Trader Joe’s Korean Beefless Bulgogi

One of my college friends spent several years living in South Korea and teaching English. She sometimes talks about missing certain foods she enjoyed there, including kimchi, bibimbap, and choco pies.

If you’re craving Korean food like my friend, Trader Joe’s, which is a cousin to Aldi, sells a couple of Korean products. Not long ago, we tried — and very much enjoyed — some Sweet Cinnamon Filled Korean Pancakes from TJ’s. They were fantastic served with vanilla ice cream.

Another popular Korean food that Trader Joe’s sells is a vegan version of bulgogi. Literally meaning “fire meat,” bulgogi traditionally consists of thin slices of meat — usually beef — that are marinated and cooked on a grill, griddle, or in a pan on the stovetop. Bulgogi has its origins in the Pyongan Province in North Korea, but refugees from Pyongan helped to make it popular in Seoul and throughout South Korea.

The meat is often marinated with ingredients including soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper, onions, and/or ginger. Fruit such as pears, pineapple, or kiwi might be used to help tenderize the meat. Bulgogi may be served with rice, kimchi, or egg soup.

Trader Joe’s beefless bulgogi recently was a runner-up in the store’s Annual Customer Choice Awards, so I picked some up from the freezer case at my local TJ’s to try at home.

Trader Joe's Korean Beefless Bulgogi

Trader Joe’s Korean Beefless Bulgogi cost $4.49 for a 10-ounce package at the time of publication. The package describe this as vegan “plant-based bulgogi style strips marinated in a sweet and savory soy sauce.” This is a product of the Republic of Korea, or South Korea.

If you’re looking out for allergens, this contains soy and wheat. It also contains a few processed ingredients including maltodextrin, dextrin, guar gum, and xanthan gum.

One package contains three 94-gram servings. One serving has 230 calories, 11 grams of total fat (14% DV), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% DV), 580 mg of sodium (25% DV), 15 grams of total carbohydrates (5% DV), 5 grams of dietary fiber (18% DV), 6 grams of added sugars (12% DV), and 16 grams of protein.

Trader Joe's Korean Beefless Bulgogi

Nutrition information, ingredients, and heating instructions. (Click to enlarge.)

This should be cooked from frozen. The package has directions for heating this in the microwave, in a conventional oven, on the stovetop, or in an airy fryer.

To microwave, remove all packaging and place frozen strips in a microwave-safe dish. Heat for 3-4 minutes or until heated through.

To bake in the oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove all packaging and place frozen strips in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

To heat on the stovetop, remove all packaging. Using a nonstick pan and medium heat, place frozen strips in the pan and heat for 3-5 minutes or until heated through. Flip strips frequently.

To air fry, remove all packaging and place frozen strips in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Heat at 375 degrees for 4-6 minutes or until heated through.

Trader Joe's Korean Beefless Bulgogi

After heating on the stovetop.

I chose to heat this on my stovetop in an Aldi pan. This bulgogi comes out of the package in one large frozen clump; there was no way to separate the individual strips while they were frozen. I had to heat it on the stove for a lot longer than 3-5 minutes. It was more like 10-15 minutes, and I frequently flipped, turned, and picked at the frozen clump to try to separate the strips as they thawed and heated. Some of the pieces on the outside of the clump got more browned than pieces on the inside, but nothing burned. If I buy this again, I might thaw it before heating, even though the directions say to cook from frozen. The directions are not accurate as they are currently written.

As for how this tastes, it’s decent but probably not something I’d buy all the time. I haven’t had traditional bulgogi to compare, but this is well seasoned, with notes of soy sauce and some sweetness. This has a similar texture to beef; it’s a little chewy, but you can tell it’s not quite beef. My family wasn’t overly impressed with this, but they did express an interest in trying bulgogi made with real beef. Served with some rice, this makes a meal that can serve at least three people, maybe more if you have several side dishes.

The Verdict:

Trader Joe’s Korean Beefless Bulgogi is a TJ’s vegan take on a classic dish from Korea. It’s nicely seasoned and goes well served alongside rice. If you are vegan, or if you like Korean food or enjoy trying international foods, this might be worth picking up.

About Rachael

Rachael is the Co-founder of Aldi Reviewer. When she isn't busy shopping at Aldi, she enjoys cooking, gardening, writing gothic romance, and collecting more houseplants than she probably should. You can learn more about her at

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