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!
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.
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
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.
Add the onion, soy sauce, brown sugar, agave, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, red chili flakes, and black pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine.
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!
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.
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!
More easy Asian-inspired vegan recipes
Vegan Bulgogi (Korean BBQ Beef)
- 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
- cooked white or brown rice (about 4 cups)
- chopped green onions (1/2 cup)
- 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!
- 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.
- For less sweet, feel free to adjust the sugar.
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!
You’re welcome, Lila! Thanks for your wonderful review!
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!!
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!
So good! Great recipe! We use vegan beef strips for this instead, and it’s delicious.
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.
Hi Aileen, I think seitan cut into very small pieces would be great here!
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.
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!
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!
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 🙂
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!
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!
You are welcome! Thanks for sharing your ideas for the recipe changes, and your terrific feedback! I’m thrilled that you loved the bulgogi!
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.
Hi Liz. I’m thrilled to hear you’ll be adding this to your rotation! Thanks for sharing your terrific feedback and ideas!