Bulgogi Sauce is sweet and savory with hints of pear, ginger, and garlic. It’s a staple ingredient in Korean BBQ Beef. This easy recipe is made from scratch and adds great flavors to your grilled beef. You can also use it in the marinade, dipping sauce, burgers, stir-fry chicken, or pork served with rice or noodles.
Sure, you could buy bottled bulgogi sauce or Korean BBQ sauce online or in the supermarket. But making it from scratch ensures you’re using the freshest ingredients, with no preservatives or additives. If you’ll only be making Korean BBQ Beef as a one-time meal, there’s no need to purchase a big bottle of sauce. It’s quick and easy to make your own.
What is Bulgogi Sauce?
Bulgogi sauce is a popular sauce or marinade used in many Korean dishes. Bulgogi roughly translates to “fire meat.” Bulgogi is a sweet and savory sauce that uses soy sauce as its base. Pear juice adds a fruity undertone to the sauce, along with the sweetness of brown sugar. Garlic and ginger add even more complexity to this sauce. Though bulgogi is very versatile, it’s most popularly and traditionally used to prepare Korean BBQ Beef.
Bulgogi Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the main ingredient in bulgogi sauce. If you prefer, opt for a low sodium soy sauce. This is my favorite brand.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar adds a nice sweet flavor. You can also use white granulated sugar.
- Pear Juice: Bulgogi is traditionally made with Korean pears, if you cannot find any, you can use pear juice, apple juice, or pineapple juice to add a fruity sweetness to your sauce.
- Grated Ginger: Best to use freshly grated ginger.
- Minced Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic for the best result.
- Sesame Oil: It adds an authentic nutty flavor to the dish.
- Toasted Sesame Seeds: Authentic bulgogi is made with sesame seeds. These are widely available online or in the spice aisle of your grocery store.
- Green Onions: You may also use chives, which are similar in taste and appearance.
How to Make Bulgogi Sauce
1. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, pear juice, ginger, and garlic to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
2. Cook until sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Remove from heat. Add sesame oil, sesame seeds, and green onion.
4. Let the sauce cool down. Use it as a marinade, dipping sauce, or make stir-fry bulgogi beef.
Tips & Tricks
- Make sure NOT to overcook your bulgogi BBQ sauce as it can become too thick.
- Let the sauce cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container.
What Does Bulgogi Sauce Taste Like?
Bulgogi sauce is a delicious blend of complex flavors. With soy sauce as the main ingredient, there is a tasty umami flavor. This sauce also has a nice sweet flavor, thanks to fruit juice and brown sugar.
Ways to Use Korean Bulgogi Sauce
Bulgogi Dipping Sauce
Bulgogi is a delicious dipping sauce for any kind of meat. For a traditional Korean dish, prepare strips of beef, served with dipping sauce on the side.
This sauce can also be used as a marinade for meat and especially beef. Cut your beef into strips and let it soak up the flavors of the sauce for several hours before cooking. The beef becomes tender and full of flavor.
How Long Does Homemade Bulgogi BBQ Sauce Last?
If you have leftover sauce or if you’d like to make extra for storage, let it cool before pouring it into a jar, covered with a lid. Keep this sauce in the fridge and use it within 1 week.
How to Make Korean Bulgogi Beef?
This sauce can be used to make Bulgogi Beef, just like you’d get in a Korean restaurant. Cut boneless rib-eye steak into thin strips, and marinate the beef strips in your Bulgogi sauce for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight. With medium heat and a cast iron grill pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the beef to the pan in a single layer, cooking for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds and serve with rice or noodles.
Where Can I Buy Bulgogi Sauce?
If you don’t want to make your own, Bulgogi sauce or Korean BBQ Sauce can be purchased online or in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets.
Bulgogi Sauce Substitute
Bulgogi sauce is very much similar to Japanese teriyaki sauce and unagi sauce. Both can be used as a substitute for Bulgogi sauce.
If You Like This Recipe Try These Out
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your Bulgogi Sauce turns out in the comments below!
Easy Bulgogi Sauce Recipe
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pear juice (or other fruit juice like apple juice)
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 green onion chopped
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add soy sauce, brown sugar, pear juice, ginger, garlic.
- Cook for a few minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat, and add sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onion.
- Let the sauce cool down. Use it as a dipping sauce or marinade.
- This recipe is enough for 1 ½ pound of beef.
- Store the homemade bulgogi sauce in an airtight container and it’ll last about 1 week in the refrigerator.