This easy Korean Beef recipe is made with simple ingredients and is ready in less than 20 minutes! Inspired by Korean Beef Bulgogi, this quick and easy ground beef recipe pairs perfectly with a bowl of white rice (and some kimchi on the side).
And don't forget to try another quick and easy favorite: Egg Roll in a Bowl!
This recipe is a super easy shortcut version of traditional Korean Beef Bulgogi. Instead of thin strips of top sirloin or flank steak, we use budget-friendly lean ground beef.
Instead of an overnight marinade, you'll get a quick and easy skillet meal that is reminiscent of the original - but ready in just under 20 minutes!
Serve it with white rice, green onions, and a side of kimchi (optional) for the perfect Korean Beef bowls.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Family favorite. This one is perfect for the whole family (yes, even picky eaters). It's sweet, tangy, and any spiciness is easily controlled.
- Quick and easy dinner. This skillet meal is such a time-saver on busy weeknights! I get started once I put on some white rice in the Instant Pot, and dinner is ready before you know it.
- Flavorful. Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame combine for a seriously flavorful, yet seriously simple Korean ground beef recipe.
- Versatile. Can be served with white rice for quick and easy Korean beef rice bowls, or sides like lettuce wraps, cauliflower rice, and noodles.
- Ground beef: I like lean ground beef for this recipe, and grass-fed is a really tasty option if it's available to you. Ground turkey or chicken are also good options.
- Soy sauce (or tamari): This provides a lot of flavor and is a key ingredient. If you need it to be gluten-free you can use tamari, gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut aminos.
- Sesame oil: The secret ingredient! Sesame oil is used as a finishing oil, adding a deep and nutty flavor. This is one you want to make sure you have on hand at all times - it's a game-changer!
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is best, but the jarred stuff is totally fine too. You could even use garlic powder in a pinch.
- Ginger: I recommend fresh ginger, but if you don't have any on hand ground ginger will do just fine.
- Brown sugar: This adds sweetness and a slightly caramel-like flavor. You could swap it for a brown sugar sweetener, coconut sugar, or maple syrup if preferred.
- Fish sauce (optional): This is often used in Korean food, and I think it adds a lot of extra flavor to this recipe. That being said, I know it's not a common ingredient, so it's completely optional.
- Red pepper flakes (optional): This adds the tiniest bit of spiciness. If you have kids that don't like heat, leave this out or add it to individual servings.
- For garnish: I like to add chopped green onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Step one: Brown the ground beef in a heavy-bottomed large skillet over medium heat. Drain any excess grease.
Step two: Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant - about 30-60 seconds.
Add the Remaining Ingredients
Step three: Drizzle in the sesame oil.
Step four: Add in the soy sauce (or tamari), fish sauce (if using), ginger, brown sugar, and a pinch of crushed chili flakes.
Simmer for 3-5 minutes, allowing the flavors to mingle.
Step five: Serve over hot cooked rice or the serving option of your choice (see below for suggestions). Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds (optional).
What to Serve with Korean Beef
- White rice
- Brown rice
- Lettuce cups
- Lettuce wraps
- Cauliflower rice
- Jasmine rice
- Basmati rice
On the side:
- Sautéed broccoli or broccolini
- Spicy gochujang sauce
- Sautéed pepper and onions
- Cucumber salad
- Pickled radish
- Grilled veggies
- Panfried zucchini
Storing, Freezing, and Reheating
Add any leftover Korean ground beef to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheating: Warm in the microwave in 30-second intervals until heated through. Alternatively, add it to a skillet along with 1-2 tablespoons of water and heat over low-medium until warmed through.
Freezing: Allow the beef to cool completely before transferring it to freezer bags. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 4 months. You can reheat from frozen, or thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
Korean Beef and Broccoli: Increase the sauce and seasoning ingredients by about 25-50%. Saute 1 bunch of broccoli florets with some oil or butter in the skillet until tender, then remove and cook the beef as directed. Add the broccoli back in.
Ground turkey or chicken: You can easily swap the lean ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken in this recipe. I do recommend that you add a bit of olive or avocado oil to the pan to prevent the meat from sticking. Drain any excess water that is released from the meat before adding the remaining ingredients.
Slow cooker: Brown the ground beef and add it to a slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients. Stir well to coat and cook on "low" for 2 hours, or on "high" for 1 hour. This will work best with a double or triple batch.
Gluten-free: If you need this recipe to be gluten-free, simply use tamari (or gluten-free soy sauce) in place of the soy sauce in the recipe. Coconut aminos are a good swap, especially if you're soy-free or paleo. All of the other ingredients are naturally gluten-free.
Brown sugar: If you're avoiding extra sugar, there are a lot of options if you want to make this recipe without brown sugar. You could swap it for coconut sugar, OR a brown sugar sweetener that measures 1:1. I have also swapped it for an equal measure of maple syrup with good results.
Dairy-free: This recipe is dairy-free as written.
If you loved this recipe for Korean Ground Beef, let me know by leaving a 5-star review in the recipe card or comment below! You can also tag me on Instagram @dashfordinner.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
- ⅓ cup soy sauce (use tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option)
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ground ginger)
- Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar packed
- Chopped green onions for garnish
- Cooked rice or cauliflower rice, lettuce wraps, quinoa, etc.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.
- Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until it is browned.
- Drain off any excess grease, then add in the sesame oil, and toss to coat the beef.
- Add the minced garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Then add the soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce (if using), ginger, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir well to combine.
- Simmer for 3-5 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, then remove from the heat.
- Serve over rice, noodles, cauliflower rice, or in lettuce wraps. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.
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