Ground Beef Bulgogi from "Learning Korean"

The salty-sweet and garlicky flavors you love in bulgogi come together with ease in this affordable, easy ground beef bulgogi recipe from Peter Serpico's cookbook "Learning Korean."

Two bowls filled with Ground Beef Bulgogi

Neal Santos

Ground beef gets a bad rap from snobby foodie types, but since it’s something I grew up eating, I prefer to see the positive—​it’s an incredibly affordable and versatile starting point for families looking to save money (a.k.a., all families). It’s all about what you do with it.

In this recipe, we’re using it to prepare a version of bulgogi, one of the most popular dishes in Korean cuisine, both in restaurants and in homes. Typically prepared with fancier cuts of beef, bulgogi rests in a mild, balanced marinade for hours (ideally overnight) before getting crispy and caramelized on the grill. This recipe delivers all that flavor on a hamburger budget. Sweet and salty, it’s a flexible base that can be served with lettuce wraps, rice, noodles, or rolled up into homemade Kimbap.

Read our interview with Peter Serpico about his book, "Learning Korean", and his journey as an American chef understanding his Korean roots through food.

Ground Beef Bulgogi from "Learning Korean"

Prep Time 8 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Marinating time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 16 mins
Servings 4 servings

90/10 ground beef is what I prefer. 

Skipping marinade time is fine, but the flavor is deeper with proper marinade time. 

Recipe excerpted with permission from "Learning Korean: Recipes for Home Cooking" by Peter Serpico (WW Norton & Company, 2022). All rights reserved.


  • 1 pound ground beef (see recipe note)

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-​inch pieces (white and
    light green parts)

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil


  1. Marinate the ground beef 4 to 8 hours:

    Combine all ingredients except vegetable oil in a bowl and mix together well. Allow the beef to marinate, covered in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 4 hours, ideally overnight.

  2. Cook the beef, then serve:

    The next day, heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and cook the ground beef thoroughly, stirring occasionally to break up any large chunks.

    Serve the bulgogi hot, with lettuce or cabbage wraps and steamed rice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
373 Calories
24g Fat
6g Carbs
31g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 373
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 639mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 505mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.