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Beef Bulgogi

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Beef bulgogi is tender, flavor-packed, and easy to make at home.

Bulgogi, pronounced bool-goh-gee, is a popular Korean barbecue dish that translates to “fire meat.” It’s made of thinly sliced marinated meat, typically beef, grilled on a barbecue or stovetop griddle. Bulgogi is not really spicy; “fire” is a reference to the hot cooking surface. In many Korean restaurants, tables are outfitted with grills in the center so customers can cook the bulgogi meat themselves and eat it straight from the grill – a fun, communal experience. Bulgogi is typically served with steamed rice, lettuce wraps, chili sauce, and other Korean accompaniments.

Bulgogi is an easy dish to make at home, too. In this version, adapted from Cooks Illustrated, I marinate well-marbled ribeye in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, shallot, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Because the meat is thinly sliced, it only needs one hour to marinate (although it’s fine to leave it overnight, too). Instead of grilling the meat, which can be tricky unless you have a flat-top grill, I cook it in a cast iron or nonstick pan. Be forewarned: the sound and smell of bulgogi sizzling on the stove will have your family circling the kitchen. Conveniently, it cooks in under 10 minutes, so the troops won’t get too restless!

What You’ll Need To Make Beef Bulgogi

bulgogi ingredients

Bulgogi can be made with many cuts of meat, including ribeye, short ribs, sirloin, or tenderloin. Ribeye is ideal as it’s well-marbled with fat, making it tender and tasty.

Step-by-Step Instructions

If time allows, place the steaks on a large plate and freeze until semi-firm, about 35 minutes. This makes the steaks much easier to slice. Slice the steaks into ¼-inch-thick slices.

thinly sliced rib-eye on cutting board

Combine 1½ tablespoons of water and the baking soda in a medium bowl. The baking soda acts as a tenderizer, and also helps with browning and caramelization. Add the beef slices and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.

sliced meat in baking soda solution

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor or blender, combine the vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, shallot, ginger, and red pepper flakes.

bulgogi marinade ingredients in mini food processor

Process until smooth.

blended bulgogi marinade

Pour the mixture over the beef and toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

tossing sliced meat with bulgogi marinade

Turn on the exhaust fan. In a large (12-inch) cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil until very hot and shimmering. Your pan should be hot enough so that you hear a sizzling sound as the meat touches the pan. This helps the exterior of the meat caramelize while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Add half of the beef slices in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes.

cooking bulgogi

Stir the meat and continue stir-frying until the beef is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the beef to a serving platter and cover to keep warm; repeat with the remaining beef (no need to add more oil to the pan), adding any marinade left in the bowl to the pan right before stirring the meat.

stir-frying bulgogi

Transfer the second batch of beef to the serving platter and sprinkle with the scallion greens and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

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Beef Bulgogi

Beef bulgogi is tender, flavor-packed, and easy to make at home.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus 35 minutes to chill the meat (if time allows) and at least 1 hour to marinate

Ingredients

  • 1¾-2 pounds ribeye steaks
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 2 teaspoons more for cooking
  • 1½ teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh ginger, from a 1-inch knob
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 scallions, dark green parts only, thinly sliced, for serving
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for serving

Instructions

  1. If time allows, place the steaks on a large plate and freeze until semi-firm, about 35 minutes (this makes them easier to slice). Slice the steaks into ¼-inch-thick slices.
  2. Combine 1½ tablespoons of water and the baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor or blender, combine the 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, shallot, ginger, and red pepper flakes; process until smooth. Pour the mixture over the beef and toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Turn on the exhaust fan. In a large (12-inch) cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil until very hot and shimmering. Add half of the beef slices in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the meat and continue stir-frying until the beef is just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the beef to a serving platter and cover to keep warm; repeat with the remaining beef (no need to add more oil to the pan), adding any marinade left in the bowl to the pan right before stirring the meat. Transfer the second batch of beef to the serving platter and sprinkle with the scallion greens and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 707
  • Fat: 55 g
  • Saturated fat: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 44 g
  • Sodium: 1,073 mg
  • Cholesterol: 154 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Comments

  • Amazing ! Everyone loved this!

    • — Jen on November 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • OMG This was delicious (as all your recipes are Jenn) I used “Beef Loin Try-Tip” cut of beef and
    it was fabulous. I served it with Asian Zucchini Noodles and rice. Winner, winner.

    • — carol oneill on October 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • The only sirloin I could find was flap sirloin. I assume this will work. Any tips on how to cut/handle? Can’t wait to make this tomorrow!

