Guys, there’s easy, and then there’s this recipe. Korean beef is unbelievably good for how little effort it takes. A pound of ground beef and some Asian pantry ingredients turn into a magical dinner in just a few minutes. Dress it up as much or as little as you want. Rice is a go-to, but you could add any veggies you have in your fridge, like cucumbers, carrots, edamame, broccoli…the options are endless. My new favorite weeknight meal!

bowl brimming over with sections of rice, Korean beef with Sriracha mayo, veggies, and sesame seeds.
Table of Contents
  1. Korean beef
  2. Korean beef ingredients
  3. How to make Korean Beef
  4. What to serve with Korean beef bowls
  5. How to store Korean beef
  6. Can you freeze Korean beef?
  7. Korean beef frequently asked questions
  8. Easy ground beef recipes
  9. More stupid easy FAST dinner recipes
  10. 30 Minute Korean Beef Recipe Recipe

I looked up from my spot at the kitchen barstool the other day to see that my 4-year-old son Edison had something in his hair. I reached up to brush it away, and realized it WAS his hair. His completely shriveled, singed blond hair.

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blonde boy with singed hair

I sent this picture to my family: “Edison, when he smells a candle.” My family’s response:

“I think he’s drunk. Have you had him walk a straight line, or do finger-to-nose yet?”

“Poor kid. It’s rough being 4. 😂”

“At least the eyelashes were spared!!”

“I hope he makes it to adulthood.”

I sure hope he does too guys, it gets pretty dicey sometimes with this kid!! His face is all red, not from scorch marks (thank goodness), but because earlier that day at “play school,” he decided to paint his face instead of the paper. Of course.

I should probably stop lighting candles in my house altogether. So much for a lovely scented kitchen. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so deep on “stop drop and roll” demonstrations for such a young kid. He probably thought I was the crazy one after seeing me flail around all over the floor after he did something so innocuous as smelling a candle.

It’s shenanigans like this that mean I NEED some amazing 30-minute dinners like the one I’m sharing today. I can’t keep up with these kids as it is, forget an overly-involved dinner!

My sister Laura is the mastermind behind today’s Korean beef recipe. She is a pro at whipping up super quick and HEALTHY dinners. (anyone can pasta all day, but this girl knows where it’s at when it comes to nutritious meals.) Have you made Korean Beef before? There’s a reason it’s super popular.

Brown ceramic bowl filled with rice, broccoli, and Korean beef with green onion garnish. this one for hero? what do you think?

Korean beef

I never thought much of Korean beef. I’d seen the pictures. Looks like some ground beef with spices over white rice. Big woof. But since making it, I’ve come around. Because the FLAVOR, oh my goodness. It’s amazing what these few simple ingredients can do for a pound of ground beef.

I’m usually the person who is telling you to buy 80/20 ground beef, because for things like Smash Burgers, you NEED all that fat to make your burger juicy. But for Korean beef, it’s best to use lean ground beef. I like 93/7 best. It’s a bit more expensive, but in this dish it means you don’t have to drain the grease, and helps to avoid that slick, greasy feel on the beef. PLUS it allows us to use toasted sesame oil in the pan before browning the meat (usually totally unnecessary with fattier beef) which gives the perfect flavor.

Then we’re going to add some simple but potent flavors like garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce to truly transform the plain beef. A hint of dark brown sugar gets mixed in, LOTS of green onion and some sesame seeds sprinkled over the top, and voila, your Korean beef is DONE. It’s really that easy! Serve with your favorite rice and stir fry veggies, or put it together in a rice bowl like I’ve done for the photos today. Trust me when I say it will be a new favorite in your dinner rotation!

bowl with Korean beef, rice, cucumber slices, and matchstick carrots.

Korean beef ingredients

Check out what you’ll need for the recipe here, but be sure to look at the recipe card to get exact measurements and full instructions!

cast of ingredients for Korean beef including sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, etc.
  • lean ground beef
  • sesame oil
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • red pepper
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce (optional, but the UMAMIIII)
  • dark brown sugar
  • green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • rice, to serve with
  • More veggies to serve it with, see recipe
close up of cooked broccoli next to Korean beef topped with green onion.

