Make Ahead

Bulgogi Jerky

June 13, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes one road trip better
Author Notes

Once upon a time ago, packing for a road trip without a jerky of some sort was unthinkable. So prevalent was the salty sweet snack on these adventures, I had an almost Pavlovian salivating for the stuff the minute we hit the open road. It was, in fact, pretty much the only time we indulged in a large package of the sodium bomb treat.

But in more recent years I grew tired of the way I felt on such trips where a healthy meal is rarely achieved and any attempts at something raw and pure result in tasteless salads piled with fried croutons, cheese and tomatoes that make me want to cry. We've since worked hard to pack our own eats and better plan our destinations around places with promising provisions.

That said, I still love a good jerky and had always wanted to make my own. A sucker for the salty AND sweet, otherwise known as a "complete" snack, I decided to try making a bulgogi version. I dusted it with ground sesame, salt, and a bit of kochukaru for heat, but that is optional. And now I'm itchin' to go somewhere... —savorthis

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: The same cook who had us slurping the sauce off edamame has done it again and this time, she’s taken her talents to the road.
WHAT: A sweet, salty, and spicy jerky that’s better than anything you’ll find at a roadside rest stop.
HOW: Marinate sliced beef in the refrigerator overnight, sprinkle with ground salt, pepper, and sesame seeds, and bake slow and low for 4 hours.
WHY WE LOVE IT: What snack could better satisfy a carload of hungry travelers than a batch of chewy, peppery jerky? With a little help from the Korean dish Bulgogi and a few wildcard ingredients (pear nectar, sake), this jerky achieves the perfect blend of sugar, salt, and spice. Plus, no crumbs! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds beef, top or bottom round
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup pear nectar
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped (seeded if you wish)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • black pepper
  • kochukaru (optional)
  1. Place beef in freezer to firm up enough to slice very thinly (about 1/4"). Blend remaining ingredients except for salt, sesame seeds, black pepper, and kochukaru until smooth. Add beef to marinade stirring gently to make sure all is coated and marinate about 7 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 200º F. Drain beef, blot dry with paper towels and place on a rack on top of a baking sheet. Grind the salt and sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle (you can use a spice grinder, just be sure not to turn the mixture into a paste). Sprinkle over beef, then grind fresh black pepper and add chili if desired.
  3. Bake about four hours, rotating pans halfway through, until dried and jerky-like. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Loreal
  • Alexandra Ainatchi
    Alexandra Ainatchi
  • Heidi Vaught
    Heidi Vaught
  • Kimberly Johnston
    Kimberly Johnston
  • Laura415
Co-Owner/Designer @ Where Wood Meets Steel-Custom Furniture

85 Reviews

Loreal May 16, 2018
Just made this for an upcoming camping trip. The marinade is incredible (I used pear cider in lieu of pear nectar) and imparts a wonderful flavor. I dehydrated the meat at 155 degrees for about 5 hours--delicious!
Britty2Hottie October 19, 2019
With homemade jerky, about ~2 weeks to one month with no refrigeration, or up to a few months in the refrigerator, I think. Look up other jerky recipes.
Alexandra A. October 25, 2017
How long will this stay for?
Britty2Hottie October 19, 2019
With homemade jerky, about ~2 weeks to one month with no refrigeration, or up to a few months in the refrigerator, I think. Look up other jerky recipes.
neighome June 4, 2016
This looks delicious, though I wouldn't call a recipe that calls for refrigeration "road trip" friendly.
Heidi V. February 5, 2015
The recipe says to store the jerky in a container in the fridge. How long can it be stored? And what's the best container to store it in glass, plastic, aluminum foil?
Kimberly J. October 21, 2014
My Korean aunt uses kiwis and Asian pears in her bulgogi recipe. think it would would for this jerkey recipe. It's the acid that sweetens and tenderizes.
Laura415 August 24, 2014
I've never made jerky but do love it. Only thing is I do not love it too sweet. I like the idea of using fruit juice and then tasting for the balance of sweetness I will enjoy. Then I suppose it's alright to limit the honey to taste as well.
savorthis August 25, 2014
My understanding is that the pear has an enzyme in it that helps tenderize the meat- so I would keep the juice which is only slightly sweet and omit the honey (or add to taste as you mentioned).
DJean August 24, 2014
In step 2, are freshly ground black pepper and kochukaru also sprinkled over beef (after salt/sesame seeds) before going into oven? Thank you.
savorthis August 25, 2014
Yes- but they are all optional.
Kristy M. July 28, 2014
I saw a cooking show on TV's diners and drives where a chef made his beef jerky (which got raves) like this:
He used eye of round, partly frozen and then sliced very thin and mixed a dry rub of garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, celery salt or seed(?), mesquite powder, onion powder, brown sugar and Italian oregano powder. He dredged the slices, placed them on cookie sheets single layer, then put into fridge for 24 hours, then into dehydrator for 4-8 hours until dry. His customers gobble it up like candy. I always made jerky with a wet solution as above...but I am gonna try this one. It looked awesome.
DessertByCandy July 28, 2014
Love it! The recipe makes over 4 cups of marinade, enough for 5.5lb of meat in my batch. I did a few ingredients substitutions including honey <-> citron marmalade, jalapeno <-> gochujang, kochukaru <-> shichimi togarashi. Pan seared some of the meat for a simple bulgogi dinner served with sesame leaves, rice, grilled veg, and gochujang. Two-for-one bonus!!

