Easy, slow cooker Korean beef made with flank steak. It tastes just like authentic traditional bulgogi.
When I first started crafting this recipe, the thought of making bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) in the slow cooker (or crock-pot) didn’t seem like a good idea because bulgogi is made with thinly sliced meat. Then, it occurred to me that instead of cooking thinly sliced meat, I could first cook the meat in the slow cooker, and then thinly slice it. This approach worked beautifully!
After about 4 hours on high, it was perfect for thinly slicing. Newer slow cookers may take less time than mine. If you cook it too long, it will fall apart when you try to slice thinly. It will still taste good, but do not cook too long if you want to be able to slice the meat.
Flank steak is a tough but lean cut of meat. It works pretty well in the slow cooker with the help of a bit of acidity and enzymes that are in the cooking liquid. Brisket will work well too.
If you use other types of roast, such as chuck or round, make sure they are not too thick, so the meat is mostly submerged in the cooking liquid while being cooked.
As I mentioned in my traditional bulgogi recipe, it’s important to find the right balance between saltiness and sweetness for authentic bulgogi.
The liquids in the recipe add up to a little over a cup. After cooking, you will end up with more than double the amount because the meat and vegetables release plenty of liquid.
The cooking liquid is very tasty as a sauce! It reminded me of the old-fashioned bulgogi from my childhood, which was cooked with beef broth. The resulting light, sweet and savory sauce was so delicious mixed in with rice.
More slow cooker recipes:
Slow Cooker Beef Bulgogi
- 1.5 to 2 pounds flank steak or brisket
- 1 medium onion sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 3 scallions cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 7 to 8 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1- inch ginger thinly sliced
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice wine or mirin
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/2 Korean pear or apple, grated (about 3 to 4 tablespoons)
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Place the sliced onions at the bottom of the slow cooker, and place the meat on top. Add the remaining vegetables (save a few scallion pieces for garnish). Mix all the sauce ingredients, except the sesame seeds, and pour over the meat. You can prepare ahead of time, up to this point, and keep it in the fridge.
- Cover, and cook for about 3 to 4 hours on high or 5 to 6 hours on low. Flip over once midway through the process, if you’re home. Cook until the meat is tender but sliceable. Once cooked, remove the meat to a cutting board. Drop the reserved scallion pieces into the hot cooking liquid. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
Keep the leftover meat in the sauce in the fridge. It will reheat in no time, preferably over the stove top.