How to make Korean Beef

If you’re planning to serve this with rice, get the rice started first thing. Korean beef is done so fast that the rice will actually take longer to cook than the beef, so let it do it’s thing while you prep everything else.

When I make this for my family, I make white rice for the kids and Cauliflower Rice (or Asian Cauliflower Rice) for me and Eric, because we prefer to eat low-carb dinners most days. Sometimes I buy a head of cauliflower and make it homemade, and sometimes I buy the pre-riced frozen cauliflower. It’s so easy, just heat it up in a pan with some oil and salt.

Once you have your rice going, set a large skillet over medium high heat and add the toasted sesame seed oil. I love the taste of toasted oil, but normal sesame seed oil will work fine. Add the ground beef, and stir occasionally to break down the meat until it is all well browned. It’ll probably take about 5 or so minutes.

top chef's knife smashing garlic cloves, bottom fingers on smashed, skinless garlic.

While the beef browns, prep your other ingredients. Smash and finely mince your garlic cloves.

top minced garlic on a wooden chopping board, bottom peeling ginger with a spoon.

Grate or mince your fresh ginger. I sometimes peel my ginger with a spoon, easy peasy (a vegetable peeler works great too.) My sister Laura doesn’t even peel ginger anymore 🤯 she just scrubs it real good and chops it up! THE FREEDOM, GUYS!!

If you’re really in a pinch, you can use bottled garlic and ginger, but the flavors won’t be as strong.

When the ground beef is thoroughly cooked, add in the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Mix it in with the meat and let it cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

top minced ginger and garlic on top of cooked ground beef, bottom pouring in soy sauce.

Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and fish sauce to the mixture. The fish sauce is technically optional, but please, if you do ANY (even elementary level) Asian cooking, stick this on the door of your fridge. The Red Boat brand is best. It’s bottled umami. Add a teaspoon to literally any Asian style dish and it will amp up the flavors.

Stir up all those ingredients until well combined, and let it cook another 1-2 minutes. Turn off the burner. Y’all…THAT’S IT.

bias cut green onions sprinkled over the top of finished Korean beef.

Okay except it’s really good with some green onions, so don’t forget those.

Here’s a little trick for ya. I like to use my kitchen shears to cut the green onions right into the pan, instead of chopping them. If you don’t have kitchen shears, chopping with a knife is of course just fine.

I hired a kitchen assistant recently, to help me out on shoot days (hi Katie!!) and she asked where my kitchen shears were, and I was like uuhhmmmmm…. basically any pair of scissors lying around my kitchen turn into “kitchen shears” when I need to cut food. Voila, it’s like magic, for low class people with very few sanitary boundaries.

Okay sorry, back to the recipe. I like to chop/cut about 3/4 of the bunch of green onions and mix that into the beef where they *very slightly* wilt. Once that’s stirred in, cut the remaining onions over the top. Or save to pass at the table so they are very fresh.

Don’t forget to garnish with sesame seeds! I love the nutty flavor it adds!

close up of rice topped with Korean beef and drizzled with Sriracha mayo.

But of course, if you really love yourself, you’ll make some Sriracha mayo to dollop on top. And literally any veggie that’s lying around in your fridge. Sooo good!

What to serve with Korean beef bowls

When I really need this meal to be the quickest possible, I serve it with rice and a bag of stir-fry veggies from the fresh produce aisle. It’s usually a mix of cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and maybe some snow peas, snap peas, or brussels sprouts. If I have more time, I’ll cut up whatever is in my fridge and stir fry it, or make a separate veggie side. Here are some great rice and veggie options to choose from!

Korean beef bowl with rice and veggies on a wooden table with bowl of red pepper flakes.

