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Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)


Your comprehensive guide to making the most delicious bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) at home!

Finally! I’m so happy to share my bulgogi (불고기) recipe today.

Well, over the years I have shared a couple of bulgogi recipes on my website, but I have been wanting to share the most classic, authentic and ultimate recipe for a very long time.

And, here’s it is! I’d like to refer to this recipe as ‘one ring to rule them all’ kind of recipe. 😉

With it, you can make mildly sweet, savory, smoky, juicy and tender delicious bulgogi! Wow, that was a bit mouthful. But, are you excited?

Bulgogi (Korean Marinated BBQ Beef) |


Literally speaking, bulgogi means “fire meat”.  It is often made with tender parts of beef, pork or chicken. However, in general terms, unless specified, bulgogi is made with beef.

Undoubtedly it is one of the most well-known Korean traditional foods and it has been around for thousands of years. Naturally, the cooking method of bulgogi evolved over time and it varies by region too.

However, to narrow our focus down, we will be talking about the most common way of making beef bulgogi in modern times.


As I briefly mentioned above, the tender parts of beef are ideal to use in bulgogi. And commonly used ones are top sirloin and beef tenderloin.

During my research though, I discovered that different countries have different naming conventions for these cuts, which made me rather confused!

Anyway, I love making my bulgogi with scotch fillet (known as rib eye in the US). It is a tad more expensive than other popular steak cuts, but not as expensive as eye fillet (known as beef tenderloin in the US).

Scotch fillet / rib eye is known to have more flavor and juicy texture than other steak cuts. It also has a good amount of marbling, so cooking it over a grill or pan frying is quite suitable for this cut.

Bulgogi served with rice, lettuce, kimchi and dipping sauce


Until recently, I’ve been exclusively using pre-cut bulgogi from a Korean grocer. Yes, you can buy this meat that’s already sliced from a Korean grocer / Korean butcher. Just watch out for the label “bulgogi meat” in the fridge / freezer section.

But I just became so unhappy with the degrading quality of meat I’ve been getting from my local Korean grocer. The meat wasn’t fresh and it had too much gristle, so it was rather unpleasant to eat.

So I decided to cut the meat myself with my choice of meat (scotch fillet / rib eye fillet as I mentioned above) and this is what I do with it. (Tip – It’s worth sharpening your knife before you start this process!)

1. Take the meat out from the packaging. Wrap each fillet individually with cling wrap. Place the wrapped meat on to a metal baking tray.

Bulgogi meat on a baking tray

2. Put the tray into the freezer and let the meat partially freeze for about 2 to 2.5 hours. (The time can vary depending on your freezer setting, the thickness and size of the meat). The meat is ready if your knife goes through smoothly and you’re not having difficulties in thinly slicing it. If you do, you should put the meat back into the freezer and freeze it a bit longer.

3. Remove the meat from the freezer and remove the cling wrap. Slice the meat thinly across the grain. Ideal thickness is 2mm to 3mm (1/8 inch). Now the meat is ready to be marinated with bulgogi sauce!

Thin sliced ribeye


In my mind, bulgogi sauce is the whole reason why this dish is so addictively delicious.

It has a blend of soy sauce, brown sugar, asian pear (or red apple), garlic, ginger, ground black pepper and sesame oil. This gives a slightly salty, mildly sweet and nutty savory flavor.


As you can read from above, I use pear or apple in my bulgogi sauce. I use them as a meat tenderizer but also as a sweetness enhancer.

While the most commonly used fruit in bulgogi marinating process is Korean pear / Asian pear / Nashi pear, it is not an easy fruit to get to if you don’t live in Korea. So I often use red apple varieties (e.g. pink lady, red delicious, royal gala, fuji etc.) combined with pureed onion and it has been working really well for me.

Some Koreans also use kiwi or pineapple but you will have to make sure you don’t overuse these as these are stronger tenderizing agents than pear.

If you marinate the meat for too long with these, the colour and the texture of the meat can change substantially in an undesirable way. (I’m speaking from my own experience here!)

Korean bulgogi served in a skillet



Bulgogi can be cooked with vegetables over a stove (in a pan / skillet) or it can be cooked on a bbq grill without any vegetables. As you can imagine, they will give slightly different flavors.

Pan fried bulgogi (with vegetables) will naturally release some juice, which you can use to mix with a bowl of steamed rice. Many people love this idea! This method is also great if you’re making bulgogi as a meal prep.

On the other hand, char-grilled bulgogi (on a bbq) won’t build any juice as it will drip into the grill plate, but the extra flavor of slightly burnt charcoal, juice and the fat gives an irresistibly pleasant Korean bbq experience!


Can you believe that you can add smoky flavor to your bulgogi even when you cook bulgogi in a pan? I won’t hold you long.

The secret is cooking in a well seasoned cast iron skillet and cooking in a small batch of meat without over crowding the pan.

Because, when you over crowd the pan / skillet with the meat and/or vegetables, too much juice gets released from them. And the smoky effect gets diminished.

But you can stop that happening by cooking bulgogi in a smaller batch. Cooking without any vegetables will also help that too.

Also, another secret is, heating up the skillet high before you add the meat, so that as soon as the meat touches the pan, it starts sizzling, searing and caramelizing. This additional flavor really does make the bulgogi even more tasty!


