This streamlined recipe for Instant Pot Korean Beef / Instant Pot Bulgogi makes for a quick weeknight dinner that tastes great in bibimbap – on a bed of rice, accompanied by sauteed vegetables, pickled carrots, Kimchi, and a fried egg on top.
Korean food has become very popular in recent years. One of the more common Korean recipes is Korean Beef Bulgogi (pronounced ‘bool-go-ghee’), which is Korean BBQ: thinly-sliced marinated beef that’s grilled or sauteed and served with a wide variety of sides including Kimchi (pickled vegetables), sauteed vegetables and eggs.
Tougher cuts of meats work best in the Instant Pot (stew meat, rump roast, shoulder, chuck). To save time, I like to use pre-cut stew meat and further cut each piece into 2 or 3 thin slices. One trick I use is to stick the meat in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes and that makes it easier to cut the meat thinly.
Bulgogi marinade is traditionally made with Asian pears. If you can find them in your grocery store in season, feel free to use them instead of the apples. I find that the Fuji apples are a fine substitute and readily available.
Mirin is another ingredient that you may not have on hand. It’s a Japanese rice wine that adds a sweet and tangy flavor. Many grocery stores sell ‘Aji Mirin’ which is close to Mirin, but if you can’t find Mirin, you can substitute a sweet marsala wine or dry sherry.
After cooking is complete, you’ll be left with a fair amount of sauce/liquid. The quickest way to thicken the sauce is with corn starch mixed with water, added directly to the beef and sauce, and that’s the method I’ve detailed in this recipe. However, if you wanted a drier beef with sauce to serve on the side, you can use this alternate method:
- Transfer the cooked beef bulgogi from the inner pot to a large frying pan with a slotted spoon.
- Saute the beef over medium heat, adding 2 tablespoons of the sauce until evaporated.
- Keep adding more sauce, two tablespoons at a time, and continue sauteing the beef until lightly caramelized. You’ll add up to 8 tablespoons total.
- Thicken the remaining sauce with cornstarch mixed with water and heat through. You can do this on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot on ‘Saute’ mode.
- Serve the sauce on the side.
- Vegetables sauteed with a dash of soy sauce and garlic (e.g. baby bok choy, broccoli, spinach)
- Kimchi *
- Pickled thinly-sliced daikon and carrots or pickled cucumbers
- Sunny-side-up fried egg or soft boiled egg
- Sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling on top
- Reserved sauce for drizzling over the top
No added liquid is necessary for the beef marinade because the marinade releases enough liquid to bring the Instant Pot to pressure.
If you have the time to marinate the beef overnight, you’ll have excellent flavor.
Note: to make this recipe gluten-free, please use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and choose a gluten-free gochujang paste.
[Read: Easy Chinese-Style Instant Pot Fried Rice made with Jasmine rice]
If you’re new to the Instant Pot and aren’t familiar with how to use it, please read the Instant Pot DUO Beginner’s Quick Start Guide or the Instant Pot ULTRA Beginner’s Quick Start Guide first and then come back here to learn how to make Instant Pot Korean Beef.
Instant Pot Korean Beef Ingredients
- Missing from photo: vegetable oil and cornstarch, and coconut aminos to substitute for the soy sauce, to make this dish gluten-free
Instant Pot Korean Beef Step-by-Step Instructions
- In a mini blender or food processor, combine ginger, garlic, apple, Gochujang, brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Mirin into a very smooth sauce.
- Marinate the beef in the sauce.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to (preferably) overnight.
- Instant Pot Duo: Select the ‘Saute’ function.
- Instant Pot Ultra: Select the ‘Saute’ function and press ‘Start’.
- Pour vegetable oil in the heated pot.
- Add onions and saute till golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add marinated beef to Instant Pot inner pot.
- Stir to combine.
Instant Pot DUO Pressure Cook:
- Close the lid and make sure steam release handle is in ‘Sealing’ position
- Press ‘Manual’ (or ‘Pressure Cook’) and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ until display reads ‘10’ (10 minutes).
Instant Pot ULTRA Pressure Cook:
- Close the lid.
- Select Pressure Cook mode and adjust time to 10 minutes (00:10).
- Press ‘Start’.
- Instant Pot display will change to ‘On’.
- Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, the float valve will go up.
- The display will count down from 10 to 0; it will then switch to ‘Keep Warm’ mode and display ‘L0:00’ or ’00 00′ and begin to count up.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally (NPR). The float valve will be in the down position. This may take 10 to 20 minutes.
- Press Cancel and Open the Instant Pot.
- Stir Instant Pot Korean Beef.
- To thicken, stir in a mixture of corn starch and water, and heat through on ‘Saute’ mode until thickened.
- While the beef is cooking, saute some baby bok choy or your choice of vegetables in a frying pan with a dash of soy sauce and garlic.
- To serve the bibimbap: Place Instant Pot Jasmine Rice in a single-serve bowl. Arrange sauteed vegetables, and your choice of sides including bean sprouts, Korean seaweed, Kimchi, pickled daikon and carrots or pickled cucumbers and sunny-side-up or soft-boiled egg.
- Sprinkle green onions and toasted sesame seeds over the top.
Instant Pot Korean Beef
- 2 Tbsp ginger coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp garlic coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Fuji apple or Asian pear peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp Gochujang paste or to taste
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce substitute coconut aminos for gluten free
- 1 Tbsp Mirin
- 2 lbs Beef chuck or stew meat, cut into thin strips, 1-1/2 inches long
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup onion chopped or thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp water
- Select 'Saute' and when Instant Pot has heated, add oil to inner pot of Instant Pot.
- Add onions and stir till golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add marinated beef to the onions and stir well.
- Close the Instant Pot and cook in ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ mode for 10 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally (NPR).
- Open the Instant Pot.
- Whisk together cornstarch and water to form a smooth mixture.
- In ‘Saute’ mode, bring the beef and sauce to a boil. *
- Add the cornstarch mixture, and stir constantly, until sauce has thickened.
- Prep time does not include steps that are already accounted for in the ingredient list, e.g. chopped onions, minced garlic, diced chicken, etc.
- * For a drier beef dish with sauce on the side, remove the cooked beef and saute in a non-stick frying pan, adding a few tablespoons of the sauce at time, till beef is caramelized but not dried out. Thicken remaining sauce with the cornstarch and drizzle on top of the dish or serve on the side.
- Reduce quantity of Gochujang for a milder dish.
- Optional: drizzle spicy mayo over the top.
- See the blog post for more detailed recipe tips
I am not a certified nutritionist. I provide my best estimate of nutritional information merely as a courtesy to my readers. If you depend on nutritional information for dietary or health reasons, I suggest using your favorite online nutrition calculator to confirm the nutritional value of this recipe based on the actual ingredients that you use.
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