Bulgogi is perhaps the most well known Korean dish and you’ll quickly see why. Besides being super flavorful, it’s also really easy to make. Thin slices of beef steak marinated in a delicious sauce of soy, sesame, ginger, and garlic will make this popular Korean dish sure to become a family favorite.

Bulgogi is commonly served with rice and kimchi and perfectly pairs with steamed veggies on the side.

Why Our Recipe

  • Uses flank steak for easy prep and quick cooking.
  • Easy hands off meal that everyone can make.
  • Make ahead instructions for easy freezer meals.

Tongs holding a piece of bulgogi being lifted from a plate.

This is a dish from my childhood that I loved eating growing up. My dad lived in Korea as a young adult. He loved eating bulgogi, so he learned how to make it and brought that knowledge home. It is connected to so many happy memories for me because my dad would make it for us for special occasions. I have no doubt that it will become a favorite for your family too.

Ingredient Notes

  • Flank Steak: Make sure to slice against the grain. This will help make your meat nice and tender.
  • Finely Grated Asian Pear: 1 cup is roughly one pear. You can also substitute a finely grated apple or ¼ cup brown sugar.
  • Soy Sauce: Low sodium works just fine as well.
  • Sesame Seeds: Can use toasted or untoasted white seeds.
  • Oyster Sauce: This brings an amazing umami. Can substitute with worcestershire, fish sauce, or hoisin.
  • Minced Garlic: Measure with your heart.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: If spicy is not your favorite flavor, can be left out to make it not spicy.
  • Ground Ginger: Can either use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.
  • Sliced Green Onion: Serves as a garnish bringing both color and flavor. Not required.

Beef Options

Bulgogi can be made using various cuts of beef steak. Common cuts include thinly sliced ribeye, sirloin, brisket, flank, or skirt steak which can all be used without altering the recipe. Even ground beef can be used for an inexpensive version. For ground beef, instead of marinating, simply make the marinade and keep it separate. Cook your ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once your ground beef is cooked through, drain it well, then add in the marinade as a sauce to flavor the ground beef. 

A collage of four images showing how beef bulgogi is made.

Always slice against the grain

Cut the steak into thin slices against the grain. The grain looks like little lines running through the meat. These are natural breaking points in the meat. Cut against the grain to avoid the steak becoming chewy. The thinner you slice it the faster it will cook.

Oyster Sauce Substitute

Oyster sauce brings a wonderfully sweet and salty flavor to this dish with a savory, tangy flavor. While we love the flavor it brings, you can always omit it if needed for allergy reasons or if you don’t have any on hand. If you want to create an oyster sauce substitute, replace the oyster sauce with soy sauce and add in 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.

Pile of Bulgogi resting on a bed of rice withe a vegetable side.

Make It a Freezer Meal

Once you have combined the meat and marinade, transfer it to a plastic freezer bag and lay flat to freeze. When you are ready to use it, thaw overnight in the fridge. The meat will marinate as it thaws, packing more delicious flavor into every bite.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Reheat on the stovetop in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through.

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