Cheater Korean Beef

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This Korean beef recipe is the kind of dish that both beginning and experienced cooks need in their life.

The meal comes together in minutes and is full of fantastic flavors. Cheater Korean Beef is easier to make than ordering take-out, saves you money, and tastes better too!

Korean Beef

I love so many things about this recipe! This has been one of my favorite takeout meals for a long time. A good Korean beef is salty, savory, sweet, tangy and spicy all at once.

Everything is simple enough to be found in most grocery stores, too. No running around town looking for hard-to-find ingredients. (Who has time for that?)

Cheater Korean Beef - recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

The recipe I’m sharing today is a “cheater” version because it uses ground beef instead of the more traditional (and expensive) cuts of meat. This dish includes our favorite Asian ingredients, including fresh ginger.

The fact it’s made with ground beef instead of a more expensive cut of meat makes it a really great alternative to the pricier meats when you are craving Chinese food or an Asian meal.

Best of all, you can make this recipe start to finish in less than 20 minutes.

I’ve served the Korean beef over rice, wrapped in lettuce, and on top of a salad.

A rice bowl with this meat and peas served over perfectly cooked white or brown rice makes for a crowd-pleasing dinner or lunch. It packs up wonderfully in to-go containers to take to work or school and reheats beautifully.

We like this so very much that I’ve taken to doubling the recipe every time I make it just to ensure we have leftovers. I get absolutely giddy when I’m wondering what to serve for lunch and remember I have a container of Korean Beef waiting in the fridge!

Your favorite takeout place is going to start missing you once you get Cheater Korean Beef into your meal rotation. It’s so easy, flavorful and economical that you’ll wonder where this recipe has been all your life.

Korean Beef Recipe

I’ve tried a few different recipes for Korean beef over the years. When my friend Amy told me about this Cheater Korean Beef, I made it the very next day.

We were in the middle of moving and over the next month, I made this for dinner four more times. It really is one of the easiest dinners that you can make.

My family has quite a few “favorite” easy meals so, as you can imagine, that says a lot about how much we enjoyed this beef.

This is the perfect dinner for busy nights when you just don’t have much time to think about what you’re going to be eating. My kids still cheer when they see this on the stove, even after eating it countless times over the past few years.

20 Minute Korean Beef - get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

This is also super easy to turn into a freezer meal. Just freeze the cooked beef before you add the green onions. After thawing and reheating, add the green onions on top when you’re ready to serve.

Easy Dinner Recipes

If you’re looking for more lightning-fast, easy dinner recipes, check out the Kielbasa Cabbage Potato Skillet, the {Better Than Take Out} Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry, and this Pizza Soup. My kids love every one of those recipes and my older boys can make them on their own too, making them even easier dinner nights for me!

I have Monterey Chicken, Turkey Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, and Easy Skillet Lasagna on my list to try soon. Every one of these meals comes together in under 20 minutes.

For fellow enthusiasts of Asian-inspired recipes, I highly recommend trying Foodie with Family’s Chinese Pork Recipe for an upcoming weekend meal.

Kitchen Tip: I use this rice cooker and this skillet to make this recipe.
Cheater Korean Beef - this simple recipe comes together in minutes and is full of fantastic flavors. It's easier than ordering take-out, saves you the money, and tastes better too!

Korean Cheater Beef

  1. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef until cooked through, crumbling it as it browns.

  2. Drain thoroughly, then add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute or two until fragrant.

  3. Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and chili paste. Pour the liquids over the beef, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors and slightly thicken the sauce.

  4. Add the peas, stir and simmer a minute longer. The peas will thaw and warm in the hot skillet.

MAKE AHEAD MEAL: This dish reheats wonderfully. I’ve learned to double the recipe every time I make it. The beef freezes well too, just skip the green onions and sprinkle them on the top when ready to serve. Cheater Korean Beef is pretty much the ultimate in flavorful and frugal make-ahead meals.

