Bulgogi Marinade

Try this phenomenal Korean-style Bulgogi marinade on beef. Slice (or keep whole), marinate, cook and serve in lettuce wraps or over rice. You can use this bulgogi on any cut of beef; simply adjust your marinating times as needed. See below for details.

What is bulgogi?

Bulgogi is a popular beef dish often available on most Korean restaurant menus here in the U.S. What exactly is it? It is beef marinated in a flavorful soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and rice wine mixture. Beef cuts used in bulgogi include thin-cut sirloin, ribeye steak, or brisket. The meat is traditionally cooked on an indoor grill or stovetop. However, some folks use their outdoor grill as well. Besides beef, other meats used for this dish include pork belly and chicken breast.

Ingredients for bulgogi marinade:

  • Soy sauce
  • White sugar (you can substitute with brown sugar)
  • Sake (or rice wine or sherry) 
  • Sesame oil
  • Garlic (lots of it!)
  • Green onions 
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Black pepper 

Marinating times: 

  • For steaks: marinate meat for 2-4 hours.
  • Pork belly: 2-3 hours
  • Chicken: 2 hours
  • Vegetables: 1 hour
  • Tofu: 2 hours
Bulgogi is marinated slices of beef grilled on a barbecue


Make this bulgogi marinade ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 1 week after preparation. This marinade also works on vegetables or meat substitutes.

Slice the meat as thin as you can for the best results. If you are using an outdoor grill for cooking your bulgogi, slice the meat thin but wide. See the photo above for guidance.

Jazz this bulgogi marinade up by adding a few teaspoons of my popular Korean Rub

Like this recipe? Try my Korean Flanken Rib Recipe.


Bulgogi Marinade

Bulgogi Marinade

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Marinades/Brines
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: marinade recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Derrick Riches


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sake (use rice wine or sherry as substitutes)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 green onions finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • Toast sesame seeds in a hot skillet. Toss to distribute heat evenly. The toasting process happens quickly, so keep a close eye on the seeds. Once browned, remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a small saucepan and add minced garlic. Cook garlic for over medium heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add remaining ingredients, except green onion, and cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and stir in green onions. Let marinade cool for 15-20 minutes before using.
  • For thinner cuts like steaks, marinate meat for 2-4 hours
  • For larger cuts and roasts, marinate for 6-12 hours.


Photo by: Sharon Ang from Pixabay

Photo by: minheepark90/Depositphotos

Bulgogi Marinade

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