Serve the bulgogi with some steamed Korean rice and with other Korean side dishes.

You can also use some lettuce leaves and perilla leaves to wrap the bulgogi. Don’t forget to pair it with some Korean ssamjang (Korean bbq dipping sauce) and some kimchi (spicy or non-spicy) too!

Bulgogi served with rice and kimchi


Cooked bulgogi can be stored in the fridge for a few days. Any uncooked portion of the bulgogi (just marinated) can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for a few weeks.


If you like bulgogi, you might also want to try these bulgogi variation recipes.

These are some creative ways to enjoy your favorite bulgogi at home.

I hope you enjoy my recipe and don’t forget to share what you thought of it after trying it out in the comments section below. Happy cooking!


Check out my BBQ e-Book for more information on how to enjoy Korean BBQ at home! (It is free!)



  • 800 g / 1.76 pounds rib eye or top sirloin (or any tender prime beef cut), thinly sliced, 2mm to 3mm (1/8 inch) thickness
  • 1 onion (130 g / 4.6 ounces), optional, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion (55 g / 2 ounces), optional, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 carrot (55 g / 2 ounces), optional, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used rice bran oil)


  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce (I use regular Kikkoman soy sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 asian pear or red apple (155 g / 5.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 onion (80 g / 2.8 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml

** If you want to learn more about Korean cooking ingredients, check my 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients list!


1. Blend the marinade ingredients in a mixer or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Blending bulgogi sauce in a blender

2. Place the thinly sliced meat in a mixing bowl and pour the marinade over it. Mix them well together while gently massaging the meat with your hands. (Wearing a food prep glove is very handy here!)

Add the sesame oil and mix it into the meat. (I prefer adding the sesame oil separately as opposed to mixing it in the marinade sauce. I read somewhere that the oil can prevent the other sauce getting absorbed effectively into the meat.)

Cover the bowl with cling wrap (or move the marinated meat into a glass container with a lid) and marinate the meat for at least 4 hours in the fridge. (If you have more time, you can also marinate it overnight to deepen the flavour even more).

Marinating bulgogi in a mixing bowl

3. Preheat a skillet / bbq grill on medium high heat until well heated. Add the cooking oil and spread it well. Add the meat (and vegetables) and cook it on medium high to high heat for 3 to 5 mins (until the meat and vegetables cook to your desired doneness). Toss in the sesame seeds and stir them quickly.

Stir frying bulgogi in a skillet

Bulgogi stir fry

4. Serve the bulgogi with steamed rice and other Korean side dishes. (refer above for more tips)

Bulgogi served on a white plate

Bulgogi on lettuce

Bulgogi served with rice, lettuce, kimchi and dipping sauce

Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)

How to make the most delicious bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) from scratch. Don't forget to read my best cooking tips from above! 
4.86 from 56 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: bulgogi, Korean BBQ
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Calories: 436kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen



  • 800 g rib eye (1.76 pounds) or top sirloin (or any tender prime beef cut), thinly sliced, 2mm to 3mm (1/8 inch) thickness
  • 1 onion (130 g / 4.6 ounces), optional, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion (55 g / 2 ounces), optional, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 carrot (55 g / 2 ounces), optional, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used rice bran oil)


  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce (I use regular Kikkoman soy sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 red apple or asian pear (155 g / 5.5 ounces)
  • 1/2 onion (80 g / 2.8 ounces)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper


  • Blend the marinade ingredients in a mixer or food processor until smooth. Set aside.
  • Place the thinly sliced meat in a mixing bowl and pour the marinade over it. Mix them well together while gently massaging the meat with your hands. (Wearing a food prep glove is very handy here!)
    Add the sesame oil and mix it into the meat. (I prefer adding the sesame oil separately as opposed to mixing it in the marinade sauce. I read somewhere that the oil can prevent the other sauce getting absorbed effectively into the meat.)
    Cover the bowl with cling wrap (or move the marinated meat into a glass container with a lid) and marinate the meat for at least 4 hours in the fridge. (If you have more time, you can also marinate it overnight to deepen the flavour even more).
  • Preheat a skillet / bbq grill on medium high heat until well heated. Add the cooking oil and spread it well. Add the meat (and vegetables) and cook it on medium high to high heat for 3 to 5 mins (until the meat and vegetables cook to your desired doneness). Toss in the sesame seeds and stir them quickly.
  • Serve the bulgogi with steamed rice and other Korean side dishes. (refer above for more tips)


Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 1633mg | Potassium: 864mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1335IU | Vitamin C: 5.4mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 4.4mg
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.

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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: October 12, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

Leave a Comment

194 thoughts on “Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)”

  1. Hi Sue, I haven’t tried your recipe yet but my wife brought one back from Korea after having it there. Mine uses a can of coke in the meranade. That really tenderizes almost any type of beef. We also eat it on sesame leaves like she learned in Korea. I also wish to thank you for all the sides on your site. That makes the other half of the meal along with chive kimchi. Thanks again. We have a great Korean grocery store in Columbus.

    • It should. I would cook with some vegetables (as mentioned above) and retain all the liquid that comes out from the cooking so that it’s not too dry when defrosted & reheated.

