Cheater Korean Beef

This Cheater Korean Beef is  a quick version of the classic served over rice or in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.

Cheater Korean Beef - a quick version of the classic served over rice or in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.
Do you ever feel the overwhelming need to simplify? Lately I’ve felt the need to cut out all of the “stuff” we have going on and to get back to the basics in our home and in even in our dinners.

Nothing crazy or fancy – it’s not like my kids appreciate the fancy stuff anyway.  I’ve found that the best meals to have in your recipe box are those that you usually have all the ingredients.

My friend Carin sent me this recipe (which made my day) but it originally comes from Lizzy Writes. I might be the last person to have this recipe but if you don’t have it, you need it.Cheater Korean Beef - a quick version of the classic served over rice or in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.

I love the flavor of the traditional way this beef is prepared but sometimes have issues with the texture of flank steak. Anyone else? I know that ground beef isn’t exactly traditional Korean fare but it’s cheaper and you’re more likely to have it on hand. The flavors of this Cheater Korean Beef are spot on and marry together beautifully.  It’s slightly sweet, slightly spicy…perfect.Cheater Korean Beef - a quick version of the classic served over rice or in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.

This pairs well with steamed broccoli. I’m not a huge rice lover so if you want a low carb option try eating this over a salad. It’s great!


Cheater Korean Beef


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (add more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (see note)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef in the sesame oil. Add the garlic towards the end of browning and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain the fat.
  2. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions. If going for a low carb option, it’s great over lettuce too!


If you’re like me and don’t use fresh ginger that often, remember that fresh ginger freezes well.

Source: Lizzy Writes

Cheater Korean Beef - a quick version of the classic served over rice or in lettuce wraps for a low-carb option.

Speak Your Mind



  1. This sounds sooo good! And yep – I always have everything on hand!

  2. This looks so stinking gooooood!

  3. Kimberly Hampton says:

    Sounds so yummy! Cannot wait to try this recipe!

  4. Thank you for such a delicious, simple and fast recipe. This is a perfect dinner meal during the week days after all the after school activities. Just perfect!

    My boys thank you too!

  5. Yumm that looks fantastic! Saving!!

  6. I think I may make this tonight!

  7. They may taste merry, but they marry together 🙂

  8. This sounds wonderful! I bet it would taste amazing over a salad!

  9. That looks great! I think it would be great with chicken too. Thanks!

  10. This was good. I think next time I’ll definitely use it for lettuce wraps. It’s almost exactly like Pei Wei except beef and not chicken.

  11. Secret to the Korean BBQ marinade is balancing soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, and sugar. Once you have this down you can use it with any type of protein. Happy cooking and most importantly happy chowing!!!

  12. I just made this tonight and it was delicious!! Even my husband – who is a very picky eater – loved it. Super easy to make too which is great too since evenings are super busy once we get home from work. Definitely a keeper!!

  13. I just made this tasty lil creation… Paired with some white rice and kimchi…. Delicious!!!!

  14. Extremely tasty. Very simple to prepare. It sounded and tasted much like Mongolian Beef which I like. As you indicated this is much simpler. No freezing the beef a bit and slicing thin slices. Quite simple to make and very tasty.

    I keep my ginger in sherry but your idea of simply freezing it sounds even simpler. I’ll have to try that.


  15. Right this very minute I am waiting for the rice to finish to eat this meal….I have tasted a few pieces of meat, and it is soooo good. It tastes just like the too expensive version from Trader joe’s…..flavor is so good.

  16. I do always have ground beef on hand. Can’t wait to try this one.

  17. angelitacarmelita says:

    I love this because of it’s simplicity… and I heart Korean food big time, but sometimes, I find all of the slicing and marinating (not that it’s not worth it, because it totally is), too much at the end of a week day, sometimes that just doesn’t fit into my schedule. I am giggly with delight to see this version of Korean beef. It would be just as great wrapped up in a lettuce leaf (or three) after a long day. Thank you (& Lizzy) for the recipe!

