Costco Beef Bulgogi (Korean BBQ) Pro Tips + Recipe Ideas

Costco-Beef-Bulgogi

Korean Beef Bulgogi at Costco (Prepared Meal)

Costco sells their prepared meal Korean BBQ Beef Bulgogi for $7.49 a pound. The beef bulgogi is sold in approximately 3-pound containers and costs ~$22.50.
 

The beef bulgogi is found in the prepared meal section of the deli area near other items, such as the popular street tacosmeatloaf, and macaroni and cheese

Costco-Beef-Bulgogi-Prepared-Meal

This beef bulgogi is made with USDA choice sliced beef chuck roll, Korean BBQ sauce, and onions.

2022 Changes

Aside from the increased price, which I will discuss in the cost comparison section, there are a few other changes were made to Costco’s bulgogi beef. 

First, the container is no longer aluminum foil with a plastic lid; it’s a fully plastic container now. There is an aluminum shortage, and I don’t like using the word, but it feels cheaper.

Costco-Bulgogi-Beef-Sticker-Remove-From-Container

Because of the switch to plastic, they also included a little sticker that says, “Remove From Container Before Reheating.” 

Interesting because the beef has never been heated in the first place. Obviously, this sticker was intended for another product.

What is Beef Bulgogi?

Beef Bulgogi translates to “fire meat” and is made from thin slices of beef that are marinated and then grilled. 

This style of beef is eaten throughout Korea and is extremely popular in America.

Beef-Bulgogi-from-Costco

Bulgogi Beef is typically made with tender cuts such as ribeye, tenderloin, or prime sirloin. 

The marinade is typically a sweet soy-based marinade/sauce that is flavored with classic ingredients such as garlic, sesame, and ginger.

Costco Cost Comparison - Korean BBQ Bulgogi

How much is the beef bulgogi at Costco?

Costco’s Bulgogi Beef now sells for $7.49 a pound and can be purchased in a 3-pound tray. 

A few months ago, the package would sell for $6.99 a pound, and pre-pandemic bulgogi would go for only $5.99 a pound.

Costco-Bulgogi-Beef-Price

I wasn’t happy when the price rose to $6.99 a pound, and I absolutely hate seeing this over $7. 

Costco is pushing it with the $7.49 price tag, and anything above this would make the meal too expensive.

Homemade Beef Bulgogi

Costco Beef Chuck Rolls sell for $4.49 at the Costco business center, which means there is nearly a $3 markup from the retail cost for this Korean Bulgogi BBQ Beef.
 

Just like with the seasoned garlic chicken drumsticks, I understand and expect to pay a premium for meat that is seasoned and pre-flavored, but $3 is getting a little ridiculous for sauce and onions.

Costco-Korean-BBQ

At 3 total pounds, we’re looking at $9 for sauce and onions. Is the better option to buy a couple of onions and my own bottle of store-bought Korean bulgogi sauce? The onions would only cost $1 or $2, and with the remaining $7, I could buy a pretty high-quality bottle of bulgogi marinade.

If Costco decides to push the price up anymore, this may be the route I will take to get my at-home Korean bbq fix.
 

One thing to always remember for any prepared meal is that the price per pound includes the protein and all the trimmings.
 

So Costco has added less expensive sauce and onions to the $4.49 chuck roll beef and increased the price. All retailers do this, and something I find rather annoying. 

Costco Beef Bulgogi Taste Test

When I started eating this Costco bulgogi beef a few years ago, the raw meat would always be a nice shade of red. Now it seems like you got to be lucky to get one that looks fresh. 

Unfortunately, the meat was pretty brown this time, and it was the same last week when I passed on purchasing the bulgogi.

Brown-Korean-BBQ-Costco

Another issue that I did have with this beef is that the chuck roll strips were cut too long. I don’t want to use a knife when I eat bulgogi beef, and I’d rather have the pieces all be cut before they are grilled or cooked. 

Today I had to pull out the cutting board and cleaver to shrink the pieces down a bit.

Costco-Pan-Fried-Bulgogi

I cooked 2/3 (2 pounds) in the pan for this meal. I preheated the pan and gave it a quick spray with cooking oil before sauteing the beef. 

The beef came out with a slight char and was tender enough for what it was.