  2. Greetings Sue and thanks for posting this recipe. I have used other Bulgogi recipes, and this is exactly like my Korean neighbor used to make for her kids and me when i was younger. She opened my eyes to all kinds of new flavors and delights. She gave me the gift of a life long obsession of trying new foods and respecting the ingredients. Sadly I moved away and was never able to thank her, but her philosophy is ingrained in me to this day. I shall do the same with your recipe tomorrow when I double it and have some for dinner with rice and kimchi, and the next day in my Gimbap. And no I am not Korean, just a white guy who loves to honor such amazing food. Thanks again.

    • How long would you be cooking it in advance? It should be fine but the meat could go dry a bit. It will also depend on how you cook it as well – with veggies (more moist) or without veggies..? Hope all goes well!

  3. Thanks for sharing this regule!!

    We just tried this, and while I liked it quite a bit, I believe it turned out more sweet than I expected. Which of the sweet ingredients would you recommend that I first try to use less of? The sugar (I used turbinado sugar in the raw, maybe I should try a different one?), the rice wine, or the amount of apple?

  4. I love this recipe, I had never added the pear but it is worth it, added a wonderful sweetness to the meat. I used the marinade with beef and pork and it was so delicious.

  5. Hi Sue,
    Im making your recipe tomorrow…do you recommend using red pepper powder in the marinade or gochujang paste for dipping to spice up the dish?

    • I personally wouldn’t add gochugaru (chili flakes) or gochujang (chili paste) in the marinade as I like to enjoy it as it is (the authentic way). So the decision is up to you. If I must choose between the two, I would go for gochugaru – 1 to 2 tsp maybe.

  6. Hi Sue,

    This recipe sounds great. Two questions:

    1) Do you add the marinade along with the meat and vegetables or without it?
    2) Can you saute your peppers/onions and meat separately and then combine them in the pan once the meat is done cooking? Or do you find throwing everything in the pan produces the same result?
    Thank you!

    • 1) This question is a bit confusing. But I will answer based on my interpretation. When you marinate the meat with the sauce, most of the sauce gets absorbed by the meat. So you will be cooking the marinated meat (and optional separately prepared vegetables). You don’t need to add “marinade” separately when cooking it.

      2) If you throw everything into the pan all in one go, it won’t produce the same result as when you cook them separately. There will be more liquid in the pan in the first case. My best bulgogi cooking tips are written under the heading “Cooking bulgogi” within the post.

      Hope this helps!

  7. Hi, Sue.
    New to your site, but looking forward to becoming a regular here.

    My Question: I bought a bottle of Bulgogi Marinade at Kroger this afternoon. Obviously, it will be different from your homemade marinade. If I follow your recipe for cooking the bottle marinated beef & vegetables, do you think I’ll get close to the taste of your homemade?

    • I think you already answered your question, Jimmy. Also, it’s been so long since I used a bottled marinade, so I can’t exactly remember how it compares to my sauce. But I hope it turns out well for you. 🙂

    • Jimmy,

      I have used bottled in the past (from Kroger as well as our Korean Market) and the truth is that it is too thick and not the same. For whatever reason, the homemade marinades produce a ‘cleaner’ finished product…particularly the juices. When using store bought stuff it has a tendency to almost have a teriyaki glaze type finish that becomes very concentrated.

  8. I haven’t made the recipe yet, but I am going to. I have the foresight to know this recipe will be good even before I try it. I cook every day using various ingredients, and I lived in Korea for 2 years. I tried and failed at making ojingeo bokkeum, but that is on my redo list as well. I’ll chime in when I finally make this recipe, and if you have an ojingeo bokkeum recipe somewhere, I ain’t mad at cha ;-).

  9. Absolutely to die for! I used pre-shaved beef from the supermarket and pan fried it. I couldn’t achieve any nice browning, so I threw the beef under the broiler on high after I cooked it and it came out perfect!!! I might try thin slicing my own beef next time to save some money and have slightly thicker pieces, but it was great the way it was. Thank you for this fantastic recipe!

  10. thank you sue. your recipe was wonderful. every time i have ever gone too a korean restaurant and ordered bul go gi, it was different. subtle, but i tasted the difference. your recipe was a great start to a new adventure. making the ultimate bul go gi. do you have a recipe for kim chi sauce? used to work at a place that had a large number of korean women as employees. i used to put my lunch in the lunch room fridge, only to see many bottles of various things marinating in the beautiful orange/pink sauce, SOME STILL BUBBLING!!!!! my favorite was an old korean lady that liked me for some reason, and she made it with something that looked like green onion shoots, no cabbage or radish. the most heavenly stuff on earth! again, thanks. it was delicious.

  11. Hi,
    I apologize in advance if this is an annoying question. But i’m trying to find a way to make this Keto. Would a berry type fruit work or does it have to be Pear/Apple, or is it OK to omit the fruit all together?

    • I didn’t know that apple & pear isn’t Keto friendly.
      I do notice fairly big difference when I omit fruit in bulgogi. Simply it’s not as delicious. But you do what you’ve got to do to adhere to your diet.

      I can’t comment on whether berry will work as I’ve never done it myself or seen it elsewhere.

  12. Hello sue

    This recipe is a firm favourite in our home. I have a few questions.

