Korean BBQ Sauce, an easy homemade sticky sauce, dipping sauce, or marinade for a wide range of things like beef, chicken, pork, or vegetables. You can also use this sweet and spicy sauce for wings, tacos, ribs, sandwiches, and more!
This homemade Korean BBQ Sauce is easy to put together and so much better than the store-bought versions that are loaded with corn syrups, preservatives, and who knows what else?! This homemade barbecue sauce can be used on a wide variety of things and lasts a long time in the fridge, so give it a try!
If you don’t do a lot of Asian cooking, you may not have all of these ingredients in your home. However, all the ingredients should be easy to find at most large grocery stores. This sauce is great on my Korean BBQ Pulled Pork and Korean BBQ Beef just to give you a few quick ideas!
There are many different types and brands of some of these ingredients, so the taste will vary a bit in this sauce. I do have some links below for some of the ingredients.
This BBQ sauce is similar to my Homemade Teriyaki Sauce Recipe, but quite a bit different at the same time. Both delicious!
What is Korean Barbecue Sauce
Korean BBQ Sauce is quite different than tomato-based American-style BBQ sauces. There are many different bottled brands of Korean BBQ Sauce available at most local grocery stores,. specialty stores, and Amazon including Heinz, Lee Kum Kee, Kikkoman, Annie Chun, P.F. Chang’s, Bibigo, and even Trader Joe’s (although not sure if they still carry it..)
Versions of the sauce can vary of course but may contain water, sweeteners (sugar, brown sugar, or corn syrup), soy sauce, pear, vinegar, garlic, oil (sesame oil), vinegar (apple cider, rice, etc.), ginger, onion, etc. This DIY at-home version can easily be altered to your personal taste.
The sauce can be used on meat such as chicken, beef, or pork but also for a wide range of other dishes (see below for some ideas).
What does Korean BBQ Sauce taste like? It’s a sticky type sauce that is both a bit sweet and spicy and kind of like a teriyaki sauce.
Equipment You May Need
- Blender – A blender will make things a lot quicker and easier to mix all the ingredients into a smooth sauce. You could also use an immersion blender while the sauce is cooking if you’d prefer.
- Saucepan – A small saucepan is needed to cook the sauce for a little while. Any saucepan will do.
- Whisk – A good whisk to mix the BBQ sauce while cooking will help it from burning on the bottom of the pan.
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Korean BBQ Sauce Ingredients
- Soy Sauce – I like to use a low sodium soy sauce, but you could use your favorite. There’s quite a bit of salt in this recipe as-is so I’d stick with the low sodium if you can. You could also use a Japanese tamari sauce or other Asian soy sauce equivalent if you have a favorite.
- Fresh Asian pear – An Asian pear is a little different than a regular pear, but if you can’t find it, you could substitute a pear (such as Bosc or Anjou) or even an apple.
- Dark brown sugar – I like the taste of dark brown sugar for this barbecue sauce but you could use light brown sugar.
- Chili Garlic Sauce – You should be able to find Chili Garlic Sauce at your local grocery store in the Asian food section.
- Rice Vinegar – You should also be able to find Rice Vinegar at most local grocery stores in the Asian food section.
- Garlic – Fresh cloves work best.
- Ginger paste – You can generally find ginger paste in a tube in the refrigerated produce section at your grocery store. Or substitute a little fresh ginger which would be even better but a little more work.
- Sesame oil – A little sesame oil goes a long way and gives great flavor. I like to use toasted sesame oil.
- Black pepper – Just a little to taste.
- Green onion – I used both the white and green part of the onion.
Once you have all your ingredients together, the BBQ sauce doesn’t take that long to make.
How to Make Korean BBQ Sauce
Step One: Process all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Step Two: Bring the mixture to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce to simmer, and stir occasionally. Cook about 5 minutes. That’s it!
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Quick Tips for Best Results
- Use a blender to get the sauce smooth rather than an immersion blender or by hand if you can. Although if you’d rather use an immersion blender, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and use the immersion blender once the pear is soft.
- If the sauce is not as thick as you’d like (personal preference…), mix a little cornstarch into water and whisk into the sauce over high heat.
- Although you can use this sticky sauce right away, I like to put it in the fridge overnight.
- Use a low sodium soy sauce or try a low sodium Korean or Japanese soy sauce. Since there’s so much soy sauce in this BBQ sauce, the results can be quite salty if you don’t. You can always add more salt after if you’d like.