What my finished dish looks like:
savorthis August 25, 2014
jalapeno gochujang! That sounds (and looks) great.
walkie74 July 2, 2014
I used shabu shabu ( thinly sliced beef) and it worked beautifully. I dried it for an hour at 200 in my electric oven, stacking three cookie racks and separating them with balls of aluminum (to increase air flow). I soaked my meat for almost three days due to laziness, but hubby didnt seem to notice any overt saltiness. Great job!
Shawn July 15, 2014
Shabu Shabu is a dish...not thinly sliced beef.
savorthis August 25, 2014
Chris V. December 28, 2013
Oooh just made this for a road trip I'm taking tomorrow, and it is absolutely wonderful! Thanks so much for the recipe. I'm not at all surprised it won the best road trip snack contest!
Lori December 10, 2013
If I can't find pear nectar is there a substitute I could use?
petalpusher February 4, 2016
I've made it with canned pears thrown in to blend with the marinade. One other time I threw in a cup worth of spiced peaches. It's all tasted very good.
Mike S. October 24, 2013
I am always looking for new and inventive ways to make venison jerky. Assuming I trimmed all tallow off, I would assume this would work great. Do you agree?
Cardigan_Sue August 29, 2013
Would mirin work in place of sake?
savorthis August 29, 2013
I might choose a dry sherry instead since mirin is so sweet though you could start with a little less honey and try the marinade and see if it seems way too sweet. There is just something in booziness of sake or sherry that is a little different.
CARLYN August 26, 2013
savorthis August 26, 2013
You can probably go a little longer, but I would not marinate it for too long because it might get too salty.
spanky August 19, 2013
I Love Jerky but if it's tough and hard to chew , because of dentures I can't eat it , what do I need to do different to make this to where I can eat it?
savorthis August 19, 2013
I trimmed the beef of any sinewy bits and cut it across the grain and it was quite tender.
Adam P. August 15, 2013
This looks great! Question. How long will it keep when it's refrigerated? Thanks!
savorthis August 15, 2013
Thank you! I have read all sorts of varying times for how long it will last, but according to stilltasty it will be fine in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.
livebythem August 15, 2013
could a lazy and broke person just go to a korean mart and get bulgogi marinade and alter this recipe to avoid getting some of these ingredients? :D
savorthis August 15, 2013
I'm sure that would work, though I'd look at the ingredient list as so many of those sauces have a lot of extra phooey in them. That said, I have purchased the actual raw and marinated bulgogi many times for a super fast and tasty dinner...
Bear S. July 24, 2013
Kristy I looked over vegan Primal strips recipe and I am intrigued will give this mushroom jerky a try soon thanks
Kristy M. July 24, 2013
All you vegans: YOU TOO can eat jerky! This is an awesome recipe. Try it!