    Should I peel the apple/Asian pear?
    Can I substitute beef using ground beef. In uk it is called Angus beef steak mince with 10% fat?


    • Hi Maryann, if using apple, you don’t need to peel (just wash it). But Asian pear needs to be peeled.

      If you are doing stir fry (as oppose to grilling), you can use ground beef. But it might not need all that marinating time.

  13. I tried this on my boyfriend who is originally from Alabama. He was raised on soul food – traditional African American cooking. I was apprehensive but he loved it and told me we have to make this a regular dinner item. Thanks. This was very easy recipe to follow.

    • Roll tide!! Im from alabama as well. Im making this dish tonight, for the 1st time. It sounds devine, hope it turns out well. Yeah we southerners are sometimes apprehensive about foreign foods. I for one am not, im very adventurous in my eating lol.

  14. Have you ever tried using venison instead of beef?
    Thank you for the web site, I was in Korea for 2 years when I was in the Army and really miss authentic Korean food.

  15. Hi Sue! Thank you for this site! While I’m familiar with some Japanese and Chinese dishes, I’ve only been able to enjoy Korean food for the brief time we lived near a Korean restaurant. It was all delicious!

    You wrote “Anyway, I love making my bulgogi with scotch fillet (known as rib eye in the US). It is a tad more expensive than other popular steak cuts, but not as expensive as eye fillet (known as beef tenderloin in the US).”

    Just for your information, at least in the US South you’ll more commonly find beef tenderloin marked “Filet Mignon” – apparently they can charge more if they use the French term for it to make it sound fancier. 😉

    Is the soy paste you use in dipping sauce anything like some type of Japanese miso (which I can get here more easily)?

    I look forward to learning more about Korean cuisine from you.

    • Filet mignon does sound fancier! I’m glad that we’re not using that terminology commonly here. Don’t want to pay the extra based on the name! LOL
      The dipping sauce is made with mix of Korean chili paste (gochujang), Korean soybean paste / miso (doenjang) and other seasonings. If you can’t find doenjang, I’d say go with Japanese miso. You can use this recipe ( to make the sauce at home. It’s quite easy! Refer “Ssam sauce”. Enjoy!

  16. Hi! This recipe is a family favorite! I am making it for a crowd this weekend and would like to make 5 servings of this (Multiply the recipe by 5). Do I use 5 apples (or 25 TB) and do the same for the onions? I wasn’t sure if I would still need all the apple?

    • Hi Becca,

      You may reduce the apple, onions and soy sauce a little bit. How much? That’s a good question!

      I found that in general, a marinade / sauce can cover extra 100-200g of meat. (Not just for this recipe but for others too, based on my experience.)

      But what I would watch out more is soy sauce compared to anything else in the ingredients above, as soy sauce can make the meat saltier than desired even if you increase the ingredients proportionately.

      Frankly, when I made this bulgogi for a large crowd (75+ people) in the past and it was for a very important community function that I didn’t want to mess up with; I actually made the sauce as it is written and use the meat as written as well.

      To make the work efficient, I placed a multiple large mixing bowls on the kitchen bench and lined them up and added the required ingredients line by line per bowls. Then I blended whole bowl of ingredients in the blender. Poured it back to the bowl then I moved to the next bowl to blend. Once all is blended then I worked on the meat marination task. Then, I stored each batch 800g of marinated meat in a separate container. Does it make sense?

      I figured this way was a risk free and taste guaranteed. 🙂 Also, it leaves the guess work out too.

      It’s really up to you how you would do it though. Anyway, I hope you have a great party!

      • Sue,
        Thanks for your quick answer! That is so helpful! I plan to do it that way. Thanks for your recipes. You have been teaching me how to cook food that reminds me of home💕

  17. This recipe looks great! The red liquid is actually myoglobin, a protein that’s only found in muscle tissue. Myoglobin carries oxygen through the muscle and contains a red pigment – which is why muscle tissue is red. Please do not call it blood.

  18. Hi Sue, do you think the meat can be marinated in bulk and left in the fridge up to 3-4 days? I’ve seen from some Korean shows that the mothers would usually marinate bulgogi for their grown up children and leave the meat in the fridge for them. I was thinking this is an excellent meal prep idea, but not sure if it’s ok to marinate for more than 24 hours?

    • Yes, 3 to 4 days are fine. Alternatively, you can marinate it overnight and transfer it to the freezer. Then defrost it in the fridge overnight as needed. Then it can last even longer! This is what I do sometimes. Bulgogi is an excellent dish for a meal prep. 🙂

  19. I made it lat night as an anniversary dinner, g/f said it’s the best meal I’ve ever made her! So delicious, with complex sweet flavours and incredibly tender meat. I served with white rice, kimchi, pickled garlic, & Gochujang – the complex, spicy Gochujang was a delicious way to add some spice to the dish and seemed to compliment it really well. Will definitely be doing this again soon….

  20. Hi
    Our family loves this recipe, having made it four times now. I have an Asian pear and am going to try it with the pear. However, I have no Mirin or rice wine. I have Kikkoman seasoned vinegar for sushi rice, acidity 3%. I also have rice vinegar, acidity 5%. Are either a sustitute for Mirin/rice wine? If so which one?

    Is there a recipe on your site to make Mirin?

