One of my favorite healthy ground beef recipes, this flavorful Korean ground beef is served over cauliflower rice and makes a delicious and complete keto meal.
I really like ground beef. It's cheap, readily available, very versatile, and when you buy the vacuum-sealed packages, it lasts for quite a while too. It also freezes easily and thaws well.
So I always have a few packages in the fridge or in the freezer. I mostly use them for easy everyday recipes such as burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf. But when I want to make something special and especially flavorful, I make Korean ground beef.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty ground beef recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Soy sauce: I use reduced-sodium soy sauce in most of my recipes. I find that traditional soy sauce is too salty. Obviously, you can also use a gluten-free alternative.
Honey: Just 1 tablespoon to balance out the tang of the soy sauce. You can use a sugar-free syrup if you'd like.
Cornstarch: To thicken the sauce. I only use 1 teaspoon, which adds a very small amount of carbs per serving.
Red pepper flakes: They don't make the dish very spicy. They merely add a hint of spice.
Avocado oil: This oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.
Ground beef: I use a lean mixture - 85% lean and 15% fat. Leaner than this is too dry, in my opinion.
Minced garlic and ginger: You can mince them yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
To finish the dish: A drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.
How to make Korean ground beef
It's easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your very first step is to prepare the sauce. Simply whisk together the soy sauce, honey, cornstarch and red pepper flakes.
2. Now cook the meat in some oil until no longer pink, breaking it up into crumbles as you cook.
3. Next, drain the beef, return it to the skillet, and add the garlic and the ginger.
4. Stir the sauce into the beef. Cook until heated through and the sauce thickens.
5. Off heat, drizzle the dish with sesame oil, sprinkle it with sliced green onions and serve.
Not an authentic recipe
Truth be told, I've never seen ground beef in a Korean barbecue restaurant. But this recipe does feature a wonderful combination of Korean-inspired flavors and textures. And the sauce mixes really well into the crumbly meat. This means you don't need to marinate the beef prior to cooking.
Soy sauce alternative
Personally, I don't mind small amounts of soy sauce. But if you prefer not to use it, that's fine! Gluten-free and paleo alternatives are also pretty good in this recipe.
Though if you do use alternatives, you might want to increase the salt a little, depending on what you use.
Cooking tip: use the sesame oil as a finishing oil
Remember that you should only drizzle the sesame oil after cooking this dish. It's a fragile oil that burns easily, so it's not suitable for high-heat cooking.
How to serve Korean ground beef?
I like to serve it on a bed of cauliflower rice. If you don't mind the carbs, rice would be a natural choice, obviously.
How to store leftovers
You can keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. This is one of those dishes where the leftovers taste almost as good as the freshly made dish.
Frequently asked questions
According to the USDA, the best way to safely thaw ground beef is overnight in the refrigerator. But if you need to defrost it quickly, you can do so in the microwave or in cold water.
If using the microwave, you should cook the meat immediately because some areas may begin to cook during the defrosting.
To defrost in cold water, put the meat in a watertight plastic bag and submerge. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately.
Use spices! It's actually easy to flavor this meat because of its crumbly texture - the seasonings you add easily mix in. In this particular recipe, garlic, ginger and soy sauce add wonderful flavor. In other recipes, I use spices such as chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano.
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Korean Ground Beef Recipe
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- 1 tablespoon honey or a liquid sugar-free alternative
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (85/15)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
To finish the dish:
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, green parts only
- In a small bowl, prepare the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, honey, cornstarch and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, breaking it up into crumbles as you cook, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the beef. Return to the skillet. Add the garlic and the ginger to the skillet and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Stir the sauce into the beef. Cook 2 more minutes, until heated through and the sauce thickens.
- Off heat, drizzle the dish with sesame oil, sprinkle it with green onions and serve.