Korean Barbecue Beef

A night out at a Korean restaurant with friends usually means that someone is going to order bulgogi. It is Korean Barbecue Beef, cooked on a small charcoal hibachi grill right at the table and shared with the entire group. This dish can easily be prepared at home if you don’t happen to have a Korean restaurant in your neighborhood.

Thinly sliced rib eye steak is marinated for a short period of time in a sweet and spicy sauce then quickly cooked on an outdoor grill over high heat. The end result is tender pieces of beef that are a little charred and caramelized on their edges, with the same amazing flavors you would get at a Korean restaurant.

Korean Barbecue Beef

The one ingredient you must have for this dish is gochujang. Gochujang is a dark red, spicy and slightly sweet Korean condiment based on hot chili peppers and fermented soybeans that is used in soups, sauces and marinades. I found it at my local grocery store alongside other hot sauces but you may also find it on the international aisle, in most Asian markets and on Amazon. The brand I used (Annie Chun’s) is a sauce but I’ve also seen it sold as a paste. If you have several brands to choose from, read the ingredients as some have cane sugar as one of the first ingredients and they can be very sweet. Always taste and adjust amounts called for in any recipe according to how hot and sweet the particular brand of gochujang you might be using.

Korean Barbecue Beef

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb. thinly sliced, well marbled rib eye steak or other tender beef (ask your butcher to slice it about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. gochujang, depending on taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Place beef in a baking dish and sprinkle both sides with the brown sugar and let sit for 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the Korean BBQ sauce by placing all the remaining ingredients in a processor or blender and pulse a few times until smooth (makes 2/3 cup). Pour half of the sauce over the beef, turning to coat both sides well, refrigerate and let marinate 30 minutes to an hour. (Since the beef is very thin, it doesn’t take long for the flavor to penetrate but it can be marinated overnight for additional flavor).

Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat (450° to 550°F). When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the marinade from the beef and discard the marinade. Place the beef on the hot grate with the lid open and cook until they are nicely brown, about 1 to 2 minutes a side. I have an infra-red sizzle side burner and it only took 30 seconds on each side to have perfectly cooked meat. Since the meat is so thin, I suggest cutting one piece of the beef in half and cooking to see how your particular grill cooks the beef before cooking the rest. You want to make sure you don’t over cook the meat.


I served the Korean barbecue beef with rice, sautéed baby bok choy, and a pickled carrot salad. The remainder of the BBQ sauce with served at the table  along with kimchi. I have also prepared another version of the barbecue beef, this time topped with sliced scallions, cilantro rice and sautéed sesame snow peas. Both dinners were delicious.

Korean BBQ Beef

If you like and use sriracha sauce, I think you should search out the Korean condiment gochujang and try the Korean BBQ sauce. I’ve prepared it several times for grilling both beef and chicken…the sugar gives a slight sweetness that caramelizes during the time over the fire and it has just the right amount of saltiness and heat that we all enjoy when eating barbecue.

Happy grilling.







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107 thoughts on “Korean Barbecue Beef

  1. I am sitting in a train in Germany and looking at this delicious dish. I need to expand my cooking repertoire and this recipe is perfect for that. I will look for the sauce when I get back home.

    1. Hi Gerlinde, Enjoy your time in Germany with your family. When you return home, I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding gochujang at your local markets.

  2. Where would we be without Amazon. I use it often to find those hard-to-get items up here.
    Looks amazing—and I’m sure it will be added in to the rotation here.
    Hope your Spring is progressing well.

    1. Hi Susan, You are right about Amazon, I’m using often since we have moved for had to find items. I’m glad you like the recipe…hope you get a chance to try it. Spring has been lovely thank you. Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Thank you Diane, this dish is indeed all that you said…I’m glad you like it. Perhaps you will head south one of these days. 😀

  3. Doing a rewrite late at night as the first version went AWOL ! Would you believe we had this here for dinner tonight:) ! I much prefer to serve it at home: besides cooking it at the table on a hibachi style apparatus it is quite ‘legal’ to stirfry it and actually more moisture remains in the meat this way. Great favourite with all my friends . . . Try adding 1/2 a nashi pear or red apple grated: that also is quite classic! Gochujang and gochigara [paste v flakes] and doenjang [soy bean paste] are now available at most supermarkets here, even rurally where I am and certainly at every deli. Do hope you make your own kimchi: easy, fun and so useful as a side in so many Western dishes also. Hope many of your readers copy!!

    1. Thank you for your compliment Judy. I’m glad that you like gochujang as well as I do. I’m enjoying using it in different recipes.

  4. My experience with tasty Korean bar-b-que is limited to food trucks though from your recipe it doesn’t appear that it would be that difficult to prepare at home. Even so there are some things I like to leave to others because that makes it an eating adventure.

    1. Hi Linda, I only wish we were as lucky. Houston has a wonderful array of ethnic restaurants, food trucks and markets to enjoy. Here in our small Florida beach town, if you want Korean food you have to either cook it at home or drive to quite a distance.

  5. This looks terrific — so full of flavor, and easy. My favorite kind of recipe. 🙂 Love gochujang — such a nice flavor, don’t you think? I’m out of it — need to get some more!

  6. I always combine the sugar with all the sauce ingredients and never thought of first marinating the meat with sugar briefly then add the sauce, will try that next time. What is the reasoning behind marinating with sugar briefly first? Do you think there is a difference?

    1. Hi Norma, The brown sugar acts as a meat tenderizer. You might have noticed that sugar is in most dry rubs used on meat. The meat was very tender and juicy.

