5 Minute Recipes/ Asian Recipes/ Condiments and Sauces/ Recipes

All Purpose Korean Bulgogi Sauce

24/02/2022

Rich depth of flavour and the perfect balance of savoury and sweet. This 8 ingredient Korean bulgogi sauce is THE marinade to turn to when you want big flavour and effortlessly tender beef.

Wooden spoon in homemade bulgogi sauce.

Why We Love This

Tender, juicy and huge flavour – your family will rave about anything you cook with this sauce. It’s soooo much better than sauce from a bottle

You can make exactly how much you need for your intended recipe (no clutter of bottles in the fridge) and you know exactly what’s in it. Many store-bought sauces include preservatives, gluten or MSG, all of which you can avoid by making it yourself. 

Homemade sauces are just about our most favourite things to make in the kitchen, and bulgogi sauce is no exception.

As long as you have most of the basic ingredients (or their substitutions) on hand, you’ll be able to make so many sauces that would otherwise be quite expensive or hard to source depending on where you live. Think homemade kewpie mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce or even sesame infused tonkatsu sauce!

Korean bulgogi marinade in a glass bowl with spoon.

What is Bulgogi Sauce? 

Bulgogi (불고기 ) consists of the words bul (fire) and gogi (meat), and usually refers to any meat cooked over a fire or open grill (aka Korean BBQ).

Bulgogi sauce is a Korean marinade made especially for this purpose. It’s usually associated with Korean BBQ dishes like beef bulgogi or chicken bulgogi as well as short ribs (known as galbi or kalbi). 

It’s similar in flavour profile to Japanese teriyaki sauce (both are made with soy sauce and sugar), however usually doesn’t contain any alcohols like cooking sake or mirin. Of course, you can add them in if you want to tweak the flavour to suit your preferences!

Some of the popular store-bought brands include CJ, Ottogi or Beksul.

What You’ll Need

  • Korean Soy Sauce – This is different to Chinese style soy sauces. Since it’s made from soybeans, salt and water (no wheat) it has an earthier, saltier flavour. The best substitute would be Japanese tamari (which is usually gluten-free), otherwise, just use whatever soy sauce you have on hand. 
  • Pear Juice – The secret ingredient to bulgogi’s deliciously soft and melt-in-your-mouth texture. The enzymes in pears help to tenderise the meat while adding a touch of sweetness. You can often find it at Asian groceries, or buy it online. Otherwise, substitute with grated fresh nashi pear, grated apple, apple juice, pureed kiwifruit, minced onion or even a splash of cola. They’ll all have this magic effect when added to a tasty marinade. We’ve also seen people use apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar in a pinch, although the flavour will be different, either will get you through.
  • Sesame Oil – Use a high quality store-bought oil for the best flavour.  Or make your own sesame infused oil at home.
  • Sugar – We use regular white sugar. Sub with honey or mirin for sweetness although the flavour will be quite different. You can also try Splenda for sugar-free diets. 
  • Garlic & Ginger – The savoury and citrusy flavours add a delicious element to the sauce. Use finely chopped or minced. Omit if you prefer a more subtle sauce.
  • Black Pepper – For heat without changing the rest of the flavours too much.
Ingredients laid out to make bulgogi sauce.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Marinate Overnight – While you can start cooking your chosen dish after 10-30 minutes, the flavours will be so much richer if you allow it to marinate overnight.
  • Smooth Sauce – For an ultra smooth sauce, you can use a blender to really combine it all together.

FAQs

How long does homemade bulgogi sauce last?

Since it’s made without preservatives, homemade bulgogi sauce will last a week or so in the fridge in an airtight container. Glass jars or bottles work perfectly for this. Any longer and the flavours from the ginger and garlic can start to degrade.

Where can I buy store-bought bulgogi sauce?

Look for it in the Asian or International aisle at supermarkets, or in the Korean section of Asian import stores. If you can’t find it (and prefer not to make it) you can also buy it online from stores like Amazon, YamiBuy (US) or Yin Yam (AU).

What else can I use it for?

Bulgogi sauce works great as a stir fry sauce or slathered on beef burgers (or mixed through the mince) for extra flavour. Use it as a cooking sauce for fried tofu which you can then serve on rice bowls with veggies. Or try it as a substitute for teriyaki sauce in grilled chicken, chicken skewers and tsukune meatballs or as a replacement sauce for enoki beef rolls.

Variations

Homemade bulgogi sauce with a wooden spoon.

More rich Korean flavours in these amazing recipes:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Freshly chopped garlic in a homemade bulgogi sauce.

All Purpose Korean Bulgogi Sauce

Rich depth of flavour and the perfect balance of savoury and sweet. This 8 ingredient Korean bulgogi sauce is THE marinade to turn to when you want big flavour and effortlessly tender beef.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Basics, Condiment
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 1 Jar
Calories: 367kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $3

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix all marinade ingredients (water, soy sauce, pear juice, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ginger, black pepper) in a medium glass bowl.
    ½ cup water, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 4 tbsp pear juice, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp garlic, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp black pepper
  • Use as a marinade for beef bulgogi or chicken bulgogi.

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Marinate Overnight – While you can start cooking your chosen dish after 10-30 minutes, the flavours will be so much richer if you allow it to marinate overnight.
  • Smooth Sauce – For an ultra smooth sauce, you can use a blender to really combine it all together.
  • Make it Spicy – Add a teaspoon of gochujang paste, gochugaru chilli flakes or even shichimi togarashi to amp up the heat!
  • Add Toasted Ground Sesame Seeds – For an extra depth of nutty, earthy flavour.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
All Purpose Korean Bulgogi Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
367
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
28
g
43
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
12
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
11
g
Sodium
 
4035
mg
175
%
Potassium
 
298
mg
9
%
Carbohydrates
 
23
g
8
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
14
g
16
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
Vitamin A
 
11
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
22
mg
27
%
Calcium
 
46
mg
5
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks
All Purpose Korean Bulgogi Sauce

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