Korean-style marinated beef BBQ

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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  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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 ❤️

  7. 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?

  8. 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

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