This Ground Beef Bulgogi is a fantastic 20 minute meal that's perfect for busy weeknights. The sweet and savory sauce makes this a favorite of kids and adults alike!
If you love these flavors, be sure to check out our Korean Sloppy Joes!
What is Beef Bulgogi?
Beef Bulgogi is a Korean dish featuring thinly sliced and marinated beef. It traditionally uses a steak, like ribeye or flank, and a sweet and savory marinade featuring soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic.
In this recipe, I’ve swapped the steak for ground beef to make an incredibly fast and affordable weeknight meal. When I say fast, I mean FAST. This meal can be on your table in about 20 minutes!
If you’ve never tried bulgogi before, you’re in for a treat. This Ground Beef Bulgogi has amazing flavor. This sweet and savory sauce is so easy to make, but it really packs a flavor punch! With a hint of garlic and sesame, this sauce is a crowd pleaser. Even my picky kiddos gobbled it up!
If you like heat, I’ve included instructions for spicing things up.
Don't forget to try our other quick and easy Asian ground beef bowls, including Thai Basil Beef and Ground Beef and Broccoli.
Ingredients in Ground Beef Bulgogi
For ground beef bulgogi, we'll use the same ingredients as in the traditional marinade, but without the need to marinate the meat! It's a huge time saver for busy weeknights.
For the sauce, you’ll need:
- Soy sauce (I use low sodium)
- Brown sugar
- Sesame Oil
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
Beyond that, you’ll just need some vegetable oil for cooking the beef and a few green onions for garnish.
How To Make Bulgogi with Ground Beef
This recipe comes together so quickly! I recommend getting a pot of rice started before you begin the bulgogi so they’ll be ready at the same time.
- Start by whisking together the sauce ingredients: soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and garlic.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or stainless steel pan over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until no pink remains, and the edges are starting to brown.
- Add the sauce and continue to saute until the sauce is reduced slightly and thoroughly coating the ground beef.
- Remove from heat, and top with sliced green onions and additional sesame seeds.
Variations and Additions for Korean Ground Beef
- Want to make spicy beef bulgogi? Add a tablespoon of gochujang to your marinade. Gochujang is a Korean chili sauce with a sweet, hot, and smoky flavor. You can find it here or in most grocery stores, or you can use Sriracha if you prefer.
- Prefer to use steak? Stir all the sauce ingredients together then add ¼ cup of water. Place thinly sliced steak (I prefer ribeye) in a bag with the marinade ingredients, and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight. Sear in a hot skillet for 1-2 minutes per side.
- This ground beef bulgogi is great with a side of rice, but we also love to top it with an over easy fried egg or a sous vide poached egg. The yolk coats everything in its silky sauce and really brings everything together.
Korean Ground Beef Bowls
You could also use this ground beef bulgogi as a base for Korean Bibimbap, which is a dish typically served with bulgogi, rice, and a variety of vegetables and sides. To make them, combine the bulgogi with rice, a poached or fried egg, and your favorite pickled or stir fried veggies. Here are a few great ones to try!
Ground Beef Bulgogi
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (for cooking)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ¼ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (plus more for serving)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 green onions (sliced)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no pink remains.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, and brown sugar.
- When the beef is cooked, add the soy sauce mixture and stir for a few minutes until beef is well coated and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve bulgogi over rice with green onions and sesame seeds for garnish.