Get ready to elevate your BBQ game this summer with my easy Kalbi (Korean short ribs) recipe! These tender ribs are cooked to caramelized perfection, boasting a savory, sweet, and garlicky flavor profile that’s seriously addictive. Plus, it’s gluten-free, so everyone can indulge in this delicious dish without worry.

Pair your Kalbi short ribs with flavorful sides like gluten-free gochujang for dipping and refreshing cucumber kimchi. These related dishes provide a perfect balance of flavors and textures, enhancing your dining experience and leaving your taste buds craving for more.

Photo shows LA galbi (korean short ribs) barbequed and served on a big white plate with side dishes on the side.
Simply marinate the short ribs overnight for the best Korean galbi!

What is kalbi?

LA galbi with flanken cut through the beef short ribs in a white ceramic dish.
Korean short ribs (flanken-cut)

Kalbi, also known as galbi, translates to “ribs” in Korean. It encompasses various types of ribs, including beef short ribs, pork spare ribs, or chicken ribs. However, when people mention galbi, they typically refer to beef short ribs.

Korean-style short ribs are thinly sliced, cut alongside the rib bone. Another variation, popularized in LA, is LA galbi, where the ribs are cut across the bone (flanken cut), usually around 3-4 inches in length and about ½-inch thick.

The beef is marinated in a flavorful combination of ingredients, known as kalbi sauce or kalbi marinade, which infuses it with sweet and savory flavors before grilling or oven broiling.

A more contemporary take is saeng galbi, which utilizes the same beef cut but is not marinated.

Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at the key ingredients that make up the flavorful marinade for our easy kalbi ribs. From tender beef short ribs to sweet fruits and savory spices, each component plays a special role in creating this delicious dish!

  • Beef short ribs (flanken style): These are thin-cut short ribs (about 3-4 inches long and ½-inch thick), perfect for grilling and delivering maximum flavor.

Kalbi sauce:

Ingredients needed to make kalbi sauce marinade
Kalbi marinade ingredients
  • Asian pear: Adds natural sweetness and helps tenderize the meat. See below for a substitute.
  • Kiwi (or small apple): Contains enzymes that help tenderize the meat.
  • Pineapple chunks: Provide acidity and sweetness to balance the marinade.
  • Yellow onion: Adds savory depth and flavor to the marinade.
  • Ginger: Adds warmth and depth of flavor.
  • Spring onions: Imparts a fresh, mild onion flavor to the marinade.
  • Garlic cloves: Adds pungent flavor and aroma.
  • Ground black pepper: Adds a subtle kick of heat.
  • Honey: Adds sweetness and helps caramelize the meat.
  • Coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar): Adds sweetness and balances the flavors.
  • (Gluten-free) Soy sauce: Provides savory umami flavor and saltiness. For a soy-free version, coconut aminos can be used as a substitute.
  • Mirin (or rice wine): Adds sweetness and depth of flavor.
  • Toasted sesame oil: Adds nutty aroma and flavor to the marinade.
  • Water: Helps to thin out the marinade and balance the flavors.
  • Toasted white sesame seeds (optional): Adds nutty flavor and visual appeal to the dish.

Serving suggestions: Chopped scallions, toasted white sesame seeds, kimchi, rice, (Gluten-free) Gochujang, lettuce leaves.

My secret tips for tender & flavorful short ribs

  • Secret tip 1: Incorporate kiwi and pear into your kalbi marinade for a natural tenderizing effect and a delightful sweet-tangy flavor profile.
  • Secret tip 2: Before marinating, gently stretch the galbi with your hands to relax the muscle fibers, making the meat thinner and more receptive to absorbing the marinade’s flavors.

Substitutions and variations

  • Different protein: You can also prepare this dish using Korean spare ribs (pork ribs).
  • Boneless: If using boneless short ribs, the cooking time will be shorter. See my Air fryer short ribs.
  • Fruit choices: Swap kiwi fruit with pineapple chunks or apples if unavailable.
  • 2 Bosc pears can be used as an equivalent to 1 Asian pear.
  • Hawaiian style short ribs feature a marinade similar to LA Galbi, with the exception that the Hawaiian version tends to taste sweeter due to the use of more sugar.

