Authentic Korean BBQ Marinade Recipe 

 Last Update March 6, 2024

By Jenny Zhang

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There's something truly captivating about the sizzle and aroma of a sizzling grill, especially when it's infused with the tantalizing flavors of Korean barbecue. Korean BBQ has surged in popularity, enchanting palates and sparking a love for its distinctive and harmonious flavors with its lively and robust taste sensations.

At the heart of every unforgettable Korean BBQ experience lies the secret weapon—the marinade. Whether you're a seasoned grill master or an adventurous home cook, mastering the art of creating a mouthwatering Korean BBQ marinade is an essential skill that will elevate your culinary prowess and leave your guests craving more.

In this blog post, we'll share the secrets of creating an authentic Korean BBQ marinade. We'll explore the key ingredients, dive deep into the cultural significance behind each flavor, and discover the secrets to achieving that perfect balance of sweet and savory notes that define this beloved culinary tradition.

Korean BBQ Marinade Recipe

Prep Time
5 minutes

Cook Time
0 minutes

Rest Time
0 minutes

Total Time
5 minutes

  • Cooking Method: N/A
  • Cuisine: Korean
  • Servings: 1
  • Calories: 258
  • Courses: Marinade
  • Best Season: Any


  • 1 small Asian pear, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 small onion, finely grated or minced
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free option)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon of sweetener (optional for a sweeter taste)
  • 2 Chopped green onions


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the grated Asian pear, finely grated or minced onion, reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari), toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, minced garlic, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, green onion, and black pepper. Thoroughly blend the ingredients until they are fully incorporated.

2. If you are unable to grate the Asian pear and onion, you can place all the ingredients in a blender like Vitamix.

3. Taste the marinade and make any necessary adjustments to suit your personal taste. You can add more grated Asian pear for extra sweetness or more soy sauce for a saltier taste.

4. Transfer the marinade to a sealable container and add your protein. For optimal results, marinate overnight.

Tips & Notes

Grate the Asian Pear and Onion: Use a fine grater or a food processor to grate the Asian pear and onion. This will ensure that they incorporate well into the marinade and release their flavors more effectively. If a grater is unavailable, you can use a blender instead.

Marinating Time: While a minimum of 1 hour is recommended, allowing the protein to marinate overnight will result in more flavorful and tender results. Plan ahead to give the marinade ample time to work its magic.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 1



% Daily Value*

Total Fat 8g


Saturated Fat 1.2g


Cholesterol 0mg


Sodium 4036mg


Total Carbohydrate 36.6g


Dietary Fiber 8.2g


Total Sugars 14.3g

Protein 8g

Vitamin D 0mcg


Calcium 107mg


Iron 4mg


Potassium 556mg


*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

What is Korean BBQ Marinade

Korean BBQ marinade is a flavorful sauce used to marinate various proteins, such as beef, pork, chicken, or tofu, for grilling or barbecuing in Korean cuisine. Known as "Gogigui" in Korean, it holds a crucial role in the world of Korean BBQ.

The taste of Korean BBQ marinade is a harmonious balance of sweet, savory, and umami flavors with a hint of tanginess. The precise flavor profile can exhibit slight variations, influenced by the specific ingredients and their proportions employed.

What Ingredients You Will Need To Make Korean BBQ Marinade

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce serves as the base of the marinade, providing a savory and salty flavor. It adds depth and umami to the marinade. If not available, you can substitute it with tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos as a lower-sodium alternative.

Asian Pear

Grated Asian pear is a traditional ingredient that adds natural sweetness to the marinade. It also helps tenderize the meat due to its enzymes. If Asian pear is not available, you can substitute it with Asian pear juice, grated apple or pineapple, which will provide a similar sweetness and tenderizing effect.


Sweeteners such as brown sugar, honey, or alternative options like pure maple syrup contribute a touch of sweetness to balance the flavors of the marinade. They help caramelize the meat and create a flavorful glaze. If you want to avoid added sugar, you can omit this ingredient and stick with Asian pear as the sweetener.


Minced or grated garlic is a crucial ingredient that adds pungency and aromatic qualities to the marinade. It infuses the meat with a distinct garlicky flavor. There is no direct substitute for garlic, but if necessary, you can use garlic powder as a substitute, although it won't provide the same fresh garlic flavor.

