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Joanna Gaines’ Mom’s Bulgogi Recipe

This recipe for Joanna Gaines’ mom’s bulgogi is slightly sweet and pairs well with cucumber kimchi salad.

The bulgogi marinates for several hours or overnight in a homemade marinade and then is cooked on a grill. Served over rice and alongside the cucumber kimchi salad, it’s a great take on a classic Korean dish.

bowl of bulgogi

The recipe for Joanna’s mom’s bulgogi is in Joanna’s new cookbook, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering. The cookbook includes more than 135 recipes that your family is sure to love.

To make bulgogi, you need to either buy thinly sliced beef or slice it yourself. While the recipe does take some work that spans from cutting the meat to marinating it to cooking it over a hot grill, it’s well worth the effort.

platter of bulgogi
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4.52 from 33 votes

Mom’s Bulgogi with Cucumber Kimchi Salad

Serve this dish over rice and alongside cucumber kimchi salad for a great take on a classic Korean dish.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Korean
Keyword beef, bulgogi, Korean, main dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 40 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 952kcal
Author Lynda



  • 3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups soy sauce
  • 5 Tablespoons sparkling dessert wine such as Banfi Rosa Regale, or sparkling grape juice
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 green onions light and dark green parts, chopped, plus ¼ cup sliced for serving
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 pounds beef tenderloin rib-eye, top sirloin, or sirloin steak, thinly sliced (see Note)

Cucumber Kimchi Salad

  • 2 English cucumbers peeled if desired, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2 green onions light and dark green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons gochugaru Korean red pepper flakes; see Tip
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste

For Serving

  • Steamed white rice
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onion light and dark green parts as needed, for garnish
  • 3 Tablespoons sesame seeds toasted), for garnish


  • Marinate the bulgogi: In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, and pepper until well combined. Add the beef and coat it completely in marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 5 hours.
  • To make the cucumber kimchi salad: In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, green onions, garlic, gochugaru, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and salt to taste to stir gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Prepare a hot grill. If the pieces of beef are so small that they may fall through the grates, use a grilling skillet or place a sheet of foil on the grill.
  • Grill the beef on both sides until medium-well, 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Don’t crowd the skillet or foil, so do this in batches if necessary. As you finish each batch, transfer it to a serving platter and continue with the remaining beef.
  • Serve the bulgogi on top of steamed rice. Garnish with green onion and toasted sesame seeds and spoon the cucumber kimchi salad alongside.
  • Store the leftover bulgogi and cucumber kimchi salad in separate covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.



Joanna’s mom usually has the butcher slice the beef for this dish when she buys it. If you live near a Korean market, they often sell packages of sliced rib-eye or top sirloin; sometimes they’re even marked specifically for bulgogi. If you buy big pieces to cut yourself, freeze the meat for about 30 minutes before cutting so that it’s easier to slice thinly and cut against the grain.
Tip: Gochugaru, or Korean red pepper, is commonly used in kimchi. It adds precisely the right amount of heat and unique flavor to the cucumber salad. Authentic Korean brands are readily available at Asian grocery stores or online, and the McCormick spice company packages it as well.
Recipe excerpted from Magnolia Table: a collection for gathering by Joanna Gaines, copyright 2018. Recipe reprinted with permission.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 952kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 55g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 2064mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g

The recipe makes a lot so it is perfect for sharing or for saving some for later.

platter of bulgogi

Joanna writes in her book, “We’ve never had Mom’s bulgogi with anything other than her cucumber kimchi salad, which has a clean, fresh flavor that perfectly complements the sweet barbecued beef.” I agree with her that it is a great accompaniment and you should definitely try them together.

kimichi cucumber salad on a plate

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering

Magnolia Table cookbook

Like everything Joanna touches, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering is a work of art. It’s a beautiful cookbook full of her family recipes as well as some recipes that are made at her Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table.

Once you start flipping through the pages and reading the descriptions of the recipes, it’s almost as if you were right there with Joanna. She doesn’t try to sell you the idea that she makes everything from scratch. She’s real and honest and lets the reader know that she does use store-bought refrigerated dough and boxed broth at times.

We can choose to view the everyday tasks of life as either chores or gifts.
Joanna Gaines

biscuits on a cookie sheet

JoJo’s Biscuits

The cookbook has seven chapters devoted to recipes that your family will enjoy. Below is a sampling of some of the recipes in each chapter:

  • Breakfast – Bobo’s Classic Gravy, Three-Cheese Quiche, Garlic Cheese Grits, Overnight French Toast, and Sausage & Hash Brown Casserole
  • Lunch – Curry Chicken Salad, Gaines Brother Burgers with Drip Jam, and 1919 Pimento Cheese
  • Soups & Salads – Tortilla Soup, Country Potato Soup, White Cheddar Bisque, and Apple Cider Salad
  • Appetizers & Starters – Party Queso, Beck’s Crackers, Sheet Pan Nachos, and White Bean Hummus
  • Side Dishes – Becki’s Mac & Cheese, Souffleed Broccoli Casserole, Creamy Squash Casserole, and Creamed Corn Spoonbread
  • Dinner – Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, King Ranch Chicken, Grilled Salmon, and Shepherd’s Pie
  • Desserts -Peach & Almond Tart, Dulce De Leche Apple Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Aunt Opal’s Banana Pudding

Comfort food at its best. Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering is sure to become one of your favorite cookbooks. It is also a great gift for all of the cooks in your life. Look for it at a retailer near you or at

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