How to store Korean beef

Transfer any leftover beef to a container with an air-tight lid and put it in the refrigerator. It will last there for about 5 days. Korean beef actually makes great meal prep! If you feel like doing yourself a favor, get a container you can microwave and add some leftover rice, beef, and veggies in the portion sizes that work for you, and store all together.

When it’s time to eat lunch just bust it out and you’re all ready to go! To heat up Korean beef that’s been in the refrigerator, use the microwave. Lean meat can get tough if it’s overcooked, so use 50% power for 1-2 minutes until it’s as warm as you’d like it to be.

Can you freeze Korean beef?

I love freezing Korean beef! It’s so easy and makes for a dinner that’s even easier than the night you made it, which is saying something. Sometimes I double or even triple the recipe to be sure to have enough to freeze for a “next time.” Add any beef you plan to freeze to a freezer ziplock bag, flattening it out to store and thaw easier. Seal, and let come to room temperature.

Once it’s cool enough, stick it in the freezer and it will stay good there for 4-6 months. When you decide to use it, pull the bag out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for a few hours. Warm up over low heat in a skillet on the stove. You may want to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to keep it from drying out.

broccoli, rice, and Korean beef served together in a ceramic bowl.

Korean beef frequently asked questions

What is korean beef?

Korean beef is basically the easy, weeknight dinner knockoff version of Beef Bulgogi. Korean beef basically copies the flavor profile of Beef Bulgogi: sesame, soy, ginger, garlic, sugar but without the added sweetness of blended Asian pear. The original Bulgogi also uses a very thinly sliced cut of premium beef like ribeye or sirloin, and Korean beef keeps it simple (and cheap) by using ground beef.

What is korean beef called?

Well, to answer this question we need to differentiate between two things. First, there is the recipe called “Korean Beef,” which is what this recipe post is all about.

Then, there is a type of beef raised and butchered in Korea. “Korean Beef,” also called Hanwoo, is one of the rarest and most expensive meats in the world. Hanwoo, or Korean Beef, is so expensive because the meat comes from a small cattle that lives only in Korea. For the most part it is not sold in the U.S. and is very much a delicacy, even in Korea.

is korean beef healthy?

I think it’s a pretty darn balanced meal, personally! Lean ground beef offers lots of protein, you can add veggies galore for good nutrition, and you determine your carby (or non carby) side amount. While I think for most people this is already a healthy meal, there are plenty of things you can try to make it even leaner if you like. You can try swapping lean ground turkey for the beef, switching to cauliflower rice or serving the meat and veggies in lettuce wraps, or even using a brown sugar substitute to lower calories.

rice in a bowl topped with Korean beef, sliced cucumbers and radishes, and matchstick carrots.

Easy ground beef recipes

The ever present “what am I gonna do with this ground beef?” question. Does anyone else have this problem? Here are some great options when you’re stuck in a (ground beef) rut!

More stupid easy FAST dinner recipes

Some nights you just gotta get ‘er done, amiright? Check out some of my other quick & easy favorites!

spoon digging into a bowl with rice, Korean beef, edamame, carrots sticks, cucumber, and more.

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30 Minute Korean Beef Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Guys, there's easy, and then there's this recipe. Korean beef is unbelievably good for how little effort it takes. A pound of ground beef and some Asian pantry ingredients turn into a magical dinner in just a few minutes. Dress it up as much or as little as you want. Rice is a go-to, but you could add any veggies you have in your fridge, like cucumbers, carrots, edamame, broccoli…the options are endless. My new favorite weeknight meal!


  • 1 pound lean ground beef, 93/7 is best
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil, or regular sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic, about 4-5 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, optional
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar*, more or less to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce, or your favorite hot sauce, add more to taste
  • sesame seeds, to garnish

Veggies you need for a Korean Beef Bowl

  • 3 medium carrots , sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced
  • 4 radishes, sliced very thin
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag frozen edamame

For the rice

  • 1 & 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 2 & 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, smashed and minced


  • Start your rice first. Add 1 and 1/2 cups long grain rice, 2 and 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon garlic (you can use jarred garlic) to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, with the lid on.
  • Once it reaches a boil (steam escapes from the lid) turn the heat down to low and set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat but don't remove the lid. After another 10 minutes fluff with a fork. Leave the lid on until you are ready to eat.
  • Brown the meat. Place a 12-inch skillet over a burner and set the heat to medium high. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seed oil and swirl to coat. Once the pan is hot, add 1 pound of lean ground beef. Stir and break up the meat into small pieces. Keep cooking until all the meat is completely cooked, about 5-8 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium.
    (If you didn't use lean ground beef, take a minute now to drain the grease from the pan.)
  • Add seasonings. Smash the 5 cloves of garlic and mince finely, you should end up with about 1 tablespoon. Grate or mince the ginger until you get about 1 tablespoon.
  • Add the garlic and ginger to pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. If you like just a hint of spice, start with 1/2 teaspoon, if you like things very spicy start with 1 teaspoon. You can always add more flakes later if you like it hot.
  • Stir everything together and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until the garlic and ginger are very fragrant.
  • Add sauce ingredients. Add in 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, and start with 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Stir it all in and let it cook for a minute or so.
  • Taste it and decide if you want it sweeter. I usually add 2 more tablespoons to make it a full 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Play around with it until you get the sweetness level you like. You can also add any salt or black pepper to taste at this point (but remember, even low sodium soy sauce is very salty so be careful.)
  • Add green onions. Once you have the taste where you like it, turn off the burner. Chop the bunch of green onions. Or, use scissors to snip them directly into the pan.
  • Add about three quarters of the bunch of onions. Mix well to let them wilt slightly with the warm beef. Sprinkle the rest over the top, or reserve for passing at the table.
  • Prep the veggie toppings, if using. Peel and chop 2 carrots into matchsticks.** Slice the cucumbers. Slice the radishes very thin. Follow the instructions on the bag of edamame for steaming in the microwave (it should say to microwave for about 2-3 minutes.) Don't forget the reserved green onions.
  • You can either add all the veggies to individual bowls and have guests build their own dinner, or plate each bowl of Korean beef with the veggies on top.
  • Sesame seeds. Don't forget the sesame seeds! I love the nutty flavor they add. Black or toasted white seeds are really good.
  • Make the sriracha mayo (optional) (but not really). In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1-3 teaspoons of sriracha sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) until combined.
    You can thin it with 1-2 teaspoons of milk if you want. Use a spoon to drip over the top of the beef and rice when plating. This mayo is not really traditional with Korean Beef, but I never pass up an opportunity to drizzle my food with sriracha mayo. Don't be a fool.


*I’ve successfully swapped out normal dark brown sugar for brown sugar Splenda to cut down on sugar content. Just add it in to taste! You can of course also use light brown sugar in place of dark. Keep in mind with either of these switches, the deeper molasses flavor won’t be as present.
**If you are not into raw carrots, saute the matchsticks in a teaspoon of oil in a hot pan for about 7-9 minutes, until softened. Or, follow the instructions for pickling carrots on my Banh Mi sandwich recipe! That would be so good. Daikon would be another great veggie topper for this meal. 
UPDATE: I just tried this recipe with ground turkey instead of ground beef. You should have seen the looks on my kids faces when I told them we were having Korean Turkey for dinner 😂 It was really good! A great option for those who prefer/require lean meats. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beef, korean
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 5 stars
    Maybe I was Uber hungry??? But I basically ate the hamburger meat right out of the skillet after forking a bit of rice. Adding the rest of the accompaniments took it over the top.

    I loved this soo much I bought another pound of ground beef and made it again the next day. Taking it to the office and am sure I’ll be the envy of cube-land.

    1. Ahaha!! Uber hungry or not, this stuff is borderline irresistible. I just made it again today, but with ground turkey this time, and tripled the recipe! So versatile! I love that you immediately bought another pound of meat, lol. Cube-land will never know what hit ’em :) Thank you so much for taking the time to review, that’s super helpful of you Kerstin! 💕

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