Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade

Our bulgogi marinade recipe without all the sugar! Only 5 minutes to prep, marinade overnight, and you’re ready to grill your own Korean barbecue at home!

Korean BBQ has gained immense popularity over the years, with restaurants opening up left and right worldwide. It’s not much of a mystery why it’s become so popular – it’s a fun and unique dining experience, with unlimited side dishes, and of course, delicious food!

One of the most popular meats at KBBQ is the Korean beef bulgogi, literally meaning “fire meat” in Korean. To some, it may feel like this can only be enjoyed at restaurants, but this beef bulgogi recipe is easier to make than you think.

Use this recipe for a simple meal at home, or make more for a KBBQ-themed feast for your next gathering!

Korean BBQ bulgogi made with sliced ribeye being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

What is Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade?

Bulgogi is most commonly thin slices of beef, marinated in a sweet concoction of ingredients such as soy sauce, sweetener, sesame oil, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and black pepper.

For the sweetener, our version calls for monkfruit erythritol blend to keep it on the healthy side, but really, you can use any sweetener of your choice. White sugar or brown sugar works too.

Traditionally, Koreans use Korean pear (aka Asian pear) to help sweeten up and tenderize the meat (you can substitute this with kiwi as well).

Fun fact – Some Korean versions even call for Coke or Sprite as the sweetener/tenderizer!

What does Korean bulgogi taste like?

Bulgogi marinade has a distinctly sweet, yet salty and savory flavor. The sweetness is mild and isn’t overly powerful. The sweet and salty go well together and make for a very balanced combination.

Due to this flavor profile, it’s also often a big hit with kids!

What cut of beef to use for Korean bulgogi marinade?

Typically, bulgogi is made with thinly sliced meat. The best cuts to use are rib-eye, chuck, or sirloin.

You can find these meats already pre-cut in thin slices at your local Asian supermarket, under packages labeled ‘shabu shabu’ (thin), or ‘sukiyaki’ (slightly thicker).

How long to marinate bulgogi beef?

For best results, we recommend marinating overnight, or for 24 hours, to ensure all that juicy goodness is soaked all the way through.

You can marinate it in a bowl, but we find it’s more convenient to use a zip-lock bag. That way, you can just knead the meat from the outside, without ever getting your hands dirty. Plus, it makes for easier storage in the fridge during marination!

What ingredients do you need to make this bulgogi recipe?

  • Thinly Sliced Rib Eye  you can find thinly sliced meat at your local Asian supermarket under packages labeled ‘shabu shabu’ (thin), or ‘sukiyaki’ (slightly thicker).
  • Sliced Onions – for the marinade.
  • Green Onion – cut into 1-inch sticks.
  • Toasted Sesame Seed – toasted sesame seeds are found in most supermarkets or Asian supermarkets.
  • Neutral Cooking Oil – high temp neutral cooking oil such as vegetable oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil.
  • Chopped Onions – used in blender or food processor for the marinade.
  • Garlic – used in blender or food processor for the marinade.
  • Jalapeno  used in blender or food processor for the marinade.
  • Soy Sauce – low sodium is preferred. For gluten-free, you can use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Water – used for the marinade.
  • Sweetener  to keep this recipe sugar-free, we use a monkfruit erythritol blend. It is low-carb, keto-friendly, and has 0 calories. Feel free to use your preferred sweetener or regular cane sugar.
  • Sesame Oil – use toasted sesame oil (dark and rich in color). Check to make sure it is not a sesame oil blend.
  • Black pepper – ground black pepper.

Korean BBQ bulgogi made with sliced ribeye served on a cast iron plate with green onions and toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

How to make bulgogi?

To make the marinade, use a blender or food processor to combine soy sauce, water, sweetener, sesame oil, chopped onions, jalapeno, garlic, and black pepper.

After it’s blended, transfer all to a zip-lock bag, along with sliced beef and sliced onions. Seal the bag, ensuring no air is inside.

Massage the marinade into the meat with your hands, place the bag into the fridge for 24 hours, and simply cook and garnish the next day to enjoy!

Note – For this recipe, we provided two ways you can cook the meat. The preferred method would be on a BBQ grill to infuse the smoke flavors inside the meat. However, if you don’t have a BBQ grill at home, you can also pan-fry it on high heat.

Can you use bulgogi marinade on chicken?

Absolutely! When you think of bulgogi, beef is what usually comes to mind, but there is also a chicken version called ‘dak bulgogi’, or ‘chicken fire meat’ recipe here.

This is a perfect alternative if you want to skip out on the red meat. It has a lighter taste and bouncier texture. Many also choose to make this chicken version with a spicy kick to it.

What to serve with beef bulgogi?

Oh boy! If you’ve ever had Korean BBQ, you know the possibilities are endless!

Along with rice, you will always find lots of small Korean side dishes accompanying the meats.

Generally, these are things like kimchi, various pickled vegetables (often fermented with garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, or chili powder), potatoes (think mashed, or sweet), Korean pancakes, seaweed, fish, etc.

You can find these side dishes at any Korean supermarket in the refrigerated section.

Another great way to enjoy it is to eat it as a wrap. Wrap the bulgogi in lettuce leaves, and just eat! You can add anything you want into the wrap – rice, seaweed, garlic, a side dish, anything!

