Instant Pot Korean Ground Beef bowls are super easy to make and are perfect for a weeknight meal any time of the year. This is a more affordable bulgogi beef adaptation, in which the flavorful meat is served over cooked rice alongside quick-pickled vegetables for a refreshing, tangy touch.
If you love Korean BBQ, beef bulgogi or Asian flavors, you will love this recipe for Korean ground beef and rice bowls made in the Instant Pot.
For this meal, the ground beef is pressure cooked with ginger, garlic, pear (secret Bulgogi ingredient), sesame oil, and soy sauce, then finished on Saute with some sugar and sesame oil until it’s beautifully caramelised and browned.
The beef can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it if you’re doing batch cooking for later. Defrost and reheat in a frying pan or Instant Pot and brown it off again just before serving.
You can make rice in the Instant Pot before or after or use 2-minute rice packets for a speedy dinner hack. Brown rice, noodles, quinoa or cauliflower rice can also be served with Korean ground beef, depending on your dietary requirements.
The final element in the Korean beef and rice bowls is the pickled carrots and cucumbers. These can be made ahead of time or just before serving and they bring the whole dish together by adding some freshness, tang and crunch.
This Instant Pot Asian-inspired dinner recipe is easy, delicious and makes a complete meal the whole family will love.
The ingredients for this Korean ground beef bowls recipe might already be in your pantry and fridge, especially if you cook Asian dishes regularly. Otherwise, these can be picked up from most grocery stores and Asian grocers.
- Ground beef. You can use very lean ground beef if you want to keep it light but we recommend 93-90% lean so you have a little fat which gives it a lot of flavor. Ground chicken and pork also work well in this recipe.
- Soy sauce. A quintessential Asian condiment that gives the beef salty, umami flavor. Many recipes call for low-sodium soy sauce but we simply use less with added water so you don’t have to buy an extra ingredient.
- Aromatics. Both garlic and ginger pack bold flavors that are key in most Asian dishes. Green onions tossed through after cooking for that fresh, herby touch.
- Pear. Nashi pear is traditionally used in Korean bulgogi beef, which gives it lovely sweetness and aroma but we used regular ripe pear and it was a great swap that’s easy to find.
- Brown sugar.You need a sweetener to balance out the salt in this dish and brown sugar works great as it’s more nutty and subtle than white sugar and caramelises beautifully. You can use honey as well. Some keto and low-carb recipes use a sugar-free sweetener.
- Chili. This beef dish isn’t spicy as such but a little pinch of heat gives it a little kick which is so common in Asian cuisines. Using Korean chili paste called Gochujang is more traditional (and it’s super tasty and not too spicy) but if you can’t get a hold of it, a pinch of red chili pepper flakes will do the trick. Use more if you like extra heat or serve some chopped chili on the side. Here is how to make Gochujang at home if you want to use it.
- Sesame Oil. Korean cuisine is big on sesame oil. It adds a lightly toasted nutty flavor that you shouldn’t skip. You can find sesame oil in the Asian or international aisle of most grocery stores.
- For pickled vegetables: cucumbers, carrots and a quick marinade made with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar), and sugar. That’s pretty much all you need!
The recipe card below has the full recipe with ingredients and nutritional breakdown. Here are some handy step-by-step photos of how to make Korean ground beef in the Instant Pot. You can use a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
PRESSURE COOKING THE BEEF
Step 1. Turn the Saute function on Instant Pot. Press it again to cycle through modes until you get to More mode (this is a hotter setting).
Step 2. Add the oil and ground beef and break up with a spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times and breaking up larger clumps of meat with a spatula. The beef will give out a bit of juice and fat, keep cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beef starts to brown a little.
Step 3. Add garlic and ginger, stir through and turn the Saute function off.
Step 4. Add the soy sauce, grated pear and chili paste or flakes (whichever you are using) and stir through. Add 1/2 cup of water and stir through making sure to scrape off the bottom of the pot with a spatula.
Step 5. Secure and lock the lid. Set to Pressure Cook for 5 minutes on a HIGH setting. The Instant Pot will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure. Once the timer is done, leave the pot for 5 minutes and then use the quick release to manually release the pressure.
ONCE BEEF IS COOKED
Step 6. Open the lid and stir the beef. Add the brown sugar and sesame oil and turn the Saute function back on Normal mode. Cook and stir for 5 minutes until thickened and caramelised, allowing about half of the liquid to evaporate.
Step 7. Finish by sprinkling sesame seeds and chopped green onions over the top.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the vegetables and cook the rice (unless made ahead of time). You can also finish the beef and transfer it to a bowl, then rinse the Instant Pot and make quick and easy white rice.
KOREAN PICKLED VEGETABLES
To make Korean-inspired quick-pickled vegetables, mix the rice vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl. Pour over the thinly sliced cucumbers and julienned carrots. Mix and set aside to ‘pickle’ slightly.
