Easy to prepare, Korean BBQ Beef is the perfect choice for busy day dinner. My cousin Dave’s recipe is full of Asian flavors (think soy, sesame, ginger, garlic) that perfectly complement thinly sliced beef. And, no grill, wok or other special equipment needed – just a skillet or sauté pan and you’re good to go!

Blue plate holding Korean BBQ Beef, sitting on two napkins.

Cousin Dave’s Korean BBQ Beef Recipe

My cousin Dave’s version of Korean BBQ beef is very similar to traditional Korean versions of Beef Bulgogi, which is one type of Korean BBQ. It has many of the delicious Asian ingredients found in traditional Korean bulgogi – including soy sauce, sesame, garlic, sugar and ginger. Plus, Dave’s version isn’t cooked over a hot flame or grilled (like most Korean BBQ). All you’ll need to whip up this easy recipe is a skillet or sauté pan.

What is Korean BBQ Beef?

Korean BBQ Beef, also known as Korean Beef Bulgogi, is a classic dish whose origins can be traced back literally thousands of years. Simply put, it’s thinly sliced beef marinated in a pungent Asian sauce, then cooked over high heat (traditionally over an open flame). Today, it’s a popular dish worldwide – it’s that delicious!

Korean BBQ Marinade Ingredients

Dave’s marinade calls for most of the traditional ingredients, including soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. He also adds onion, sherry and Tabasco. I’ve added chopped green onion as a garnish – another typical ingredient in this dish. One ingredient in many Korean BBQ marinades that’s not in this recipe is Asian pear. Frankly, I don’t miss it. The brown sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness for my taste.

How do you marinate beef slices?

Marinating beef slices is super easy!

  1. Mix marinade ingredients.
    In a 7-by-11 inch glass baking dish, stir together ginger, onion, cilantro, garlic, sugar, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce (if using) and tabasco.
  2. Add beef.
    Add the steak slices and stir to coat the meat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate.
    Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Alternatively, you can stir the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then place in a zip top baggie with the steak slices. Seal well and place in the refrigerator to marinate. Turn the bag over every once in awhile, to make sure all the slices are getting evenly the marinaded.

Blue plate showing Korean BBQ Beef over brown rice. Place is sitting on a napkin

How to make Korean BBQ Beef

Not only is it scrumptious, Korean BBQ Beef is also easy to prepare, with only 15 minutes of prep time plus around 15 minutes of cook time. Simply mix up the marinade, add thinly sliced beef and let it sit for 2 to 24 hours. Don’t have 2 hours to wait? No problem. With my cousin Dave Berry’s recipe, shorter marinating time is okay, because you finish cooking the beef in the marinade! Once it’s ready to go, you sear the beef in a hot skillet or sauté pan, then add back in the marinade and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. How easy is that?

Blue plate holding Korean BBQ Beef over brown rice. Plate is sitting on a brown napkin

How to Serve Korean BBQ Beef

I like to serve this dish over cooked brown rice. White rice can also be used. Alternatively, you can wrap it in lettuce leaves (Bibb/butter lettuce or iceberg).

What goes on Korean BBQ?

You don’t need too many garnishes on Korean BBQ Beef. Just a sprinkling of chopped green onion (white, light and dark green portions) and some toasted sesame seeds are the perfect finishing touch!

How to store, freeze and reheat Korean BBQ Meat

You can actually prepare, but not cook, this dish ahead of time and toss it in the freezer to have on hand for later. Simply prepare through step 2; place beef and marinade mixture in a freezer-safe zip top baggie and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator then follow the recipe starting with step 3.

blue plate holding Korean BBQ Beef over brown rice. Plate is on a wood background

Korean BBQ Recipe FAQ

What kind of beef is used in Korean BBQ?

There are literally hundreds of different recipes for Korean BBQ Beef. Many recipes call for using ribeye, or other tender cuts of beef (like sirloin). Dave’s recipe calls for less expensive flank steak, which works well in this recipe as long as it’s cut very thin and across the grain.

Can I use chicken instead of beef?

Yes, Korean BBQ marinade is also delicious with chicken or pork.

What does Korean BBQ consist of?

As mentioned earlier, Korean BBQ traditionally refers to marinated, thinly sliced meat that’s cooked over high heat. In today’s Korean BBQ restaurants, the meat is cooked on a hot grill that’s right in the middle of your table. And, the meat used can be beef, pork or chicken.

Is Korean BBQ the same as bulgogi?

Bulgogi is a form of Korean BBQ. Here are the key differences:
Bulgogi: thinly sliced beef is marinated in a umami-rich sauce, then grilled or, more often, cooked in a skillet or sauté pan.
Korean BBQ: thinly sliced meat isn’t marinated (and can be beef, pork or chicken), is grilled and then served with a dipping sauce.

What spices are used in Korean BBQ?

The marinade for this scrumptious Korean BBQ Beef includes the traditional ingredients of soy sauce, sesame, garlic, sugar and ginger. Dave also added onion and cilantro. And, in place of the rice wine, he substituted sherry. The Asian pear often called for is omitted, and I don’t miss it at all. There’s lots of vibrant flavors in this marinade without it!

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Blue plate holding Korean BBQ Beef over brown rice. Plate is sitting on a napkin

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Blue plate showing Korean BBQ Beef over brown rice. plate is sitting on a napkin

Korean BBQ Beef

  • Author: (From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins + 2 hours (marinade)
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish, meats, easy
  • Method: stir fry
  • Cuisine: Asian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Quick and easy to prepare, Korean BBQ Beef is perfect for busy day dinner. And, no grill, wok or other special equipment needed!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Dash oyster sauce (optional)
  • Dash Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pound flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick) and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 to 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons chopped green onion, for garnish
  • 3 to 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. In a 7-by-11 inch glass baking dish, stir together ginger, onion, cilantro, garlic, sugar, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce (if using) and tabasco.
  2. Add the steak slices and stir to coat the meat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 up to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove the steak slices from the marinade and place on a plate, letting the excess drip back into the dish, reserving the marinade. (See Note below.)
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high to high heat. Add a handful of the sliced steak and cook to sear the outside. Remove and repeat until all the steak has been seared, adding additional oil as needed.
  5. Put all the steak back into the skillet, stir in the reserved marinade, and simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce reduces a bit.
  6. To serve, spoon meat and sauce over brown rice. Garnish with chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Notes

Gluten free: Use gluten free soy sauce.

Note on reusing marinade: It’s okay to reuse marinade as long as you boil it before serving. That will kill any bacteria.

Lee Clayton Roper

Welcome!

I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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2 Responses to “Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi Marinade”

  1. Sandra McCalmon

    I am going to try the Korean BBQ Beef recipe and I have always believed that you cannot use the marinade that has been used with the raw meat. However, it seems that in this recipe you do not reserve part of the marinade to use when finishing cooking the beef. Is that correct?

    I really enjoy your emails with various recipes and I have learned a lot.

    Sandra.

    Reply
    • Lee Roper

      It’s okay to use the marinade as long as you bring it to a boil before serving – and you do that in this recipe. That will kill any bacteria. I will add that information to the recipe in case others are wondering, too. Thanks for your feedback and I hope you like the recipe!

      Reply

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