Bulgogi Grilled Chicken

Bulgogi is a Korean dish, most commonly made with beef, pork or chicken cut into slices, marinated and cooked on a grill. The literal translation means “fire meat”, and I’ve often enjoyed bulgogi at restaurants offering a table barbeque on which I can cook the meat myself. The typical bulgogi marinade is both savoury and sweet, featuring soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil plus additional flavourings such as garlic, black pepper, spring onions, and ripe pear (which is used both as a tenderiser as well as for its flavour).

I adore Korean food, and ate a lot of of it whilst working in New Malden for a few years. Most of my colleagues bought packed lunches, or popped out for a sandwich but I visited the many Korean restaurants within a couple of minute’s walk of the office and revelled in a wonderful variety of delicious Korean dishes three or four times a week. I ordered bulgogi when I yearned for a sweet savoury salty flavour profile.

This Bulgogi Grilled Chicken recipe is from Carl Clarke’s A Whole Chicken , a book featuring a fantastic selection of recipes using all parts of the chicken, and incorporating flavours and ingredients from around the world.

Bulgogi Grilled Chicken

Read our full review of The Whole Chicken by Carl Clarke to find out more about the book.

Bulgogi Grilled Chicken

Bulgogi is also known as Korean barbecue meat and is mostly made with thin strips of marinated beef cooked over charcoal. It has regional variations and there are lots of different versions of the marinade and other cuts of meat can also be used, such as pork or chicken, which I have used here. The classic Korean marinade is made with only a few ingredients and is super easy to make. The trick is to find the right balance between saltiness and sweetness, then use generous amounts of garlic and sesame oil to create an authentic flavour. To add to the flavour and to tenderise the meat, Koreans traditionally add grated Korean pear, but if you canโ€™t find those a regular pear or even an apple will do the job.
Servings 4
Author Carl Clarke


  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
  • Kimchi (to serve)

For the marinade

  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons light brown or granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine, red wine or mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons very finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sliced spring onion (scallion)
  • 1 very ripe pear, Asian if possible
  • 2 tablespoons honey or 2 teaspoons sugar


  • (Optional) Brine the chicken. Once the thighs are brined, pat dry with paper towels.
  • Meanwhile, to make the marinade, blitz all the ingredients together in food processor, then transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
  • Place the chicken thighs in the marinade. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably 24 hours.
  • To finish, preheat the grill (broiler) to medium. Place the chicken on a grilling (broiling) rack and grill (broil), skin-side up, for 7โ€“8 minutes, then turn and grill for another 2โ€“3 minutes, or until cooked through. 
  • Serve the chicken with some of the kimchi.

We loved this recipe as it was, with the chicken thighs left whole, but we’ll probably cut each thigh into smaller pieces when we make it next.

Bulgogi Grilled Chicken


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Kavey Eats received a review copy of A Whole Chicken by Carl Clarke from publisher Hardie Grant.ย 

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2 Comments to "Bulgogi Grilled Chicken"

  1. Mim

    I do love bulgogi chicken! My Pete’s really got into Korean food and I think he’s planning to spend his Christmas tokens on another Korean cookbook.


    Love Korean, got properly addicted when I worked in New Malden for a few years before leaving London, ate Korean a few times a week! ๐Ÿ˜


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