This smoky, sweet, and savory Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) is easy to make, flexible, and uses pantry-staple ingredients. Just throw everything in a skillet, serve over rice, and you’re done!

white rice and cooked ground vegan beef on a white plate.

Inspired by the popular Korean dish (but certainly not authentic!), this vegan bulgogi recipe is incredibly easy to make, exploding with flavor, and completely addictive! All you need are 11 ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.

Want to know the best part? It’s a one-skillet recipe! Simply throw all of the vegan Korean beef ingredients together in one pan, let it cook for a few minutes, and enjoy!

It’s perfect when you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner or when you need the perfect vegan protein to pair with vegan fried rice, roasted brussels sprouts, Korean-inspired tacos, or basmati rice and kimchi.

close up on cooked vegan ground beef on a pile of white rice.

What is bulgogi?

Bulgogi beef, AKA Korean BBQ beef or “fire meat”, is a classic Korean dish made from strips of savory, spicy, and sweet marinated beef (like tenderloin or ribeye). The meat is traditionally grilled before it’s served over rice, in tacos, with kimchi, and more. 

You have a few options when making a vegan bulgogi recipe. Swap the real meat for vegan ground beef, soy curls, jackfruit, mushrooms, or anything else you can think of! The real star is the bulgogi sauce, which is where this traditional dish gets its signature savory, salty, warm, and sweet flavors.

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Vegan ground beef – Though real beef bulgogi uses strips of meat, I prefer the flavor and texture of ground Impossible or Beyond beef. If you don’t want to use either of these, you can use half of a package of soy curls rehydrated in water or sliced mushrooms instead.
  • Onion and garlic
  • Soy sauce – Or tamari for gluten free bulgogi.
  • Brown sugar – Feel free to cut the amount in half for less-sweet bulgogi.
  • Sesame oil – This really helps with the dish’s overall savoriness.
  • Agave syrup – Or use maple syrup.
  • Ground ginger – To infuse plenty of warmth and balance.
  • Red chili flakes – For spice! For an authentic flavor (and more heat), swap this for Gochujang.
  • Sesame seeds
raw vegan beef on a white plate next to small bowls of sauces, seasonings, onion, and brown sugar.

How to make vegan bulgogi

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegan beef crumbles. Use a wooden spoon to break them up into small pieces and cook until browned.

raw vegan ground beef cooking in a black skillet.

Add the onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, agave, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red chili flakes, and black pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine.

raw onions on top of cooked vegan ground beef in a black skillet.

To finish, lower the heat and continue cooking until everything is heated through. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Pro tip: Add some more flavor and substance to the meal by adding chopped carrots, green beans, edamame, broccoli, bok choy, or mushrooms to the vegan bulgogi beef in the skillet. Just don’t crowd the pan too much or you’ll lose out on the signature smokiness!

cooked vegan ground beef and onions in a black skillet.

Serving suggestions

The traditional way to serve Korean bulgogi beef is over short or long grain rice on the sticky side (sushi rice) with green onions, kimchi, sliced radishes, and seared vegetables (like bok choy, carrots, or broccolini). 

There are plenty of ways to creatively enjoy your BBQ beef if rice isn’t your thing! Pile some into lettuce wraps with barbecue sauce and pickled red onions, in tacos with avocado and slaw, wrapped in spring rolls, or on top of a Korean-inspired BBQ vegan pizza.

cooked vegan ground beef and onions covered in sesame seeds in a black skillet.

Storing leftovers

Keep the leftover bulgogi stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days. It’s delicious for lunch or a quick dinner the next day!

cooked vegan ground beef and onions covered in green onions in a black skillet.

More easy Asian-inspired vegan recipes

close up on white rice and cooked ground vegan beef on a white plate.
4.99 stars (61 ratings)

Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)

This smoky, sweet, and savory Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef) is easy to make, flexible, and uses pantry-staple ingredients. Just throw everything in a skillet, serve over rice, and you’re done!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 5 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 12 ounces Impossible or Beyond beef crumbles See Notes for options
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, mined
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For serving

  • cooked white or brown rice (about 4 cups)
  • chopped green onions (1/2 cup)

Instructions 

  • In  a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegan beef and cook until brown, using a wooden spoon to break it up into small chunks.
  • Once brown and no longer pink, add the sliced onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, agave, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red chili flakes and black pepper. Stir well into the vegan beef.
  • Lower the heat to low-medium and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the sesame seeds.
  • Serve over rice with chopped green onions and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Other beef substitutes: You may use half a bag (4 oz) soy curls, rehydrated. TVP also works, or sliced mushrooms. Jackfruit is also a good choice.
  2. For less sweet, feel free to adjust the sugar.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 5 servings | Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 234mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean-inspired
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. I made this recipe with soy curls that I soaked in water with vegan beef style stock powder (as I don’t love most meat substitutes). I added a splash of rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of Gochujang instead of red pepper flakes, and substituted 1 Tbsp soy sauce for dark soy sauce to give it a deeper dark brown color. It came out amazing!!!! Hopefully, this gives others another option when specific vegan meats are not available to them.

  2. Delicious! I made this recipe for dinner tonight using Beyond Beef and served it on top of Jasmin rice and Asian style cucumber salad on the side. There were no leftovers at all.

    1. Hi Karen. Your dinner sounds wonderfully delicious! I appreciate your sharing your fabulous review and feedback!

      1. I made this again last night because everyone in my family keeps requesting it! Served it on top of sushi rice and topped it off with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and cilantro. Added a side of air fried broccoli – BOOM!! Hero status! The truth is, you’re the hero Nora!! I am so incredibly impressed with the recipes you offer – every single one of them is an outta the park home run! THANK YOU!

