Crock Pot Korean Beef {Frugal Freezer Meal}

korean beef

If you are cooking for a frugal and fast way to make Bulgogi or Korean beef, this is THE crock pot method. I grew up on the expensive way of making Bulgogi with a sirloin tip roast, thinly sliced and marinated for days. A typical on sale sirloin tip that would feed our family costs about $10-$12. This meal costs under $4; now that’s frugal.

Here’s my timeline of bulgogi alterations over time for sake of money and time :)

Early Childhood: Sirloin tip stir-fry style (Original childhood recipe)

Early Marriage before kids: Sirloin tip on rare occasion

Marriage with 2 kiddos: Crock pot sirloin tip recipe (I had this recipe published in Taste of Home Crock Pot Meals this year).

Marriage with 3 kiddos: Frugal chuck roast shredded (crock pot method for sake of time)

Marriage with 4 kiddos: More frugal, yet delicious ground turkey (still crock pot method for sake of time)

Surprisingly, my oldest daughter who’s experienced the sirloin tip days enjoys the ground turkey just as good. Her face still lights up when we are having bulgogi, which I call Korean beef and everyone is happy experiencing the same flavors.

I love this new method because it’s healthy using ground turkey. I use the 93% lean and slow cook it about 6 hours in my slow cooker. It makes a flavorful broth to spoon over the rice and serve along with steamed or stir-fry veggies or a simple salad. I can freeze it raw, cook while I’m at work and enjoy a traditional authentic weekday meal. It’s a win-win for our family of six.

Crock Pot Korean Beef


  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground turkey  or ground beef (I suggest 93% lean because you don’t drain the grease)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup raw or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional (we love it with 1/2 which adds a small kick that my youngest are used to)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Label freezer bag: Korean Beef. Thaw 24 hours. Crock on low 6 hours or high 3 hours. Crumble when done.
  2. Add raw meat, seasonings and water.
  3. Squeeze air out. Freeze.

I like to use a potato masher or a pastry blender to crumble the cooked meat. Ground turkey texture is softer than ground beef and crumbles a bit easier in my opinion. You can always break it up when it’s nearly done to crumble easier.

Serve my traditional bulgogi below or my new frugal way over hot, cooked rice.  Better yet, try my  5 minute- fast method (cooked rice that’s been frozen and thawed). The only problem is holding the ground pieces with chopsticks. It presents a greater challenge for my kiddos. Hey, challenge is good, right?

crock pot bulgogi

Try the low-carb lettuce wrap way if you’re watching what you eat in 2015.

lettuce wraps


Any way you eat bulgogi, it’s delish!

How will you try bulgogi(Korean Beef), stir-fry or crock pot style?

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