These sweet and savory grilled Korean beef skewers use my favorite bulgogi marinade and are oh-so-easy to prepare.
When summer hits, we are all about using our grill. These unbelievably crispy grilled potatoes and perfectly grilled chicken breast go into rotation, but when we want something unique, we go for these Korean beef skewers!
These Korean beef skewers are basically beef bulgogi. The recipe that I adapted from called for strips of meat to be pan-fried, although my research tells me that traditional bulgogi is grilled.
Instead of cutting strips I cubed the beef and added some red onions and bell peppers to the skewers. I was totally blown away by the flavors of these Korean beef skewers, and by grilling the beef rather than pan-frying, that means one less dish to wash! Make sure you get a good cut of beef, and if you can, get that beef marinating the night before.
The bulgogi marinade is SO tasty: some soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and the secret weapon: a grated pear. Does that sound strange? It is the magical ingredient that gives this dish a sweet and savory twist. If you can’t find an Asian pear, just grab yourself a Bosc pear, I’ve used one in the past and couldn’t taste a difference.
Reasons to ♡ these Korean beef skewers
- full of umami, it’s a creative recipe to cook on the grill
- they are inspired by traditional Korean beef bulgogi
- the grill makes clean up easy
Ingredients you’ll need
- Beef– stay away from tough cuts like stewing beef or a roast. See below for the best cuts.
- Vegetables– red onion and peppers were used but feel free to use your favorites! Mushrooms and zucchini are also great.
- Soy sauce– adds umami and saltiness to the marinade
- Brown sugar– to balance the saltiness with a bit of sweetness
- Sesame oil– adds dimension to the sauce with a subtle sesame flavor
- Mirin– is a slightly sweet and tangy rice wine that is key to my homemade teriyaki sauce. If you can’t find it, you can swap for sake or sherry, or just leave it out
- Asian pear– this adds a subtle fruity flavor to the marinade while helping to tenderize the beef; if you can’t find an Asian pear, swap for a Bosc pear
- Onion, garlic, ginger– adding more depth and savory dimension to the marinade
Cuts of beef
For this recipe, you want a cut of beef that is already somewhat tender, as anything tough will just get tougher on the grill. Great options for kebabs are sirloin, flat iron, or tenderloin. Stay away from stewing beef or beef shoulder, as these cuts are tougher and will end up really chewy in this recipe.
Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes and try to cut them as equal-sized as possible so they they cook through evenly.
Marinating the beef
Combine all of the marinade ingredients (soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, mirin, grated pear, onion, garlic, and ginger) in a bowl or a bag. Mix together, remove ¼ cup to be used while grilling, then add the beef. Cover and marinate in the fridge.
How long to marinate
You can marinate the beef for as little as 2 hours, but for maximum flavor, I like to marinate overnight. This allows ample time for the beef to absorb the flavors and tenderize slightly.
You could also prepare this as a freezer marinate, placing the beef into the marinade and freezing for up to 3 months.
Grilling the beef
Prepare the skewers by alternative beef cubes with onion and pepper. Note that if you are using wooden skewers, you will want to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling, otherwise, they will burn and may break
Heat the grill to high heat (450°F). Make sure the grill is clean, and brush with oil before placing the skewers over direct heat. Grill for 5-8 minutes, turning every 2 or so minutes and brushing with the reserved marinade.
Before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. This recipe goes well with:
- Coconut rice or coconut cauliflower rice
- Asian slaw
- Salad tossed in Asian salad dressing
- Grilled vegetables like grilled Brussels sprouts
- Lettuce leaves to turn into a lettuce wrap
Korean Beef Skewers
- 1/2 cup soy sauce I use reduced sodium
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1/2 cup Asian pear grated; see note 1
- 1 small onion grated
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger finely chopped
- 12 oz steak cut into 1.5 inch cubes; see note 2
- 1 red onion cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1 bell pepper cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
- Stir together all marinade ingredients. Remove ¼ cup and store in the fridge until you are ready to grill.
- Add the beef cubes to the remaining marinade and toss to coat. Marinate for 2 hours-overnight.
- Pre-heat your grill over high heat.
- Skewer your beef, alternating with onions and bell peppers. Don't overcrowd the skewers; make sure there is space between each ingredient.
- Grill for 5-8 minutes, turning every 2 or so minutes, and brushing with the reserved marinade.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
- with rice
- in lettuce wraps
- with grilled veggies