Korean BBQ Vs. American BBQ: What Is The Difference?

Korean BBQ Vs. American BBQ

Outdoor parties wouldn’t be complete without BBQ on the menu. May it be an American BBQ, a spicy BBQ, or Korean BBQ, it can be served anytime. 

BBQ has been discovered by the ancestors of humans called Homo erectus began cooking meat with fire about 1.8 million years ago. The barbecue word has been derived from the language of a Caribbean Indian tribe called the Taino since their word for grilling on a raised wooden grate is barbacoa.

Modern barbecue grill was invented in 1952 by George Stephen, who was a welder at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Illinois. 

Korean BBQ Vs. American BBQ

Korean BBQ Vs. American BBQ

What Is Korean BBQ?

Korean barbecue or Korean BBQ would be connected to the popular method in Korean cuisine of grilling meat, typically beef, pork or chicken. This would not be the traditional barbecue experience that you might get. 

Korean BBQ can be cooked either with gas grill or charcoal grills built into the dining table itself. This setup would provide a unique experience where cooking and eating the barbecue take center stage. Korean barbecue is also served along with several side dishes called banchan (bon-chon). 

Some Korean restaurants would provide some barbecue sauce, but most of them may have marinated or sauces already in the meat before cooking. This makes the Korean BBQ possess some good and unique taste. 

What Is American BBQ?

American BBQ refers to the style of cooking grilled meat outdoors over a fire; often this is called pit barbecue. There are actually several types of American BBQ that you can find in the US. 

Some of the most popular American BBQ would be barbecued baby back ribs, grilled hamburgers, smoked briskets, Asian pork BBQ pork spareribs, Bourbon-Chile barbecue grilled chicken, sous-vide barbecue ribs and a lot more barbecue. 

Since there are few types of American BBQ, you can expect different flavors in every location that you may go to in the United States. But one thing is for sure, they are all delicious. 

What Are The Difference Between Korean Barbecue and American Barbecue

While it might be obvious that Korean BBQ and American BBQ have their differences, it might be helpful to cite each of the things that they greatly differ. 

Though Korean barbecue and American barbecue uses beef, pork, and chicken meat as the main component of the dish, the way they are being cut is different from each other. Korean barbecue would often use high-fat meat cuts as they find it more desirable. 

On the other hand, American barbecue would use meatier cuts of the meat. The reason behind that is Korea’s topography consists of mostly uninhabitable mountains, making animal raising a challenging part. This would result in the difficulty of keeping up with the demand for meat in Korea. 

Also, Koreans are fond of using the high-fat meat cuts as their cuisine would include mostly pickled dishes (such as kimchi or pickled radishes) and alcohol, making them great partners. 

In general, most of the American BBQ styles will include large cuts of pork, ribs, brisket, or chicken roasted or slowly smoked-slow cooked as the centerpiece. Meanwhile, Korean BBQ will use the center beef, pork, or chicken skewered and grilled. 

When it comes to taste, Korean BBQ is also very distinct from American BBQ. Also, Korean barbecue is mostly made with  vinegar, soy sauce, and lemon juice. It has a taste that is very suitable with pancakes, fish cakes, and other Korean dishes.

Whereas the American barbecue would have that tangy and bold flavors. This is why you would often find some of the American BBQ styles to have an overpowering taste. It would be great if you would pair them with side dishes as well, just like the Korean BBQ

Traditional American barbecue is best paired with potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans or macaroni and cheese. 

Korean BBQ Style Recipe

If you would like to recreate a Korean BBQ style at the comforts of your home, we’ll make sure that you can have a great recipe to follow. 

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lbs (700 grams) ribeye steak (can use any other well-marbled, tender cut)
  • 1 whole onion, half cut (roughly chopped) other half (thinly sliced)
  • 3 cloves of garlic 
  • ½ pear (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 3 spring onions (1 will be cut into pieces and 2 sliced into 1/4-inch rounds)
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • ⅓ cup of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seed (for serving)
  • 2 cups of cooked rice (for serving)
  • Banchan (Korean side dishes, optional for serving)


  1. Slice the beef as thinly as you can. In a large bowl, put the sliced beef and set aside. Tip: Use frozen beef to make slicing easier. 

  2. Blend the onion chunks, garlic, pear, green onion pieces, brown sugar, pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth using a blender or food processor. 

  3. Pour the marinade over the beef, add the thinly sliced onion and mix well to coat the beef evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is recommended to get the best flavor. 

  4. In a large skillet or pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. 

  5. Pat the meat dry and sear the marinated beef and onions until browned. Make sure not to put too much beef to avoid overflow and ensure proper cooking. 

  6. Once properly seared, sprinkle with the sliced green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and side dishes. Enjoy the meal!

Which Is Better: American BBQ or Korean BBQ?

Depending on your taste buds, there is a suitable barbecue for you. If you are looking for that meatier taste, you might want to go with American barbecue style. The reason behind is that American BBQ doesn’t use too many sauces and it also has that subtle smoky flavor that comes from the grilling. 

On the other hand, Korean barbecue would often use small and thin cuts of the meat. This might result in an overpowering taste of the sauce. Korean barbecue also has that sweet side flavor. It would also be great to be partnered with any Korean side dishes such as baked beans. 

Also, when it comes to being more popular, American barbecue styles would stand out as it is usually done by families and communities. Every state in the US would often have their own traditions and recipes for cooking barbecue.

If you want to spend more social activities on commercial establishments, then Korean barbecue would be a great option. Korean barbecue can be a great choice as it is best to be enjoyed with friends while drinking outside. 

However, depending on what kind of experience that you are looking for, both Korean barbecue and American barbecue would provide excellent experiences worth sharing with friends and families. You can often combine them with other foods like macaroni salad and even pork belly barbecue.

Where Can You Get American Barbecue or Korean Barbecue

Aside from famous Korean restaurants, you can also order Korean BBQ styles or American BBQ styles at food stands or food trucks. Meanwhile, American BBQ can be obtained in different states and cities in the US such as Kansas City, South Carolina, or get the famous Texas BBQ in Texas.

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