Air-Fry-Beef-Bulgogi-Costco
Air Fried Bulgogi Beef

I cooked the remaining pound of beef bulgogi in the air fryer. I cooked it at 400°F for about 11 minutes. 

The meat came out a little less saucy than the pan version and a little more crispy on the outside.

Costco-Beef-Bulgogi-with-Sesame-Seeds

I served the final product with rice and covered it with some sesame seeds.

Air-Fry-vs-Pan-Fry-Beef-Bulgogi-Kirkland-Signature
Air Fry (Left) - Pan Fry (Right)

The Beef in Beef Bulgogi

The beef used in this dish is a chuck roll, and it shows. It isn’t tough, but it isn’t necessarily tender. Chuck Roll is fine for a bulgogi, but it’s nowhere near ribeye or tenderloin. 

Ribeye at Costco costs $10 a pound, so there would need to be a massive price increase, and ribeye bulgogi at $13 or $14/pound is just too much.

Air-Fryer-Costco-Korean-BBQ
Air Fried Bulgogi Beef

Too Sweet or Just Right?

The bulgogi sauce tasted ok. Many people have complained about the sauce being too sweet, but that is never something I have noticed. 

I don’t have a big sweet tooth, and usually, I shy away from sweetness, but I have never felt this beef was too sweet. 

Korean-BBQ-Rice-Bowl-Costco

I don’t eat the beef like I’m at an actual Korean BBQ restaurant, where I just eat the meat with a few bites of rice on the side. 

I instead eat this bulgogi in a bowl of rice. The rice may be neutralizing some of the sweetness.

I have thought a few times that the beef was a little salty. But again, with rice, it is tolerable.

Costco-Korean-Beef-Bulgogi-BBQ

Overall, the meal is enjoyable. It’s easy to make and a solid replacement for going out to a Korean BBQ restaurant. 

The meat is flavorful and is a great starter Korean bulgogi. It benefits greatly from adding additional flavors such as mushrooms or spice.

Beef Bulgogi Bonus

In all the times I have eaten this, my wife and I have never eaten nor tried to eat the entire 3 pounds of meat. (It might be a fun challenge, though) 

We have always had leftovers, and one meal we really like is beef bulgogi scrambled eggs.

Beef-Bulgogi-Scrambled-Eggs

We just throw some leftover bulgogi and onions into a medium-hot pan for a minute or so, giving the beef a nice sear and warming it up. Then throw in enough eggs to cover the meat and scramble until done. 

It’s a great breakfast that is unique, delicious, and takes just 5 minutes.

Beef Bulgogi Costco Prepared Meal Cooking/Heating Instructions

Bulgogi-Beef-Cooking-Instructions-Costco

How to cook beef bulgogi from Costco?

Costco provides one set of cooking directions for their Korean BBQ beef bulgogi, which is basically to pan-fry the meat. 

Their instructions are to preheat the skillet to medium-high. Add the Costco bulgogi beef and cook until the strips are well browned.

Beef-Bulgogi-Korean-BBQ-Costco

Blade Tenderized Beef

They do mention that their meat is blade tenderized which means they poke little holes in the beef to make it more tender. 

The drawback of doing this is that sometimes bacteria on the outside of the meat can be pushed deep within to the inner core. 

Costco-Bulgogi

With Costco’s bulgogi it may not be a big issue because we aren’t really shooting for a medium rare type of cook where the meat in the center is still red. 

The problem arises when Costco blade or mechanically tenderizes their ribeye or New York steaks which we typically will not want to be cooked fully all the way through.

Beef Bulgogi Cooking Pro Tips

Pro Tip: Some Costco members have complained that the Korean beef bulgogi is too sweet. Don’t pour the whole package of beef, marinade, and onions into your pan or cast iron skillet.
 

Use tongs to grab the beef and onions and place them in the hot pan. Pour in marinade sauce separately to control the saltiness and sweetness of the dish. This also will allow the beef to char.  

Costco-Air-Fry-Beef-Bulgogi

Pro Tip: Do not pour excess uncooked marinade/sauce onto the cooked beef. The sauce will have to be cooked as well before consumption. 

 

Pro Tip: Add mushrooms and additional onions for a flavor boost.
 

Pro Tip: Add some red chili flakes or chili oil to spice up the dish!

Can you air fry Costco’s Beef Bulgogi?

Air fryers are just little personal ovens, so yes, you can air fry the Costco bulgogi beef. 

