If you’re a lover of bulgogi but looking for something a little lighter, then you’re in the right place! This recipe for Chicken Bulgogi, or Dak bulgogi, features all the incredible flavors of classic beef bulgogi just made with chicken instead of beef.
If you’ve not had bulgogi, it’s a Korean bbq dish made of thinly sliced meat marinated in a sweet and savory gochujang sauce and grilled or seared until charred and caramelized. It’s incredibly flavorful and so satisfying!
What Is Chicken Bulgogi
Also referred to as Dak Bulgogi (/ 닭 불고기), Chicken Bulgogi is a Korean barbecue chicken dish consisting of thinly sliced meat that is marinated and grilled until charred.
The process of making bulgogi varies widely from region to region and can use a variety of meat. This recipe follows the general process and idea, but does have some differences that keeps this from being super authentic.
Generally speaking, bulgogi features tender meat sliced very thin and marinated in a sweet and savory mixture. The meat is then cooked quickly over high heat and served with rice and perilla leaves. For our version, which is less traditional, we serve it in bibb lettuce leaves with rice, kimchi, and green onions. If you can find perilla leaves, we encourage you to give those a try!
How to Make Chicken Bulgogi
Making bulgogi is a simple process of marinating meat and grilling or cooking over high heat.
- Mix up the marinade in a large bowl.
- Add the thinly sliced chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Cook the chicken in an even layer on a ripping hot grill or casti-iron skillet.
- Optional step: cook the marinade down into a thick sauce.
- Serve the grilled chicken over rice in lettuce wraps.
Watch How to Make It
- Chicken bulgogi can be cooked on the stove top in a grill pan or cast-iron skillet, or it can be cooked on the grill. We prefer the grill because you get a more robust charring and caramelization. But again, you can certainly use a grill pan for the ease of it.
- Something to keep in mind if using the grill and chicken thighs—since thighs are thinner than breasts we recommend cutting them slightly larger (½-inch) so they don’t fall through the grill grate. If you do cut them thickener we recommend marinating them slightly longer to ensure the marinade permeates into the meat.
- Lastly, the most important thing to keep in mind when cooking bulgogi is to cook over high heat and to avoid overcrowding the pan or grill. The goal is to get a nice caramelized char on the meat—not to steam it. So be sure your pan is pretty hot and be willing to cook the chicken in a few batches to avoid crowding.
How to Serve Chicken Bulgogi
Traditionally, chicken bulgogi is served in lettuce wraps with gochujang or doenjang (soybean paste). We like to serve chicken bulgogi in lettuce cups with cooked jasmine or basmati rice, kimchi, scallions and sesame seeds.
We also recommend cooking down the leftover marinade (safe to eat once it’s brought to a boil and cooked for 1 minute) and drizzle that over top. You can also serve chicken bulgogi over rice with charred broccoli.
Make Ahead Tips
- Bulgogi is actually better when it’s prepped ahead of time because it allows for ample marinating time. Chicken bulgogi can be prepped and marinated for up to 12 hours. Any longer and the chicken can take on a different texture.
- The marinade can be prepped and stored in a glass container in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead of time.
- If you plan to serve as lettuce wraps, cook the rice up to 3 days in advance. Allow it to cool completely before transferring to a glass container with a tight fitting lid and storing it in the refrigerator.
What Kind of Chicken to Use
For chicken bulgogi we prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, though you can certainly use boneless skinless chicken breasts (as pictured). The prep of this recipe is really quick, and although it does require some marinating time, you can control the length of it.
The meat doesn’t need a long time to marinate, but if you’ve got some extra time let the meat marinate for 4 hours or up to overnight. Crunched for time? Marinate it for just 2 hours. We find the best flavor and texture comes from marinating the meat for at least 4 hours, but you do what works best for you!
What to Serve With Chicken Bulgogi
- Make use of the gochujang you had to get and make our Saucy Gochujang Noodles.
- Make it a full meal with our Curried Carrot Soup.
- Our Savory Citrus Salad is a fun and delicious fruit salad pairing for bulgogi.
- We also love anything pickled! Quick pickled cucumbers and onions are a great side dish or addition to the lettuce wraps.
- Keep it simple with some sautéed broccoli.
More Korean-Inspired Recipes to Try
- Our Saucy Gochujang Noodles are a fan favorite!
- If you love this recipe then you’ve gotta try our Beef Bulgogi and Ground Beef Bulgogi.
- Make use of your gochujang and make this Gochujang Sauce for our Sheetpan Gochujang Chicken with crispy rice.
- This recipe for Korean Meatballs is out of this world! It features a sweet and tangy drizzle sauce that you will want on everything!
Yes, chicken bulgogi can be frozen. We recommend freezing the raw chicken in the bulgogi marinade. Add everything to a large freezer bag, press out the air and seal. Store in the freezer for up to 3 minutes. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
If you need to freeze leftovers—transfer the cooked chicken to a resealable zipper-lock bag. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then gently reheat in a skillet with some oil.
We recommend storing cooked chicken bulgogi in a glass storage container with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Sure, why not! It won’t be the same, but it will be delicious. Shred up the cooked chicken and toss it with the marinade. Let it sit for 15 minutes before lightly sautéeing it just to warm through.
Chicken Bulgogi Recipe
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce, gluten free if needed
- ¼ cup grated white or yellow onion
- 3 tablespoons honey, or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon gochujang, gluten free if needed
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon mirin or rice wine*
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil
- Cooked jasmine or basmati rice
- Bibb lettuce leaves
- Sesame seeds
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Whisk together soy sauce, onion, honey, gochujang, garlic, mirin, sesame oil, ginger and black pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken and toss to coat; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally 4 hours, or up to overnight.
- Heat a grill to high. Brush grill grate clean; brush grate with grapeseed oil to coat. Working in batches if needed, arrange sliced chicken on grill grate and cook just until cooked through and browned, about 1½ minutes per side.
- Heat a cast-iron grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high for 5 minutes. Brush pan with grapeseed oil and, working in batches, arrange chicken in a single layer in pan, making sure not to over crowd. Cook chicken until charred and just cooked through, 1½–2 minutes per side; transfer to a serving platter. Repeat cooking process with remaining chicken.
- Reserve the marinade and transfer to a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve sauce with bulgogi.
- Serve chicken bulgogi with rice, butter lettuce cups, kimchi, scallions, sesame seeds, and ssamjang, if desired.