- Add more or less sugar depending on how sweet you like your BBQ sauces.
- This sauce is a bit sweet and spicy, but if you’d like it spicier you can add red pepper flakes or sriracha
Would love to hear what you used this BBQ sauce on or in. Let me know in the comments below.
Uses for Korean BBQ Sauce
- Stir-fry – mix the sauce with some rice and meat and/or vegetables.
- On meat (chicken, beef, or pork) – use it like a regular American BBQ sauce or glaze on your favorite meat or even vegetarian options. Steak, short ribs, and brisket are good options too.
- Chicken wings – would be delicious on chicken wings like these Grilled Chicken Wings!
- Tacos – drizzle a little on your favorite tacos or mix with taco meat.
- Ribs – an easy alternative to regular American BBQ sauce on pork ribs. The best!
- Sandwiches – can also use a little of this sauce as a spread on sandwiches or for this Korean BBQ Pork Sandwich recipe.
- Asian salads – mix as a salad dressing into Asian slaws or vegetable salads. Pasta or noodle salads would also be delicious.
- Burgers – add a little in or on burgers for an easy Asian twist.
- Marinade – this BBQ sauce would be a great marinade for chicken, pork, or even beef like for bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef)
- Dipping sauce – dip lettuce wraps (like these Korean Lettuce Wraps), egg rolls, or other food into the BBQ sauce.
- Pizza – perfect for Asian-inspired pizzas!
Korean BBQ Sauce FAQ
How do you store this Korean BBQ Sauce?
I would store this sauce covered and in the refrigerator.
How long with this sauce last?
Depending on the freshness of your ingredients, I would guess this sauce would last at least a few weeks in the refrigerator if not longer.
Can I use honey or granulated sugar for the brown sugar?
You can use your favorite sweetener or sweetener substitute, but it can change the taste and consistency of the sauce. You may need to adjust and add more/less sweetener.
What can I use instead of the Asian pear?
If you can’t find Asian pears in your grocery store or at certain times of the year, you can substitute an apple (maybe Fuji) or pear (like a bosc pear or anjou). A firm sweet substitute would probably work best.
What else can I add to this sauce?
If you want a spicier version of the Korean BBQ sauce, you can add a little sriracha, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes. Be careful though, a little can go a long way.
Can I make this vegan/vegetarian/low carb/gluten-free?
Here are some suggestions, but I can’t guarantee results. Be sure as always to check particular brands and ingredients if you’re following a specific diet or have diet restrictions or allergies.
Vegan – All the ingredients should be vegan but check individual brands to be sure.
Vegetarian – It’s vegetarian. Be sure to check individual brands/products just to be sure though.
Low-Carb – You can try a sugar substitute instead of the brown sugar.
Gluten-Free – It should be gluten-free but check specific brands to be sure such. Some soy sauces are not gluten-free so check to be sure or use a substitute (can try Japanese tamari soy sauce).
Other Asian Inspired Recipes You May Enjoy
- Homemade Teriyaki Marinade – quick and easy marinade for a wide variety of dishes.
- General Tso’s Slow Cooked Pork Tacos – perfect for the slow cooker, these Asian fusion tacos are quite
- Asian Peanut Spaghetti Squash Stir-Fry – a lower carb stir-fry with spaghetti squash.
- Chicken Satay Rice Bowls – full of great flavors and bright colors, this looks yummy!
- Sesame Ginger Vegetable Stir-Fry – looks so healthy and delicious.
Korean BBQ Sauce Video
Quick video tutorial to show how to make Korean BBQ Sauce from scratch…
Hope you enjoy this homemade easy sticky Korean BBQ Sauce recipe! It would be great with some shredded chicken!
Korean BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup Asian pear peeled, cored, & chopped (about 1)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (or could use light)
- 1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste (or fresh minced peeled ginger)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 green onion chopped
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Pour sauce into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce to simmer. Simmer about 5 minutes.
(Nutrition data is provided when available for informational purposes only and calculated using an online nutritional calculator. For the most accurate information please calculate based on specific ingredients and brands you use as well as any changes you made to the recipe. I am not a certified nutritionist or registered dietician and any nutritional information provided should only be used as a general guideline and estimate.)
This post was originally published in (July 2019), but updated in (March 2021) with additional information.