Yoshinoya beef bowl, or Gyudon, is a Japanese lunchtime staple that is flavorful with juicy beef and egg yolk combined with chewy rice. It only takes 15 minutes to put together.
While gyudon is undeniably delicious, is gyudon healthy?
Yoshinoya’s gyudon can be a very unhealthy dish given its higher calorie content without the protein content to match – a regular bowl runs at 600 calories with only 26 grams of protein, 21 grams of fat, and 73 grams of carbs.
Thankfully, it's not hard to adjust the dish to be healthier with some portion control – the dish predominantly consists of protein from the beef and egg, is seasoned in a very low calorie sauce, and is rounded out with carbs from the rice, making it a very well-balanced, nutritious meal.
The key to making this dish low calorie is to portion control the beef, rice, and sauce.
💭 What is Gyudon?
Gyudon is a Japanese rice bowl dish, or donburi, consisting of delicious beef slices simmered in a dashi-based broth and topped over delicious chewy rice.
It’s simplicity has made it a popular lunch time dish for Japanese business men, popularized by the Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya. It's also a great healthy Japanese recipe for weight loss. If you like gyudon but prefer something more soupy, check out my beef sukiyaki recipe.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Easy to make – This recipe only takes 15 minutes to put together. No complex cooking techniques needed!
Restaurant quality taste from home – By tweaking traditional Gyudon recipes to make this recipe, you can make a restaurant-quality bowl of gyudon from home at a fraction of the cost
Healthy and nutritious – This recipe was specially developed by yours truly to be low-calorie and macro-friendly, so you can satisfy your gyudon cravings while still staying in shape
🍎 Calories and Nutrition - How To Make It Healthy
In this healthy gyudon recipe, I used a more protein heavy ratio to make this a more macro friendly and calorie conscious dish. Here are some key tweaks I made:
- Used 4oz of leaner beef rib eye slices for the protein source – most gyudon are made with very fatty beef, which adds up in calories without adding much protein
- Carefully portioned the sauce to be only 61 calories
- Made gyudon without the sake
- Portioned out 1 serving of brown rice at 160 calories
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredients, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of the gyudon recipe, you may refer to the table below:
📋 Ingredient Notes
Thinly Sliced Beef – I opted to use lean rib eye slices, since that’s what was available at the grocery store. You can also use beef chuck slices. If you cannot find pre-sliced beef, you can use the beef slices used for philly cheese steaks, or follow this step by step article on how to make beef slices.
Gyudon Sauce – A combination of soy sauce, mirin, and dashi stock broth. Most gyu don recipes also include sake, but I chose to omit it since mirin also provides a similar depth with it’s alcohol content and to keep calories lower.
Rice – I use brown rice but can use white rice too. For a delicious flavor infusion, add a half teaspoon of dashi stock into the water before cooking the rice.
Toppings – Scallions, furikake (sesame seed and nori mixture), and togarshi (a Japanese chili powder mixture), and bonito flakes are great toppings for this dish. To learn more about the various spices and seasonings, check out my article on asian spices. Pickled ginger is also a popular topping.
Onsen Tamago (Poached Egg) – A poached egg is a delicious essential topping to any gyu don recipe – not only does it add an additional creamy texture to the dish, but its a delicious way to add additional protein to the dish.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Brown rice, white rice, mixed grain rice or cauliflower rice – Health wise, they are all similar in calories and macros, with mixed grain rice slightly higher in calories (190 calories vs 160 calories for one serving)
Add over noodles – This dish would also be delicious over udon noodles or shirataki noodles
Use different cuts of beef – if you can’t find a leaner rib eye, chuck would work as well, and tends to be a cheaper alternative.
Use ground beef – if you cannot find beef slices and don’t want to slice your own, you can also opt for ground beef
Make oyakodon – Use chicken and make oyakodon instead if you prefer chicken. Check out my healthy oyakodon recipe to see how.
Dashi Substitute – If you don't have dashi, you can choose a subsituet from this list of dashi substitutes
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the rice – Make the rice according to the package instructions and rice type. Add a small portion of dashi into the water cooking the rice to infuse the rice with a delicious dashi flavor.
Prepare the onsen tomago – To poach an egg, you can either bowl it in water for exactly 2.5 minutes following the instructions in this article.
Make the sauce – Gather all the sauce ingredients and mix all except the water together in a saucepan. Add water as needed throughout the cooking process to deglaze the sauce.
Cook the onion – Slice the onions and add them into the broth. Cook until the onions are soft, or about 2-3 minutes.
Simmer the beef – As the onions begin to soften, add the beef slices in a single layer and let simmer for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Turn the beef slices over to ensure both sides are cooked.
Assemble the bowl – In a bowl, add the rice, simmered beef, and eggs. Garnish with togarashi, scallions, furikake, and bonito flakes, and enjoy your delicious healthy yoshinoya recipe!
💭 Recipe FAQs
Gyudon is typically made of ribeye slices or chuck beef slices. You can buy beef slices at your local Asian grocery store, or cut your own beef slices following this article on how to make beef slices.
Yoshinoya is unhealthy given that a single bowl is 600 calories with only 21 grams of protein. This is a very high calorie content dish for the amount of protein it has. This is because of portioning – the regular yoshinoya bowl uses less beef compared to this recipe, and more rice, contributing to the higher carb content and lower protein content. The sauce also includes sake and higher portions of sugar.
Yes, gyudon is fast food. In Japan, the chain Yoshinoya has popularized it throughout the country, with the beef bowl becoming a common lunch time staple given its simplicity to make and lower cost.
Gyudon has a sweet and umami taste from the dashi broth. The rice adds a great balance to the dish.
This is a good meal prep option, although I would eat it within 2-3 days. Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge if saving for later.
💡 Expert Tips
Onsen tamago – Make the onsen tamago (poached egg) beforehand. This is one of my favorite parts of the dish!
Infuse rice with dashi – For a delicious flavor infusion, add some dashi into the water cooking the rice before cooking.
🍽 Related Japanese Recipes
If you liked this recipe, check out the following:
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Gyudon Yoshinoya Beef Bowl Recipe
Gyudon Sauce and Beef
- 4 oz Ribeye Slices (Chuck works too)
- ¼ Yellow Onion (Sliced)
- 1 tablespoon Soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Mirin
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Dashi
- ¼ cup Water
Rice and Toppings
- Green Onion
- ¼ cup Brown rice
- ¼ tsp Dashi (For the rice)
- 1 Egg
- Bonito Flakes
- Make the rice according to the package instructions and rice type. Add a small portion of dashi into the water cooking the rice to infuse the rice with a delicious dashi flavor.
- To poach an egg, you can either bowl it in water for exactly 2.5 minutes following the instructions in this article.
- Gather all the sauce ingredients and mix all except the water together in a saucepan. Add water as needed throughout the cooking process to deglaze the sauce.
- Slice the onions and add them into the broth. Cook until the onions are soft, or about 2-3 minutes.
- As the onions begin to soften, add the beef slices in a single layer and let simmer for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Turn the beef slices over to ensure both sides are cooked.
- In a bowl, add the rice, simmered beef, and eggs. Garnish with togarashi, scallions, furikake, and bonito flakes, and enjoy your delicious healthy yoshinoya recipe!
A great alternative to an already amazing dish. I didn't feel guilty at all making this for myself and I highly recommend it to anyone else who's looking to try.