These Korean-style Beef Lettuce wraps are a spicy handheld salad that makes a fantastic appetizer or lunch. Bulgogi is a Korean dish of spicy shaved meat.
The traditional marinade usually includes gochujang and shredded Asian pear. I’m using sweet apple instead of Asian pear, simply because it’s easier to find. My favourite variety are Jazz apples—which have a pear-drop like flavour.

Picture of a plate with two Korean beef lettuce wraps with another plate and board with more lettuce wraps in the background.

Bulgogi is a Korean dish consisting of thinly sliced beef (usually sirloin or tenderloin) that is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, gochujang, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and other ingredients, then grilled or stir-fried.
It’s cooked really quickly after being marinated – which means it’s super tender and flavourful.

🥬 What Kind Of Lettuce To Use?

You can use any lettuce you like for these Korean beef lettuce wraps, but I’d recommend crispier lettuce leaves, such as romaine or iceberg lettuce, as they hold together better.

🥩 How to make Bulgogi Beef

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Place the thinly sliced sirloin steak into a mixture of soy sauce, gochujang, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and other ingredients.
  2. Cover and marinade for 3-4 hours.
  3. Fry the steak in a large frying pan (large skillet) for about 5 minutes until the beef is cooked and the sugars are slightly caramelized on the outside.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP Prior to starting the recipe, place the steak in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up slightly. This allows you to more easily thinly slice the steak against the grain.

The marinade imparts a bold umami flavour to the steak, then the grilling or stir-frying process caramelizes the sugars, resulting in a slightly caramelized exterior.

Overall, it tastes like a delicious combination of sweet, salty, and savory notes with a hint of smokiness too.

Overhead picture of a white plate full of Korean lettuce wraps all sat on a rustic wooden board with some peanuts and chillis in the background.

🍽️ Serving Suggestions

I love to add this spicy bulgogi beef to lettuce cups and top with:

  • Extra fresh veggies, thinly sliced carrot and spring onions (green onion),
  • Finely diced cucumber, red bell pepper and jalapeño
  • The finish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chopped toasted peanuts.

If you want to make these wraps more substantial, you can add a spoonful of cooked rice or cauliflower rice to each wrap.


Picture of some Korean beef lettuce wraps on a small green plate with another plate and some chilli's in the background. All sat on a blue board.

🍲 More fantastic Korean Inspired Recipes

We love those bold flavours of Korean-inspired dishes, here are some more of our favourites:

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Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps Recipe

A spicy handheld salad that makes a fantastic appetizer or lunch.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 People (approx 4 wraps each)
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Korean

Ingredients

Bulgogi beef:

  • 2 medium sirloin or ribeye steaks thinly sliced (about 500g/1.1lb-600g/1.3lb altogether)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 grated sweet apple no need to peel
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil (for frying) – I use avocado oil, but rapeseed or vegetable oil will work fine

To assemble:

  • 2-3 heads romaine or butter lettuce leaves removed, washed and dried (we want 16-20 leaves altogether – the outer, larger leaves are best)
  • 1 large carrot sliced into thin strips
  • cucumber chopped into small chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped into small chunks
  • 3 spring onions (scallions) sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp unsalted toasted and roughly chopped (optional)

Instructions 

Making the Bulgogi Beef

  • Place the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up slightly, then slice thinly against the grain, using a sharp knife. Lightly freezing the meat will help you slice it more easily.
    2 medium sirloin or ribeye steaks
  • Place the sliced steak in a large bowl and add all the bulgogi ingredients, except the neutral oil.
    2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tbsp gochujang paste, 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger, 2 tbsp light brown sugar, 2 tbsp mirin, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 1 grated sweet apple, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Mix together thoroughly, then cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.
  • In a large frying pan (skillet), heat the neutral oil over medium-high heat. Scoop out the steak, using a slotted spoon, allow any excess sauce to drip off, then fry the steak in the hot oil. Use tongs to separate the steak slices during cooking, and cook until cooked through which should take approximatley 5 minutes.
    2 tbsp neutral oil

Assemble the lettuce wraps

  • Place the lettuce leaves, on a large platter and fill with the bulgogi beef, carrot, cucumber, bell peppers and spring onions (scallions). Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and toasted peanuts (optional) before serving.
    2-3 heads romaine or butter lettuce, 1 large carrot, 1/3 cucumber, 1 red bell pepper, 3 spring onions (scallions), 1 tsp sesame seeds, 2 tbsp unsalted

Notes

You can use any lettuce you like for these wraps, but I’d recommend crispier lettuce leaves, such as romaine, as they hold together better.
Tip: If you want to make these wraps more substantial, you can add a spoonful of cooked rice to each wrap.
Nutritional information is approximate per serving and each serving will be approx. 4 lettuce wraps per person depending on the size of your lettuce.

Nutrition

Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 659mg | Potassium: 758mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 5023IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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