Beef Bulgogi

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Tender slices of flank steak are marinated with fresh pear, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce in this amazing Korean Beef Bulgogi recipe! You’ll love the sweet heat of the gochugaru spice and the smoothness of the warm, nutty sesame oil.

chopsticks placed over thinly sliced korean beef bulgogi


“What’s for dinner?!” If you find yourself stuck in a routine with your responses, introducing this delicious Korean dish, bulgogi, is the best way to mix things up for the whole family! Far from the usual, the mention of “Korean food” brings excitement and variety to the table. In Korea itself, bulgogi beef is celebrated as a festive dinner option.

One of the many appealing aspects of bulgogi is its quick preparation time. Despite the marinade’s simplicity, with just a handful of ingredients, it’s bursting with drool-worthy flavor. Plus, cooking the thinly sliced steak takes just a few minutes, making it an ideal choice for a wonderful family meal.

What is Beef Bulgogi?

The word “bulgogi”, pronounced pool-goh-gee, is Korean for “fire meat.” That kind of tells you all you need to know, right? It’s a delicious Korean BBQ dish of thin, marinated beef strips cooked on a smoking hot grill, or in our case, a grill pan. Bulgogi is a popular restaurant menu item in Korean restaurants, and diners often have outdoor tables with built-in grills in the center. The marinated meat is brought to the table, and guests can cook it on the open flame and eat it off the grill.

overhead shot of korean beef bulgogi served over rice

Recipe Ingredients

This is actually a really simple and truly delicious recipe for bulgogi beef. The combination of ingredients may seem a bit unusual, but it all turns out super tasty. Don’t skip the Asian pear in the marinade ingredients.

  • Steak: For this recipe, I use flank steak, but any tender cuts of beef will work. Top sirloin steak, New York strip, skirt steak, and ribeye are all great options.
  • Pear: You’ll need about ¼ grated pear to add that classic bulgogi sweetness to the marinade.
  • Soy Sauce: I use low-sodium soy sauce but you can also substitute tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Garlic: Finely mince two tablespoons of fresh garlic.
  • Gochugaru: If you can find it, one tablespoon of gochugaru adds a smoky, fruity heat to the flavorful marinade. If you don’t have gochugaru, feel free to substitute crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Ginger: Grate a tablespoon of fresh ginger.
  • Brown Sugar: You’ll need a tablespoon of light brown sugar for this recipe; you could also use raw sugar, honey, or even maple syrup.
  • Sesame Oil: Just a tablespoon to add a nutty flavor to the dish.
  • Vegetable Oil: For sautéing the meat. I would avoid using olive oil due to its lower smoke point.
  • Sesame Seeds & Chopped Green Onions: For garnish.

How to Make Beef Bulgogi

Given that this recipe involves placing pieces of steak into a hot skillet, it necessitates cautious handling due to the likelihood of the hot oil spattering. For this reason, I prefer to use tongs to keep my hands at a safe distance from the heat.

  1. Slice & Marinate the Steak: Thinly slice your flank steak across the grain for best results. Transfer the slices to a large zip-top bag. Add the grated pear, soy sauce, garlic, gochugaru, ginger, brown sugar, and sesame oil; seal the bag and squish everything around to completely coat the meat with the marinade. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or put it in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
  2. Cook First Batch: After the meat has marinated, heat up 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove half of the steak from the marinade and arrange it in the pan in a single layer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned. Flip over and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until browned with crisp edges.
  3. Cook Second Batch: Transfer the cooked steak to a plate and repeat the cooking steps with the remaining oil and steak.
  4. Enjoy! Garnish your bulgogi with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, and serve immediately.
slices of korean beef bulgogi topped with green onions

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t Crowd the Skillet. Be sure not to crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and get soupy instead of browned. Cook in batches.
  • Count on Cast Iron. The best bulgogi is made on a smoking-hot grill, but you can easily create a similar taste using a cast iron grill pan, or just a plain cast iron skillet. Make sure to get it nice and hot before cooking, and cook small batches at a time to avoid overcrowding.
  • The Freezer’s Your Friend. Another important part of making great bulgogi is slicing the meat really thin. The sharper your knife, the better. But you can also freeze the meat for about 15-20 minutes in order to cut it more easily.
  • Double Up.: This is a perfect recipe to double so that you can have an easy meal in the freezer for later. While you’re slicing and marinating the meat, just make twice as much and throw the extra meat with its marinade into a freezer bag. Press out most of the air, leaving just a bit of room for the liquid to expand, and freeze for up to three weeks. Thaw overnight before cooking.

