With this easy-to-make bulgogi sauce recipe, you can quickly prep and marinate sliced steak for flavorful Korean BBQ anytime you’d like. Fire up the grill!
We’re cooking up some amazing Korean BBQ tonight, my friends. If you’ve never tried Korean beef BBQ, aka “bulgogi”, you’re definitely in for an experience of great flavor.
Bulgogi translates to “fire meat”, and is a Korean-style recipe of marinated slices of meat, usually beef or pork, that are grilled or stir-fried. Bulgogi itself hails from northern Korea, though you’ll find it all over Korea in higher end restaurants to street food, and it’s popularity has brought it all around the world.
It is particularly loved in the U.S., where I am seeing it more and more on menus. My focus today isn’t on the bulgogi recipe itself, but instead on the Bulgogi Sauce, or Bulgogi Marinade.
You see, you can use different cuts of and types of meats to make your bulgogi however you’d like, but for huge flavor, the secret is in the bulgogi sauce.
A good bulgogi sauce not only builds flavor into your marinated beef or other chosen meat, but it also helps to tenderize the meat, making for a more pleasurable meal.
I’ve seen different versions of bulgogi sauce from other cooks and in several cookbooks, and this is my particular adaptation that I used in my own cookbook, “The Spicy Food Lovers’ Cookbook”.
My particular recipe includes Korean Gochujang, which is used in many Korean dishes. It’s a fermented chili paste that ranges from mild to spicy, so you can easily choose your preference to control the heat. No matter which level you choose, you’re guaranteed to enjoy huge flavor. I love gochujang.
Let’s talk about how we make bulgogi sauce or marinade, shall we?
Bulgogi Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce
- Gochujang – Korean fermented chili paste
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Sesame Oil
- Honey – or use Brown Sugar
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Black Pepper
- Spicy Fresh Red Pepper – This is optional, but I love the added flavor and heat of a spicy red pepper, such as a red fingerling or bird’s eye pepper.
How to Make Bulgogi Sauce – the Recipe Method
Whisk the Bulgogi Sauce. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl – soy sauce, gochujang, vinegar, sesame oil, honey or brown sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper and optional minced fresh hot pepper.
Marinate the Meat. Marinate the meat (strips of steak, chicken, pork) for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for more flavor development.
Cook the Bulgogi. Grill or sauté the strips of steak or meat over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes, stirring or flipping often, until done to your liking. I prefer grilling my bulgogi, but it’s very easy to make inside with a cast iron grill pan for convenience.
Garnish and Serve. Garnish with green onions, peppers and toasted sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!
Boom! Done! Easy to make, isn’t it? Time for some Korean BBQ beef, my friends. Or chicken! Use it for whatever cut of meat you’d prefer, like chicken bulgogi or ground beef bulgogi, though beef bulgogi is the classic Korean preparation.
Serve yours over rice or they’re great for lettuce wraps! So delicious. I love this recipe.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Best Meat for Bulgogi. I mostly see bulgogi made with beef, though pork is very popular. I’ve also seen recipes that use chicken or ground beef. Popular cuts of beef include short rib, flank steak and skirt steak, though my personal favorite is ribeye. The sauce works best when you slice the meat into thin slices to get a good flavor base.
- Recipe Variations. The cookbook listed below uses Asian or Bosc pear in their bulgogi sauce as well as onion and scallion, which is great. Definitely give them a try. I adjusted by including spicy gochujang for extra heat and flavor, as well as minced peppers, and emphasized other ingredients to my own preference.
- Korean Gochujang. Gochujang is a Korean fermented red chili paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder, and salt. It is thick and pungent in flavor, adding a zingy depth to your dishes. It is both spicy and sweet. You can sometimes find it in typical American grocery stores in the Asian or International section, though selections can be limited. I find a big variety in an Asian grocery store near me. Consider buying it online. See below.
Buy Gochujang Online
- Buy Gochujang at Amazon for a good selection of options (affiliate link, my friends)
That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this amazing bulgogi sauce recipe. Time to make the bulgogi! Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
- Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking, by Maangchi with Lauren Chattman (affiliate link, my friends) – this book is the inspiration for this recipe.
- Also, check out my own cookbook, “The Spicy Food Lovers’ Cookbook – Fiery, No-Fuss Meals”, by Mike Hultquist (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Ssamjang (Spicy Korean Soybean Paste)
- Korean BBQ Sauce
- Sambal Oelek
- Homemade Sriracha
- Homemade Harissa
- Sweet Chili-Garlic Hot Sauce
- Easy Hoisin Sauce
- Tonkatsu Sauce
- Nuoc Cham
- How to make Chili Paste from Fresh Peppers
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Bulgogi Sauce Recipe
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons gochujang Korean fermented chili paste
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or use brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 spicy red pepper minced (optional, for hotter bulgogi sauce)
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl.
- Marinate the meat (strips of steak, chicken, pork) for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for more flavor development.
- Grill or sauté the strips of steak or meat over medium-high heat 5-6 minutes, stirring or flipping often, until done to your liking.
- Garnish with green onions, peppers and toasted sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy!