These Kalbi Beef Tacos are inspired by Korean cuisine with a delicious kalbi marinade and pickled red onions topped with citrus slaw!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Coleslaw mix – use any bagged coleslaw mix (ex: cabbage slaw, broccoli slaw, etc.) or thinly slice up some cabbage.
- Vinegar – rice vinegar, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work. In a pinch, use lemon or lime juice.
- Sugar – honey or maple syrup are great alternatives.
- Sunflower oil – any other neutral oil can be used in place of sunflower oil.
- Orange zest – use the zest of another citrus if you don’t have any orange.
- Salt & black pepper – to taste.
- Sirloin steaks – ribeye or New York steak strips can also be used.
- Sesame oil – grapeseed oil and canola oil are great bets but won't be as aromatic as sesame oil.
- Soy sauce – coconut aminos or tamari can also be used.
- Adobo sauce – feel free to use the sauce that comes with canned chipotle peppers.
- Sriracha – sambal oelek is a great sriracha alternative.
- Garlic – I always recommend fresh garlic but jarred minced garlic also works well.
- Orange juice – for best results, use freshly squeezed juice from half an orange. If you're in a pinch, use store-bought orange juice. Traditional recipes call for an Asian pear, but it can be hard to find.
- Lime juice – use freshly squeezed juice from half a lime or store-bought bottled lime juice.
- Dried ginger – fresh grated ginger can also be used in this recipe (for 1 teaspoon dried ginger, you'll need to use about 4 tablespoons fresh ginger).
- Corn tortillas – flour tortillas will also work.
- Pickled jalapenos – fresh jalapenos would be good here too.
- Cilantro – you could also top with green onions or scallions if you're not a fan of cilantro.
- Sesame seeds – to garnish.
Pickled red onion
- Small red onions – shallots can be used for a similar taste. Other onions can be used but will alter the taste.
- Vinegar – white vinegar is recommended for pickling onion but red cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar also works.
- Sugar – use maple syrup or honey in place of sugar.
- Salt – to taste.
- Peppercorn – feel free to leave this out altogether.
- Garlic – fresh minced garlic is best but garlic powder will also work, or you can leave this out altogether.
How to make kalbi beef tacos
Step 1: Make the marinade.
Mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, adobo sauce, sriracha, minced garlic, orange juice, lime juice and dried ginger.
Step 2: Marinate the steak.
Marinate the steak for at least 15 minutes.
Step 3: Prep the coleslaw and veggies.
Toss together the coleslaw mix, vinegar, oil, orange zest, kosher salt and pepper to make the slaw, and prep any taco toppings.
Step 4: Cook the steak and warm the tortillas.
Grill the steak until cooked through and heat up the corn tortillas.
Step 5: Slice steak.
Thinly slice the steak against the grain into bite-size pieces.
Step 6: Assemble your tacos and enjoy!
Add the steak, coleslaw and taco toppings to the corn tortillas. Serve and enjoy!
More ways to serve kalbi beef
Frequently Asked Questions
Kalbi beef, also known as galbi, is a Korean BBQ dish consisting of beef short ribs in a sweet and savory flavor marinade, typically made of brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic prepared on a charcoal grill. My marinade consists of sesame oil, soy sauce, adobo sauce, sriracha, garlic, orange juice, lime juice and ginger.
While kalbi beef is traditionally made using short ribs, I used sirloin steak for this recipe. You could also use ribeye steak or New York steak strips. I find it easier to use beef without the bone, as you'll still get that amazing tenderness, although traditional Korean short ribs are typically made with the bone in.
I love making these kalbi beef tacos with citrus slaw that you can put on top of your tacos or eat on the side. If you’re looking for more side dish options, you can keep up with the Korean-inspired cuisine by serving them with some kimchi or a nice fresh mango salad.
You should marinade the kalbi beef for at least 15 minutes or up to 12 hrs. I wouldn't recommend going past 12 hrs for the marinating time, as the acid in the marinade will start to break down the beef. Once the beef is done marinating, make sure you discard any excess marinade for food safety purposes.
Yes! If you want to cut down on prep time, you can make the kalbi marinade and store it in the fridge in a mason jar for up to a week. You could also freeze the steak in the marinade for up to 3 months.
Storing and reheating
Store any leftover kalbi beef and toppings in the fridge for up to 5 days in airtight containers. Store leftover corn or flour tortillas in the fridge for longer keeping. When you're ready to serve your tacos, build them as you’re eating them rather than preparing many in advance. If you build more tacos than needed, it will be very difficult to store the fully loaded tacos for later.
Any leftover beef can be reheated quickly on a grill or in the oven. If you're in a pinch, you can microwave the steak, but keep in mind that it can easily dry out, so you'll want to sprinkle some water over top of the steak first.
Freezing kalbi beef
If you have any extra kalbi beef, cooked or uncooked, the good news is that you can freeze it for future meals for up to 3 months!
To store any raw meat in the freezer, you have the option to freeze the beef raw in the marinade. This way, it will be full of flavour and ready to cook when you're ready to enjoy it. To store any leftover cooked beef in the freezer, let the beef cool to room temperature first. Once cooled, transfer the meat into a freezer bag, meal prep container or another freezer-safe, airtight container. Let the beef defrost in the fridge overnight then cook or reheat as normal.
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Kalbi Beef Tacos with Citrus Slaw
- 1 bag coleslaw mix
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Kalbi beef marinade
- 1 lb sirloin steaks
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari if gluten-free
- 1 tbsp adobo sauce (you can get this from a can of chipotle peppers)
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- 12 corn tortillas
- Pickled jalapenos
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
Pickled red onion
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, cut in quarters (optional)
- Mix together marinade for steak in a small bowl. Add marinade and steaks to a large plastic bag and set aside, marinating for at least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare pickled red onions. Stir sugar, salt, garlic and peppercorns in with vinegar in a medium-sized mason jar. Place thinly sliced red onions in a strainer in the sink. Slowly pour a kettle full of boiling water over onions. Immerse semi-cooked onions in vinegar mixture and let sit for 10-15 min before serving. Onions will last in the fridge for a couple weeks – use them as a condiment for other meals!
- Make citrus slaw by tossing all ingredients together. Meanwhile, preheat BBQ to med-high heat.
- Add steak and corn tortillas to grill. BBQ steak for 2-3 min each side for medium-rare, and 4-5 min for well-done. You can also saute this amount of time in a skillet over medium-high heat. Grill corn tortillas for about 1 min per side, longer if you want the taco shells to be crispy. Alternatively, you can heat them for a few seconds in the microwave
- Add steak, coleslaw, pickled red onion, jalapenos, cilantro and sesame seeds to each taco. Serve and enjoy!