  18. This was SO GOOD! Thank you.

  19. THANK YOU for this recipe! Made it last night with ground turkey instead of beef, because that’s what I had on hand. Our VERY picky 5 year old, white rice addict, who refuses to try anything new and doesn’t like her food to touch, ate every last bite….even before she finished her rice. SCORE! This one is going to be a permanent on my go-to list. =)

  20. Heather Walker says:

    I made this the other day and we really liked it. It is a little awkward to eat loose meat, but you get over that with the winning flavor. I added bamboo shoots, mushrooms and steamed broccoli. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Heather Walker says:

      OH…forgot to add. Sam’s club sells a great chopped Asian salad. I served this beef on top of the chopped salad. Winner!

  21. We had this for dinner last night as well and LOVED by all, I had to swap a few things due to what I had on hand but turned out amazing still. Thank you so much 🙂

  22. This sounds so yummy – I think I will try it tomorrow night! And I agree with you – flank steak has a texture that when tender is wonderful, when not tender it is just yuck! I thought I was the only person in the world that preferred chicken fajitas over the beef just because of the chewy factor. Have a good one! 🙂

  23. Another delicious recipe!!! For dinner, I served over Ramen-like noodles… I had the leftovers over salad, and I agree it would be so good in lettuce wraps…. Thank you for another go-to recipe for a quick dinner 🙂

  24. I just wanted to say that I love your site! I have made this recipe twice now and absolutely love it! My boyfriend has told me he wants me to make this more often.

  25. Wow, this is delish!!! We are going camping this weekend and will be making it again. I’m thinking I will add mushrooms and chopped onion to the hamburger, then over brown rice. I’ve already mixed up the sauce, its in a small jar. I will fish out the garlic, mince it and add to the meat. The garlic will be soaking in that yummy sauce for two days. Could be over the top, we’ll see. Thanks for the recipe. I’m passing it along to many friends. You are nearly famous!

  26. I have everything except the sesame oil. Is there anything I can use instead?

    • Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything} says:

      You can use regular oil. The sesame oil definitely gives it that authentic taste that is hard to replace.

  27. Tried this tonight and my boyfriend and I absolutely loved every bite. Just the right mixture of spicy spice and just spiced. Than you so much! I think we’re making it again…like tomorrow.

  28. Celine Sanborn says:

    This is my boyfriends favorite dinner of all time. He asks for it every single night! It’s simple to make, taste like it isn’t and has become a weeknight regular. Thank you for sharing!

  29. I made this for dinner tonight and my husband asked for it to go into our regular rotations of dinners! It was delicious!! I used brown rice instead of white, and it was yummy. Thank you for sharing.

  30. SECOND time making this and it is so quick, easy, and flavorful! Perfect for a week night dinner. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. Love it and so does my family! (and the all caps are for enthusiasm, not for shouting) 🙂

  31. Made this recipe and the family LOVED it !!! I made rice and cucumber kimchi to go with it. the Korean restaurant here is so expensive so finding a “bulgolgi” like recipe is a WINNER

  32. Just made this tonight…it was delicious! It’s a keeper but I might try using ground chicken next time just to make it a bit healthier.

  33. We had this for dinner last week. It was fantastic! So very easy and extremely tasty! I was thinking that the meat would be great with some lettuce wraps.

  34. I made this for dinner tonight and LOVED it! My husband liked it so much that he went to the store to pick up more meat and asked for the recipe toake another batch himself!!! Lol!

  35. This was good! The only change I made was to add half of an onion, and I used a tiny amount of sesame oil for flavoring since the ground meat didn’t need extra fat. I ate it over a butter lettuce salad. Like others have commented, it would be amazing in a lettuce wrap! So much flavor :-). This will definitely become a staple dinner for us. Easy, fast, and over a salad and with lean ground beef, pretty healthy. It only took about 15 min from start to finish. Thanks!

  36. I tried this tonight, it was great. Definitely going to do this again. We’re a sauce loving family though, so I think next time we’ll double the sauce recipe and maybe add some snow peas to the meat.

  37. I made this for dinner last night and was surprised by how good it turned out! So easy and simple ingredients! This is a new weeknight favorite.

