Hi everybody!
I’m eventually posting a video for bulgogi today. I posted a simple bulgogi recipe a few years ago but it was without a video. Bulgogi is a Korean BBQ dish loved by Koreans and non-Koreans too. The savory beef combined with the sweet, gingery marinade is always a big hit. The word bul means fire in Korean, and goki means meat. So this is “fire meat!”

Delicious bulgogi depends on three things: a good cut of beef, a delicious marinade, and the method you use to cook it. So I am very pleased to release the best bulgogi recipe that I’ve ever made: it has all 3 of these elements.

First, a good cut of beef always makes for delicious bulgogi. I mentioned using steak in the video: sirloin, tenderloin, or skirt steak. But you still can make good bulgogi without these choice cuts. Whatever you use, it’s very important to choose tender, marbled beef: leaner cuts like brisket or flak steak will turn out too tough. Cut the beef thinly against the grain to make it easier to chew, and marinate overnight. The marinade will tenderize the beef and it’ll turn out delicious over a charcoal BBQ.

Secondly, the marinade: the marinade in this recipe is the best that I’ve yet developed. But as I’m constantly experimenting with marinades, I may still develop a better one! I’ll let you know if I do. Feel free to modify the ratios here to your taste, or develop your own marinade. If you do, let me know how it turns out. Also, if you can’t find a Korean pear, use ripe bosc pear: 1 small bosc pear for 1 pound of beef is good. It adds some lovely sweetness to the dish and is effective in the marinade.

Thirdly, when we talk about the best cooking methods, grilling over charcoal will always be the best. This is because the marinade, juices and fats drip off the meat onto the coals, burn up there, and then come back to the beef in a wonderful smoke that covers the meat with flavor. You can’t beat charcoal for bulgogi.

I was invited to my friend’s BBQ party in the Catskills in upstate New York a while ago. About 20 people got together and everybody brought something to grill. I prepared bulgogi beef, spicy pork, and bulgogi mushrooms for vegetarians. I was very excited to shoot the video because it would be a wonderful chance for you to see how you can enjoy Korean BBQ in the best conditions.

Everybody loved my bulgogi! Surprisingly my marinated bulgogi mushrooms got a lot of compliments, too. I was so satisfied to see their happy faces when they tasted it. I can imagine all of your happy faces when you share this with your friends and family.

Also, the recipe for the spicy pork BBQ in this video will be posted soon!


  • 1 pound of beef tenderloin, cut into thin slices ½ inch x 2 inches and ⅛ inch thick

Marinade (for 1 pound of beef):

  • ½ cup of crushed Korean pear (aka “Asian pear”)
  • ¼ cup onion purée
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar (or 1 tbs of brown sugar and 1½ tbs rice syrup)
  • a pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs toasted toasted sesame oil
  • several thin slices of carrot


Marinate the beef

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add the sliced beef and mix well.

Vegetarian option:

Use the same marinade above and replace beef with mushrooms. You’ll need 10-12 large dried shiitake mushrooms. Add a few white mushrooms if you like them.

  1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for several hours until they’re soft.
  2. Squeeze out any excess water and slice each mushroom thinly.
  3. Slice some white mushrooms, carrot, and onion.
  4. Mix all of it together in the marinade.

Grill and serve

  1. You can grill, pan-fry, or BBQ right after marinating, but it’s best to keep it in the fridge and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for a tougher cut of beef.
  2. Grill over medium-high heat. Best is over an open flame on a grill or cast iron grill pan or skillet, but stir-frying will also work, if that’s all you have.
  3. Serve with Korean side dishes (banchan) like kimchi as well as lettuce, ssamjang, and garlic cloves to make lettuce wraps, like I do in the video. Just put some meat on a lettuce leaf with some ssamjang and a clove of garlic, wrap it up and eat it in one bite! Everyone makes their own wrap, one by one, until they are finished.

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So far this is rated 5/5 from 348 votes

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  1. Theboz United States joined 4/23 & has 1 comment

    I made this today, it turned out pretty good. Made 4x the recipe amount. What we didn’t eat, I froze. I also made the asparagus side dish, also turned out pretty good.

