Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps

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If you’ve never tried Korean beef bulgogi before, you need to change that. Soon.

The bold flavors from the bulgogi beef, and the Korean BBQ sauce, along with the incredible condiments make this one of the most delicious bites you will ever encounter. The beef can be grilled or seared in a skillet or wok. Perfect for entertaining, but also make a delicious meal at home with the family.

An overhead view of three beef bulgogi lettuce wraps that are sitting on a black plate and next to a small bowl filled with Korean barbecue sauce.

How To Make Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps


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The Ingredients You Will Need

None of the ingredients needed to make these Korean-style lettuce wraps are hard to find, with the possible exception of gochujang. See notes below on that. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

For the Bulgogi

Beef – Go with a nice juicy cut of beef, like a ribeye, or strip steak, or you could use skirt steak, flat iron, or flap steak.
Garlic – Peeled, but not need to mince.
Pear – If you can get an Asian pear, that’s best. However, Anjoul or Bosc are perfectly fine substitutions. Peel, cored, and roughly cut up.
Onion – Medium to large. Peeled and cut into wedges.
Ginger – Fresh is definitely best, peeled and roughly chopped.
Green onion – Also known as a scallion. Roughly chopped.
Soy sauce – Regular or low-sodium are both acceptable.
Sesame oil – This can be found in the Asian section of most well-stocked supermarkets. Or, online.
Brown sugar – Light or dark are great choices.
Black pepper – Freshly ground.

For The Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce leaves – Iceberg, green leaf, or romaine all work wonderfully. Trim each leave so they are about the size of the palm of your hand.
Carrots – Peeled and julienned or cut into match sticks.
Cucumber – Cut the vegetable in half and then use a spoon to remove the seeds, then use a knife to cut the cucumber into strips about the same length as the carrot strips.
Vinegar – For pickling. Apple cider is recommended, but, white distilled, white wine vinegar, or red wine vinegar will all work, too.
Peppers – These are optional, but add a nice depth of flavor. We like pickled jalapeños (nacho style), but fresh work, too.
Sesame seeds – Toasted are best. They add a nice look but also add flavor and texture.

For the Korean BBQ Sauce

Gochujang – This is a Korean chili paste and can actually be found in the Asian section of many supermarkets. Or, at Asian markets, or online.
Sesame oil – See notes above.
Sugar – Granulated.
Vinegar – Apple cider is best, but white wine vinegar will work, too. Or just plain white distilled.
Garlic – Finely minced.

EXPERT TIP: All of the marinade ingredients can easily be puréed in a blender. It will take a minute, or two, for everything to get puréed. A food processor will work, too. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 1 hour, but overnight is best!

A person pouring a puréed pear and onion marinade from a blender into a glass bowl that is filled with thinly sliced pieces of beef.

Tips for Making the Best Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps

Slice the Beef Thinly – Authentic bulgogi is typically a thinly sliced steak. To achieve this, simply wrap your steak in plastic wrap and let it freeze for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then, use a sharp knife to carefully cut thin slices against the grain.

Don’t Skip the Korean BBQ Sauce – This sauce really brings all the flavors together. Gochujang usually has some heat to it. If you want very little spice, then reduce the amount you add to the sauce. See NOTES.

Cook Until Lightly Charred – If you have a Korean grill, then this is the best way to cook the beef. However, you can easily sear the beef in a hot skillet or wok. Cook until fully cooked and browned in places.

Make Sure the Vegetables are Crisp – Chill the lettuce until ready to use. The pickling process of the cucumbers and carrots will soften them somewhat, but, they will still retain their firm texture.

A close-up view of strips of beef bulgogi being stir fried in a hot black wok.

How To Serve

We absolutely serve these lettuce wraps in a “build-your-own” buffet-style setting.

Make sure the beef is nice and hot, and place it on a platter with all of the other components in their own serving dishes.

Be sure to let guests know that the Korean BBQ Sauce carries some heat. A little goes a long way.

A person holding a spoonful of Korean barbecue sauce over a small bowl of the same with a container of guchujang next to it.

Other Amazing Asian Recipes to Try

Asian cuisine is as rich and varied as the numerous cultures that it comprises. Here are some of our favorite dishes that we love to prepare and we think you and your family will feel the very same way, too!

Authentic Korean Bibimbap
Cha Lua (Vietnamese Pork Roll)
Chicken Pad Thai
Beef Negimaki
Miso Black Cod
Mongolian Beef
Kung Pao Shrimp
Homemade Egg Rolls
Lo Mien with Peanut Sauce
Crab Rangoon
Thai Green Curry Chicken

All of these are absolutely amazing. But, in the meantime, isn’t this bulgogi calling your name?

A close-up view of a shallow blue bowl that is filled with cooked bulgogi beef strips and surrounded by other small bowls of pickled vegetables and lettuce leaves.

What Can Be Done in Advance

So much of the preparation for these lettuce wraps can be done in advance.

The beef can chill in the marinade for up to 24 hours. The cucumber and carrots can be prepped and pickled 24 hours in advance (keep covered in the fridge until ready to serve).

The Korean BBQ Sauce can be made days in advance. Prep the lettuce leaves up to 24 hours in advance. Wash them, dry them, and then place them on a baking sheet covered with a kitchen towel and refrigerate until ready to serve.

A person using a small spoon to drizzle Korean barbecue sauce over strips of bulgogi beef nestled into a lettuce leaf and toped with julienned carrots and cucumber.

There is something special about these bulgogi lettuce wraps.

Of course, the combination of flavors and textures is out of this world good.

But, being able to let friends and family build their own wraps and share the experience together is unique and just downright fun.

And, it bears repeating: The taste is magical. You will not be disappointed with this dish, we can guarantee that!

A person holding Korean beef bulgogi lettuce wrap that is topped with julienned carrots and cucumber as well as pickled peppers and sesame seeds.

Ready to make the best lettuce wrap this side of Korea? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

An overhead view of three beef bulgogi lettuce wraps that are sitting on a black plate and next to a small bowl filled with Korean barbecue sauce.

Beef Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps

These Korean-style lettuce wraps are unbelievably delicious. The marinade for the bulgogi can be made well in advance, as can the pickled veggies and BBQ sauce. Not only is the dish incredibly flavorful, but it's fun to serve it buffet-style and let guests build their own wraps to their own liking!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer or Entree
Cuisine: asian, Korean
Keyword: how to make Korean bulgogi, Korean BBQ recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating and pickling: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 406kcal


  • Grill with small grates Or large skillet or wok


  • 2 medium carrots peeled and julienne cut (or shredded) -
  • 1 cucumber seeded and cut into 1-inch sticks
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar

For the Bulgogi

  • 1 lb beef ribeye or skirt steak works well
  • 1 medium onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 Asian pear peeled, cored and roughly chopped (Anjou pear works, too)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp black pepper

For the Lettuce Wraps

  • Lettuce leaves green leaf, or iceberg work well, trimmed
  • Peppers sliced, for garnish, optional
  • 2 sesame seeds for garnish

For the Korean BBQ Sauce

  • 2 tbsp gochujang 1 tbsp for less heat
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced


Do Ahead

  • Place the carrots and cucumbers in separate bowls. Pour the vinegar over them until they are just submerged. Allow them to rest in the vinegar for 2 hours, or up to overnight. Drain before serving.
    2 medium carrots, 1 cucumber, ¾ cup apple cider vinegar

Prepare the Bulgogi

  • Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
    1 lb beef
  • Remove the meat from the freezer, and using a sharp knife, cutting against the grain, slice it into thin pieces. Place in a large bowl.
  • Place the onion, pear, garlic, ginger, green onion, soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, honey, and pepper in a blender. Purée until smooth.
    1 medium onion, 1 Asian pear, 4 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp fresh ginger, 1 green onion, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp honey, ½ tsp black pepper
  • Pour the marinade over the meat and use a wooden spatula to stir the meat until fully coated by the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
  • Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Use tongs to lift the meat from the marinade in the bowl, shaking off excess marinade. Add the hot skillet or wok and cook, stirring often, until fully cooked and dark brown in spots, about 15 minutes. Most of the excess liquid should cook off.

Assemble the Lettuce Wraps

  • Mound the lettuce leaves on a plate and place all the garnishes in bowls.
    Lettuce leaves
  • Place several strips of the bulgogi on top of a lettuce wrap, then top with pickled carrots and cucumbers, sliced peppers (if using), a drizzle of BBQ sauce, and topped with a pinch of sesame seeds. Repeat with remaining lettuce wraps and serve at once. Or, allow guests to build their own wraps.
    Peppers, 2 sesame seeds

Korean BBQ Sauce

  • Mix all the ingredients in a small/medium bowl and set aside. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
    2 tbsp gochujang, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp water, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 clove garlic


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
The meat can marinate for up to 24 hours. The carrots and cucumber can be pickled for up to 24 hours in advance. The BBQ sauce can be made several days in advance of serving. 
Gochuchang carries some heat. Start with 1 tbsp and taste it. If you desire more heat, and another tbsp. 
Leftovers will keep in the fridge (covered) for up to 5 days. Reheat bulgogi on the stove in a skillet until sizzling and heated through. 


Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 583mg | Potassium: 367mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 46IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This was originally published in February, 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in May, 2024!


  • 5 stars
    I just want to thank you for this recipe, it was so amazing my 2 year old ate every bite, and my husband and I both went back for seconds! We’ve added this to our recipe archives!!!
    Keep cooking!

    • Hi Jen!! That is so awesome to hear!! We absolutely LOVE these Korean lettuce wraps!! And major win that your 2 year old loved them, too! Wow!! So cool. Thank you so much for letting us know and for the great review! We appreciate that so very much! Please stay in touch!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

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