The Perfect Korean Beef Bowl from How Sweet Eats

Korean beef bowls have become an internet sensation thanks to popular food bloggers like Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats. Her sesame soy beef bowl recipe is easy to make, packed with flavor, and highly customizable. This article will explore the origins of the Korean beef bowl, explain how to make Merchant’s recipe, provide tips for customizations, and share why it has become so popular.

The Origins of the Korean Beef Bowl

While beef bowls may seem trendy, they originate from a traditional Korean meal known as bibimbap. Bibimbap typically consists of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables, beef, a fried egg, and gochujang (Korean chili paste). The ingredients are stirred together before eating.

The composed rice bowl we now know as a Korean beef bowl evolved from bibimbap to be more convenient. The ingredients are layered instead of mixed, making it easier to customize and eat. It also streamlines cooking by sautéing components separately.

How to Make Jessica Merchant’s Korean Beef Bowl

Jessica Merchant’s Korean beef bowl recipe simplifies the traditional bibimbap elements into an easy weeknight dinner. Here’s an overview of how to make it:

  • Cook jasmine rice according to package instructions.
  • Brown ground beef in a skillet breaking it up into crumbles. Drain excess fat.
  • Add brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, ginger, and green onions to beef. Cook 5 minutes.
  • Spiralize zucchini squash and add to beef mixture. Cook 1-2 minutes just until slightly softened.
  • Serve beef and zucchini over rice. Top with grated carrot and sesame seeds.

The full recipe can be found on Cooking time is only 30-35 minutes total.

Customizing Your Korean Beef Bowl

One of the best parts of Korean beef bowls is how versatile they are. You can customize them in endless ways with your favorite add-ins. Here are some easy mix-in ideas:

  • Swap beef for chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu.
  • Use quinoa or cauliflower rice instead of jasmine.
  • Add kimchi, carrots, snap peas, bell peppers, mushrooms, eggs, etc.
  • Drizzle with sriracha mayo, creamy ginger dressing, or sesame oil.
  • Top with avocado, scallions, cilantro, peanuts, etc.
  • Serve in lettuce wraps instead of a bowl.

You can also adjust the tastes subtly just by changing up the sauce ingredients. Add more chili paste for heat or garlic and ginger for extra flavor.

Why the Korean Beef Bowl Got So Popular

Korean beef bowls have taken off online for several reasons:

Easy to Make

With simple ingredients and quick stove-top cooking, these beef bowls come together fast. The rice can cook in an instant pot for even quicker prep.

Endlessly Customizable

As mentioned above, the basic formula accepts almost any add-ins allowing you to adapt it to your tastes.


The beef provides plenty of filling protein to keep you satisfied. Chicken, pork, or shrimp can be swapped in too.

Vegetable Forward

Zucchini noodles bulk it up with vegetables instead of heavy carbs. You can throw in any other veggies too.

Flavor Bomb

The salty, sweet, spicy, and umami flavors of soy, sesame, garlic, and chili make it seriously craveable.

Satisfying Texture

The combo of tender beef, crisp-tender zoodles, and fluffy rice gives a pleasing variety of textures.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder the Korean ground beef bowl has become a hit recipe to make at home. The How Sweet Eats version delivers on all these winning qualities and more.

Tips for Making the Perfect Korean Beef Bowl

Here are some extra tips for getting optimal results when making Korean beef bowls at home:

  • Use 80/20 ground beef for moisture and flavor.
  • Brown the beef well to caramelize and enhance umami.
  • Cook zucchini noodles just 1-2 minutes to retain texture.
  • Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan for added nuttiness.
  • Add a fried egg on top for extra protein and creaminess.
  • Serve with kimchi for tangy spice and probiotic benefits.
  • Drizzle with chili crunch oil for texture and heat.
  • Meal prep rice and zoodles separately to prevent sogginess.
  • Store leftovers separately and combine when ready to reheat.

Sample Meal Preps with Korean Beef Bowls

Korean beef bowls are great for meal prepping since the components hold up well. Here are two sample meal preps featuring the How Sweet Eats Korean beef bowl recipe:

Meal Prep #1

  • Korean Beef Bowl
  • Side salad with ginger dressing
  • Fruit

Make a double batch of the beef and zucchini noodles to use half for meal prep. Portion into individual containers with rice and salad greens. Pack dressing and fruits separately.

Meal Prep #2

  • Korean Beef Bowl
  • Coconut Curry Soup
  • Veggies and hummus

Use half the beef for bowls and the other half for curry. Make soup with coconut milk, red curry paste, chicken stock, vegetables, and cilantro. Enjoy soup and hummus with raw veggies on the side.

Freeze any extra portions of beef, zoodles, or rice to use later on. Reheat gently when ready to eat to maintain texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about making Korean ground beef bowls:

What kind of soy sauce do you use?
Use low sodium soy sauce so the flavor isn’t overpowering. Tamari works well too.

Can you use steak instead of ground beef?
Yes, slice flank steak very thinly across the grain. Stir-fry briefly until no longer pink.

What about pre-riced cauliflower instead of zoodles?
Sure, riced cauliflower is a great low-carb swap for the zucchini noodles.

How long does the meal last refrigerated?
The beef and vegetables will keep 3-4 days. The rice is best eaten within 3 days.

Can I use frozen vegetables?
Absolutely. Thaw first or add frozen direct to hot pan to stir fry.

What sides go well with it?
Some tasty sides are kimchi, cucumber salad, miso soup, veggie fried rice, or garlic broccoli.

Can I use brown rice instead?
You can, just adjust the cook time and water amount as needed for brown rice.

Enjoy the Craveable Korean Beef Bowl at Home

Jessica Merchant’s Korean beef bowl recipe makes enjoying this takeout favorite at home easy and approachable on a busy weeknight. With its craveable umami flavor profile, protein-packed ingredients, and customizable options, it’s no wonder it has become a hit recipe worth making again and again. Follow How Sweet Eats’ sesame soy beef bowl recipe and try out some fun ways to adapt it to your own tastes.

Asian Beef Bowls


What goes well with Korean beef?

Serving Suggestions: We love to build these Korean beef bowls using veggies like cucumbers, carrots, radishes, and greens. Put your beef and veggies over rice with a fried egg and some additional sriracha! YUM! Other optional yummy additions are avocado, cilantro, mint, and sesame seeds.

Is ground beef and rice healthy?

Eating beef with rice can provide several health benefits, including: Protein: Beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles, skin, and other tissues. Rice is also a good source of protein, albeit not as high in quality as beef.

How many calories are in Korean beef?

Korean bbq ground beef contains 290 calories per 114 g serving.

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