    Thank you Maryann

    • I am excited to make this! Question on slicing the sirloin, do you slice horizontally or vertically? In your pictures it looks like it was sliced horizontally. Your recipe and pictures looks like you get the texture right on the Bulgogi vs other recipes I’ve seen.

      • Hi Jonathan, I cut my partly frozen bulgogi meat against the grain.

        Usually the meat I buy is already cut thin like a paper. Then it is layered up to make two mounds of meat and sold frozen (from a Korean butcher).

        When I’m ready to cook this meat, I partly defrost it in the fridge then slice it (against the grain) then marinate it.

        Hope this helps.

        • Hi Maryann, yes, you can use it. I sometimes use crisp dry white wine too (if I run out of mirin). FYI, the mirin I use has an alcohol content of 14%. 🙂

  21. I’ve never made Korean food before but wanted to try a Korean dish for my opening ceremony olympics party. This dish was an absolute hit!! Everyone loved it and it was not overwhelming for me even though I know very little about Korean cuisine. I want to try more now. Thank you!

  22. Thank you for this recipe! My family and I absolutely loved the taste of this bulgogi. The fuji apple substitute went off without a hitch.

  23. This was a tasty dish and easy . I left my meat to marinate overnight and it was very tender and flavors were bursting. We ate our with japchae, kimchi and steamed rice.
    Next is kimchi jjigae!

  24. Yummy! We are lucky to live by korean stores so I picked up some thinly sliced rib eye and fancy Asian pears. I am excited to try more of your recipes! Thanks for posting!

  25. Hi Sue curious to know if my carne asada would work as I thought being it is already thin and sliced( the local Aldi supermarket sells it cryovaced like that it might be a great alternative also if there is any other particular beef suggestions to use and in that case also not to use, also I see a vegan commenter so can you also use chicken or pork? Love getting tips and ideas from the commenters so thank you for your recipe or knowledge or maybe a fellow viewer also has a suggestion, thanks in advance!

  26. Great Recipe! Never made Bulgogi before, followed the recipe exactly (we have 2 Asian pear trees) and it was fantastic! Will make again and again!! Thanks

    • Hi Jill, Great to hear you enjoyed my Bulgogi recipe! Right now, I’m very jealous that you have two Asian pear trees in your garden!!! We have one, which we planted last year, but it’s not doing well. Hope it starts producing some fruit soon. 🙂

  27. Hey Sue,

    Just loving ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ this recipe, wouldn’t go to Korean restaurants any more ????

    Thank you so much for sharing it!!

  28. I have a foreign exchange student coming from South Korean. He said that Bulgogi is one of his favorite meals so I am very excited to try this recipe for him. I can not wait for him to join our family. Do you suggest any other meals that I could make and surprise him with it. I can not imagine how hard being away from his family and loved ones must be. I really want to do all I can to make him feel comfortable and at home. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you very much

  29. I just made the marinade but I’m worried about adding the sesame oil. In the past I’ve had even small amounts of sesame oil take over a dish. Should I be worried about that?

  30. Hi Sue. I’m really grateful that I’ve tried your bulgogi recipe. This is my first time to cook a Korean food. Since I am a “lazy” person, I just osterize all the ingredients used for marinating. It turns out delicious. The flavors are balance and yes, it’s sweet, tender and juicy as you describe it.

    I already pinned your recipes. Thanks a lot.

  31. I used soy curls for a great vegan version. I’ve tried with other bulgogi marinades, and I like this recipe the best so far! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.

    For anyone who is interested, I used 1 package of soy curls, rehydrated in hot water for 30 minutes. I then squeezed out the extra water, placed the soy curls in a bowl, and mixed in the marinade. I then proceeded with the recipe as written.

  32. Lovely easy recipe. I used the flat side of a tenderizer to flatten some of the meat. I had bought steaks and whilst I managed to slice some thin portions, I flattened the thicker ones I could not slice any further.

    I grilled on my Weber BBQ. Bulgogi is a favourite for my kids – I now have a much cheaper way of getting it than going to the local Korean restaurant (which is good but much more expensive). I just fed 6 of us for 20% of the normal cost.

  33. Bulgogi has been on my mind these last few days. Will get around to it soooon :).
    On another issue I commend you on the way you have been so precise with the quantities of ingredients for your recipe.
    I hope all chef authors,food bloggers do the same as a ‘medium’ onion or a thumb sized piece of ginger are quite inaccurate. Giving the quantities as you have done by weight can be tedious but ‘Well done’…

  34. Hi Sue, I know this thread is older now but I am dying to try the recipe it sounds fantastic and I love Bulgogi.
    My husband is actually going to cook it for us and we have a lot of meat. If we make a double batch (or more) could we cook it in a crock pot? If you thing this would work do you have any recommendations on how long? (I just figured this way he could cook it all at once with out as much work:-)
    Thanks Sue!

    • Hi Pam, I’m not sure whether this recipe would work in a slow cooker as it is. I’m thinking you might need to add some beef stock or water into it since you’re going to cook it for a long time. Also, I haven’t tried making bulgogi in a slow cooker, so I can’t give you much useful information as yet. Sorry!

  35. I have some Bulgogi meat marinating in the fridge, it’s been a busy week and it has been in there now exactly 1 week, is it still safe to cook and eat it?