    I spent a year in Yongsan, Seoul and fell in love with Korean food

  2. Andy334 USA joined 4/23 & has 1 comment

    Is 6-8 hours enough time to marinade? I plan to sous vide this for 2-3 hours before I sear (had to use slightly tougher pre-sliced beef). I also plan to strain and reduce the sauce to a glaze! To slather on while searing.

  3. Pschu2 Illinois joined 8/22 & has 1 comment

    This recipe is SO delicious and easy to make!. I made it as directed except added just a little lime juice. My husband does not eat soy sauce, but he didn’t even know it was in this recipe. He loved it and went back for seconds! At first I thought the sesame oil was a bit overpowering, but after marinating for about 8 hours everything melded together as one DELICIOUS marinade. I will be making this often! Thank you!

  4. UnderstandBlue Texas joined 8/22 & has 2 comments

    OOPS I forgot the photo.

    So now’s a good time to say don’t skip the toasted sesame seeds!

    See full size image

  5. UnderstandBlue Texas joined 8/22 & has 2 comments

    This is such a perfect recipe! Holy moly!

    I am allergic to soy, so I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and I used Miso Master chickpea miso in the ssamjang which is DELICIOUS.

    If you haven’t made this recipe, DEFINITELY make the ssamjang – the two together are magical. And the quantity of ssamjang to bulgogi is so perfect. I ate this three meals in a row – it’s THAT good. Thank you – I’ve loved your videos for a long time, but this is the first recipe I’ve tried!

  6. JC Crush Western Finger Lakes, NY joined 7/20 & has 1 comment

    Thank you, Maangchi for giving me back the flavors of my mom’s cooking. Your recipes are the closest to my mom’s food. I lost her earlier this year due to health issues, but I made bulgogi, sigeumchi, and doenjang paste with rice and other banchan. Ooh, it was soooo good!!! Made me cry. Have your cookbooks and definitely will make more!

  7. Kriegerkaiser Olympia, WA joined 10/10 & has 3 comments

    I didn’t have any Korean pear so I used chamoe and it worked out so well!

  8. JoergSC Wolfenbuettel, Germany joined 5/19 & has 1 comment

    We’ve had some of the beef left yesterday (our first Bulgogi was great) and today we’ve had the idea to grill it on the Plancha, add some green onions and place the beef together with some Ssamjang and salad on a French brioche bun. It was different but absolutely fantastic. So if you got some of the beef left in your fridge, this is worth trying it.
    Big hug to Maangchi and love from Germany ❤️

  9. SouthsideJohnny Charleston, SC joined 8/18 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi! I just ordered your cookbook and am looking forward to trying new recipes. Couple of questions: 1. Do you recommend flank steak for your bulgogi? 2. Do you use Korean soy sauce rather than regular Kikkoman soy sauce?

  10. Cornelius B. Ecuador joined 12/17 & has 42 comments

    Made Bulgogi today. Didn´t have lettuce available to make wraps (living in the mountains, no grocery store around the corner), so I took slices of cucumber topped with Ssamjang, and rice, to accompany. And a cool beer, of course.

    See full size image

  11. NicholasC Nashville, TN joined 6/18 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I love your videos and recipes. They inspired me to push my passion for cooking and baking to the next level. Thank you. :)

    I am very excited to see how this goes. I am using ribeye that is 3/8 ” thick. I was able to find Korean Soy sauce , pear, and rice syrup. Using all fresh produce. I am planning on letting it marinate for at least 15 hours. Is this too long? I guess I will find out tomorrow afternoon.

  12. WildRose85 Oregon joined 10/13 & has 6 comments

    Korean BBQ is everyone’s favorite. Best thing to have on hand is an iron skillet, some kitchen shears, plenty of leafy greens, and some beer!

  13. paskinmath Philadelphia, PA joined 11/17 & has 3 comments

    can you substitute pork? If so, which cut do you recommend? Around here pork is $1-3 a pound where beef is $4-12 a pound lately. I can get a whole pork picnic shoulder for the same price as an average steak.

