Healthy Korean Beef Bulgogi

This Healthy Korean Beef Bulgogi features lean ground beef, cabbage, and peas in a sweet sauce over steamed rice, topped with quick, pickled cucumbers, carrots, and Sriracha crema. Kid-friendly and ready in less than 30 minutes!

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    30 minutes
  • Makes:
    4 servings 1x
  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    30 minutes
  • Makes:
    4 servings 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 1 cup uncooked white or brown rice
    • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, divided
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 large cucumber
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided (see notes)
    • 8 ounces shredded or matchstick carrots (about 2 cups)
    • 8 ounces 90% lean ground beef
    • 8 ounces finely shredded cabbage (about 5 ½ cups)
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
    • ¾ cup Korean Bulgogi sauce (see notes)
    • ½ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
    • 2 teaspoons Sriracha, plus more to taste


    1. Make the rice. Place rice in a small saucepan with 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until tender and water absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and keep covered to keep warm.
    2. Pickle the cucumber. Combine 2 tablespoons vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Trim cucumber ends. Using a peeler, shave cucumbers lengthwise into ribbons, rotating until you get to the seedy core; discard core. Add ribbons to the bowl with vinegar and toss to coat. Set aside.
    3. Saute the carrots. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook until tender but still a little crisp, about 2-4 minutes; 2 minutes for thinly shredded carrots and closer to 4 minutes for thicker “matchstick” style. Transfer carrots to a bowl and set aside.
    4. Cook the beef, cabbage and peas. Add the sauce. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cabbage, breaking meat up into pieces. Cook until meat has mostly browned and cabbage has wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sesame seeds and add remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Stir in the peas and bulgogi sauce and bring to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook another 2-3 minutes until peas are tender. Remove pan from heat.
    5. Make the Sriracha sauce while the beef cooks. While beef cooks, combine the Greek yogurt and Sriracha (to taste) in a small bowl. Stir in water 1-2 teaspoons at a time until the mixture can be easily drizzled.
    6. Portion and serve. Divide the rice between bowls. Top with the beef mixture, carrots, and cucumbers, draining any excess liquid from the cucumbers before adding. Drizzle crema (about 2 tablespoons) over each bowl. Garnish with remaining sesame seeds.


    Ingredient Notes

    • Sesame oil: Sesame oil adds a lot of flavor to this dish but other neutral to mild- flavored oils like avocado oil, canola oil, or coconut oil can be substituted.
    • Bulgogi sauce: Korean BBQ sauces vary greatly. Bulgogi sauce is typically sweet and tangy, and not spicy. Look for it in the Asian section of the grocery store, at World Market, or on Amazon (pricey, though).
    • For a dairy-free bulgogi: Omit the crema; add just a little Sriracha for spice
    • For a kid-friendly bulgogi: Serve without the Sriracha crema, unless they love spice!
    • Leftover beef? Ground beef often comes in 16 ounce packages. Freeze the remaining uncooked beef to add to pasta sauce with veggies, or use it up the next time you make this dish. 

    Ingredient Prep

    • Shred cabbage and carrots up to 5 days in advance, if shredding yourself
    • Make the Sriracha crema up to 5 days in advance
    • Pickle the cucumbers up to 5 days in advance.

    Little Helpers

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help:

    • Toddlers: Measure the rice, cabbage, carrots, frozen peas, sauce, etc.; mix vinegar and sugar for pickled cucumber; toss cucumber in the vinegar mixture
    • Little Kids: All of the above plus peel the cucumber; shred the cabbage and carrots (with close supervision); add sauce to the beef; portioning & adding toppings
    • Big Kids: All of the above, plus they can help cook the rice, carrots, and beef-veggie mixture


    This dish lends well to leftovers and is great for meal-prep. Reheat the rice, carrots, and beef together, adding a little water to the rice if it’s dried out a bit. Top with leftover cucumber, Sriracha crema, and sesame seeds.

    Nutrition Notes

    Nutrition information calculated using long-grain brown rice and includes the Sriracha crema.


    • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
    • Calories: 529
    • Sugar: 28 g
    • Sodium: 1201 mg
    • Fat: 17 g
    • Saturated Fat: 5 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 12 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 73 g
    • Fiber: 7 g
    • Protein: 22 g
    • Cholesterol: 42 mg

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