You can do this ahead of time and store the pickled vegetables in an airtight container or a jar with a lid for up to 7 days. You can make a larger batch of the marinade to submerge the vegetables completely, which will give them a more intense flavor and soften them further.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH KOREAN GROUND BEEF
This flavorful beef is quite versatile and can be served with a variety of sides and condiments.
- Rice: For a traditional Korean beef bowl, serve it over white or brown rice. Rice can be made ahead of time or you can use speedy 2-minute microwave rice.
- Noodles: Tossing saucy ground beef through rice or egg noodles is another delicious way to serve this dish.
- Cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles: Turn this into a low-carb meal with vegetable swaps for rice or noodles.
- Broccoli: Stir-fried beef and broccoli is a classic combo, which you can do here as well. Broccoli can be stir-fried or steamed and served stirred through the beef or on the side.
- As a salad: Make an Asian-inspired slaw salad with cabbage, carrots, cilantro, corn and onions and top with Korean ground beef for both protein and flavor. The sauce of the beef will add to the dressing for an incredible umami flavor.
- Wraps or sliders: Leftover Korean beef is great in a bun or a wrap along with some pickled vegetables or quick shredded cabbage or slaw. You can make a little spicy mayo and Sriracha sauce.
- Korean ground beef is great for meal prep. You can make the beef ahead of time and store it in individual portions in the fridge or freezer (see times below). Then defrost/reheat as needed and serve with rice, noodles, wraps, salad and so on. Pickled vegetables keep well in the fridge as well, so you can make a big batch to use whenever you need to marinade a fresh batch as it’s pretty quick and easy anyway. We prefer to make fresh rice or noodles but you could store white or brown rice in the freezer too.
- To Store. Place leftover beef in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a large skillet over medium-low heat on the stove. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Store the beef mixture in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES
- Want more Korean recipes? Check out these Korean Instant Pot Recipes
- Want more Asian recipes? 45+ Best Asian Instant Pot Recipes
- Got ground beef & potatoes? Make this Ground Beef Stew (Budget-Friendly, One-Pot)
- Got ground beef & pasta? Try this Instant Pot Beefaroni Recipe
- Got ground beef & rice? Check out Mexican Beef Rice Casserole (For Nachos Lovers!)
Instant Pot Korean Ground Beef bowls are super easy to make and are perfect for a weeknight meal any time of the year. In this more affordable bulgogi beef adaptation, the flavorful meat is served over cooked rice alongside speedy pickled vegetables for a refreshing, tangy touch.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb / 450-500 g ground beef (we used 90% lean beef, as a little fat adds lots of flavor and keeps the meat tender)
5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
1/2 ripe pear, grated (skin off)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Korean red chili paste or regular red chili flakes
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 green onions, chopped
For the rice bowls
4 cups cooked rice
1/4 chopped cilantro
2 cucumbers, sliced
1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1.5 teaspoon sesame oil
Slice red chili (optional)
- Turn the Saute function on Instant Pot. Press it again to cycle through modes until you get to More mode (hotter setting).
- Add the olive oil and ground beef and break up with a spatula. Cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring a few times and breaking up larger clumps of meat with a spatula. The beef will give out a bit of juice and fat, keep cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beef starts to brown a little.
- Add garlic and ginger, stir through and turn the Saute function off.
- Add the soy sauce, grated pear and chili paste or flakes (whichever you are using) and 1/2 cup of water and stir through making sure to scrape off the bottom of the pot with a spatula.
- Secure and lock the lid. Set to Pressure Cook for 5 minutes on HIGH setting. The Instant Pot will take about 5 minutes to come to pressure. Once the timer is done, leave the pot for 5 minutes and then use the quick release to manually release the pressure.
- Open the lid. Add the brown sugar and sesame oil and turn the Saute function back on Normal mode. Cook and stir for 4-5 minutes until thickened and caramelised, allowing about half of the liquid to evaporate. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped green onions over the top.
- While the beef is cooking, prepare the vegetables and cook the rice (unless made ahead of time). You can also finish the beef and transfer it to a bowl, then rinse the Instant Pot and make quick and easy white rice.
- Pickled the vegetables. Mix rice vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl. Pour over the cucumbers and carrots, mix and set aside to ‘pickle’ slightly. Prepare all other garnishes.
- Serve ground beef and the sauce over cooked rice with pickled vegetables, green onions and cilantro on top.
- Serving Size: 1 cup rice with 1/4 beef and vegetables
- Calories: 569
- Sugar: 11.8 g
- Sodium: 633 mg
- Fat: 16.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 72.9 g
- Fiber: 2.1 g
- Protein: 31.2 g
- Cholesterol: 71.2 mg
Keywords: Ground Beef, Korean Recipes, Beef Recipes, Instant Pot recipes, Dinner