This delicious ground beef bulgogi recipe is ready in only 20 minutes! It's an easy, healthy weeknight meal that's a family favorite.
Bulgogi is a Korean grilled meat dish - this recipe is similar in that it uses a delicious, sweet sauce for the meat, but subs out strips of meat for quicker cooking ground beef.
I'll show you how to make this dish with step-by-step photos and instructions.
You can serve this great recipe alongside some chopped fresh veggies for a beautiful bowl that's bursting with flavor.
This Korean beef bowl is so easy to make and is ready in just a few minutes. It's one of our favorite weeknight recipes because it's mostly made with pantry ingredients and makes enough for leftovers.
This recipe has both sweet and spicy elements - making for a delicious balance of flavors.
Bulgogi is great in rice bowls but you can skip the rice or noodles and serve the beef in lettuce wraps for a great low-carb option.
What is Bulgogi?
Bulgogi is a traditional Korean dish made with thin strips of marinated meat (usually beef) grilled on a barbecue or stovetop. The name bulgogi means "fire meat" in Korean.
Bulgogi is usually made with prime cuts of meat like sirloin or ribeye. The marinade often includes a variety of savory and sweet ingredients, like this recipe.
While this is not a traditional beef bulgogi, it's a similar version you can easily make at home for a weeknight meal and still packs great umami flavor.
Here's what you'll need to make these ground beef bulgogi bowls.
- Ground Beef - You'll need 1 pound of ground beef. I like to use lean ground beef for this recipe.
- Onion - You'll need ½ a white onion. This will form the base of the aromatics, but it's flexible - feel free to use 1 yellow onion or 2 shallots.
- Garlic - You'll need 2 cloves of garlic.
- Ginger - You'll need 1 inch of ginger.
- Soy Sauce - You'll need ¼ cup of soy sauce (use low sodium soy sauce if desired)
- Brown Sugar - You'll need ¼ cup of packed brown sugar.
- Sesame Oil - You'll need 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
- Red Pepper Flakes - You'll need 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. If you are sensitive to spice, you can half the amount, and if you like spicy food, double the amount.
- Green Onions - You'll need the greenest parts of 3 green or spring onions.
- Sesame Seeds - You'll need 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds to top the dish.
- Optional Toppings - You can use a cup of shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, and sliced radishes as a topping as well.
I like to serve this with brown rice, but you could also use noodles, white rice, or cauliflower rice.
See the recipe card for the list of ingredients and the full recipe.
How to Make this Recipe
Brown the Aromatics - Cook your diced onion, garlic, and ginger in a little olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet, pot, or other large pan.
Brown the Beef - Add the beef to the onion mixture and cook it till it has browned; about 5 minutes.
Use the back of a spoon or spatula to break up the beef and stir it occasionally.
Make the Sauce - Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Whisk till the sugar is incorporated.
Combine - When the beef has no more pink spots, add the sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Then turn off the heat and allow the dish to sit for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Add Toppings - Place the beef in bowls with rice or noodles and top with sesame seeds, green onions, and optional cut and shredded veggies.
More Ground Beef Recipes
These delicious ground beef recipes are totally worth making!
- Thai Green Curry Meatballs - These delicious meatballs are made with coconut curry and lots of veggies.
- Kousa Mahshi (Stuffed Zucchini) - Middle Eastern zucchini stuffed with beef and rice.
- Eggplant Parmesan Stacks - Eggplant and ground beef stacks that are easy and full of flavor.
Substitutions & Variations
Want to make some changes to this recipe? Here are some ideas.
- Ground Meat - you can substitute the ground beef for ground pork or ground turkey.
- Pepper - if you'd like this to be a more authentic recipe, substitute the crushed red pepper flakes for gochujang, a Korean red pepper paste.
- Egg - to add even more flavor, try adding a fried egg on top!
The cooked ground beef for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
Tips for Making this Recipe
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Cooking Tips - After you've simmered the meat and sauce together, allow it to rest in the pot with the heat off. This helps the sauce thicken.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 1-inch ginger, finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 green onions, diced
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Optional - shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, and sliced radishes to serve
- Serve with cooked brown rice or noodles
- Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often.
- Add the ground beef, break it up with the back of a large spoon, and cook it for 5 minutes or until there is no pink remaining and it is crumbly.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour the soy mixture over the ground beef and stir to combine. Allow to cook for 2 minutes and then turn off the heat. Let the mixture sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving. This will allow the sauce to thicken.
- Add optional rice or noodles to bowls, then top with beef, green onions, shredded carrots, cucumber, radishes, and sesame seeds.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 980mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 34g