Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. Made of thinly sliced beef sirloin marinated in a mix of soy sauce, sesame seeds, garlic, sugar, pureed pear, and other spices, this extra flavorful beef is easy to prepare and goes perfectly with rice, wrapped in lettuce wraps, or in a delicious bowl of Korean Bibimbap.
WHAT IS (BULGOGI) KOREAN BBQ BEEF?
Bulgogi, which literally translates to “fire meat”, is thinly sliced beef that has been marinated and then grilled on a bbq or stove-top griddle. Unlike many Asian dishes, Bulgogi is not spicy. Instead, you will find this Korean BBQ beef to be sweet and somewhat savory thanks to the sesame oil and ginger used in the marinade. Due to its more neutral flavor, Bulgogi is loved by people of all ages.
Just ask my 4-year-old. It’s his new favorite beef recipe.
What cut of meat is used to make Bulgogi?
When making Bulgogi, it’s important to pick the right kind of meat. The top choices are sirloin, rib eye, and brisket.
KOREAN BBQ BEEF BULGOGI MARINADE INGREDIENTS
These are several different versions of this marinade in cookbooks, across the internet, passed down from generation to generation…
However, there are several key ingredients that are (most-likely) found in all Bulgogi marinades.
- Soy sauce.
- Sugar- white sugar, brown sugar, honey. Everyone has a favorite.
- Sesame oil.
- Pear (see below)
How to make Bulgogi
- Prepare the Bulgogi marinade. Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and set aside.
- Marinate the meat. Transfer the thinly sliced sirloin to a large plastic ziplock bag and cover with the prepared marinade. Remove all air from the ziplock bag and mix well to incorporate the marinade in with the beef. Marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
- Cook the meat. When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or cast iron grill (or frying pan of choice) over medium-high heat. Brush with sesame oil (or olive oil) and grill beef in a single layer until fully cooked (approximately 4-5 minutes). Repeat this process until all meat has been cooked. DO NOT cook the marinated meat in the bulgogi marinade (see tip below).
- Serve. Serve with butter lettuce, Korean Kimchi, pickled red onions, and fresh micro greens. Top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
TIPS FOR MAKING AMAZING BULGOGI KOREAN BBQ BEEF
- Marinate your meat. Seriously, you guys. I know it’s hard to remember this step, but if you can, just do it. The result will be so much more flavorful!
- Don’t skimp on quality (rib eye, sirloin, chuck).
- Remember the pear. Pear is used to tenderize the meat. If you can find an Asian pear (Nashi pear) even better, otherwise, substitute with a regular pear, Fuji apple, or even a Kiwi.
- Make sure your skillet is HOT before you add the meat.
- DO NOT COOK THE MEAT IN THE LIQUID. Use tongs to remove the marinated bbq beef from the ziplock bag and leave the marinade behind. Otherwise, you are steaming/boiling the meat in the delicious marinade liquid. Will it still taste delicious? Absolutely. Will it taste how it should? No.
Given the name of this dish, you may think it a good idea to grill or bbq this on an actual our door grill. I’m not going to say that’s a bad idea as I have never tried that method personally, however, I urge you to reconsider. In order to be “traditional” Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef, your meat needs to be sliced…thin.
Imagine that for a quick sec on an outdoor bbq or grill.
I mean, I’m no grill master or Bulgogi master, but I’m thinking the smarter way to prepare this meat is in a skillet.
Of course, use your favorite. No need to rush out and buy a brand new, fancy-schmancy skillet. However, just in case you are at all curious about what I would recommend, here they are-
Do I recommend a non-stick pan? Not really. It’s just not how this delicious meat was prepared 1000 years ago. But, if that’s what you have, roll with it. Just PLEASE, never EVER NEVER use metal on non-stick pans.
If you try cooking this Bulgogi Korean BBQ Beef Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For more beef recipes check out,
- Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe
- Easy Korean Beef Bibimbap Recipe (Mixed Rice)
- Lime Teriyaki Shredded Beef Tacos (Slow Cooker)
- Best Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon (Beef Stew)
- Moroccan Beef Tajine with Eggplant + Dried Fruit
For more wrap recipes check out,
- Slow Cooker Pineapple Pulled Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps
- Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tangy Cabbage Slaw
- Peanut Miso Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles
- Chickpea Tahini Salad Wraps
- Easy Mediterranean Chicken Wraps with Hummus
DON’T FORGET TO PIN AND SHARE THIS BULGOGI KOREAN BBQ BEEF RECIPE TO MAKE FOR A FLAVORFUL AND HEALTHY DINNER THE WHOLE FAMILY WILL LOVE.
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BULGOGI KOREAN BBQ BEEF LETTUCE WRAPS WITH KIMCHI
FOR THE BULGOGI
- 2 pounds thinly sliced sirloin (top sirloin or any tender loin area)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup rice cooking wine - red wine is OK
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 8 cloves garlic - minced
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp fresh black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
- 1/2 large pear - pureed
- sesame oil - for frying
- Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Transfer the thinly sliced sirloin to a large plastic ziplock bag and cover with the prepared marinade. Remove all air from the ziplock bag and mix well to incorporate the marinade in with the beef.
- Marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
- When ready to cook, heat a large cast iron skillet or cast iron grill (or frying pan of choice) over medium-high heat. Brush with sesame oil (or olive oil) and grill beef in a single layer until fully cooked (approximately 4-5 minutes). Repeat this process until all meat has been cooked.
- Serve with butter lettuce, Korean Kimchi, pickled red onions, and fresh micro greens. Top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)