    • — Laurie on October 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie, that should be fine. Just make sure not to overcook or it will be tough. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 7, 2022
      • Reply
  • This delicious recipe was last night’s dinner. I marinated the sirloin tip overnight and it was very tender and flavorful. I paired it with your Thai Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing which I also prepared the night before. It was a delicious Monday night dinner that was ready by the time the rice was cooked. Thanks Jen!

    • — Gina Stevens on September 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another favourite to add to my ever expanding list of favourites from your site. Loved this recipe and will be doubling the sauce next time. I served it with rice and the Spicy Cucumber Peanut Salad – such a wonderful combination of flavours. My husband declared it was a winner! Thanks again for all you do!

    • — Colleen S. on September 6, 2022
    • Reply
  • Another amazing recipe – thank you!

    • — Maura C. on August 23, 2022
    • Reply
  • Loved the Beef Bulgogi! Loved the ginger taste. I used hot sesame oil since that was what I had. Also since we don’t use sugar I substituted golden monk fruit sweetener. It worked great. Everyone loved it. I also served it over zoodles.

    • — Denise on August 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn, you’ve done it again. This recipe was dynamite. The bulgogi was so flavorful and easy to prepare. I stuck exactly to the recipe. Will definitely make this again.

    • — Jane D. on August 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Loved the recipe and as usual a great hit with the family.

    • — Ann Dowling on August 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was fantastic! We cooked it a wok, and due to our heatwave, decided to serve it like lettuce packages. I think next time, we’ll cook some broccoli in it and serve it over rice! Thanks Jenn, for another gem of a recipe, or as we call them in our house “KEEPER”!

    • — Leslie on August 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this last night with broccoli, bamboo shoots over rice. I used thinly sliced London broil. Not only was it delicious but also a fabulously quick and easy meal for a weeknight! Jen does it again 🙂

    • — Cary Moritz on August 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • So good! I think the sauce would be good on any meat of beef is to expensive.

    • — Em on August 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • Delicious! A lot less work than preparing a major stir fry. I prepared with flank steak and it came out so very tender, not chewy. Served with brown rice and sugar snap peas. Great recipe! Thanks!!

    • — JG on August 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • As a Korean American, I’m bothered that this recipe is described as a Korean-style beef bulgogi. Bulgogi is a Korean food, therefore there’s no need to call it Korean-style. It is Korean. It would be appropriate to call it Korean Bulgogi style beef as even the cut and how the beef is cooked and pictures is nothing like the actual Korean Bulgogi. Same goes for how you have described the burger. A little disappointed. Please consider re-describing the dishes so as not to mislead the public that Bulgogi is not a Korean dish.

    • — Sarah on August 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Thank you for your feedback. Naming and describing recipes like this can be a challenge, as I try to respect the original cuisine and also acknowledge that the recipes have been adapted using different cooking methods or ingredients that are readily available in the States. I often use “style” to suggest that the recipes are not 100% authentic. I’m sorry I missed the mark this time! I’ll do my best to correct it. 😊

      • — Jenn on August 4, 2022
      • Reply
      • You did not miss the mark – you always have amazing recipes – and you are so gracious to change the name – makes you a better person. Making it tonight!

        • — Kathy M Paulus on August 5, 2022
        • Reply
  • Made it to the recipe but doubled the marinade as one reviewer suggested. Wow! This recipe is delicious!! Served it with some Jasmine rice and I can’t wait to make it again!!

    • — Miles Gilmore on August 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Just call it Bulgogi-style beef so that sensitive people can rest more easily when they read your recipes – which are always delicious and easy. That’s what matters most, not accidental misnaming. Thanks for your great recipes, Jenn.

      • — Connie Owen on August 4, 2022
      • Reply
  • Quite easy and delicious! I roasted broccoli florets, onions and red bell pepper to throw in with the beef and rice because I was originally wanting to make beef and broccoli. This has so much more flavor!

    • — Jean on August 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Do you cook the marinated steak straight out of the refrigerator?
    Or do you recommend bringing it to room temp first?
    Thanks! Love your recipes!!

    • — Linda on August 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes!
      You can cook the beef straight out of the fridge. Enjoy 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2022
      • Reply
      • Loved this recipe – we were short on time and only marinated it for 30 minutes but it was still excellent! Served with sushi rice and garden green beans.

        • — Melissa Gugliotti on August 4, 2022
        • Reply
  • This dish was excellent and oh so easy. Will become another of my “go to” recipes from Jenn

    • — Jane F on August 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love the recipe. Next time I would double sauce/marinade. Really dry with rice.

    • — Clive Crowe on July 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can you use flat iron steak for this?

