Ten Best Bulgogi Sauce Substitutes
Bulgogi sauce is a marinade used on bulgogi dishes. The tangy topping usually covers slices of grilled beef and works well in so many food creations.
However, you may not love this sauce or may have a moment where it’s not on hand. Are there any sauces out there that can work as a substitute for bulgogi sauce?
Read on to learn about some of the best sauces that can work as replacements for bulgogi sauce. You can still capture a similar flavor, even if you’re out of the sauce at home. If you want something that resembles bulgogi but you’re not the biggest fan of the sauce itself, some of these will work for you. There’s a lot to choose from among these.
Japanese Teriyaki Sauce
First up on our list is Japanese teriyaki sauce. This food is perhaps the closest substitute to bulgogi sauce, similar in everything from flavor to the texture it adds to a dish. If you have teriyaki sauce on hand, you won’t be straying too far from the original recipe.
Some of the flavors you can expect with a Japanese teriyaki sauce include:
- Sweet: Teriyaki sauce has a significant sweet tone that stands out when added to a dish.
- Salty: A salty tang complements the sweet that comes with teriyaki sauce.
These will work together to give your dish a great burst of flavor.
Japanese teriyaki sauce is available in almost any grocery store. It’s more commonly used in the states for dishes, so it may be more readily available than bulgogi sauce. It has a long shelf life, so you can keep it around for use in future recipes. There are many great brands out there you can choose from in stores.
Next up is Unagi sauce, or eel sauce. This topping is the second-best when placed next to Japanese teriyaki sauce. It captures the essence of bulgogi sauce without being too much. You’ll find that you can add it to any bulgogi-based dish without changing the overall taste too much.
A few of the qualities you’ll be able to taste with Unagi sauce includes:
- Sweet: Eel sauce is distinctly sweet in the way it combines with food.
- Savory: Savory saltiness pairs well with the sugary sweet undertones of Unagi sauce.
- Full-bodied: Unagi sauce has a thick texture, a bit thicker than that of bulgogi sauce.
Eel sauce will work well with anything that requires bulgogi to taste great.
Although Unagi sauce is not as common as teriyaki, you should be able to find it without too much trouble. If you can’t, there are many excellent recipes online and even some stores that will sell you a bottle of eel sauce for an affordable price. Unagi sauce is easily attainable if you need it in your food.
The next option for a replacement is oyster sauce. It has a complexity that will work well in the same formats as bulgogi sauce, complementing dishes with a wonderful tangy sweetness that a complex palette will enjoy. It’s not quite as distinct as bulgogi sauce, but it paves its way on the tongue.
A few of the flavors you can anticipate with an oyster sauce include:
- Salty: The saltiness of oyster sauce strongly resembles soy sauce, which combines well with the contrasting sweetness.
- Sweet: Oyster sauce has a sweetness that resembles barbeque sauce in its flavor profile.
If you’re searching for a delicious salty compliment, the oyster sauce will work well for you.
Most grocery stores should have oyster sauce inside their aisles, though you may need to do a little bit of searching in some. It’s an affordable topping that will work with many types of food. You can experiment with this delicious sauce in many recipes.
Kalbi sauce is a marinade that goes on top of beef in a style of Korean cooking. It’s a subtle flavor that draws a sharp contrast to bulgogi sauce, but it still manages to bring a similar flavor to light when added to any dish. If you want something more subtle, Kalbi sauce is an excellent choice for the meal you’re making.
A few of the flavors included in Kalbi sauce include the following:
- Sweet: A slight sweetness is what makes Kalbi sauce similar to bulgogi sauce – just enough to provide a deliciously complex flavor palette.
- Savory: Kalbi sauce is savory, sure to pair well with any meat you might add it to in a recipe.
- Spice: Kalbi sauce has a slight spice that tickles the taste buds in just the right way.
Although it’s not quite as powerful as bulgogi, a Kalbi marinade holds its own against the flavor of this iconic sauce.
Though some stores sell a Kalbi marinade, it’ll be easiest if you make this one by yourself. There are many recipes online that will allow you to make it quickly inside your home. It’s not difficult to do, no matter what your experience level is in the kitchen.
Ponzu sauce is next up among these sauces. It’s a unique addition because ponzu sauce is citrus-based. This addition means it holds a slight tartness that can make or break a dish. Ponzu sauce is best utilized in dishes that involve grilling meat or pickling items. It’s thinner than bulgogi sauce but tastes just as good.
A few of the flavors you’ll taste on your tongue in ponzu sauce include:
- Sweet: Ponzu has a sweet tartness that has raised its popularity in time.
- Salty: Saltiness in the ponzu sauce is critical, as it offsets the tangy, sweet, bitterness that makes it stand out.
- Bitter/Sour: Unlike other sauces, ponzu has a pleasant bitter sourness to it.
This unique combination of flavors will make ponzu an excellent replacement for your meal. It’s not for everyone, so keep this in mind.
Ponzu sauce can be a little trickier to find inside a grocery store, but it’s not impossible. There are also many varieties online for those who can’t find something they like inside their local store. Small and large brands alike provide the sauce, but you can also make it for yourself if you’re feeling brave.
