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This baby-friendly Korean bulgogi is easy to make and perfect for your baby, toddler, and family! If you’re looking for a baby led weaning recipe and healthy kid-friendly meal on a budget, make this today!

bulgogi served on a white oval dish laid on top of a blue and white striped towel with a baby plate served on a divided stainless steel plate
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We recently returned from spending a month in Korea and Malaysia where we walked a lot, sweated profusely, talked and laughed a bunch, and learned how to better handle an overtired, fussy toddler.

All this led to an insatiable appetite and eat we did! Although my husband would tell you that it wasn’t enough. It’s crazy how much food the man can chow down when he’s on vacation mode.

Like daddy like son, our 2.5 year old completely immersed himself in the food scene. I mean we love Korean food too, but I shied away from cooking it at home, especially during C’s first year of life, because all the essential condiments (e.g. soy sauce, fermented bean paste) are so high in sodium.

You can read about why it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s sodium intake in this blog post.

I’m definitely starting to become more lenient when it comes to C’s daily sodium intake, but I wouldn’t feel too comfortable letting him eat too much of the typical Korean food in one sitting. That’s a dilemma because my boy brings his appetite during mealtimes!

What Makes this Perfect for Babies

What’s a mama to do? Strap on her apron and come up with ways to reinvent the familiar dishes. Starting with bulgogi, one of the most well known Korean dishes. And I’m just thrilled to share this delicious, no-salt-added, baby-friendly recipe with you!

There’s not a single drop of soy sauce, one of the main ingredients, in the marinade. Therefore, it doesn’t taste the same as the traditional version, obviously, but it’s still very tasty! And of course, you can certainly add some low sodium soy sauce if you wish.

Ingredients

pear apple garlic onion and sesame seeds laid on a white background
  • The measurements for the ingredients don’t have to be exact. Simply give them a rough chop and add to the blender.
  • It’s best to use Asian pear for this recipe. However, I know it can be hard to find in some places. So I actually tried it with Bartlett pear, and it worked fine.
    • But if you can get your hands on some Asian pear, buy a whole bunch. They’re so delicious to snack on too! Both the Pear and apple is used to tenderize the meat as well as to add sweetness.
  • If your child is allergic to sesame seeds, you can substitute with perilla seeds.

How to Select Meat

  • For beef, top sirloin, beef tenderloin, and rib-eye work best.
  • While bulgogi is traditionally made with beef, you can also use chicken or turkey.  Dark meat works better, but I do tend to get white meat more often than not and marinade for longer.
  • You can also use ground meat.  It’s more convenient as you don’t have to slice it and don’t have to marinade it for as long. It’s also easier for babies to eat.

Butcherbox

Every month, I set a budget for groceries. Lately our money has been a bit tight due to our fertility treatments and other things that are going on. 

I don’t mind purchasing conventional fruits, veggies, and other items but I do prioritize meat quality.

We usually eat meat 2-3 times/week. The hubby prefers beef and I prefer chicken so we try to do both each week..doesn’t happen all the time.

But as you may know, meat can get quite expensive, especially if its high-quality. I love that all of Butcherbox’s products are humanely-raised or wild-caught and are never given antibiotics or added hormones (fyi, federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones or steroids in poultry).

Infographic showing the difference between 100% grass fed vs. conventional beef

The beef that I use for this recipe (and all the others) is 100%  grass-fed, pasture-raised. You can just taste the difference. It’s extra tender and flavorful.

It also contains more omega-3s than grain-fed beef. This kind of meat can be very difficult to find at the grocery store. And if you do, it’s quite expensive.

With Butcherbox, the average cost is $5-6 preserving, which is actually less than what I’m paying at my local farmer’s market. AND it gets delivered straight to your door at no extra cost, which is so awesome! 

6 individually packaged Butcherbox Ground Beef

  If interested, definitely  check them out! 

How to Thinly Slice Meat

You can easily find it pre-cut if you visit a Korean grocer. It will be labeled “bulgogi meat” in the fridge/freezer section. But if you want to do it yourself, here’s what I suggest. Freeze the meat for about 2 hours or so. And working with a sharp knife, slice thinly (about 1/8 inch or so) across the grain. Here’s a helpful post!