    • — Lisa on July 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Yep 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    Love this dish but discovered the Thai dish “ crying Tiger “ with a lime dipping sauce. Can you post your recipe on this dish if you are inclined?
    Thank you

    • — T. G. on July 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! And yes I’ll add crying tiger to my list of recipes to potentially develop! 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • Just purchased ribeyes to make this recipe. I know it will be wonderful just as all of your recipes are loved by my family. When I purchased, I asked butcher how to slice against grain on this cut of meat. He said I would have to slice across the meat which would be impossible. He said the grain runs differently with this cut. Being such an expensive cut of meat, I don’t wish to ruin recipe. Can you be more specific how you cut this. Butcher said just to slice thinly straight down steak from end to end because of particular cut of meat. Thank you for guidance.

    • — Jennie on July 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennie, The easiest way is to cut each steak into 4 pieces crosswise, freeze for about 35 min until firm, then stand each piece on one cut side on a cutting board and slice down. Does that make sense? That said, ribeye is pretty tender so if you just want to slice it normally, it will still turn out nicely!

      • — Jenn on July 30, 2022
      • Reply
  • Had some sirloin tip steaks in the freezer and pulled them out when this recipe arrived in my inbox. Sliced it across the grain while thawing. Made the marinade in about 10 mins, put it in the fridge, and then cooked it in batches a few hours later in two hot non stick frying pans. Soooo delicious! Will definitely be on my supper list rotation because it’s a top-notch recipe — easy to prep, quick to cook, and absolutely yummy! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — PamC on July 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m so happy to find this recipe. The recipe was easy to follow, it was so yummy to eat tender beef.

    • — Leanne on July 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • My Korean sister-in-law makes bomb bulgogi. So good in leftovers with bibimbap the next day too. I’ve made it often myself now too and it’s always a big hit. This is the recipe for sure. With tougher cuts, you can add pureed Asian pear or kiwi to the marinade as a tenderizer. I was also taught not to stir fry. You want as much carmelization as possible, even a little charring. I always grill it over high heat outside, unless the weather forces me to do it indoors in which case I too use a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Just lay out the strips leaving enough space between to keep them from stewing in their juices. Do it in batches. I also usually double the marinade and set half aside (minus any tenderizer) for sauce because it’s just so good.

    • — Steve on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi, this recipe should (well in my opinion actually needs) GOCHUJANG (Korean hot red pepper paste – easy to find or order online). Game changer! (otherwise this is just your average beef recipe). Just toss a TBS or 2 in the marinade!

    • — Suzy on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • Going to try this one tonight! Did you use “perfect” jasmine or basmati rice to serve with this?

    • — Trena on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Trena, I just use regular white rice. Hope you enjoy the bulgogi!

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • I have just added the 2 ribeye steaks to my grocery list. I happen to have a need to find more uses for the McCormick Korean-Style Red Pepper (Gochugaru) that I recently bought. I love that your recipe lists the easy-to-find already-have crushed red pepper, but I’m wondering if and how I could use the Korean Red Pepper I also happen to have at the moment. Would I use the same amount? Would it significantly change the flavor so I would need to modify other ingredients? Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for your expertise!

    • — Rhonda on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rhonda, it’s fine for you to use gochugaru. It’s got a slightly different flavor but it will still be good and (you don’t need to make any other modifications to the recipe). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, Thanks for your reply. I used my Korean Red Pepper and boneless ribeye steaks. I marinated overnight and followed your instructions. It got an excellent out of my adult daughter who frequents korean bbq restaurants. I personally did not find it at all spicy, but very flavorful. This will go into my recipe binder, with many of your other recipes. Thanks for making me look good.

        • — Rhonda on August 8, 2022
        • Reply
  • What brand is your cast iron pan?

    • — Rob on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rob, It’s Lodge. You can find links to all my pots and pans here.

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
    • Hi Jenn, I’m going shopping for the ingredients I don’t have soon. I’m wondering what is in the little bowl of sauce that is in the picture. Is the same ingredients as the marinade?

      • — Peter on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Peter, It’s chili garlic sauce – not really authentic (it’s Vietnamese) but easy to find in most supermarkets and good if you like a little heat. Traditionally bulgogi is served with ssamjang, a Korean chili sauce; you can find it (or the ingredients for it) in Asian markets and some large grocery stores. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
        • Reply
  • I am making this tonight can I use chicken?

    • — Mariellen on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Mariellen, I’ve never tried it with chicken, but I think it would work. I’d suggest chicken thighs as they will be more moist.

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • To get the cook right you’ll want to slice or pound the chicken into thin cutlets. I’ve also made bulgogi pork. In Korea I once had bulgogi wild boar which was fantastic.

        • — Andy on July 29, 2022
        • Reply

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