    • I’ve cooked 1 week old bulgogi before and it was fine. Check for the discolouration then smell it. If all is good then cook it thoroughly. 🙂

      • Some of it was red and some brown I think from the marinade, it smelled ok. We cooked it and it seems to taste okay. I even washed off a piece from the marinade to smell and couldn’t smell anything, so hopefully it will be ok, but next I will remember to cook it sooner. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  36. We use a mixture of apple and kiwi to replace the pear, but Bosc pear is a pretty good substitute if you can find it.

    You mention the traditional way of eating it is as a wrap, but in 14 years of living in Korea (mostly Seoul) I have never seen it served that way. Not in a restaurant, not at home, never. Online I’ve seen it said many times, but most of them appear to be kyopos, but in real life never have I seen it. Normally just served with rice.

    • First of all, I didn’t say eating Bulgogi in a wrap is the traditional way of eating it. It’s one common way of enjoying it.

      I’ve seen / read many Koreans making “Ssam” with their Bulgogi in their home (in Korea). Also, lots of restaurants who sell chargrilled Bulgogi serve it with lettuce / perilla leaves too. This pair is kind of inseparable in Korean BBQ culture. Maybe you need to venture out a little more.

      • Sorry for using the word traditional there, you’re right that you did not use that word (many other recipes do though), you said typical (which btw, means the normal way not just a common way).

        Yes, with Korean grilled meats (BBQ is a method of slow cooking, grilling is using a grill… many people confuse the two) Ssam is nearly a requirement. Bulgogi I have never seen served that way, nor have I ever seen it grilled. Always cooked the same way, in a solid pan (which may be stove or over coal) and served with rice, never dry grilled. Other meat grilled, both marinated and non marinated, and served with all your normal sides sure, but not Bulgogi.

        I’m not sure how much more out I can get, I have lived all over the country, from small towns to Seoul (collectively more than half in Seoul). I’ve spent time and visited nearly every major city as well as many small villages. My family is Korean, and I’ve never seen it eaten this way. I’ve seen it with glass noodles sometimes, sometimes with green bell peppers, sometimes with mushrooms, sometimes cabbage. The only place I’ve ever seen it with lettuce is online.

        Since you said this is the normal way to eat it, and that I need to venture out a little more, perhaps you can recommend a restaurant.

        • Have you heard of Gwangyang Bulgogi? This bulgogi is cooked over a grill not in a solid pan. (I did mentioned that there are different types of Bulgogi in different parts of Korea. This is just one of them.) Apparently, there are a lot of Gwangyang Bulgogi restaurants in Seoul, so you can check it out. I don’t know restaurants in Seoul very well, so I can’t recommend any particular restaurants to you. If you want to see how it’s cooked, check this and this one. I don’t know your Korean ability, but this Korean encyclopaedia summarise different types of Bulgogi in Korea well. 🙂

        • This seems a needlessly combative comment, Jo, and exactly the kind pf petty irritability found in forums all over the internet. I visited Korea (Seoul) for 2 weeks in 2008 and was served Bulgogi 3 times out of 4 WITH lettuce for eating. I also ate with one family who said that this is exactly how they make it at home (when they can be bothered). So, I’d have to agree with Sue, excluding Statistical anomalies. And, for the record, this recipe and the spicy pork bulgogi are fabulous. Thank you Sue!

          • Indeed Andrew, so many people nowadays are only happy when they are angry at the world and perpetually outraged.

            Thank you very much for your recipe Sue! Yes there are many styles of bulgogi in Korea just as there are many type of BBQ in the United States. Sadly, there always seems to be some that believe their style is “right” and everyone else is “wrong.”

  37. Hi! I am happy to know that your blog exists! this is a life saver!
    I just have one question, how would i mash the apple and onion for the marinade? i dont have that thing you used to mash it. i dont have any blender either.

  38. I am making a bunch of freezer meals for after my baby is born. Could I freeze this raw and then defrost it overnight in the fridge before cooking? If I use precut Bulgogi meat from the Korean store, will it marinate too long and get salty? Thank you!

    • Yes, you can freeze, defrost and cook fine this bulgogi dish. You should be able to freeze it for up to a few months as well.
      But I don’t quite understand your second question. What type of precut meat are we talking here? Because I still need to cut the precut meat I buy from a Korean grocery store when I cook at home. Never had a problem with marination. 🙂

  39. I had made beef bulgogi before – pretty unsuccessful I must admit. Gave it another try with this recipe and it might have been the best dish I have ever made. My wife and I loved it. Last time I used flank steak, this time sirloin – what a difference. Turned out extremely tender. One point, however, i weighed the apple to make sure it was the right quantity. As I had the scale out i weighed garlic and ginger instead of using tbs… well, as for the ginger, i added 40g which was way more than the one tbs as per recipe and i caught my mistake before adding the garlic, fortunately. The volume to gram conversions don’t seem right. Stick with the volume measures. Fantastic recipe – thanks so much for sharing!

  40. Hi Sue, amazing blog! This recipe is fantastic, thank you for sharing!
    The only thing is that when cooking, I realised that for 800g of beef the marinade was nowhere near enough. I made twice as much as you said and it worked perfectly. The proportions are perfect though.

