Korean Ground Beef

4 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

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 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.

Korean ground beef on riceKOREAN GROUND BEEF

Cooking Asian Recipes with ground meat is an easy way stretch your dollar and you don’t have to sacrifice flavor. Two of the most popular dishes on the site 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!

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 an easy hack to create your own spicy mayo, which makes a nice condiment to serve atop Korean Ground Beef.

If you’re a fan of Sriracha.


  • 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.

The easiest, least expensive version of takeout you can make at home and with 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.


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.


  • Serve: You can not keep Korean Ground Beef at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Store: Transfer the leftover beef to a Ziploc bag or cover the whole dish in plastic wrap to store in the fridge. It will keep well for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: You can freeze Korean Ground Beef in a gallon freezer bag for up to 3 months. To reheat the beef, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove.

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!

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Korean Ground Beef

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!
Yield 4 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 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 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil


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

Wilted Slaw:

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



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.


Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 5215IU | Vitamin C: 5.5mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3.5mg

Korean Ground Beef Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.
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!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Everyone loved this and it was so easy to make! I might try with less sugar next time and see how it goes. Thanks!

  2. Wow! I sure do admire you, Sabrina! Thanks for all the great recipes. I am all bout simple!

  3. This cane out really good! I made 50% more sauce and used it with lo mein noodles on the side. My husband loved it!

    1. I love this simple and delicious recipe. I make it every few months and serve it differently each time. I love it as shown over rice but my favorite is used in small flour street tortillas. So good with the slaw and spicy mayo.
      Best tacos ever. Thanks for this recipe.

  4. It just crossed my mind that you have done so much for my dinner strategy, especially when I’m pressed for time. I LOVE all your ground beef and ground chicken recipes and so does my family. With our busy after school activity schedule your recipes are lifesavers for us and keep us from eating out on a regular basis. I really appreciate all your wonderful recipes!! Thank you!

  5. I just wanted to stop by and say that since finding this recipe a few years ago this dish has been a staple in my house. My kids love it and request it often! So thank you very much! It’s so quick and easy, yet packed with delicious flavor! We love it!

  6. I’ve made this a few times, family favorite and I have picky eaters! Tonight I subbed the brown sugar for golden monk fruit and didn’t tell anyone! They never knew! Weight watcher friendly. Thank you for such an amazing and easy recipe!

  7. I should have read the comments before adding 1/2 cup of brown sugar–way too sweet for us. I then tried to adjust the sweetness by adding about 1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar which helped but still very sweet. I added a 14 oz bag of cabbage/coleslaw mix which was great. I also added more sesame oil, sriracha and soy to try and temper that sweet but it didn’t have a huge impact. I would make this again but add way less sugar for our tastes–maybe 1-2 Tablespoons at most.

  8. Been making it for a couple years and I make them into thin patties in the pan I like the browning of them, family likes better in pattie form too

  9. I took advice of other comments and significantly reduced the brown sugar. I added some grated carrot and the whites of the scallion as the beef was finishing. Super fast and easy for a really great flavor! I happened to have gochujang so I used a heaping Tablespoon of that instead of Siracha. Served over rice with a side of Asian cucumber salad. Will make this often!

  10. Made this today for the first time. It was great. I increased the seasonings a little. I think it would also be very good with chicken instead of beef.

  11. Made this last night. It was so easy and was really good. I served over noodles instead of rice.
    Will make this again!!!!

  12. This is our favourite go-to supper, we LOVE this dish.

    So easy and delicious. We can eat this everyday. 🙂

    We love that it uses ingredients we always have on-hand.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  13. My family LOVES this dinner! I always put it on top of cilantro lime rice and it helps with the sweetness. Making the slaw for first time tonight so I will see how that turns out. ???

  14. Wow! This was so good! I did ½ the sugar and triple the ginger but other than that…well, just WOW! Served over coconut rice with a soft egg on top. Thank you

  15. This was delicious! I used 1/4 c of sugar based on the reviews, I also added a bit more Siracha! Thanks for a great one!!

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.