From Freezer to Feast: An Honest Review of Trader Joe’s Beef Bulgogi

Trader Joe's Frozen Beef Bulgogi
Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi

Trader Joe’s has had a love affair with Korean food for a couple of years now. I remember when they first had Kimchi many years ago and how I thought it was so progressive of Trader Joe’s to offer Kimchi, I did a little dance because I loved Korean food back then. Since then, there have been several Korean food products that have hit the shelves, the Kimbap was probably the most popular to date. It inspired endless TikTok videos and I even saw it on national news.

Imagine my surprise when I spied a package of frozen Beef Bulgogi in the freezer section last week. I was like, holy cow! This is going to be a huge hit! I’m sure this will inspire endless Tiktok videos like the Kimbap. All I know is that Koreans are a passionate lot and Bulgogi is like the national dish of Korea so here we go. Frozen Bulgogi ready in like five minutes. Just get some Trader Joe’s Frozen White Rice and you have an instant meal.

Trader Joe’s has done all the work for you. It’s been pre-cooked, and marinated and comes in a bit of a sauce. All you really have to do is heat it up and eat it.

Trader Joe's Frozen Beef Bulgogi nutrition
Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi nutrition

What is Beef Bulgogi?

Korean Beef Bulgogi is a quintessential Korean dish known for its tender and flavorful qualities. It’s made from thinly sliced beef, typically sirloin or ribeye, marinated in a mixture that brings together a nice blend of sweet, savory, and umami flavors. The marinade usually consists of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and pear juice, which tenderizes the meat and imparts a subtly sweet taste. Sometimes, ingredients like ginger, green onions, and black pepper are also added to enhance the flavor profile. The beef is then grilled or pan-fried to perfection, creating a dish that’s both succulent and slightly caramelized on the edges.

How to Cook Trader Joe’s Beef Bulgogi

Trader Joe’s gives us two methods on the side of the package on how to make their Beef Bulgogi. Skillet or Microwave. I think microwaving meat can make it tough and sometimes ruins the flavor of the meat, I opted for the skillet method. I used out my trusty wok and put in

Trader Joe's Frozen Beef Bulgogi Directions
Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi Directions

a tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Sunflower Oil because I like it for Asian stir-fry dishes. It has a high smoke point and not a whole lot of flavor.

Trader Joe’s says “to remove outer packaging and film”. Ok, when you do that you end up with a brick of Bulgogi that you have to stir fry. It took a while for it to heat up enough for it to fall apart. In hindsight, I might defrost it in the microwave then put it in a skillet or wok.

Ok, once it was thawed out in the skillet, I stir-fried it for a couple of minutes until it was about 165f.

In the meantime, I heated up some Trader Joe’s rice in the microwave and put it in a bowl. 

There is a whole 16 oz of meat here, so no wonder it costs $12.99 for the whole thing. But it is enough to feed four normal adults if you have rice and other sides.

Trader Joe's Frozen Beef Bulgogi Frozen
Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi Frozen

What to Serve with Trader Joe’s Beef Bulgogi

When it comes to food pairings, Bulgogi is incredibly versatile. It’s commonly served with a side of steamed rice, which balances the bold flavors of the meat. Another popular accompaniment is a Korean-style pancake, such as Pajeon or Kimchi Jeon, offering a crispy texture contrast. For a more wholesome meal, Bulgogi can be paired with various banchan (Korean side dishes), like Kimchi, seasoned spinach, or bean sprout salad, to add freshness and a range of textures to the meal. Additionally, wrapping the Bulgogi in lettuce leaves with a dab of ssamjang (a spicy-sweet Korean sauce) is a common and delightful way to enjoy this dish, providing a crisp, refreshing bite that complements the savory beef.

Trader Joe’s offers many of these side dishes. Unfortunately, doesn’t sell the Pajeon anymore. But they have Kimchi and I suggest getting some for this dish as a side.

You could also serve Kimbap as a side dish.  Trader Joe’s also sells Beef Bulgogi Fried Rice with Kimchi all wrapped in one dish in a bag in the freezer section. I reviewed that weeks ago and I really liked it. You could use this beef bulgogi meat only product to make your own very easily. There is also the Pajeon scallion pancakes in the freezer section which are also a well known side dish for Bulgogi.

Trader Joe's Frozen Beef Bulgogi cooked
Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi cooked

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed Trader Joe’s Frozen Beef Bulgogi. Sure, you can get better at a good Korean restaurant and you even might be able to make it home, but I think most of us would be hard pressed to make it as good as Trader Joe’s has done for us. All that cutting of the beef and marinating and then cooking. Trader Joe’s has done all that for you and it tastes pretty authentic to me. It’s got that sweet umami mix that I love so much and goes so well with beef. I could also see using it in a beef stir fry, more like Chinese. Just stir fry with some asparagus or broccoli and almost as good as a Chinese restaurant. The meat is tender and flavorful. I didn’t get a lot of weird pieces that were too chewy or too fatty. 

I think Trader Joe’s has done a wonderful job with this Beef Bulgogi. I am going to rate it 9 out of 10 Bells!

Ingredients

BEEF AND BINDER PRODUCT (BEEF, WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF CORNSTARCH, TAPIOCA STARCH), SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEAN, WHEAT, SALT), SUGAR, ONION, PEAR PUREE (PEARS, ASCORBIC ACID [TO MAINTAIN COLOR]), APPLE PUREE (APPLES, ASCORBIC ACID [TO MAINTAIN COLOR]), PINEAPPLE JUICE (PINEAPPLE JUICE, ASCORBIC ACID [TO MAINTAIN COLOR]), GARLIC, BLACK PEPPER, SESAME OIL.

  • CONTAINS SOY, SESAME, WHEAT.

4 Comments

  1. Just had this today for the first time, and I think your assessment is spot on. Not as good as from a Korean restaurant, but pretty darn good and much easier than making at home. I appreciate that it was NOT overly sweet as I feared (a common flaw of TJ products IMO). I added some dark sesame oil and a few grinds of black pepper to spice it up a bit. Will buy again for sure.

  2. I tried this and I ended up tossing the whole container due to the severe amount of salt! I made street tacos with it and even with all of the other items I used the extremely salty meat was overwhelming! Never again

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