Serving Suggestions

Bulgogi beef is delicious all on its own, or you can use it in lettuce wraps and munch on it taco-style. But you can also set up a table of tasty sides if you’d like! A Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad paired with white rice goes so well with this tasty beef dish, especially my Instant Pot Jasmine Rice!

Try my Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges for a dish that brings lots of texture and a touch of sweetness. I love making a batch of easy Bang Bang Shrimp to go with any Asian-inspired meal.

picking up beef bulgogi with chopsticks

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

  • To Refrigerate: Place the beef and sauce in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To Freeze: Place leftovers in a freezer bag and press out as much air as possible before sealing. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. Frozen beef will last for up to 2 months.
  • To Reheat: Place the meat and sauce into a covered skillet over low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through; do not overcook.

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5 from 8 votes

Beef Bulgogi

In this delicious Beef Bulgogi recipe, tender slices of flank steak are marinated with fresh pear, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
To Marinate: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • pound flank steak
  • ¼ cup finely grated fresh pear
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru, use less if you don't like spicy food (you can also use crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • chopped green onions, for garnish
  • sesame seeds, for garnish
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  • Thinly slice the steak across the grain; transfer the sliced steak to a large zip-top bag or a large mixing bowl.
  • To the bag, add grated pear, soy sauce, garlic, gochugaru, ginger, brown sugar, and sesame oil; seal the bag and squish everything around to coat the meat completely with the marinade. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, OR put in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
  • When ready to cook, heat up 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a grill pan or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Remove one-third of the steak slices from the marinade and add them to the hot oil in a single layer; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned.
  • Flip over and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until browned with crisp edges. Stir occasionally. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steak.
  • Transfer the cooked pieces to a plate and repeat the above cooking steps with the remaining oil and steak.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
  • Serve.


  • Avoid Overcrowding: Ensure the skillet isn’t overcrowded to prevent the meat from steaming instead of browning. Cook the beef in batches.
  • Cast Iron: For the best bulgogi, use a cast iron grill pan or skillet to mimic the effect of a hot grill. Heat it well before cooking and keep batches small to prevent crowding.
  • Use the Freezer: A sharp knife is key to perfect thin slices of meat, but partially freezing the steak for about 20 minutes makes slicing even easier.
  • Storage: Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and keep refrigerated for 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat.


Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 641mg | Potassium: 590mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 596IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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Recipe Rating:


  1. Nate says:

    This recipe is for the books! Prepared this in a cast iron after marinating for 1 hour as it calls for. Tender and juicy, crispy ends with the thin slice. A rice bed and roasted broccoli side. This will be a regular in our house.

  2. Mandi says:

    The marinade is one to keep in the books! The flavor was amazing!!

  3. A_Boleyn says:

    Beef bulgogi is amazing. Well done.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Thank YOU! I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  4. Catalina says:

    This is my type of dish! It looks amazingly delicious!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I hope you enjoy it! Thank YOU! 🙂

    2. Katerina Petrovska says:

      Thank YOU! I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  5. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says:

    This Korean Beef Bulgogi looks absolutely delicious! Yummy!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Thank YOU!

  6. Amanda says:

    This was so full of flavor and I could not get enough of it, thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  7. Lily says:

    This beef was incredible, so tender and juicy!! This disappeared so fast, everyone loved the recipe it was so flavorful.

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I’m very glad you enjoyed it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  8. Beth says:

    Yummy! This has always been my husband’s favorite recipe! My family really enjoys this recipe! So excited to make this soon!

    1. Katerina Petrovska says:

      I hope you enjoy it! Thank YOU! 🙂

  9. Tatum Burke says:

    I can’t even tell you how much I love the flavors in this dish! It’s so good and my whole family agrees!