Make Korean beef bulgogi in just 20 minutes with ground beef marinated in simple bulgogi sauce. This classic dish is so easy and convenient to make. Best of all? It's budget-friendly too!
Ground Beef Bulgogi
Bulgogi is a classic Korean dish consisting of thinly sliced beef made of sirloin, ribeye, top loin, and tenderloin. While these cuts are wonderful, they can also be costly and impractical for everyday meals.
Enter ground beef! Unlike the premium cuts, ground beef is relatively more affordable. I also love that it cooks quickly and evenly, and absorbs flavor more easily without long marination.
Have I convinced you enough? Let's get started.
Here's what you need to make ground beef bulgogi:
Use lean ground beef or beef mince with 80% meat to 20% fat. This is usually made with beef chuck which has less fat but still has plenty of flavor.
Bulgogi Sauce and Other Ingredients
This bulgogi marinade gives the meat a sweet and savory flavor with a hint of umami. To make it, you will need:
- Soy sauce - The main salt in beef bulgogi. It also tenderizes the meat and gives it a brownish color.
- Sugar - this is what makes bulgogi sweet. I often use brown sugar but you can also use white sugar.
- Sesame oil and sesame seeds - give Korean dishes their signature nutty aroma.
- Garlic, Ginger, and Yellow Onion - are essential spices that enhance the overall flavor of bulgogi.
- Mirin - a sweet rice wine commonly used in Japanese cuisine. This gives the bulgogi a lovely aroma and makes the beef flavor less overpowering.
- Vegetables - I use shredded carrots for convenience. You can also use zucchini. Both give a nice crunchy texture and pop of color.
- Green onions or scallions - for garnish and to add a fresh onion-like flavor that balances the sweet-savory flavor of bulgogi.
More Recipes with Mirin
Baked Spicy Salmon with Gochujang
Braised Chicken in Soy Ginger Sauce
Soy Garlic Crispy Chicken Wings (Bonchon Chicken)
How to Make It
And here's how to make the easiest Korean beef bulgogi:
- Mix the sauce in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Marinate beef in the bulgogi sauce. This gives the meat a wonderful velvety texture. You only need to marinate for 10 minutes. In the meantime, you can slice the vegetables and prepare the other ingredients.
- Saute onions and ginger until fragrant. Start with the onions. When it becomes translucent, add ginger.
- Cook marinated beef until brown and juices come out. You only need a few minutes for the meat to cook through. At this point, you can adjust the seasoning i.e. add more sugar or soy sauce based on your preference.
- Add shredded carrots and continue cooking until it softens yet is still crunchy.
- Turn off the heat and sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
That's it! So easy!
What to serve with Bulgogi
There are several side dishes that you can serve with beef bulgogi to make a complete meal. Here are a few options:
Rice - Bulgogi is often served with a bowl of rice. You can use white rice or opt for healthier options like brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.
Kimchi - Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable side dish that goes well with bulgogi. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores or make your own.
Eggs - Serve with a half-boiled egg or sunny side up with rice for breakfast. The runny yolk adds a creamy texture to the dish, which can help balance out the texture of the rice and meat. So if you enjoy eggs, don't hesitate to give this combination a try!
Salad: A fresh salad can balance the richness of the bulgogi. Try a simple green salad like spinach or a cucumber salad with a tangy dressing.
Pickled vegetables: Pickled vegetables like radishes, carrots, or cucumber can provide a nice contrast to the sweetness of the bulgogi marinade.
Korean pancakes: Korean pancakes are popular side dishes that can be made with various ingredients like scallions, zucchini, or seafood.
Steamed or stir-fried vegetables: You can also serve bulgogi with steamed or stir-fried vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, or mushrooms.
Shelf-life and Storage
Store left-over bulgogi in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container. If you want to store it for a longer period, you can freeze it for up to 2-3 months. However, it is recommended to consume it within a month of freezing it for optimal taste and texture.
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Easy Ground Beef Bulgogi
Sauce and Beef
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (note 1)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
- 2 tablespoons mirin (note 2)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 lbs ground beef (lean)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (sliced)
- ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 medium carrots (shredded, note 3)
- 2-3 pieces green onion or scallions (finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over ground beef and stir to combine. Marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons mirin, 2 cloves garlic, 1 lbs ground beef
- Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, and stir-fry until almost translucent. Add grated ginger and continue cooking until fragrant.1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 medium yellow onion, ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
- Add marinated beef and stir-fry until fully cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add more soy sauce or sugar based on preference. Start with 1 teaspoon at a time.1 lbs ground beef, 1 medium carrots, 2-3 pieces green onion or scallions, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds
- Stir in sesame oil and shredded carrots. Cook until just softened yet still crunchy. Sprinkle green onions, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Remove from heat. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Use regular soy sauce like kikkoman.
- Mirin - also known as sweet rice wine. You can find this in most Asian stores or online shopping sites.
- Other vegetables you can use are zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms.
Originally published Oct. 2019. Updated March 2023 with new photos, video, and a streamlined recipe after further testing to improve the recipe!Riverten Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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