Sesame Oil

Toasted sesame oil brings a rich nutty flavor and enhances the overall taste of the marinade. It adds depth and complexity to the dish. If you don't have sesame oil, you can substitute it with another nut oil like walnut oil or use a neutral oil like grapeseed oil instead, although it will alter the authentic Korean BBQ taste.


Finely grated or minced onion contributes to the overall flavor profile of the marinade. It adds a mild, sweet-savory taste. If you don't have onion, you can use shallots or scallions as a substitute, which will provide a similar flavor profile.

Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar adds acidity and tanginess to the marinade, helping to balance the flavors and provide brightness. In the absence of rice vinegar, you may replace it with an equal amount of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar as suitable alternatives.


The inclusion of freshly grated ginger imparts a lively and invigorating taste to the marinade, enhancing its overall profile. It harmonizes with the remaining components while introducing a subtle touch of warmth. Ground ginger can be used as a suitable replacement if fresh ginger is unavailable. However, fresh ginger provides a more vibrant and aromatic flavor.

Green Onions

Adding green onions, also known as scallions, to the Korean BBQ marinade can provide a fresh and aromatic element to the flavors. Green onions have a mild onion flavor with a hint of sweetness. When added to the marinade, they contribute a subtle oniony taste that complements the other ingredients. The green parts of the onions can also add a pop of color to the marinade.

Apart from adding green onions to the marinade itself, you can also reserve some chopped green onions for garnishing purposes. Sprinkle them over the grilled meat just before serving to enhance the visual appeal and add a fresh burst of flavor.

How To Use Korean BBQ Marinades

Place the protein of your choice into a shallow dish or resealable bag, making sure it is large enough to hold the protein and the marinade. Gently drizzle the marinade over the protein, ensuring that it is evenly coated and fully immersed. Massage or flip the protein gently to distribute the marinade evenly. To achieve optimal flavor infusion, cover the dish or securely seal the bag, then refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour, allowing ample time for the flavors to permeate. For best results, marinate overnight.

How To Store Korean BBQ Marinade

Maintaining the freshness and flavor of Korean BBQ marinade necessitates proper storage. Transfer the marinade into a clean, airtight container or a tightly sealed glass jar. Ensure the container has sufficient capacity to hold the marinade without any risk of overflowing.

The shelf life of Korean BBQ marinade varies depending on the ingredients used. As a general rule, homemade marinades can be refrigerated for a maximum of 1 week. Nonetheless, it is advisable to utilize the marinade within 2-3 days for the best flavor and quality.

In the event of surplus marinade or the need for advance preparation, freezing is an option for extended storage. Simply transfer the marinade to a freezer-safe container, leaving sufficient space for expansion. Frozen Korean BBQ marinade can be safely stored for up to 3 months. Prior to usage, thaw it in the refrigerator.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use Korean marinades for different types of protein?

Yes, Korean BBQ marinade can be used for various types of protein, including flank steak, beef short ribs, skirt steak, pork tenderloin, pork belly, chicken thighs, or even tofu and vegetables. The marinade flavors work well with different proteins, enhancing their taste and tenderness.

This marinade is frequently used in Korean BBQ chicken wings, Korean BBQ beef bulgogi, and Korean BBQ short ribs.

How long should I marinate the protein?

The recommended marinating time depends on the protein and its thickness. Marinating for at least 1 hour is generally recommended, but for optimal flavor and tenderness, marinating overnight is best. Thinner cuts of meat may require less marinating time than thicker cuts.

Can I reuse the marinade?

It is generally advised against reusing marinade that has been in contact with raw meat due to potential bacterial contamination from the raw protein. Nevertheless, you can reserve a separate portion of the marinade before incorporating the raw meat, utilizing it for basting purposes or as a delectable sauce while grilling. If you want to use the marinade again, make sure to bring it to a boil first to kill any potential bacteria.

Can I adjust the sweetness or spiciness of the marinade?

Absolutely! The wonderful aspect of crafting homemade marinades lies in the flexibility to tailor the flavors according to your personal taste preferences. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more or less sweetener or adjust the spiciness by adding more or less gochujang, red pepper flakes, or other spicy elements. Continuously sample the sweet and spicy marinade as you progress, making adjustments as needed to achieve the desired taste.

Can I make the marinade in advance?

Yes, it is possible to prepare the marinade ahead of time. However, storing it in the refrigerator and using it within a week to ensure its freshness and quality is best. Alternatively, you can freeze the marinade for longer storage, thawing it in the refrigerator before use.

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.