My air fryer only goes up to 400°, so I went 400° for 11 minutes. I flipped the beef halfway through the cooking process.

Bulgogi-Beef-Costco-Korean-BBQ-Beef

There is one big difference between air frying the beef and pan frying; a lot of the sauce will drip off the meat in the air fryer and fall to the bottom. 

In the pan, the sauce is contained and will cook with the beef bulgogi. The air fryer bulgogi will turn out less saucy and a little more crisp. There is a little bit of a texture difference between them.

Can you bake the bulgogi beef from Costco?

Yes, you can bake the beef bulgogi. It’s not the preferred method, but it is possible. Bake the bulgogi at 450° for 10-12 minutes. 

The reason the oven needs to be so hot is because the best part of the meal is the caramelization of the sauce/marinade. You can also bake at a lower temperature and broil the beef at the end of the cook. 

Can you cook Costco’s Korean BBQ Beef in the instant pot?

Yes, Internet people have proclaimed great success cooking the Costco bulgogi beef in the instant pot. Optional – start with the sear function and sear for a few minutes until sufficiently browned. Pressure cook for 20 minutes and wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure. 

You can also sear or brown the meat under the broiler or in a super hot pan after cooking in the instant pot.

Can you microwave it?

No No No. You probably could, but you definitely shouldn’t. Please don’t.

Bulgogi-Beef-Costco-Korean

Can you freeze Costco bulgogi beef?

Yes, you can freeze the uncooked raw beef, sauce, and onions. 3 pounds of Beef Bulgogi can be a lot. Package the food in a Ziploc bag and squeeze out the air. The beef should be good for at least 1-2 months in the freezer.

Costco Bulgogi Beef Nutritional Information

How many calories in Korean BBQ beef?

One serving of Costco’s beef bulgogi is 42 grams or 1.5 ounces. Each serving consists of 230 calories, with 11 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbs, and 21 grams of protein. This will be a high calorie meal as the beef has a significant amount of protein and fat that is combined with the carbohydrate heavy Korean bbq sauce.

Not a bad protein to fat and carb ratio, but the sauce is what makes the meal tastes great and what makes the meal a little less healthy. 

There is also going to be 680 mg of sodium per serving. This is an astronomical amount of sodium and something to be cautious about with this Costco prepared meal.

Costco Korean BBQ Bulgogi Ingredients

Costco’s Korean Beef Bulgogi contains quite a few ingredients. They are:

  • Sliced Beef Chuck Roll
  • Korean BBQ Sauce
  • Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Pears
  • Onion
  • Kiwi Juice
  • Apples
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Yeast Extract
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Natural Flavor
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Citric Acid
  • Black & White Pepper, Caramel Color
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Onions

Onions are listed twice. Once as “Onion” and another time as “Onions”. Is there a difference?

Costco Bulgogi Beef Review
Costco-Pan-Fried-Bulgogi

Product Name: Kirkland Signature Beef Bulgogi (Korean BBQ)

Product Description:
Price:~$22.50
Quantity: ~3 Pounds
Location Within Costco: Prepared Food - Deli Area
Price Per Pound: $7.49/Pound

Summary

Costco’s beef bulgogi is one of their most interesting prepared meals. It’s fun, tasty, and enjoyable, but the quality has declined over the years while price has increased.

I still purchase this every once a while, but those whiles are getting longer and longer apart.

Overall
7/10
7/10
  • Value - 6/10
    6/10
  • Convenience - 9/10
    9/10
  • Taste - 7/10
    7/10
  • Nutrition - 5/10
    5/10
  • CFDB Score - 8/10
    8/10

Pros

  • Fun and unique
  • Easy to cook
  • Tasty

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Subpar sliced beef
  • Meat could be more tender

Final Thoughts

I have mixed feelings about Costco’s Bulgogi Beef. I like that it’s unique and can introduce a lot of people to Korean BBQ that maybe wouldn’t have tried it otherwise, but it’s also not the highest quality. The beef could be a little more tender and sliced a little better. 

Costco is really starting to push the upper limits at the $7.49/pound price tag. One more price increase, and I think it crosses the line into overpriced territory. 

The quality has declined since I’ve started eating it. Declining quality with an increasing price is a bad combination. 

One Response

  1. debaroonie December 5, 2022

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