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posted October 19, 2023

Korean BBQ Sauce

My Korean BBQ sauce is tangy, savory, and the perfect way to shake things up at your next backyard BBQ. The traditional sweet heat will make your guests feel at home, and the unique umami flavor will keep them coming back for more. And more. And more.

Korean BBQ sauce in mason jar with sauce brush on top.

How Korean Style BBQ Sauce Is Different

The main difference between Korean BBQ sauce and a  more traditional American BBQ sauce is going to be the base. That’s because this sauce uses soy sauce as a base rather than your American tomato-style base. Because of this, it’s going to be a thinner sauce with a bold savory flavor and a punch of heat. Between the soy sauce base and a combination of vinegar and sesame oil, Korean BBQ sauce will reduce to a much more liquid state than what you may be used to. This makes it great for things like marinades, but you can also use it to cook something yummy right away.

The Taste of Korean BBQ

You’re going to get those familiar BBQ flavors with this sauce. The ginger and garlic will provide the tanginess, and you’ll still get some heat from the gochujang (chili) paste. You’re going to have those classics al BBQ lovers crave, but this sauce also going to bring in some distinct tastes that make it totally unique.

By using the soy sauce base rather than the more traditional tomato base, Korean BBQ sauce will have an unmistakable flavor. That flavor is umami, which has been described as “essence of deliciousness.” I know, right? This is going to add a savory, almost meaty taste, that your guests are going to go crazy over.

Soy sauce, gochujang paste, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil in white bowls on cutting board with brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cornstartch.

Is Korean BBQ sauce spicy?

Most great BBQ sauces will have a little kick, and this one is no exception. This is achieved by a few ingredients, but especially the gochujang paste. This chili paste is going to provide the heat and spiciness to make your more adventurous eaters happy. Once you get comfortable making this sauce, you can always adjust the amount of gochujang paste to suit your preferences. I have easily found gochujang in my local grocery stores lately (it’s grown significantly in popularity in recent years). 

How to Make Korean BBQ Sauce

  1. Combine and boil. Be sure you have all your fresh ingredients minced and grated before starting. Combine all ingredients (except the cornstarch and cold water) in a medium saucepan at medium to high heat. Whisk regularly to avoid clumping.
  2. Simmer. Bring your sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. You want your sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off to let your sauce rest for a moment while you prepare your thickener.
  3. Make slurry. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water. Whisk your mixture well until no clumps remain. You want to be able to focus on combining your mixes without worrying about clumping.
  4. Add thickener. Slowly pour the slurry into your BBQ sauce. You want to whisk constantly while adding this to ensure it mixes well.
  5. Combine mixes. Turn the heat on the saucepan to high and bring the sauce back to a boil while whisking. It should become thicker and more clear as the cornstarch cooks. Add additional water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Remember you can always add more water, but you can’t add more sauce at this point.
  6. Cool it. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool before using or storing. You can use it right away, or store it in a sealed jar in your refrigerator. It will be good for about 2 weeks.

Korean BBQ sauce on whisk dripping into metal bowl.

Other Great Sauces

If you enjoy this delicious sauce, here are some more of my less traditional favorites:

Korean BBQ Sauce Recipe

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Korean BBQ sauce in white bowl with sesame seeds on top.

Korean BBQ sauce in mason jar with sauce brush on top.

Korean BBQ Sauce

Susie Bulloch
Tangy and savory with a unique sweetness, this Korean BBQ sauce is the perfect way to shake things up at your next backyard BBQ.
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 10 mins
Servings : 12 people
Calories : 75kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons gochujang paste (chili paste)
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger (grated)

Thickener

  • 2 Tablespoons cornstartch
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Instructions

  • Combine and boil. Combine all ingredients for the BBQ sauce, except the cornstarch, in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking regularly.
    1 cup low sodium soy sauce, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup mirin, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 Tablespoons gochujang paste, 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, 4 cloves fresh garlic, 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • Simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off.
  • Make thickener. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and cold water until no clumps remain.
    2 Tablespoons cornstartch, 1/4 cup cold water
  • Add thickener. Slowly pour the slurry into the BBQ sauce while whisking constantly.
  • Combine Mixes. Turn the heat on the saucepan to high and bring the sauce back to a boil while whisking. It should become thicker and more clear as the cornstarch cooks. Add additional water as needed, one Tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency.
  • Cool it. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool before using. Store the sauce in a sealed jar in your refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 75kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Sodium: 807mg | Potassium: 102mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 5IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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