How to make kalbi beef

Making LA galbi is easier than you think! With our authentic kalbi marinade, cooking Korean short ribs becomes a breeze. Whether you’re using an oven, stovetop, or air fryer, I’ve got you covered!

Step-by-step photo shows how to prepare the short ribs for marinating
  1. Prepare the short ribs: Rinse the meat under running water to remove bone fragments. Lightly stretch them to make them a bit thinner.
  2. Blend the marinade: Chop up the fruits and aromatics. Add all the marinade ingredients into a bowl. Then, blend until smooth.
  3. Marinate the beef: Submerge the beef in the marinade. Leave the beef kalbi to marinate overnight and for up to 3 days.
  4. 3 ways to cook kalbi:
    • Grill: Place the marinated ribs on a gas or charcoal grill over medium-high to high heat. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side until caramelized.
    • Oven Broil: Line the ribs over a sheet pan and cook kalbi in an oven broiler, on the top rack under a high broiler for 3-4 minutes until caramelized.
    • Air Fry: Place the ribs in an air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry at 400°F for 8 minutes on the first side, then flip and air fry for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. How to serve it: Garnish kalbi short ribs with green onions and sesame seeds. Cut them up with kitchen shears and serve hot with sides of your choice.

Tips for best results

  • Choose flanken style short ribs for an authentic kalbi experience, cut through the bone and about ½ inch thick (Source).
  • Rinse and gently stretch the meat for optimal marinade coverage and flavor infusion.

Kalbi marinade time

  • When marinating, longer is better. For the most flavorful LA kalbi, marinate the meat overnight or up to 3 days in advance.
Authentic kalbi marinade with short ribs marinated inside of a white ceramic container
Marinate the short ribs longer the better

Make ahead, storage, reheat

  • Make-ahead (meal prep): These Korean BBQ short ribs are perfect for make-ahead meals! Prep in advance by marinating the beef overnight, or for up to 3 days in the fridge. This dish is also great for meal prep, making it convenient for busy days.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, freeze the marinated beef in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost it 24 hours in advance in the fridge before cooking.
  • Leftover: This dish tastes best when served hot, but you can still enjoy them reheated. Simply air fry kalbi leftovers at 380°F for 5 minutes or oven broil on high for 3-4 minutes.

How to serve Kalbi

Kalbi is typically served with lettuce wraps, accompanied by gochujang and kimchi on the side, and enjoyed with a refreshing glass of cold beer or soju. Here are additional ways to enhance your meal, whether you’re looking to incorporate more veggies or create a hearty feast to share with family and friends.

Helpful Tips

  • Select the right cut: use flanken style beef short ribs that are sliced thin across the bones, also known as LA style glabi.
  • Alternative cut: If flanken style short ribs are not available, you can ask your butcher to cut them for you, or opt for boneless short ribs as an alternative.
  • Rinse the bones before marinating to remove the bone fragments from the cut-up.
  • Lightly stretch the meat with your hands to make it thinner. The meat will marinate faster and be a lot tastier.
  • Marinate the meat overnight and up to 3 days in the refrigerator, so the longer the better.
  • Rest the meat for a few minutes before cutting it to allow the juice to distribute and retain moisture.
  • Cut with kitchen shears for serving. This is how the dish is served in traditional Korean restaurants!
  • Serve with various Korean banchans. Pair the meat with loads of fresh vegetables on the side – lettuce leaves, kimchi, rice, gochujang paste, and various Korean side dishes you can find on my blog.

FAQs

What is the difference between short ribs and kalbi?

Kalbi short ribs are thinly cut across the bone, about 3-4 inches long and ½ inch thick (flanken style). Regular short ribs are thicker, cut along the bones, and meatier.

What cut of meat is kalbi?

Kalbi is beef short ribs. While “galbi” can refer to pork or chicken ribs, it typically means beef short ribs, known for their tender, flavorful meat.

What is the difference between bulgogi and kalbi marinade?

Bulgogi marinade typically features soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, creating a sweet and savory flavor profile. It’s commonly used with boneless, lean, thinly sliced beef. In contrast, kalbi marinade includes ingredients like soy sauce, fruit (such as pear or kiwi), sugar, garlic, and sesame oil, and is used with beef short ribs (bone-in), known for their tender, flavorful meat.

What if I can’t find LA galbi?