  7. My brother was stationed in South Korea for a few years, and had a part-time cook. He ‘assisted’ in making bulgogi one time, and wrote down every ingredient and quantity that she used. The primary difference I see between the recipe he brought home and yours is that she included a massive amount of fresh ground black pepper – 2-3 teaspoons. They cut the meat into thin strips – think fajita – before grilling. It was one of my sons’ favorite dishes, so I would double or triple the recipe because leftovers!

    1. Hi Naomi, I’m glad to know that my recipe is comparable to your brother’s. Next time I make the dish, I’ll try adding some black pepper but I don’t know about 2 – 3 teaspoons. 😀

  8. Your bulgogi looks so good and flavorful. Gochujang is one of my go to hot sauce not only for Korean dishes but for some other Asian dishes. Thank you for this post, karen.

    1. Hi Kathryn, I’m glad you are inspired to try Gochujang sauce. I’m finding many uses for it such as this recipe for the BBQ beef.

  9. Oh wow! I’ve never tried Korean Barbeque before, but looking through all the ingredients, it sounds just up my alley. Dinner time here and I’m salivating 🙂

  10. This sounds so delicious. I have heaps of beef in my freezer right now, so I will love trying this. 🙂

  11. YAY! It’s almost grilling season here! This looks like a great way to start of the season. Love that sauce!

    1. I hope you will enjoy using this sauce during the grilling season MJ. I think you will enjoy the flavor it adds to whatever you grill.

    1. Thank you Marigene, for your compliment. I have used this sauce for barbecued chicken as well and it turned out great. I hope you will be able to find the gochujang.

  12. This sounds wonderful, Karen. I really love Korean cooking. We have a Korean friend who throws parties that no one will miss because of her outstanding food!

    Thanks for the details on the ingredients. I have a large grocery store here in Chicago with international aisles that stock everything. I’ll let you know how my endeavor turns out!!

    Jane x

    1. Hi Jane, I bet your friend creates some delicious food. Living in Chicago, I think you will have no trouble finding the ingredients for a great Korean meal. 🙂

  13. I was OLD before I ever went to a Korean restaurant and it was in downtown Auckland when it happened. OMG I fell in love even though we had to cook our own food. 🙂 I could eat this every single week and not get tired of it.

    1. Hi Maureen, I agree with you about being late to discover Korean food but once you have a taste, you love it. I’m glad you like the dish, thank you.

  14. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe Karen. I’m a big fan of the Korean sauce and have a tub in my refrigerator. I get it out overtime I make rice. Our favorite Korean restaurant closed last year and we have yet to find another in our small town. I always ordered dol sot bi bim bap and miss it so!

  15. Wonderful recipe, thank you for sharing:) I do not know much about Korean kitchen and flavours, now I have trigger to test and try this:)

    1. Thank you Ruta, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that this post has inspired you to try some Korean recipes. I believe you will enjoy them.

  16. I just got my first bottle of gochujang sauce and can’t wait to try this! Thanks for creating this recipe for us, Karen!

    1. It was my pleasure David. I’m happy to share my recipe with you that uses gochujang sauce. I’m sure you will enjoy using the flavorful ingredient in many dishes.

  17. Dear Karen – thanks so much for this great recipe. We love eating Korean food and I have yet to try making it at home. Gochujang sounds like it is the key — and we have a new asian market a few miles away. I will have to look for this. Thank you Karen – have a great week!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Allie. If you enjoy Korean food, I believe you will really like the BBQ beef, we thought it was delicious.

  18. Lots of good flavors here for sure, Karen! It sounds delicious! I’ve never eaten Korean food and can’t even think of one Korean restaurant here in Chicago area. I’m sure there are many though and will be searching for one. Many ethnic grocery stores by us though and I will be checking out gochujang! Thanks for the recipe! And have a wonderful rest of the week!

    1. Hi Pam, Lucky you for living in the Chicago area and having lots of ethic grocery stores nearby. 🙂 I love trying new ingredients and gochujang is one that will always make it to my pantry. I’m glad you like the recipe, thank you.

  19. Mmmmmm that looks really mouth watering. Korean food has never been on our menu but it will be now. Keep well Diane

    1. Hi Diane, If you can find the gochujang sauce in your area of France, I do hope you will try this Korean recipe. I believe you would really enjoy the flavor it adds to food.

    1. Hi Cheri, Yes…you indeed get a nice sticky char on the meat using the barbecue marinade. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. I’m glad you like the recipe Ksenia, the Korean barbecue is perfect for a weeknight dinner as it can be prepared so quickly..

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment Liz. I’ve used chicken as well…now I will have to try a pork version the next time I make Korean barbecue. 🙂

    1. Thank you Greg, You are a great cook so there is no need to go out for Korean barbecue. Unless you like standing in lines with trendy hipsters, that is. 😀

    1. Hi Julie, I think you will find gochujang at practically all Asian supermarkets and many regular supermarkets…it seems to be a very popular ingredient. I’ve used the marinade on chicken thighs and they turned out great. Enjoy!

  20. We have a Korean BBQ place opening in our neighbourhood soon, I think they are waiting for their liquor license. I will definitely order this, but if they don’t open soon, I’ll have your recipe as a go to!

    1. Hi Eva, I’m sure you will enjoy having a Korean restaurant in your area. Wish we did but at least I can make my own Korean BBQ beef at home.

    1. Thank you Atreyee and Jesse for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. I hope you enjoy my version of bulgogi. Your visit to Seoul had to be so very interesting.

  21. I’ve never even seen a Korean restaurant…. 😦 But I made bulgogi myself once and it was amazing. Looked a bit different though. I would love to try this version, it looks mouthwatering.

  22. Hi Adina, Unfortunately we don’t have a Korean restaurant in our town either and as you did, had to make the barbecued beef myself. I hope you like my version. 🙂

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