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Savor Korean Flavors: 5 BEST Bulgogi Sauce Substitutes

Bulgogi sauce rocks your BBQ like no other, period.

Found yourself in a pickle because the store’s out or your pantry’s dry?

Chill, we’ve got the scoop on how to keep those flavors kicking without the original MVP.

Soccer moms, BBQ dads, and even your neighbor Ted who can’t cook to save his life—everyone’s invited to this sauce swap party.

Get ready to hack your way through dinner with items you probably have chilling in your kitchen.

Trust me, it’s time to turn that meat into a feast with some crafty mixing and matching!

What’s Bulgogi Sauce?

If you’ve ever been to a Korean restaurant, you’ve probably seen bulgogi on the menu.

Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish made of thinly sliced beef that is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce.

The word bulgogi literally means “fire meat,” referring to the fact that it is traditionally cooked over an open flame.

The origins of bulgogi are uncertain, but it is believed to have first appeared during the Goguryeo Dynasty.

The dish became hugely popular during the Joseon Dynasty when it was often served at royal banquets.

Today, bulgogi is widely considered to be one of Korea’s national dishes.

Bulgogi sauce is made of a variety of ingredients, including soy sauce, sugar, mirin, garlic, and sesame oil.

This combination of flavors makes for a sweet and savory sauce that pairs perfectly with the rich flavor of beef.

The sauce also has a slightly thick and sticky texture that helps to adhere to the meat.

Bulgogi can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

It is commonly served with rice and vegetables or wrapped in lettuce leaves with kimchi.

It can also be used as a filling for bibimbap or as an ingredient in other Korean dishes.

No matter how you enjoy it, bulgogi is sure to add some delicious flavor to your meal.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bulgogi Sauce

If you’re looking for a tasty, authentic-tasting alternative to the beloved Korean dish of bulgogi, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve rounded up five excellent substitutes that will capture the same delicious flavors without all the fuss.

1 – Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki sauce is a popular Japanese condiment that is used to add flavor to grilled or baked meats.

The sauce is made with soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar, and it has a sweet and savory flavor.

The sauce is also quite thick, which helps to coat the meat and prevent it from drying out during cooking.

Teriyaki sauce can be used as a substitute for Bulgogi sauce in Korean dishes.

Bulgogi sauce is made with a similar combination of ingredients, but it typically has a more pungent flavor.

When substituting Teriyaki sauce for Bulgogi sauce, you may need to add additional seasonings to achieve the desired flavor.

2 – BBQ Sauce

In America, BBQ sauce is a staple.

It is sweet, sticky, and tangy all at the same time.

The texture is thick and viscous, perfect for slathering on ribs or chicken.

And while it is traditionally used as a marinade or dipping sauce for grilled meats, it can also be used as a Bulgogi sauce substitute.

Simply mix the BBQ sauce with some brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Then use it to marinate your Bulgogi meat overnight.

The next day, grill the meat as usual and enjoy the delicious results.

Thanks to its versatility, BBQ sauce is a great addition to any cook’s repertoire.

3 – Hoisin Sauce

Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet-and-sour sauce that is commonly used in Chinese cooking.

It has a rich, deep flavor and a slightly sticky texture.

Hoisin sauce is made from soybeans, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and chili peppers.

Hoisin sauce can be used as a Bulgogi sauce substitution.

Bulgogi is a Korean dish that typically uses a thinner, more savory sauce.

To substitute hoisin sauce for Bulgogi sauce, simply mix the hoisin sauce with some water to thin it out.

You may also need to add additional seasonings, such as salt or pepper, to taste.

4 – Sweet and Sour Sauce

The sweet and sour sauce is a popular condiment in Chinese cuisine.

It is made by combining sugar, vinegar, and various other ingredients, resulting in a liquid with a sweet and tangy flavor.

The sauce is often used as a dip for fried foods or as a marinade for meats.

It can also be used as a substitute for Bulgogi sauce.

Bulgogi is a Korean dish made of grilled marinated beef, and the sauce is traditionally made with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.

However, the sweet and sour sauce can provide a similar flavor profile if used in the right proportions.

When substituting sweet and sour sauce for Bulgogi sauce, it is important to adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

Otherwise, the dish may end up too sweet or too sour.

With a little trial and error, however, it is easy to find the perfect balance of flavors.

5 – Kalbi or Galbi Sauce

Kalbi and galbi sauces are Korean sauces used to marinate meat, usually short ribs.

The sauce is made with a variety of ingredients, including soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame oil, and rice wine.

The taste of the sauce is sweet and savory, with a slight kick from the garlic.

The texture is thick and sticky, making it perfect for coating meat.

Kalbi sauce can be used as a substitute for bulgogi sauce in any recipe.

Simply marinate the meat in the sauce for at least an hour before cooking.

The results will be tender, flavorful meat that is sure to please any appetite.


In conclusion, there are many great substitutes for bulgogi sauce that can be used to add flavor to any dish.

Teriyaki and BBQ sauces provide a delicious sweetness, while Hoisin and sweet-and-sour sauces offer a more complex flavor profile.

Finally, Kalbi and galbi sauces are perfect for marinating meat in traditional Korean dishes.

With so many options, there is sure to be a sauce that suits everyone’s taste.

Try these substitutes out and find the flavor that works best for you.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Bulgogi Sauce

Need a substitute for Bulgogi sauce? Explore our list of the top 5 alternatives that will bring the same savory, sweet, and umami flavors to your Korean-inspired dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Kalbi or Galbi Sauces


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Bulgogi Sauce
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