Korean chicken bulgogi, or dak bulgogi, is a chicken variation of the popular beef bulgogi dish in Korean bbq. By using chicken instead of beef, this dak bulgogi makes for a leaner and lower fat Korean barbecue meal.
Chicken bulgogi would be a great topping for a chicken bibimbap or as a side to a piping hot bowl of soondubu (Korean soft tofu soup). It's also a delicious Korean barbecue option to eat alongside some delicious kalbi.
🐣 What is Dak Bulgogi?
Dak bulgogi, also known as chicken bulgogi, consists of juicy chicken thigh pieces marinated in a Korean soy–based marinade.
The marinade is usually used with thin beef brisket to create the popular beef bulgogi dish that is often served at Korean barbecue restaurants. However, the marinade is can also be used on chicken to make chicken bulgogi.
This is a great Korean BBQ dish to make at home.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Easy to make – All it takes is making the sauce and marinating it in the chicken to make this chicken bulgogi.
Super versatile – You can serve this in a bibimbap bowl, with lettuce wraps, or even make a chicken bulgogi burrito.
Healthy and nutritious – Made with lower calories with careful portioning, this chicken bulgogi is a great healthy Korean food recipe, for those who want to satisfy their Korean food cravings while tracking their fitness goals
🍎 Calories and Nutrition Facts – How To Make It Healthy
A serving of dak bulgogi with rice runs at 430 calories with 37 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat, and 42 grams of carbs.
The dish is predominantly made of chicken, a lean protein source, so the bulk of the additional calories will come from the marinade. It's key to portion the marinade ingredients mindfully to keep overall calorie content low.
Here's what I did to make this dak bulgogi low calorie:
- Portioned 6 ounces of boneless skinless chicken thigh
- Portioned the individual ingredients for the marinade at 85 calories in total
- Limited usage of sesame oil to 1 teaspoon given that it is a calorie dense ingredient
- Used cooking spray instead of cooking oil, which saves more than 100 calories
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this chicken bulgogi recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
Chicken Thigh – I used boneless skinless chicken thigh, which is a great lean protein source that is still juicy with every bite. You can also use chicken breast, but it will be a lot dryer and is not that much lower in calories.
Sesame Oil – Sesame oil is a vital component to any bulgogi marinade, bringing it a sweet nutty flavor.
Soy Sauce – Gives the marinade its umami salty flavor.
Mirin – An Asian rice wine used to balance out the flavor. You can buy it at your local Asian grocery store or online.
To learn more specifically about the different Asian spices and condiments, check out my Asian spices guide.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Use pre-made bulgogi marinade – Makes it more convenient if you are in a hurry or don't want to make your own marinade. You can get it at your local Korean grocery store or online.
Use beef or seafood – This marinade also goes wonderfully with beef and seafood, such as salmon. Check out my beef bulgogi recipe for a beef option.
Skewer it for a fun summer party snack – Not the traditional way to eat it but it's great for a weekend grill party.
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Make the marinade – Start by mincing the garlic and onions into small, fine pieces. Mix the rest of the marinade ingredients together thoroughly
Marinade the chicken – Trim off the excess fat from the chicken thigh and dip it in the marinade. Let the chicken marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight to let the flavor fully seep through.
Ways to Cook the Chicken Bulgogi
To cook the chicken bulgogi, you can go about doing it a couple ways, including cast iron, grilling, air fryer, and oven.
I would highly recommend the cast iron method, as it's an easy way to achieve that smoky grilled meat flavor from the comfort of your stovetop. Cast irons are very inexpensive and is easily my favorite kitchen tool. The lodge cast iron is my favorite brand.
Cast Iron on Stovetop – Using a cast iron, cook the chicken for about 3-5 minutes each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Make sure the chicken is fully spread out so that the chicken cooks evenly.
Air Fryer – Turn the air fryer on to 380F and cook the chicken for about 18-20 minutes. Be sure to place the chicken on a single layer and flip the chicken over halfway through it's cooking time.
Oven – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the chicken on a baking sheet with foil. Bake the chicken for about 25-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Grill – Turn the grill on to between 325-350F and cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side.
🍽 What to Eat It With
Serve it with ssam, or leafy wraps – Korean BBQ is often served in lettuce or perilla leaf wraps to give it some freshness.
Serve it with a side of rice – This dish goes super well with a side of white or brown rice.
Top it over a bibimbap – Make it a great nutritious meal by serving it bibimbap style. Check out my bibimbap recipe to see how.
Make it spicy – It just requires adding a couple more ingredients. Check out my spicy chicken bulgogi recipe to see how.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Bulgogi flavor is a sweet and salty flavor that combines sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar. It's one of the signature flavors of Korean cuisine.
No, dak bulgogi is not spicy as there are no spice agents in the marinade. If you would like a spicy version, check out my spicy chicken bulgogi recipe.
Cook it on the cast iron – This will give the meat a delicious smokey flavor without the need of a grill! You can get a cast iron easily online.
Marinade the chicken overnight – Doing so will allow to flavor to seep through
Flatten out the chicken – Chicken thigh often has a thick part that can be flattened out by cutting it. Doing so will allow the chicken to cook evenly. Learn more about how to pound chicken thighs.
🍽 Related Recipes
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Dak Bulgogi Recipe (Korean BBQ Chicken)
- Cast Iron
- 2 clove Garlic
- ¼ Onion
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Mirin
- 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
Chicken and Rice
- 6 oz Chicken thigh (Boneless skinless)
- 1 serving Rice
- Scallions and sesame seeds (For garnish)
- Start by mincing the garlic and onions into small, fine pieces. Mix the rest of the marinade ingredients together thoroughly
- Trim off the excess fat from the chicken thigh and dip it in the marinade. Let the chicken marinade for at least 2 hours or overnight to let the flavor fully seep through.
Cooking the chicken
- Cast Iron on Stovetop – Using a cast iron, cook the chicken for about 3-5 minutes each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Make sure the chicken is fully spread out so that the chicken cooks evenly.
- Air Fryer – Turn the air fryer on to 380F and cook the chicken for about 18-20 minutes. Be sure to place the chicken on a single layer and flip the chicken over halfway through it's cooking time.
- Oven – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the chicken on a baking sheet with foil. Bake the chicken for about 25-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Grill – Turn the grill on to between 325-350F and cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side.