Kalbi beef is a classic Korean BBQ Short Ribs dish, perfect for summer grilling, but wonderful to make any time of year. I share cooking options for outdoor grilling and also how to broil the short ribs in your oven. This recipe has my Korean mom’s secret ingredient in the marinade for extra tender short ribs!

Kalbi Beef - Stacked on a Platter with Green Onion and Rice

As Korean food has become more and more popular in the US, Kalbi beef has played a huge part in paving the way to that popularity. It’s one of the main staples of Korean BBQ, and people rightfully go bonkers over how good it is.

Korean kalbi is a special-cut beef short rib (often labeled Korean style short ribs or flanken cut) that’s marinated in a sweet and salty marinade, and grilled until caramelized and deeply brown. It’s the food of my childhood and something my Korean mama has made for me for years and years. Every time my mom threw a party, there was always kalbi. Always.

And sometimes my mom would decide that we just needed to make and eat lots of kalbi, and she’d consequently call it a party. Even when no one else was coming over. My mom’s thinking was on point!

Tips for Best Results

Find the correct cut of beef – You will need to purchase “flanken style” short ribs, aka Korean cut short ribs or cross cut short ribs. Because the short ribs are cut through bone, this isn’t something you can do yourself at home.

Use good soy sauce – Make sure to use a good quality brand for the soy sauce, as there’s HUGE variability there. My favorite brands are San-J, Lee Kum Kee, and Kikkoman. Stay away from La Choy as well as grocery brands.

Don’t marinate too long – It’s definitely possible to overdo it on the marinating time, and there were a few times when the meat was actually too tender and falling apart. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, but a maximum of overnight, or 12 hours.

Kalbi - On a Platter with Green Onion and Rice

The Secret Ingredient

This recipe uses most of the standard ingredients for Kalbi, but also includes my mom’s secret ingredient, which helps tenderize the meat. What is it? Kiwi! But, she has also used pineapple. The secret to the kiwi and pineapple is the enzymes in them that tenderize the meat naturally. Just make sure not to leave the beef in the marinade too long, or the beef will be too tender.

Step by Step Overview

To get started, combine grated kiwi, grated asian pear, soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh minced garlic, sesame oil, and black pepper:

Marinade Ingredients Including Grated Pear and Soy Sauce for Korean Kalbi Beef in Bowl

Mix this together, and then you have your marinade:

Kalbi Sauce - in Mixing Bowl with Spatula

Now it’s time to grab your beef!

Below are Korean-style short ribs, also called flanken short ribs. They have three bones on the top and a couple inches of meat below. These are actually a little bit skimpier than normal, but nevertheless, you can see how beautifully marbled the meat is:

Korean Style Cut Short Ribs on a Cutting Board for Kalbi

Combine the beef and marinade in a ziptop bag:

Kalbi in a Plastic Bag Marinating in the Sauce

Marinate this for 4 hours, and as long as overnight.

Now it’s time to cook the beef! The preferred method is to grill them, as I think beef is best when grilled (hello Grilled Ribeye and Grilled Flank Steak), but when that’s not an option, I’ve found that the second best method is to broil them.

Set the marinated beef on top of a wire rack on a sheet pan:

Korean Kalbi Beef Ribs Laid on a Wire Rack Over Sheet Pan

Broil on high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, until they are deeply brown and caramelized:

Kalbi Ribs Cooked and Caramelized on Wire Rack

If that’s not an option either, you can pan-fry them, but they don’t caramelize as evenly. They’re still good though.

Kalbi Meat Served on Platter with Green Onion and Rice

How to Serve

Serve the kalbi with steamed white rice, Fried Rice, Spiralized Cucumber Noodle Salad, or any desired Korean side dishes. For more Korean dishes, I recommend my mom’s Kim Bap (Korean Rice Rolls) and Korean Beef Bites.

Recipe Tips and FAQ

How do you store leftover Kalbi beef?

Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can you freeze Kalbi beef?

Yes, keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

How do you reheat Kalbi?

The best options are on the grill or in the oven. I have found that the microwave warms them unevenly due to the bones in the meat. For the grill, reheat over high for 1-2 minutes on each side, until warm. For the oven, reheat in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes, until warm.

Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.

Korean Kalbi Beef on a Platter with Rice

Korean Kalbi Beef

Kalbi is a classic Korean Barbeque Short Ribs dish, perfect for summer grilling, but perfectly suitable to make any time of year. It’s marinated in a sweet and salty soy sauce-based marinade that caramelizes beautifully as the short ribs cook.
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Ingredients

  • 1 Asian pear peeled and grated
  • 1 kiwi peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds Korean style beef short ribs

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, whisk to combine the grated Asian pear, grated kiwi, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and black pepper. Combine in a marinade bag with the beef, and let marinate for at least 4 hours, and as long as overnight (12 hours).
  • Remove the beef from the marinade, and discard the marinade. Either grill the beef over high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or broil them on top of a wire rack set over a sheet pan, also for 3-4 minutes on high for each side. If those two cooking options aren't available, you can also pan fry them in a skillet. Cook them until they are caramelized and deeply brown on the edges. Enjoy!

Notes

Storing leftovers: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: Keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: The best options are on the grill or in the oven. I have found that the microwave warms them unevenly due to the bones in the meat. For the grill, reheat over high for 1-2 minutes on each side, until warm. For the oven, reheat in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes, until warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 297kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 1156mg, Potassium: 533mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 15IU, Vitamin C: 15.7mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.