It’s fun to try different combinations with each bite. Just make sure you open wide and watch out for those juices!

Can you freeze bulgogi marinade?

Yes! This marinade also works well for meal planning. Just make a whole batch, and throw it in the freezer once the marination portion is completed.

If you flatten the zip-lock bags after massaging the meat, it can be a real space saver in your freezer. When you are ready to eat, just thaw and enjoy your Korean BBQ beef anytime!

Is this Korean bulgogi marinade recipe keto & low carb friendly?

‘Marinated’ usually means it’s going to contain a good amount of sugar in it, and bulgogi is no different.

So if you’re looking for a healthier version, here it is! We substitute ours with monkfruit erythritol blend, for a keto-friendly, low-carb version with only ~3g net carbs per serving.

What is the nutrition information for this Korean bulgogi recipe?

  • 703 Calories
  • 5g Carbohydrates
  • 1g Fiber
  • 50g Protein
  • 54g Fat
  • 138mg Cholesterol
  • 1741mg Sodium
  • 726mg Potassium
  • 41mg Calcium
  • 5mg Iron
  • 154ui Vitamin A
  • 4mg Vitamin C

Korean BBQ bulgogi made with sliced ribeye being picked up with a pair of chopsticks.

Looking for other Korean recipes?

Now, let’s get making this Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade recipe!

  • Prepping Time 5M
  • Marinating Time 24H
  • Cooking Time 5M
  • Total Time 24H10M
  • Net Carb/Serv ~3g
  • Servings 2

Ingredients

Bulgogi

  • 1 lbs Thinly Sliced Rib Eye (or Chuck)
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Onions
  • 2 Stalks Green Onion
  • 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seed
  • 1 tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil

Marinade

Directions

1) Gather all the ingredients.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (38)

2) Use a blender or food processor to combine Soy Sauce, Water, sweetener, Sesame Oil, chopped onions, jalapeno, garlic and black pepper together to form marinade. Transfer marinade to a zip-lock bag.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (16)

Keto Korean BBQ Taco Recipe (16)

3) Finley slice onions and add into zip-lock, along with sliced beef. Massage in the marinade ensuring equal distribution.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (15)

4) Place zip-lock bag flat in the fridge for 24 hours (up to 36 hours) flipping over at least once half way through the marinate.

Keto Korean BBQ Taco Recipe (12)

5) After marination is complete, cut green onions into 1 inch sticks and set aside.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (30)

6a) If pan frying, add cooking oil into a large Teflon fry pan and bring up to temperature on high, should take around 1 minute. Once up to temp, transfer beef and green onions. Cook while mixing until beef is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes and then transfer to serving plate.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (37)

6b) Preheat grill on high until temp reaches ~350F.  In the meantime, make a pan with the sheet of aluminum foil and generously apply cooking oil and transfer beef and green onions. Once grill is up to temp, lower heat to medium-low and place pan on grill. Close lid and cook for ~1 minute. After 1 minute, open lid, mix beef around and close lid back. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until beef is cooked while occasional mixing beef and keeping the lid closed. Once cooked, transfer to serving plate.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (35)

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (36)

7)  Sprinkle sesame seeds and serve hot.

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (29)

Hope you enjoy your Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade!

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More Recipes

Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade LowCarbingAsian Cover

Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade

Our bulgogi marinade recipe without all the sugar! Only 5 minutes to prep, marinade overnight, and you're ready to grill your own Korean barbecue at home!
4.24 from 34 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: bulgogi marinade recipe, bulgogi recipe, keto korean bbq, keto korean food
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 10 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe
Calories: 703kcal

Ingredients

Bulgogi

  • 1 lbs Thinly Sliced Rib Eye or Chuck
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Onions
  • 2 Stalks Green Onion
  • 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seed
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil

Marinade

  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Onions
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 Whole Jalapeno optional
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tbsp Sweetener monkfruit erythritol blend, sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (38)
  • Use a blender or food processor to combine Soy Sauce, Water, sweetener, Sesame Oil, chopped onions, jalapeno, garlic and black pepper together to form marinade. Transfer marinade to a zip-lock bag.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (19)
  • Finley slice onion and add into zip-lock, along with sliced beef. Massage in the marinade ensuring equal distribution.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (15)
  • Place zip-lock bag flat in the fridge for 24 hours (up to 36 hour flipping over at least once half way through the marinate.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (14)
  • After marination is complete, cut green onions into 1 inch sticks and set aside.
  • A) If pan frying, add cooking oil into a large Teflon fry pan and bring up to temperature on high, should take around 1 minute.  Once up to temp, transfer beef and green onions.  Cook while mixing until beef is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes and then transfer to serving plate.
    B) Preheat grill on high until temp reaches ~350F.  In the meantime, make a pan with the sheet of aluminum foil and generously apply cooking oil and transfer beef and green onions.  Once grill is up to temp,lower heat to medium-low and place pan on grill.  Close lid and cook for~1 minute.  After 1 minute, open lid, mix beef around and close lid back.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes until beef is cooked while occasional mixing beef and keeping the lid closed.  Once cooked, transfer to serving plate.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (37)
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds and best served with some vegetables.
    Keto Korean BBQ Bulgogi Marinade Recipe (29)

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 703kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 1741mg | Potassium: 726mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 5mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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