  14. miah98 Viet Nam joined 10/17 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi,
    Firstly, I wanna say thank you for sharing such wonderful recipes. It’s nothing better than tasting a real Korean dish without going to costly restaurants.
    I have made this dish thousands of time and it turns out so well. However, I wonder whether I can store the marinade in fridge for future use or not. If yes, how long can the marinade still in good condition?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      You can freeze the marinade up to 1 month and thaw out at room temperature or in the fridge when you use it again. You can keep it in the fridge but you will have to use it up in 3 to 4 days because the flavor will change as time goes on.

  15. livmekela Florida joined 6/17 & has 1 comment

    I used the marinade recipe for tofu and it makes the most delicious meat alternative! Thank you Maangchi!

  16. Astarria Canada joined 3/17 & has 1 comment

    Hello, I was wondering if I wanted to make a spicy version do I just add gochujang? and if so, how much?

  17. TammiUnnie Florida joined 1/17 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I was wondering if you could help me out. I’ve always wanted to try Bulgogi, but I’ve never actually had it because most recipes use pear for tenderizing the meat, and, unfortunately, I am allergic to peaches, pears, apples, and cinnamon. Is there any alternative to pears, or an alternative recipe I can try?

  18. kite76 Northern California joined 6/16 & has 2 comments

    I have just started making Korean BBQ. Family loves it! The grill pan you use in your video is interesting. Where can I purchase one. Thanks!

  19. goyogoyong joined 11/15 & has 3 comments

    Ahnyeong haseo Maangchi! Sunbaenim my wife is diabetic. Can I substitute splenda for the brown sugar? Also can I substitute splenda for the honey in the ssamjang?


  20. bluejello SoCal joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, I’ve tried several and love all of them. I was just wondering, what the carrots add, if anything, to the marinade?

  21. luv2eat ak,oh joined 5/16 & has 1 comment

    I love,love your recipes. I especially using bulgogi as my filling for siopao. Instead of grilling it, I pressure cook the bulgogi including the juice then thicken it with tapioca or corn starch.

  22. hennihette Germany joined 2/16 & has 2 comments

    SOOOOO GOOOOOD! thank you sooo much for this recepie!!! tastes better than the emart bulgogi! now I can have korean bulgogi in germany c: <3

    See full size image

  23. Lsudeene joined 7/15 & has 1 comment

    Hey Maangchi, I can’t seem to find or get Jinganjang, but do you think kecap manis would work too?

  24. munchjenn joined 7/15 & has 3 comments

    I want to make this recipe so badly and I see that you have great reviews. My one concern is I don’t have the resource to cook on a grill or buy another pan at the moment (I’m a student). So, would it be okay to cook in a pan on the stove? I understand the goal is that the beef doesn’t retain the liquid in the pan.. so I don’t know what to do.

    • munchjenn joined 7/15 & has 3 comments

      Never mind, I searched through your responses to other fans. Thank you so much :)

      • jsp73 joined 3/15 & has 32 comments

        There’s a very old secret to “grilling” on a stove. There’s a small learning curve to it, but it is well worth it. Koreans use stone and, sometimes, cast iron for cooking. Both share similar thermal properties. Very few materials can get so blazing hot on a regular stove top. Cast iron pans are cheap (…until you become a collector of vintage stuff) and they will last a lifetime if cared for properly.

        The goal is to get your pan hot enough to evaporate moisture before your dish becomes soup. Cast iron can do that easily (as can stone… I really want a nice set of Korean dolsot).

  25. So, it looks like you drain the marinade and remove carrots and onions before cooking?

  26. Hi,
    May I know if I can substitute the beef with chicken. Can I use electric grill or grill pan on the stove to grill the meat?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      Yes, you can make chicken bulgogi. “Can I use electric grill or grill pan on the stove to grill the meat?” Yes, you can. Enjoy the recipe!

      • carms joined 6/15 & has 1 comment


        Ive made this recipe so many times and got praised for it every time. I absolutely love it!

        But I have a problem :(

        I’ve recently began to eat healthier and diet, and will be substituting beef with chicken. Will the pear still be needed for the chicken? If I leave it out, will it take away the tenderness and sweetness?

        Also, I feel like I might need to but back the sodium and sugar levels. Is there a way I can do that and still have this dish taste good?

