This simple, delicious meal of flavorful Korean beef (you can use ground turkey, too!) is tasty and comes together in 20 minutes!

Anyone else playing major catch up after the holidays? I haven’t even thought about New Year resolutions (snore), I’m seriously still trying to crawl out from piles of laundry and chocolate.

If you are like me (high five?? or not…), let’s all give a little cheer for this 20-minute meal that most likely will save your bacon some time in the near future.

A scoop of cooked quinoa and beef over a tray with more beef and cooked rice.

It has for me, that I know. I’ve been making it for months now, tweaking it here and there, and the fact that it can be thrown together in 20 minutes nearly makes me weep.

We love the simple, Asian flavors; it’s delicious served over rice or quinoa but let me tell you, it’s equally divine as a lettuce wrap or a combo of all (see the notes below the recipe title).

Interestingly enough, I’ve actually been to Korea (in a past lifetime, over 16 years ago when my brother dragged me there to go backpacking and I ended up with a really, really bad stomach issue after eating raw cow liver; delightful experience, really) and it should come as no surprise that I didn’t taste anything in Korea remotely close to the recipe I’m sharing today.

A top view of cooked white rice with Korean beef on top.

That may be a good or bad thing, depending on how you view life.

And since we are talking false advertising here, I should probably mention that “beef” is used loosely as I alternate between ground beef, ground turkey and have even used ground chicken with super stellar results.

Anyway you look at it, this quick, weeknight meal is a staple in our dinner rotation. Fast, easy, tasty and healthy! As I like to say: no better way to bring on 2015 than a meal that could save your sanity.

A white platter with half cooked white rice and half quinoa, topped with cooked beef.

What To Serve With This:

Skillet Green Beans
Fresh fruit or this Honey Lime Fruit Salad

One Year Ago: Video Tip: How to Cut Grape Tomatoes and Other Pesky Foods Quickly
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Three Years Ago: Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake


Korean Beef and Rice {Or Quinoa}

4.83 stars (70 ratings)


  • 1 ½ pounds ground turkey or ground beef or ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes plus more to taste or 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger or 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Hot, cooked rice or quinoa for serving


  • Start the rice or quinoa, cooking according to package directions (usually about 15-17 minutes cooking time).
  • While the rice/quinoa cooks, in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the meat, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to break the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and crumbly, about 7-10 minutes. Drain any excess grease.
  • In a liquid measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, broth, sesame oil, red pepper flakes (or chili-garlic sauce), and ginger.
  • Stir the sauce into the meat and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so.
  • Serve over hot, cooked rice or quinoa, topped with the chopped green onions.


Nutrition Facts: the nutrition facts for this recipe were calculated based on the beef mixture (but do not include the quinoa, rice, or toppings as those are added based on personal preference). 
Variations: I’ve made this dozens of times and it can be varied in a lot of ways for serving: use rice, quinoa – or both. We also love it in lettuce wraps or we line our bowls with romaine lettuce, scooped in some quinoa/rice and a spoonful of the meat mixture. Delicious!
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 361kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 794mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 9g

Recipe Source: adapted from Damn Delicious (used less sugar, took out the cooking oil, increased meat slightly and added more liquid so it wasn’t dry, varied the other ingredients)