  38. Would it make a big difference if I don’t have sesame oil?

  39. I just wanted to say that I love your recipe and make it all the time. Now I use maple syrup instead of brown sugar and it tastes the same 🙂 I love how easy it is to customize…add veggies, use in lettuce wraps, etc. Thank you!!

  40. This is SO GOOD!!! I can’t believe how delicious and easy it was – it went straight into my KEEPER FILE. I can’t wait for the leftovers today for lunch. I used ground venison and enjoyed every bite – thanks for the recommendation to serve with broccoli – loved it!

  41. stephanie crabs says:

    was perfect in lettuce wraps! all the kids loved them 🙂 so quick and easy, and super tasty too

  42. Made this tonight, it was amazing. Over reduced the liquid a little to much so I deglazed the pan with white wine, so good

  43. Fantastic!! Served over rice for dinner then served as lettuce wraps the next day. Even grandchildren loved it!

  44. I kicked it up a notch using Russian Garlic.

  45. Marie from Quebec says:

    2 thumbs up!! Did it with fresh red pepper and the whole family loved the recipe. Thanks!

  46. Jennifer Lattin says:

    Just made this tonight for dinner for the husband and I….it is really good!!! This is going in our “keeper file” (as someone else referenced). It was fantastic!
    We served ours as lettuce wraps (instead of rice) with broccoli slaw. I added red bell pepper in the saute just b/c we like it. Yum, yum in my tum! Thanks!!!

  47. I know you wrote this recipe awhile back but I just found it! Looks wonderful, easy & tasty. I will be making lettuce wraps out of the beef. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

  48. I made this tonight and it was a huge hit with all my kids. My only change was that I didn’t have fresh ginger, so I put sushi pickled ginger in a garlic press until I got the required amount. It worked beautifully and I highly recommend it as a sub if you don’t have fresh on hand.

  49. We make this ALL the time now, (usually with extra sauce), LOVE It!! Thanks for sharing!

  50. Thank you so much for this recipe!!! My whole family loves it & I make it a least once every two weeks. This last time I used half ground turkey and half ground beef- because of the yummy sauce and spice level- no one noticed! I usually eat it on riced cauliflower or sauteed kale, but the family still wants it on brown or white rice.

  51. Thank you for this quick weeknight dinner idea. For our family I kept all of the seasonings the same but used 2lbs of ground beef and it was perfect! I had everything on hand already, so that was a plus!

  52. Hi Christy,
    Just a quick question that I always have when a recipe calls for soy sauce – should I be using the “sushi” soy sauce or a regular soy sauce? The flavor is obviously very different – which one does this recipe call for? Can’t wait to make this!!

  53. Melissa Grace says:

    It is wonderful finding a slow cooker recipe without cheese or tomatoes. Thank you.

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  55. Made this tonight for dinner . It was really good and easy. I added a half onion (chopped) and a whole chopped green pepper to the beef mixture. Will definitely make it again . Maybe add an egg on top next time. 😊

  56. I make this with ground pork too (since it is usually cheaper) and it’s just as good with pork!

  57. My family loves this recipe. I love it because it is affordable and easy to prepare in a hurry.

  58. We have made this for my whole life. My mom always called it slop, I still make it for my family and we still call it slop. I use honey for the sweetener since I am diabetic, still tastes great. Try it, you will love it. The only thing I do differently is add two eggs to thicken it right at the end.

  59. This has been a favourite recipe of mine for years, can’t believe I’ve never commented. I make this every week and I’d eat it every DAY if I could. For someone who loooves bulgogi, this is the perfect quick and easy at home version. Thank you so much for a STAPLE recipe that allows me to enjoy mouthwatering dinner on a lazy week night!

  60. I’ve been making this recipe for a little over three years and it never fails to be a hit.

    Looking back at it today, I just want to thank you for not using, oh, 30 photographs of it and for not being compelled to tell your whole life story. Sometimes I find it frustrating getting to the actual recipe on other sites.

  61. I need to serve a veggie with this. What would you suggest?

  62. I love this recipe. Do you have any serving size info?

  63. This is one of my go-to weeknight meals. I looooove it! Any idea on nutrition info? Thanks so much!