  27. cdavis joined 5/15 & has 1 comment

    I just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful recipe! I love everything BBQ and I love how I now expanded my BBQ knowledge to Bulgogi! I marinated some skirt steak but instead of the rice syrup, I used honey (couldn’t find rice syrup). You are right, the best way to grill is over coals! Once you get a nice sear, close the lid and put the meat on the other side of the coals and let the meat soak up some smoke. One of my favorites is a beef japache, so I made that to go with the Bulgogi.

    See full size image

  28. rocknchick Rockford, IL joined 12/14 & has 11 comments

    I’ve made a bunch of your recipes and loved them all, but have one question. When I made bulgogi, I used Perilla oil instead of toasted sesame oil. It turned out pretty good, but was a little more bland and light colored than I expected. Could that substitution have made the difference? We don’t like sesame oil, it’s too strong of a taste. Should we use sesame oil in cooking but use the Perilla when it’s in an uncooked sauce or drizzled on top of things?
    Also- your cookbook is fabulous! :)

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      If you don’t like sesame oil flavor, don’t use it. Perilla seed oil sounds good to me. “but was a little more bland and light colored than I expected.” I would add more brown sugar or honey and soy sauce.

  29. I made this before I found your recipe for my husband who was stationed in South Korea in the military and he said it always tasted right. I’m glad to see your recipe is very close so I know I’m doing it right. I’ve even made up the meat and froze it for quick meals and it still tastes wonderful.

  30. DenverJJ joined 4/15 & has 1 comment

    I just made this. It was great!! I used to wait tables in a Korean restaurant (and had many meals there) so I was excited to make Bulgogi. The Asian pear was something new for me but I liked it. I eyeballed a small portion of onion, cut it up a bit and put it in the food processor. I did the same with the Asian pear, but a bigger piece. I added all the other ingredients and THEN I turned on the processor to mix and puree everything. It was very easy. I bought some thinly sliced rib eye at HMart, added it to the mariade to sit for about an hour and a half. I stir fried, then steamed veggies in a homemade teriyaki sauce (equal parts soy sauce and mirin with sliced ginger and a little sugar). I fried my bulgogi in a pan on the stove. It turned out fine, but some day I will BBQ over charcoal. Thanks for the recipe! I also love your marinated bean sprouts!

  31. leolove mississauga joined 12/14 & has 8 comments

    Hey…what can i use instead of rice syrup? And can i stir fry it to use it in kimchi fired rice? And if i can…does the kimchi go into the pan first or do i have to fry the meat first?
    Thank you,

  32. mrschiz81 Arizona joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Instead of using brown sugar can I use honey powder or would Brown sugar be better.

  33. mritty Ocoee, FL joined 1/15 & has 2 comments

    I made this for the first time tonight. My girlfriend is vegan, so I made hers with the sliced mushrooms. However, she really dislikes shitakes, so I used portobellos and whites instead. Mine was made with the sliced beef. In fact, the Korean grocery store where I bought all the ingredients had pre-packaged beef that had already been thinly sliced, and even labeled “bul-go-ki”. That simplified matters immensely.

    I did my best to follow the proportions listed for the marinade, but it tasted much to onion-y at that point. I added more of all the other ingredients to the food processor, and blended some more. Now it had too much garlic and ginger. Finally I added some more pear and brown sugar, and it tasted perfect.

    When my (Korean) girlfriend tasted it, she said it was perfect, that it was just like the bulgogi she remembered having growing up. She said she was *so* happy to be able to have that taste again, even after no longer eating meat. So thank you, VERY very much, for including the vegetarian alternative recipe. It absolutely made our night!!

  34. Surie92 Singapore joined 1/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, Im just wondering if I can use light soy sauce for this recipe? Thank You!

  35. gn2568 Chicago joined 12/14 & has 5 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I would like to make some korean dishes for about 15 college friends about 5 of them are boys. I was thinking bulgogi and hobakjeon our of your easy recipe. Do you suggest anything else?
    How much beef would i need in this case?
    also when marinating bulgogi, can i marinate it for 2 days before I cook?
    Thank you so much!

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