If LA galbi is unavailable, ask your butcher to cut flanken-style short ribs. Alternatively, use regular beef short ribs or boneless beef cuts and marinate them in the kalbi marinade for a similar flavor.

More Korean recipes you might like

  • Paleo Bulgogi: Tender slices of beef marinated in a sweet and savory sauce, perfect for a satisfying and wholesome meal.
  • Keto Kimchi Pancakes: Crispy, savory pancakes filled with tangy kimchi, ideal for a low-carb and flavorful snack or side dish.
  • Vegetarian Bibimbap: A colorful and nutritious bowl featuring assorted vegetables, rice, and a spicy gochujang sauce, offering a satisfying vegetarian twist on a Korean classic.
  • Chicken Japchae: Stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables and seasoned meat, creating a delightful and satisfying dish with a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
Photo shows how to serve kalbi - cut up kalbi served with rice, kimchi, gochujang, and lettuce leaves in a white plate
Photo shows LA galbi (korean short ribs) barbequed and served on a big white plate with side dishes on the side.
5 from 11 votes

Kalbi recipe (Korean short ribs)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate time:: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: ChihYu Smith
This authentic Kalbi (Korean short ribs) is marinated in a gluten-free Kalbi sauce. Sweet, savory, and tender with grill, oven, and air fryer instructions.
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Ingredients 

  • 3 lbs flanken cut beef short ribs, about ½ inch thick

Kalbi marinade sauce:

  • 1 whole Asian pear, or 2 bosc pears
  • 1 wholle kiwi, or a small apple, 1 cup diced pineapple chunks
  • 4 oz. yellow onion, half of 1 medium
  • 0.4 oz. ginger, 1-inch chunk
  • 3 bulb spring onions
  • 1.2 oz garlic cloves, 6 large
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar, or brown sugar
  • ½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin, or rice wine
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds, optional

Serving suggestions:

  • Chopped scallions, toasted white sesame seeds, kimchi, rice, Gochujang, lettuce leaves.

Instructions 

Prepare the ribs:

  • Rinse them under tapwater to remove bone fragment bits. Lightly stretch the meat with your hands to make it a little thinner. The meat will marinate faster and be more tasty.

Make the galbi marinade:

  • Peel the pear skin and remove the seeds. Scoop out the kiwi flesh. Roughly dice up the onion, ginger, and spring onions.
  • Add all the ingredients from pear to sesame seeds into a high speed blender. Blend for 1 minute or until the marinade is completely smooth.
  • In a large rectangular container, add the ribs and pour the marinade over. Make sure all sides are submerged under the liquid. Marinate the ribs overnight in the fridge. The longer the better and up to 3 days.

3 ways to cook kalbi:

  • Grill: Gas or charcoal grill over medium-high to high heat grilling with 3-4 minutes per side until they are caramelized and little charred. This is the most authentic way of enjoying the dish.
  • Oven broil: Line the ribs over a sheetpan. Cook in the top rack, about 4 inches away from the heat source, on high broil for 3-4 minutes until they are caramelized.
  • Air fry: Add the ribs into an air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry at 400F for 8 minutes the first side, and 5 additional minutes the flip side. Repeat the process until you finish the batch.

To serve:

  • Transfer the beef onto a large serving plate. Garnish with chopped scallions and toasted white sesame seeds.
  • Rest the beef for a few minues before cutting up the ribs with a pair of kitchen shears so they are easier to eat. Serve with gochujang paste, kimchi, rice, and lettuce on the side. Serve hot and immediately.

Notes

  • Select the right cut: use flanken style beef short ribs that are sliced thin across the bones, also known as LA style glabi.
  • Rinse the bones before marinating to remove the bone fragments from the cut-up.
  • Lightly stretch the meat with your hands to make it thinner. The meat will marinate faster and be a lot tastier. 
  • Marinate the meat overnight and up to 3 days in the refrigerator, so the longer the better.
  • Preheat the cookware: whether you use grill, grill pan on a stovetop, oven broiler, or an air fryer, preheat the cookware will give the kalbi a nice sear.
  • Rest the meat for a few minutes before cutting it to allow the juice to distribute and retain moisture.
  • Boneless short ribs alternative: Please see my air fryer short ribs recipe for cooking time and instructions. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 425kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 964mg, Potassium: 738mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 7IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 49mg, Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: kalbi, korean short ribs, LA galbi
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