Hoisin sauce is a strong alternative to bulgogi sauce. It’s thicker and more pungent, so you don’t need to use as much of it in a recipe. It works great as a glaze over meat or vegetables.
A few of the flavors you’ll taste inside hoisin sauce include the following:
- Sweet: Some varieties of hoisin sauce have a slight sweetness, which offsets the saltiness.
- Salty: Saltiness is the prominent flavor in hoisin sauce, dominating in whatever you add it to.
- Tangy: Hoisin sauce offers a wonderful tang that hits the tongue just right.
All of these work together to create a deliciously complex flavor profile that can serve as the ideal alternative for a bulgogi sauce.
Hoisin sauce should be around soy sauce and teriyaki sauce in a grocery store. It’s an affordable product, and you won’t be disappointed if you decide to use it as a replacement for bulgogi in a recipe.
Mango sauce is an unexpected addition to the other replacements on this list. This choice is best for those who don’t like the flavor of bulgogi sauce but want something that holds the essence of the traditional item. Most varieties are more than just sweet, and won’t overwhelm you with any fruit taste.
A few of the tastes you can expect if you utilize a mango sauce inside your food include:
- Sweet: Thanks to the mango, this sauce possesses a sweetness that is a little stronger than bulgogi sauce.
- Tangy: Salt balances out the sweet and makes mango sauce a sweet and savory experience.
Mango sauce can be an unexpected, and yet welcome, addition to any dish. It works well with meat of almost any variety.
You can buy sweet and tangy mango sauce in the store, but you can also make your own at home. There are many recipes online that have been reviewed by consumers who have enjoyed them. If you’re feeling brave, a mango sauce may be the ideal choice for your meal. It’s sure to prove a beneficial addition, no matter what you’re making.
For a low-sodium alternative, coconut aminos are an excellent choice. This sauce is a combination of coconut palm tree sap and sea salt, often used as a less salty alternative to soy sauce. It also works well if you want to find something that can be utilized as a marinade instead of bulgogi sauce.
Some of the things you’ll be able to taste in coconut aminos include:
- Sweet: As expected with a coconut product, coconut aminos have a sweet tang.
- Savory: The sea salt layers a savory flavor on top of the natural sweetness, taking away any fruity taste.
Although coconut aminos are not as similar to bulgogi sauce as other alternatives, it has less salt and holds a similar salty sweetness.
Coconut aminos are easy to find in a grocery store, but if you can’t find one where you live, there are plenty of small businesses online that can provide you with a bottle for a low price. This alternative is great if you’re trying to monitor your sodium intake and keep it in control for the future.
Soy sauce is the next addition to this list. Everybody knows soy sauce – it’s a staple in almost every single home, so you’re bound to have it inside a cupboard. If you add a little bit of sugar to your soy sauce, you can even fashion something that draws strikingly similar to bulgogi sauce inside a dish.
A few of the things you’ll taste inside soy sauce include:
- Salty: Soy sauce is salty, and this flavor is the first thing that will hot your taste buds.
- Sweet: Sweetness underlies the salty flavor that hits first in soy sauce.
- Bitter: There is a hint of bitterness underneath the above-stated dominant flavors.
These flavors are somewhat close to bulgogi sauce in a marinade.
As we mentioned above, soy sauce can be found inside almost any grocery store. There are many varieties, including sugar-free and low sodium. You can choose the soy sauce that will work best for whatever you may be creating. Add a little more sugar to capture some of the bulgogi you’re lacking.
Last up is Worchestire sauce. When thinking of bulgogi sauce, Worcestershire may be the last topping you’d think of. However, in many dishes, it’s the ideal alternative. Worcestershire is a little thinner, but it holds a sweetness that is hard to find in any other sauce. If it’s not the prominent player in a dish, Worcestershire sauce will do just fine as a substitute.
A few of the tastes you’ll find in Worcestershire sauce include:
- Sour: This flavor comes from the vinegar additions in the sauce.
- Sweet: Sugar sits inside this delicious sauce for a sweet kick.
- Spicy: A tiny bit of spice makes this sauce stand out.
All of these combine to form a deliciously powerful punch in any dish.
You can find Worcestershire sauce in almost any grocery store, right along with any of the other sauces. If you’re feeling brave, you can even make one for yourself. There are many excellent Worcestershire sauce recipes online that can be made in a matter of minutes, each with a unique flavor profile that will make your dish pop in astounding ways.
Bulgogi sauce is delicious food that can be added to meat and fried to create a delicious meal. Unfortunately, not everyone has bulgogi readily available inside their homes. Some may have it but want an alternative that doesn’t taste the same as the traditional topping. Bulgogi sauce isn’t for everyone.
We hope that there’s a sauce among those listed above that will satisfy your desire for a delicious sauce. Although none of these are perfect replicas of bulgogi sauce, they come close in the textures and tastes they provide. All are sure to serve as a complement to whatever you’re making, whether a rice dish or something with beef at the base.