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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.

4.97 from 28 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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38 Comments

  1. Hi! Thanks for the recipes! I use your site as a staple when I just can’t come up with something for dinner. I’m wanting to try the bulgogi marinade, but finding it hard to find pears. In a pinch, have you tried canned pears, (in juice, not in syrup)? Or maybe have any of your readers? Also, I LOVE that you use metric measurements in your recipes! So helpful when not wanting to get a ton of dishes dirty, you just pop your bowl on the scale and you’re good to go!

  2. I’m planning to make this tonight but do you chop the carrots and do you boil it first or when you cook the ground beef you can throw the carrots in together?

    Also you mention it freezes well so would you cook all of it then freeze it in zip bags or in containers or freeze it raw and when I need to make it take it out thaw it then cook it?

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for the recipe Min! I made this for my 9 month old and he couldn’t get enough. I’ve freezed a few portions for the weeks to come. Look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for my 11 mo daughter and she loved it! It tastes really good even without the soy. Thanks for your recipes, we love Korean food and I’ve been finding hard to find low sodium Asian recipes that she could have. Love your website!!

    1. Yay!! It truly is amazing, right? I will try my best to continue sharing…it truly is challenging given all of our condiments are so high in sodium!

    1. Hi! I made this without reading the comments (as usual) and didn’t peel the fruits first and it turned out fine. I did use a food processor though which made a very fine pulp so it wasn’t really noticeable in the dish

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Min! I can’t wait to try this recipe with my 10 mo. Which veggies pair well to mix in? I’ve never cooked for myself so I’m not comfortable guessing which veggies to mix in. Thanks!

    1. Yay!! I’m so excited for you too hehe. I like to use carrots and zucchini but you can also throw in bell peppers, broccoli, onion, etc.

  6. 5 stars
    I am seriously interested that if baby doesnt like beef even if its grounded. he simple doesnot know what to do with it? then what should i do ? same is the case with beans . he is 8 mo. he is good at purees fruits and cereals. even pureed beef. but not lumpy or salty things. worried 🙁

    1. Hi mama! It’s actually pretty normal for babies to be hesitant to try textured foods. However, keep offering! They definitely need gentle pressure from us parents as we continue to move forward with texture. Check out my blog post purees vs. baby led weaning to learn why this is so important.