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chicken bulgogi over rice on plate f
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5 from 9 votes

Chicken Bulgogi Recipe

For this chicken bulgogi recipe, we're using a fabulous homemade Korean bulgogi marinade, keeping the boneless chicken pieces whole and grilling them to perfection. The flavors are sensational hot or cold. If you don't have a grill, you can pan sear the chicken. 
Prep Time8 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Marinating3 hrs
Course: main
Cuisine: Korean
Servings (change as needed): 3
Author: Cheryl


  • 1.5 pounds (680g) boneless skinless chicken thighs, Note 1
  • Garnish (optional) - chopped green onion, chives and/or toasted sesame seeds.

Chicken Bulgogi Marinade

  • Double (or 1.5x) recipe if you want extra sauce to drizzle on rice. (Note 2 for substitutes)
  • 1/4 cup 50g) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (58 ml) light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) mirin or rice wine
  • 1/4 Asian or regular pear, peeled, cubed
  • 1 large green onion, chopped (or 2 thin ones)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4.5g) sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  • MAKE BULGOGI MARINADE: Option 1: blend all marinade ingredients in food processor, immersion blender or blender for 1 minute until smooth. Option 2: Finely chop pear and green onion, then mix well with the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • PREPARE CHICKEN: Lay chicken thighs on cutting board. Pound them to an even thickness with the heel of your hand or bottom of a small saucepan. Trim excess fat (no need to obsess as most will burn off).
  • MARINATE CHICKEN: Pour marinade into large zipper lock bag or bowl along with chicken. Toss chicken around to ensure meat is well covered with marinade. Seal bag or cover bowl and place in fridge for 2-4 hours (up to 12 hrs). If short on time, marinate on counter at room temperature for 30-45 minutes).
  • MAKE GLAZE/SAUCE: Remove chicken from bag/bowl and pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan. I like to strain it through a sieve but that's optional. Boil marinade on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes to eliminate impurities and thicken it slightly. If you doubled the amount of marinade, you will need to boil it for 4-5 minutes.
  • GRILL CHICKEN (see Note 3 for pan sear method): Clean grill and spray with oil (or dip paper towel in oil and brush on grill grates). Heat BBQ to medium high (about 450F/232C). Pat chicken with a paper towel. Brush on a bit of glaze on one side. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill chicken for 2-3 minutes on first side. Flip over, brush on a little more glaze. Continue grilling for another 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness. Don't over cook the chicken (if thin, 2 minutes per side is likely fine). Temp should be 160F/71C.
  • SERVE: Remove to platter or cutting board and brush on more glaze if you have any left. Serve in lettuce wraps or over white rice or brown rice. Garnish with chopped green onions, chives and/or sesame seeds if desired.


  1. Chicken options: Instead of boneless chicken thighs, you can use chicken breasts or chicken tenders. For the breasts, pound to 1/2 inch/1.2cm thickness and cut in half lengthwise. 
  2. Substitutes for marinade ingredients
      • Instead of the pear, use apple, 1/2 kiwi or 1/4 cup pineapple. They will all act as tenderizers. If you have none of these, leave it out.
      • Instead of brown sugar, use honey or agave. 
      • Instead of green onion, use regular onion
      • Instead of mirin or rice vinegar, use lemon juice.
      • For a gluten free marinade, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
    • Other variations for marinade:
      • Add 2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds to the marinade if you like.
      • Want to try spicy chicken bulgogi? If you like spicy food, add a tablespoon of gochujang or 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes. The gochujang will also give the chicken a deeper reddish color. 
  3. Pan sear method (instead of grilling)
    • Heat a cast iron pan to medium-high (8/10). (Cast iron pan is better than non stick if you have one). Add a tablespoon vegetable oil. Pat marinated chicken with paper towel. Sear chicken for a couple minutes on each side. Don't crowd the pan. You will likely have to do 2 batches. Add boiled glaze/sauce and toss to coat chicken. Serve. 
  4. Make Ahead:
    • The marinade can be made several days ahead (but don't marinate the chicken more than 12 hours or it can turn mushy)
    • Make the recipe hours ahead or the day before and serve it cold or bring it to room temperature. You can also warm it in the microwave for a minute. 
Nutrition information is estimated using a nutrition caculator. 
Calories: 394kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 1332mg | Potassium: 661mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 99IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg