I love this recipe for bulgogi tacos. It’s a delicious, actual 30-minute weeknight dinner that my 3-year-old eats and eats and eats, and so do we adults.
Even so, just how much I liked it surprised me.
I’m not generally a fan of fusion cuisine. I want traditional (-ish) sushi. I favor Southern fried catfish and don’t want cajun seasonings or anything else in it. I usually want traditional chicken noodle soup. The same goes for tacos – I want them to have onion and lime and cilantro and soft tortillas. (Or, they can be the Americanized ones I grew up with, occasionally.) But these Korean (-ish) tacos are very easy and delicious and when I make them, we can’t stop eating them.
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The kicker for me is that my 3 year old devours them. This is perhaps in part because she likes eating flour tortillas, but Amelia eats the beef and the lettuce and tomatoes too.
This recipe originally comes from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Every Day , which is a wonderful cookbook. I’ve made several dishes we’ve really enjoyed from it, and I haven’t even made any of the numerous dessert recipes yet!
What is Bulgogi?
Bulgogi is a type of Korean barbecue, marinated in a soy sauce-based marinade before being grilled, whether outdoors or on a tabletop grill.
I have to admit, I haven’t had much Korean food; my main exposure to Korean barbecue was in Japan. Korean barbecue restaurants there would bring you meat, which you would grill yourself over little hibachis embedded in the table. Everything was delicious, and I’m sure that bulgogi was among the things we tried.
How to Make These Bulgogi Tacos
These bulgogi tacos use ground beef or hamburger instead of steak, which makes them incredibly easy to make, and perfect for weeknight dinners. I cut back a little on the rice vinegar, but otherwise I’ve left the filling largely the same.
Speaking of vinegar, Alex and I actually don’t like it very much. Rice vinegar is pretty mild and so we don’t mind it here. If you can’t find any, don’t use a different kind of vinegar. Add a little lime juice (maybe a tablespoon) instead for acidity, but be aware that this would change the flavor. You could also skip it altogether.
Use low-sodium soy sauce in this – it makes it perfectly salty. Regular soy sauce will make it a little too salty.
The lettuce I simply toss with lime juice (and I admit I use bottled juice for ease of use). I’m too lazy to cut a scallion (the rest go to waste in my house), and I didn’t like adding sesame oil to the lettuce, particularly with leftovers. I’ve tried Napa cabbage in place of the lettuce and it worked too.
We skip the kimchi, but please add it to these if it’s your thing.
I love that this recipe scales up easily. I usually buy a family pack of ground beef and make a double or triple batch, depending on how large the package is. The leftovers are fantastic; it makes lunches wonderful! If tripling the recipe, though, only add double amounts of the seasonings for the beef (the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, etc.). If you fully triple all that liquid, the hamburger will be swimming in it.
I fully expect this to be great over rice instead of tortillas.
When you make this, expect to eat more tacos than you mean to. We usually overstuff our tacos (as seen in pictures here). This recipe serves about two and a half in my household.
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In the past:
Four Years Ago: Gluten-Free Skillet Flatbread
Seven Years Ago: Ginger-Pecan Scones
This delicious and easy recipe for bulgogi tacos uses ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes. It’s kid-friendly and can be made in 30 minutes.
- 16 ounces ground beef (I usually use 88% lean)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
- 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger (a 1-inch piece)
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (60 grams)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (30 grams)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (25 grams)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (14 grams)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 2 cups thinly shredded iceberg lettuce, or cabbage (I prefer lettuce)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (15 grams)
- 1 scallion (thinly sliced; optional)
- 8 small flour tortillas
- 1/2 pint tomatoes (diced)
- kimchi (optional)
- chopped cilantro (optional)
- toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Brown hamburger, stirring it and breaking it up into small pieces. Drain excess grease. (Give the hamburger a rinse and drain again if desired; I often do.)
Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes to the hamburger in the pan. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, until heated through.
Toss lettuce with lime juice and scallions in a medium bowl.
Warm the tortillas briefly. (This can be one at a time in a skillet if desired. I microwave mine in a stack for 10 seconds.)
To serve, scoop beef filling onto a tortilla. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and any other toppings you would like. Eat and repeat as often as you can.
This is incredibly easy to scale up. I usually make it with a family pack of hamburger, around 2.75-3 pounds.
To make 3 pounds of ground beef, triple the amount of ground beef and toppings, but double (not triple) the remaining seasoning ingredients that you add to the hamburger.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day