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Cheater Korean Beef

5 from 2 votes
Cheater Korean Beef is a simple meal that comes together in minutes. It's easier than ordering take-out, saves you money, and tastes better too! Recipe adapted from and with thanks to Lizzy Writes and The Girl Who Ate Everything via BellyFull
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Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon  fresh ginger cut into tiny matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons  chili paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt adjust to taste
  • Optional: 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 green onions sliced thin

Instructions

  • Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the beef until cooked through, crumbling it as it browns. Drain thoroughly, then add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute or two until fragrant.
  • Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, and chili paste. Pour the liquids over the beef, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors and slightly thicken the sauce. Add the peas, stir and simmer a minute longer. The peas will thaw and warm in the hot skillet. Enjoy!

Notes

This dish reheats wonderfully. I've learned to double the recipe every time I make it. The beef freezes well too, just skip the green onions and sprinkle them on the top when ready to serve. Cheater Korean Beef is pretty much the ultimate in flavorful and frugal make-ahead meals.

Nutrition

Calories: 395kcal · Carbohydrates: 17g · Protein: 21g · Fat: 26g · Saturated Fat: 9g · Cholesterol: 80mg · Sodium: 1307mg · Potassium: 414mg · Sugar: 14g · Vitamin A: 90IU · Vitamin C: 2.1mg · Calcium: 42mg · Iron: 2.9mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @WPRecipeMaker or tag #wprecipemaker!

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{originally published 2/26/15 – recipe notes and photos updated 10/30/19}

{20-Minute} Cheater Korean Beef is a meal the whole family will love! Get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Anonymous says

    This looks fantastic. I have been making a Korean Beef dish like this from a recent post at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and it is excellent. Can't wait to try your version, which is different. But do you know if chili paste is the same as sweet chili sauce (which I have in my pantry, unopened). We do not like too much spice. Will this do or should I get the chili paste? Is it spicy? Thanks so much.

    • Mary says

      Sweet Chili Sauce is not the same thing. I would recommend buying the chili paste and just using a small teaspoon of it. You could make the dish without it, but it adds flavor even more than it adds just heat, if that makes sense. We add a full tablespoon of it to this dish, because I do like a bit of heat in the dish, but a teaspoon shouldn't warm it up too much for you. I hope that helps!

  2. sue says

    Made this for dinner the same day as you posted it. Fabulous! I always use less hot stuff (chili paste) so reduced that to just one teaspoon and it was perfect for us. Also I finely diced some cucumber as additional garnish. Love your recipes! Thank you.

  3. Stephanie says

    YUM! Tonight's dinner…easy, flavorful, delicious. I had garlic chili paste on hand from your Huli Huli Chicken so I used it along with with 3-4 cloves of garlic. Thanks so much!

  4. Anonymous says

    I love, love, love this recipe. I substitute 1/2 head of shredded napa cabbage for 1/2 pound of the ground beef. This is a perfect, complete meal for the two of us.

  5. Sarah Snell says

    Last month i had the chance to take a bite of this Cheater Korean Beef. OMG, I’ve to tell you – i am the biggest fans of this chilly beef with rice meal. Thanks for sharing and remind me of those days.

  6. Elina says

    Hello. I don’t have chili paste, but I have a chili sesame oil. Would this be OK if I add a little, bc we don’t like spicy?
    Thank you.

    • Mary says

      You can skip the chili paste, however, it does add a depth of flavor to the final dish. Given the choice, I’d recommend simply using a little less vs skipping it altogether. I’ve never used chili sesame oil, so I can’t speak to how that would work in this recipe.

  7. Alicia O'Brien says

    I’m out of brown sugar!! Help lol
    I only have dark brown sugar or raw sugar. Would either of those be a suitable substitute.
    Thank you!

  8. Akshat Malya says

    Awesome flavours! I always love to eat Korean beef but was not aware of the recipe.Easy to make and just need two utensils to make it and that is also easily available top rice cooker and skillet.
    Keep sharing such more recipes!

  9. jordan daniel says

    I followed the above-shared recipe for cheater Korean Beef, I ended up my work with the same result which is described here. I was completely amazed by the taste of the dish, it was very delicious.

  10. Kathryn says

    I know fresh is always best, but hubby doesn’t like the texture of fresh ginger. How much ground ginger should I sub to equal the 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger?