Korean Ground Beef

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Sweet and Spicy Korean Ground Beef with all the flavors of your favorite Korean BBQ but for a third of the cost and kid friendly!

Korean ground beef on rice
Korean Ground Beef

Korean Ground beef is the quick weeknight version of your favorite Korean restaurant. A plate of sweet and spicy beef made easier with the use of ground beef instead of short ribs.

Cooking with ground meat is an easy way stretch your dollar and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor. Two of our favorite dishes we’ve been eating recently have been Ground Kung Pao Chicken (1 Pan!) and Ground Orange Chicken (1 Pan!) which taste exactly like takeout, but much easier to make and with less fat!

The easiest, least expensive version of takeout you can make at home and with ground beef!

This recipe was originally posted with a wilted slaw. If you’d like to make the slaw it is listed in the notes under the recipe card.

If you look at the bottom (admittedly tiny) pictures you’ll see a creamy sauce on there. Here is one of my favorite hacks. I hesitate to even post it but we love it so much I’m going to.

If you’re a fan of Sriracha.

Japanese Spicy Mayo Recipe:

  • 2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sriracha
  1. When you finish a bottle (or if you’re not close, use a new squeeze bottle) take off the top and wash it really well.
  2. Add the mayonnaise (we use light) to the bottle using a funnel into your almost completely empty bottle.
  3. Shake it up, test the flavor. Add more in 1 teaspoon at a time from your new bottle.
  4. When you’ve got the right heat level, shake really well then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a day or so the flavors will meld together perfectly making the classic Japanese Spicy Mayo you love and pay way too much for in the restaurants. 😉 That’s what the lighter bottle in the background of the pictures below is.

Some tips for this Korean Ground Beef:

  • Make sure you drain off some of the fat you’ve rendered from the beef. Or use a leaner cut of beef.
  • You can have an even deeper flavor with dark brown sugar.
  • If you don’t have fresh garlic or ginger, use ground garlic and ground ginger in its place (½ teaspoon of each)
  • To make this taste more like takeout brown the beef really well and keep the chunks larger.

Want more Asian Food Recipes?

Tools used in the making of this Korean Ground Beef:
Sesame Oil: The flavor of sesame oil in this dish is unmistakeable and not really able to be substituted. Some Asian grocery stores will try and sell less expensive options that aren’t actually sesame oil, so just be sure the one you’re buying is authentic sesame oil.

Recipe

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Korean Ground Beef

4.96 from 74 votes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Korean
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sweet and Spicy Korean Ground Beef with all the flavors of your favorite Korean BBQ but for a third of the cost and kid friendly!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger , minced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 2 green onions , only the green parts

Wilted Slaw:

  • 6 cups napa cabbage , sliced
  • 2 carrots , grated
  • 2 green onions , diced from tip to tail, excluding the root
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Heat a large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Brown the meat with sesame oil, garlic and ginger.
  3. Drain 75% of the fat, add brown sugar, soy sauce, and Sriracha.
  4. Cook until the liquid has reabsorbed and the meat is shiny but not soupy.
  5. Top with green onions, toss together and serve.

Wilted Slaw:

  1. To make the slaw, put the Napa cabbage, carrots, sesame oil and canola oil in the skillet the meat just came out of.
  2. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the water has evaporated.

Recipe Notes

Wilted Slaw:

  • 6?cups?sliced napa cabbage
  • 2?carrots?, grated
  • 2?green onions?, diced from tip to tail, excluding the root
  • 2?teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1?teaspoon canola oil
  1. To make the slaw, put the Napa cabbage, carrots, sesame oil and canola oil in the skillet the meat just came out of.
  2. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the water has evaporated.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 Servings, Amount per serving: 346 calories, Calories: 346g, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 942mg, Potassium: 599mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 28g, Vitamin A: 5215g, Vitamin C: 5.5g, Calcium: 59g, Iron: 3.5g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keywords: ground beef, Korean ground beef, Korean Ground Beef over Wilted Napa Slaw
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Old photos of the recipe from when it was first posted.
Sweet and Spicy Korean Ground Beef with all the flavors of your favorite Korean BBQ but for a third of the cost and kid friendly!
Sweet and Spicy Korean Ground Beef with all the flavors of your favorite Korean BBQ but for a third of the cost and kid friendly!