      • Hi Sue,
        That’s right, same amount of beef, twice the marinade. The taste was perfect. As I said, the proportions of the marinade ingredients are perfect so it wasn’t too salty. Nice, sweet and pungent with the ginger and garlic with just enough liquid in the bottom.
        I’m absolutely certain about the 800g of beef but perhaps my tablespoon was on the small side hehe.

        Again, thanks for posting. I’ve also tried making your Japchae and it was fantastic!

  41. Thanks Sue, this is the BEST bulgogi recipe I’ve found so far! I made a mistake reading the recipe and read rice wine (mirin) as rice wine vinegar! By the time I realized it was too late the vinegar was already in the sauce… Then I remembered my mom making it that there had to be alcohol of some kind in there (duh-rice wine) so I added some sweet honey whiskey instead… And it still surprisingly turned out delicious!

  42. Love your recipe. I am from Thailand. I normally use ready made bulgogi marinade that comes in a jar but since my favorite brand is discontinued I haven’t made bulgogi for a big while. I came across your blog a couple of days ago and was surprised to know how easy it actually is to make the marinade. I thought it would require ingredients that are difficult to find or only available in Korean . Thanks again for the recipe.

    • Hi Taya, I’m glad that you found my blog too! Korean BBQ marinades are really easy to make and I’m happy that you get to make Bulgogi at home now. 😉 PS Thanks for buying my cookbook! I recognised your email address that just came through. 🙂

  43. Holy cow! I never imagined a world where I can make my own beef bulgogi! Well kids, dreams do come true.

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!Our dinner was fantastic!

  44. I looked thru a lot of recipes this week for my first attempt at bulgogi and I chose this one. I followed the recipe as written and was very happy with the results. Thank you!

  45. Please what can be used in place of the rice wine for marinading cus we don’t have rice wine here in Ghana.

    • A few months ago, I did a quick survey on my Facebook asking my followers what they do to substitutes rice wine. You might find this helpful. FYI, I particularly liked the combination of rice vinegar, sugar and water. You will have to work out your preferred ratio.

      If the alcohol isn’t the issue, then I would throw some crisp white wine instead. (It’s different to rice wine, but I’ve done this way when I ran out of rice wine in the past.)

      • Hi Sue,

        I’ve had Korean twice in my life (2nd was 3 days ago) and I cooked this tonight for dinner for something different and new.

        Hubby and I absolutely loved it.

        I served this with rice, your potato pancakes and a salad with your honey, soy and chilli vinigarette.

        My hubby loves me a little more tonight I think 😂👌👌

        I will definitely be making this for my next dinner party.

        You are a legend xx

  46. Love this recipe. I was in the army in Korea for two years and Bulgogi and rice are my favorite. This is as close a recipe to what I had in Korea that I’ve found. I did replace the apple with Asian pear and its soooo good. Thank you

    • Great to hear, Billy! Yes, if I can get an asian pear easily I would use that instead of apple too. 🙂 Thanks for your feedback!

  47. Hi sue. This recipe is for beef. Can i use this recipe for pork? Any additional ingredients if i use it for pork? Thanks so much

  48. Great cut of meat! Can’t wait to try some of this out myself. I am a big fan of spicy food, so I am thinking of adding a few drops of my homemade chilli oil to this marinade to give it a real kick!

  49. I have only ever used jarred Bulgogi sauce. Today I made it using your recipe today and it was SO delicious! I made it for a friend who had some health issues, but was SO tempted to keep it all to myself. What a great recipe. Amazing flavour. I can’t wait to try and eat my way through the rest of your recipes in your blog. Thank you!

    • Hi Tanya, Thanks so much for your feedback! I also experience those tempting moments of “Keep it all to myself” quite often! Lol. Enjoy my recipes!

  50. I really love all the pictures and foods. I’m a high school student living in Florida. I’m making a website about Korea for my school project. May I use your pictures and link your website in my project, please? If I can’t that’s okay. I really love your recipes and pictures!

    • Hi Heeyoung, You may only use a single picture from each post or page from My Korean Kitchen and link back to that particular recipe post. You will have to write your own content, though. You’re not allowed to copy & paste my articles and full recipe(s) in any way.

      For example, you could write an intro/description about a Korean food and why you like it and show one of my pictures (with a link to the page or post you got it from).

      • Yes I know. I’m going to link your website in mine so my teacher can see the recipe of yours! Thank you for your long comment! I will make sure not to copy & paste anything from your articles!

  51. I have to admit, I did a quick search solely based on ratings and came across your page. I was a little reluctant to go the ingredients when I read something about “Kangaroo”. I’ve never tried and probably never will–they just don’t seem to do much hopping around my side of town (even though I try to get out once in a while). On a side note, I can’t wait for my next trip to the meat market. “Is your kangaroo fresh?”

    Anyway, I continued reading and glad I did. I followed the recipe all the way and used the apple substitute. What an incredibly flavorful dish! Originally, I was going to wait until I found the pears, but now I don’t know if I’d change anything. Do the pears create a vastly different flavor?

