Korean dip served with grilled meats, vegetables, and lettuce wraps!
Also known as ssam sauce, the flavor is garlicky, umami-rich, and deeply flavorful. Thick and rich, the flavor base comes from Doenjang, Korean fermented soybean paste.
At Korean restaurants, you’ll typically see Ssamjang dipping sauce served on a small plate with a drizzle of sesame oil and slices of raw garlic and jalapeno.
Classically, Ssamjang is served with samgyupsal or Korean fried pork belly. But it tastes good with virtually any grilled meat or vegetables. An essential sauce when eating Korean BBQ!
- Doenjang. Korean fermented soybean paste. Salty. Thick. Umami-rich.
- Garlic + Green Onion. The aromatics are essential to both flavor and texture.
- Chili Pepper. Adds a nice texture and subtly spicy flavor. I recommend green chilies, Fresno, or jalapeno.
- Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste. Adds subtle spicy flavor and depth.
- Maesil Cheong. Korean green plum syrup. A little bit of sweetness! Sub with maple syrup if you don’t have it.
- Sesame Oil. All that nutty fragrance. Plus, makes it smooth and pourable.
- Rice vinegar. A little sharpness from vinegar makes the flavor extra delicious. White distilled vinegar or apple vinegar also work well.
- Sesame seeds. Adds a nice texture and nuttiness.
How do you eat Ssamjang?
Korean Ssamjang is both a dipping sauce and a condiment. Think of it like ketchup or sriracha. There are several ways to enjoy it.
- Dip with fresh vegetables (cucumber, peppers, tomatoes)
- Dip with grilled vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, onion)
- Dip with grilled meat, right off the grill. Especially good with pork belly (samgyeopsal) and pork shoulder. Also delicious with grilled beef or chicken.
- Scoop and spread Ssamjang paste onto grilled meat and lettuce wraps. So good!
- Add to any jjigae or Korean stew for a flavor boost. A classic way to make Doenjang Jjigae more delicious!
- Mix ingredients in one bowl.
- Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil, slices of raw garlic and jalapeno, and a few cranks of black pepper.
Watch How to make it:
- Finely mince green onion, garlic, and chili pepper. The texture is a big part of the addictiveness of Ssamjang. Don’t make it overly chunky but mince finely into same-sized bits. I use a microplane to mince the garlic. For the green onion and chili pepper, I cut into half lengthwise then mince finely.
- Garnish. Right before serving, add a drizzle of sesame oil, a few grinds of black pepper, and several slices of raw garlic and jalapeno. A classic Korean finishing touch!
How to serve:
- Serve in one communal bowl at the table with a spoon — people can serve themselves, as much as they like.
- Or, serve in small, individual portions for each person. That way, people can dip and scoop as much as they like and not worry about double-dipping.
*I use small, stainless steel sauce trays (2-portion tray, 3-portion tray) (affiliate) when serving ssamjang. Each person receives their own portion, alongside a mixture of sesame oil with salt and pepper. Look at the video for more details.
Serve with these other classic Korean BBQ sauces:
- Gochujang Sauce
- Yangnyeom Jang
- Sesame Oil + Salt + Pepper (1/4 tsp salt, few cranks of black pepper, sesame oil to cover)
Or serve with classic Korean BBQ mains and sides:
- Grilled meat of choice: pork belly, beef, shrimp, etc.
- Grilled veggies: king oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced onions, zucchini slices
- Green or red leaf lettuce and/or perilla leaves
- Finely shredded green onion
Make it a party and add some Korean sides:
- Oi Muchim (Korean Cucumber Salad)
- Gamja Salad (Korean Potato Salad)
- Doenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Stew)
- Dubu Jorim (Braised Tofu)
Ssamjang (Korean BBQ Dipping Sauce)
- 1/4 cup Doenjang (Korean fermented soy bean paste)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 green onions (minced)
- 1 green fresno pepper (can be subbed with jalapeno, if you can't find it)
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp Maesil Cheong (Korean green plum syrup) (can be subbed with maple syrup)
- 1-2 tsp Gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste, depending on spicy level)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar (white distilled vinegar or apple vinegar also works)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- jalapeno slices
- (raw) garlic slices
- black pepper
- small drizzle sesame oil
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
- Transfer to a small serving dish or portion into 4 individual dishes. Garnish with an additional drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. You can also add thin slices of raw garlic, jalapeno, and a few cranks of black pepper if desired.
- Serve with Korean BBQ: lettuce wraps, green onions, grilled meat, and rice. Enjoy!