Sweet and Spicy Korean Ground Beef with all the flavors of your favorite Korean BBQ but for a third of the cost and kid friendly!
The easiest, least expensive version of takeout you can make at home and with ground beef!

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Comments

  1. EXCELLENT! Thank you so much for this recipe. Made it to exact specs, 1st time- Family loved it! 3rd time, I simply added portobella mushrooms, celery w/ the greens & sugar snap peas! Holy cow! Fantastic!

  2. Finally coming back to rate this… I’ve made it a number of times now over a couple of years and my family of six loves this recipe! Kids from 5-14 all take second helpings. I just serve with steamed broccoli and rice and dinner is ready in less than half hour. Can’t beat that! Thanks Sabrina!

  3. Made this sweet & spicy beef for dinner tonite. My husband was thrilled with it! Simple & very tasty! Thanks Sabrina. This is a meal that will be on my ‘love it’ list!

  4. It was okay but really really sweet. I could see how kids might like this but it was a little too much for adults’ palates.

  5. I do wish I read about the sugar sooner – far too sweet. But I’m most baffled by the liquid you say is in the cabbage? I’m steaming it now and will make a dressing for it in a pinch.

  6. I made this recipe without the slaw. I am not used to putting sugar on meat, so it overall tasted strange to me… I only did 1/4 cup of brown sugar and it was still extremely sweet. While I was eating it, I kept checking the recipe because I thought, “I must have misread the ingredients and thought the T for tablespoon was a C”. But, of course I had read the recipe right. Besides being candy sweet, I also thought the flavors felt unbalanced and heavy. I quartered a fresh lime and added one quarter of the lime juice over my serving. The acidity brightened and lightened the rich flavor adding complexity and tang to balance the nutty fat and the sweet. I recommend amending this recipe to include some vinegar or acidity, at least as a garnish.
    I would suggest reducing the sugar called for to 2 tablespoons at most. Especially if your diet doesn’t usually include refined sugars. You can always taste and add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough. I don’t generally add sugar to much food or drink, so this recipe tasted strange to me.

    I will probably make this dish again with some adjustments and I will look for a Korean quick pickle recipe to help add acidity as a garnish to brighten.

  7. Made this exactly as recipe called for. It was fantastic. Wife ate it and the left overs 3 days straight. Was wondering if this can be done in an instapot and with thin sliced beef. The flavor is outstanding.

  8. I decided to make this although I didn’t have the slaw ingredients. I decided to use only half of the brown sugar and found that it was sweet enough for me. Instead of the slaw, tossed in a couple of cups of stir-fry vegetables. So delicious! I can see this becoming a fallback recipe.

  9. The wilted slaw recipe does not make sense. If the meat absorbs all of the liquid, what is left for the slaw. Wanting to make this tonight – HELP!

    1. I’m so sorry I’m just now seeing this. You’ll be adding sesame oil and canola oil in with the cabbage and carrots. Hope you enjoyed it!

  10. Made this last night when we suddenly realized it was 5:30 and feeling hungry. Only substitution was bok choys for cabbage since I didn have any.. perfectly sweet an spicy

  11. A half cup of sugar for one pound of meat? Traditional Korean bulgogi recipes will call for maybe 2 TBSP of sugar for a pound of beef. This recipe calls for 8 TBSP, four times as much. Bulgogi is not meant to be a sweet dish.

    1. Anytime Ive had bulgogi (which is a lot) it was definitely sweet so I disagree with you David this dish was delicious as is! 🙂

    2. I wish I had seen this comment before I made the dish. I only put 1/2 of the sugar in and it was candy sweet. I wish I had done 1 T to try and added another if needed. I also added lime juice which did cut the sweetness down enough for me to eat. My guess is, the recipe was made for people who consume lots of sugary foods? I’m a person who tends to cut down on carbs when possible so this recipe was a splurge.

  12. I love this recipe so much I make it all the time. I didn’t have sriracha a couple times so I replaced it with franks red hot and it was still perfect.