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Hi Jack, I’m so happy to hear that you decided to give my recipe a go and you loved the outcome! 🙂 On a side note, I don’t normally eat Kangaroo meat. (It was one time only for Australia Day a few years back. lol) Not many Australians would eat Kangaroo meat unless they go to a special tourist destination too. It’s not something people would do regularly anyway…

      I think apple is just as effective as Korean pears as a marinade. Though if I had access to Korean pears easily and cheaply I would make my Bulgogi with it. In my opinion, it gives a more naturally sweet & juicy taste than apple. But no, it won’t give vastly different flavour or texture.

      • Hi Sue!
        I have to disagree with your comment about kangaroo not being commonly eaten by Australians. I know a huge number of people who eat it regularly as it is a lot leaner and sustainable than beef. Kangaroos are farmed and do far less damage to the environment in terms of emissions.
        Kangaroo is one of my favourite meats and, when cooked correctly, can be better than beef in dishes.
        REALLY excited to try your recipes as I love Korean food (I’m studying Korean at the moment).
        Thanks for posting this recipe! I’ll let you know how I go! After I try this one, I’m going to give your roo recipe a try. ^_^
        Thanks again,

        • OK… Maybe it’s my circle of family and friends are the only people who don’t eat roo meat at all. 🙂 Anyway enjoy this recipe & roo recipe! Let me know what you thought of it.

  52. Hi Sue – I made this today with a cut of flank steak and it came out wonderfully. I had to cook it in the wok as our grill is currently buried under several inches of snow, but we did enjoy the extra cooking liquid over rice. Looking forward to trying this on the grill when the weather gets warmer. Thanks for a great recipe!

  53. I used this recipe for my first attempt at making bulgogi at home and I am hooked! I used a gala apple because I missed the part about using an Asian pear, so I am eager to try again with a pear (I live in an area with many Korean grocery stores so they’re easy to find). I appreciated the clear directions and beautiful photography and can’t wait to make this again for my family and friends!

  54. Hello! I came across your bulgogi beef taco bar post and thought it’d be a good idea to serve my guests this weekend! However I have a friend who is allergic to both pears and apples (among other fruits and nuts) and I don’t want to risk making her sick. Is the apple/pear absolutely necessary if the meat is cut really thinly?

    • Hi Christine, You can certainly skip pear or apples but I do notice the difference when it’s in or not. Though if you’re not familiar with the Bulgogi flavour you might not notice it. 🙂 Alternatively you can add perhaps very small dose of kiwi or pineapple instead.

  55. I forget how I first found your website, but after using this recipe to make bulgogi twice now I think I can say this is now my go-to recipe for it! Thanks so much. 🙂 I’m not Korean, but it has the stamp of approval of my Korean friends so I know it’s legit!

  56. I found a different recipe used which uses Gochujang among other popular Asian spices. I made it and started to marinate my thinly sliced rib eye meat. I was a little skeptical since I love restaurant bolgogi and i never really tasted chili paste in those recipes. I was marinating but I thought it would be better if I had more marinade than the recipe called for. While my dish was marinating in the refrigerator I thought I would make some more marinade just to make sure all the ribeye was fully soaked. This is when I found your recipe. When I tasted this marinade I thought THIS IS WHAT I GET IN MY FAVOrITE KOREAN RESTAURANT. I added it to the other marinade to increase the quantity and insure that all the meat had a chance to get flavor enhanced. It is in the regridgerator now and I don’t know how it will turn out but next time I will use your recipe exclusively. I love the flavor of your marinade and will use it solely. In the meantime I will let you know how it turns out tomorrow when I throw it on the grill. Thanks.

    • You’re quite an experimental cook! I love that. 🙂 I hope you didn’t over marinate the meat. It sounds like a lot of sauce to me. I’d love to find out how your experiment went! Thanks.

  57. I get bulgogi from a small korean restaurant ,When its served it always has a very red /orange color Do you know what that would be? It looks just like ur bulgogi other then the color.
    I order mine spicy but my partner does not and both have the same color., so its not the spice as i thought.
    Thank you
    P.s Im trying your recipe today!

    • I was going to say maybe it’s the spice… I have no idea why it’s red/orange. I’ve never seen Beef bulgogi in that colour. Also is yours definitely made with beef? Usually spicy ones are made with pork. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my recipe!

  58. I had never tried Bulgogi before, but my wife and cook all the time and love trying Asian recipes, and based on the ingredients here, we knew it would be a winner. We added a little more ginger (since we’re fans) and skipped the green onion since we were using Vidalias, and love the taste of them, we upped the amount of regular onion and skipped the green onion. The recipe was fantastic! This is now in our permanent collection of favorite recipes.

    We found that it does well with a little heat if you prefer – we’ve tried both sriracha sauce (yummy) and Gochuchang paste mixed with sugar, and sesame oil and sesame seeds (maybe more authentic?)

        • I’ve never tried Gochujang in my bulgogi recipe, so I do not know whether it will still taste good or not. It’s really up to you, I guess. But I won’t call it bulgogi if I add gochujang in it as it will taste very different to the traditional bulgogi recipe.

  59. Just found Asian pears at of all places Wal-Mart in the Augusta Georgia area. so those in the states may want to check a out the wal-marts especially if you are near a military base

  60. I am going to try this recipe with ground (minced) beef instead. I think it would be great with some extra veggies and some more marinade in a wrap.

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