But for convenience, you can certainly use ground meat like I did here.

finished baby friendly Korean bulgogi in a large skillet with an orange spatula

Other Baby-Friendly Asian Recipes

Did you make this baby and toddler-friendly Korean Bulgogi? Follow me on Instagram post a photo and tag me, post a photo on my Facebook page, or save it to Pinterest. I love to see what you’re making! 

4.97 from 28 votes

Baby-Friendly Korean Bulgogi

This baby-friendly Korean bulgogi is easy to make and perfect for your baby, toddler, and family! If you’re looking for a baby led weaning recipe and healthy kid friendly meal on a budget, make this today!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

For the marinade

  • ½ cup (about 50g) chopped apples,, peeled
  • 1 cup (about 100g) chopped pear,, peeled
  • ½ cup (about 50g) chopped yellow onion
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)

For the beef

  • 1 pound meat of choice, , either thinly sliced or ground (I used lean ground beef)
  • sliced or chopped vegetables of choice, optional

Instructions 

  • Combine marinade ingredients in blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth. In a bowl, add the meat and marinade. Massage meat throughout, cover and marinate. For ground meat, 30 minutes – 2 hours, thinly sliced – at least 4 hours (overnight ideal)
  • Preheat skillet over medium high heat. Cook meat (and vegetables) until cooked through and caramelized.
  • serve over rice, noodles, add to pancake batter, etc.

Notes

  • The measurements for the ingredients don’t have to be exact. Simply give them a rough chop and add to the blender.
  • It’s best to use Asian pear for this recipe, but if you can't find it, bartlett pear will work too.
  • If your child is allergic to sesame seeds, you can substitute with perilla seeds.
  • For beef, top sirloin, beef tenderloin, and rib-eye work best
  • While bulgogi is traditionally made with beef, you can also use chicken or turkey.  Dark meat works better, but I do tend to get white meat more often than not and marinade for longer.
  • You can also use ground meat. It’s more convenient as you don’t have to slice it and don’t have to marinade it for as long. It’s also easier for babies to eat.

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcal | Protein: 25g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 76mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Iron: 3.5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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Recipe Rating




38 Comments

  1. I made this with small adjustments and made them into meatballs. It was delicious! With some leftovers I put them in a bowl of 죽 so my toddler could have more intake of meat. It’s also freezer friendly. Thank you for the easy and yummy recipes for parents that struggle with cooking 😅

    1. Hi Melissa! I was wondering if you can share the cooking steps you took to have them in meatballs form? Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful, and even better as leftovers! So flavorful yet so very simple. My toddler loved it.

    We tried it over chickpea pasta and over mashed sweet potato. I highly recommend serving with sweet potato! The sweetness goes so well with the beef. My husband loves traditional bulgogi so he was able to dress up his serving just how he liked it while we kept it simple for our son. For veg I added finely chopped red pepper and carrot (used a food processor). Great recipe for a weeknight and have bookmarked it to make again 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Totally love this recipe, even my picky toddler approve it. He finish 1 serving in no problem at all. Plus I really live this hassle-free menu. It is so easy to make but taste wonderful and healthy ♥️ Thanks for the recipe

  4. 5 stars
    Just made this for my toddler, and it came out so much better than expected! We added sesame oil, ginger, and rice vinegar, and it came out great. I was in a rush and didn’t peel the fruit either. After putting it through a food processor, the peel isn’t noticeable at all. Thank you for this great recipe! We will definitely be making this one again.

      1. I steamed the marinade for about 10 minutes before I froze it. Hopefully that’s ok? Thanks again 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    Our whole family loves this recipe. I do add some soy sauce and agave for the adults but it absolutely does not need it! I usually grate zucchini and carrots, cook them first to remove some moisture, then add to the cooking beef mix. Another recipe that gets rotated regularly in our household. Thank you!!!

  6. 5 stars
    Love love love this recipe. Made this ground beef and it was sooo nice. The meat was tenderized and naturally sweet so he loved it. I made a frozen stash for future use.