        1. Your meal sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review! Your comments have made my day! Happy cooking!

  3. Yet another excellent recipe! Works great with tvp rehydrated in vegan “beef” broth & using gochujang in place of the chili flakes. My non-vegan mother also loves this one 🙂

    1. Hi Candace. Thank you for sharing your ideas! I’m glad that you and your mother love the recipe! I appreciate your wonderful review!

    2. Haha I was going to post my review and saw my name! I have a non vegan mother who loves this recipe as well. I have been thinking about making this with a bag of shredded green cabbage into it and trying to make it more like an eggroll in a bowl. I can’t stop making this dish it is so good!

      1. Haha, we appreciate the double review, Candace! An egg roll in a bowl with vegan bulgogi and cabbage sounds sooo delicious. Happy cooking! 🙂

  4. Made this yesterday. To. Die. For. I love easy vegan recipes where I already have the ingredients in my pantry or freezer. I’ll be making this many times. I used 1 T of gochugaru instead of traditional chili flakes since I always have it on hand. Gave just the right amount of spice although I might add just a pinch more.😂 This is also a recipe which can be modified easily with the addition of a veg or two. Next time I’m going to use shredded tofu as my base protein. Thanks so much for such a simple, easy and beautifully tasting recipe. And I managed to get 3 dinners from this one recipe.

    1. Hi Pat. I love leftovers! I’m so glad you loved the recipe! Thanks for sharing your terrific review and feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  5. Definitely a winner and in rotation. Took another commenter’s advice this last time and added shredded carrots and cabbage and… Okay. It was cole slaw mix. I took the shortcut and added a bag of cole slaw mix. And you know what? It turned out great! Needed to be simmered down much longer because the veggies released extra water, but once done, they lightened up the richness while still absorbing the flavor and stretching the quantity, since faux beef has been getting expensive. Win win all around. Thanks for all you do!

    1. You are welcome, Karen! Thank you for sharing your great feedback about the recipe! The recipe tip is appreciated! Happy cooking!

  6. Thoughts on using liquid smoke to bring it up a notch? Haven’t made this yet, just wondering…

      1. This was gorgeous. I didn’t use as much sugar, also used gochujang instead of chilli. It was really nice and quite easy too (but no way would it feed 5)Will definitely make again x

    1. Nora, you’ve done it yet again with this amazing recipe. My only regret is not doubling the recipe so I could eat it again and again!

  7. Absolutely delicious and filling! I used medium firm tofu, shredded it and cooked it till golden brown and crispy, added the rest of the ingredients, I simmered it on low for 3 hours to have more flavour mmmm!! Such an easy recipe to make😊

  8. Nora, hello from Port Orchard! Loved this recipe! So did Miss Carla, Sha’lon and Lisa B. Is going to try it after tasting our leftovers! I stumbled on Trader Joe’s vegan Bolgogi. Substituted it for the vegan ground; all I can say is YUM! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!

  9. OKAY NORA, this was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! I used Beyond Steak and cut the sugar in half, and it was absolutely perfect. My friends and I joke about how every Nora Cooks recipe is foolproof. I always come here when I need a new recipe! Thanks for all you do!!

    1. Thank you so much, Grace, for your encouraging words! I’m thrilled you are enjoying my recipes! I appreciate you taking time to share your magnificent feedback and review! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  10. Just wondering about maybe using seitan as the meat substitute? There is a local vegan Vietnamese restaurant that has out-of-this-world good beef, that I believe is made from seitan.

    1. I made this recipe with soy curls that I soaked in water with vegan beef style stock powder (as I don’t love most meat substitutes). I added a splash of rice vinegar, 1 Tablespoon of Gochujang instead of red pepper flakes, and substituted 1 Tbsp soy sauce for dark soy sauce to give it a deeper dark brown color. It came out amazing!!!!

  11. I was thrilled to find your website when I wanted to make a chickpea loaf, of which your recipe sounds great. About your bulgogi you recommend either Impossible or Beyond “beef”. I was shocked that you would have anything to do with Impossible products. Please please research Impossible’s methods and ingredients and rethink this. This is not a natural, low tech food. Thank you kindly.

  12. My 20-yr-old son LOVED it! So did we! I would use a little less sweetener for my personal preference, but they thought it was perfect. I used 1/2 Beyond beef and 1/2 TVP reconstituted with vegetable bouillon. Definitely keeping in our regular meal rotation!

    1. Hi Angela. How fantastic that the recipe was a hit with your son! I’m thrilled it’s going onto your meal rotation! Thanks for sharing your fabulous feedback and review!

  13. Delicious! I used tempeh crumbles which worked well but made an extra half serving of the sauce. This is definitely going into the rotation for quick and easy meals 🙂

    1. So fun that you loved the bulgogi! Thank you for your great feedback and review! I’m glad it made the regular meal rotation list!

  14. Very quick and easy to make and the flavors are wonderful together. I used beyond crumbles and left out the sesame seeds as we aren’t fans of them. Also used Avocado oil instead of sesame oil. Still so flavorful, thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful recipes!

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for sharing your ideas for the recipe changes, and your terrific feedback! I’m thrilled that you loved the bulgogi!

  15. Just made this tonight, and it was delicious! I am going to make a double batch next time, because we ate nearly all of the Bulgogi in one sitting. (I may try one package of Impossible and one block of crumbled tofu next time.) We had it with some quick pickled vegetables and kimchi. Definitely adding this to our regular rotation.

    1. Hi Liz. I’m thrilled to hear you’ll be adding this to your rotation! Thanks for sharing your terrific feedback and ideas!

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