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Korean Bulgogi Bolognese
with noodles / pickled cucumbers

Active: 40 Total: 50
Bolognese (which is usually served with Italian meals) is a rich and flavorful meat sauce that lends itself well to this Korean-inspired twist. Using the sweet and savory flavors of Korean beef bulgogi, this sauce is great served over any Asian noodles.
Smarts #1: Make a double batch of Bulgogi Bolognese tonight and the leftovers will become an easy, fast base for Thursday night's soup.
Smarts #2: This recipe could be made in the Instant Pot. For tips, join the Cook Smarts Instant Pot Facebook Group.


Korean Bulgogi Bolognese (enough for 2 nights):
  • Carrots - 8 oz , diced
  • Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
  • Stock, low-sodium beef - 1 cup (sub any type stock)
  • Tamari - 1/2 cup
  • Gochujang - 2 Tbsp
  • Brown sugar - 1 Tbsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Beef, ground and lean - 2 lbs
  • Water - 1 Tbsp
  • Cornstarch - 2 tsp
  • Noodles, any gluten-free like soba or gluten-free spaghetti - 8 oz
Pickled Cucumbers:
  • Cucumbers - 8 oz , sliced
  • Vinegar, rice - 1/2 cup
  • Sugar - 2 tsp
  • Sesame seeds, white (opt) - 1 tsp


  1. Noodles - (Note: If prepping right before cooking, do the rest of the prep steps and get sauce simmering before cooking noodles.) Cook noodles according to package directions. If making ahead, toss the noodles with some oil to help prevent them from sticking. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Carrots / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Make sauce - Combine garlic, stock, Tamari, Gochujang, and brown sugar. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  4. Cucumbers - Slice cucumbers. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  5. Make pickles - (Note: The longer ahead you make the pickles, the more tart and “pickle-y” they’ll be. You can also wait and toss this together 30 minutes before serving if you’d like them to retain their crunch and just be lightly dressed.) Whisk together vinegar and sugar. Combine cucumbers and sesame seeds in a small bowl or jar. Pour liquid over top. (It’s okay if the cucumbers aren’t completely submerged in liquid, but you want them mostly covered. Add some more rice vinegar if needed.) (Can be done up to 3 days ahead.)

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  1. Heat a wok or Dutch oven with oil over medium heat. Add carrots and saute for 1 minute to get carrots started cooking.
  2. To carrots, add beef and saute, breaking beef apart, until cooked through.
  3. Pour sauce over beef and stir to combine everything. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to let the flavors come together.
  4. While sauce simmers, whisk together water and cornstarch.
  5. Pour water / cornstarch mixture into beef and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  6. Drain liquid off pickles (discard liquid) and season the pickles with some salt.
  7. If noodles were made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
  8. Serve Korean bolognese (reserve half for Thursday) over noodles with pickles on the side. Enjoy!



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