This spicy Korean-style ground turkey is an absolute must-make for anyone who loves Korean food! It has an incredibly flavorful and slightly spicy gochujang sauce that perfectly complements the ground turkey in this dish. You can serve it over rice with vegetables or enjoy it wrapped in lettuce for a simple, quick, and tasty Korean-inspired meal.
If you love spicy and flavorful Korean dishes, be sure to give this spicy Korean-style ground turkey a try! It is inspired by Korean stir fry dishes that use a spicy gochujang-based sauce, such as dakgalbi (spicy chicken stir fry) or jeyuk bokkeum (spicy pork stir fry).
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses very simple ingredients and methods to make a dish that has all the spicy and delicious Korean flavors. Plus, you can serve this Korean-style ground turkey in a variety of ways to turn it into a balanced, nutritious, and satisfying meal.
Korean-Style Ground Turkey Ingredients
To make this spicy Korean-style ground turkey, you'll need the following ingredients:
- Ground turkey: One of the main ingredients in this recipe is ground turkey. It's one of my favorite types of ground meat to enjoy with the sauce as its light flavor goes really well with the intensely-flavored gochujang stir fry sauce. You can also use ground chicken if you can't find ground turkey.
- Aromatics: You'll need yellow onion, ginger, and garlic for this dish. Make sure to use all of them as this recipe uses only a few ingredients, making every single one really important for the final result.
- Gochujang: Gochujang is one of the key ingredients for the sauce. I recommend using mild or medium-hot gochujang as they are already quite spicy. You can find gochujang in almost any Asian grocery store.
- Gochugaru: Gochugaru is also really important for the flavor of this dish. It's one of the key ingredients to make everything spicy and delicious. You can find it in most Asian grocery stores in large or small bags.
- Honey: You can use regular honey for this dish. If you prefer another sweetener, feel free to use it. Just know that using brown sugar will alter the flavor of the sauce slightly.
- Soy sauce: You'll also need soy sauce to make things salty and delicious. Regular Japanese-style soy sauce (like Kikkoman soy sauce) works perfectly.
- Sesame oil: You'll also need toasted sesame oil. I love to use sesame oil that has a golden color as it tastes lighter than dark sesame oil. Just be sure to use it as it has a big effect on the flavor of the sauce. You may not need a lot, but it's what makes the sauce so special!
How to make spicy Korean-style ground turkey
Prepare the sauce. Whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set the stir fry sauce aside.
Sauté the aromatics. Next, preheat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the aromatics and sauté until the onion softens and turns translucent.
Cook the ground turkey. Add the ground turkey to the pan and cook it until it browns completely. Break it into smaller pieces while cooking it.
Combine. Next, pour the sauce into the pan and season with black pepper. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
Garnish and serve. Garnish the Korean-style ground turkey with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Serve it with side dishes of your choice and enjoy!
Tips & Notes
- Use mild or medium-hot gochujang for this dish. Korean dishes can turn out overly spicy when you use very spicy gochujang or too much gochugaru. I'd recommend checking the label before buying the ingredients and getting mild or medium-hot gochujang. It has plenty of spice and should be perfect for most people.
- Add more gochugaru to make this dish spicier. If you find this dish too mild, feel free to use more gochugaru after combining the ground turkey and sauce. I think the recipe is great as is but you can always adjust it to your preferences.
- Make sure that the ground turkey is fully browned before adding the sauce and continue to cook it for a few minutes after adding the sauce. This ensures that the meat is cooked through and that the sauce becomes extra delicious and sticky.
How to serve this Korean-style ground turkey
- Use it to make bowls with fluffy white rice and vegetables. Similar to my ground beef bulgogi, I love to use this spicy Korean-style ground turkey to make bowls. I usually use and recommend white rice, julienned carrots, radishes, cucumber, and chopped lettuce. Garnish the bowl with sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and a drizzle of bibimbap sauce for a super satisfying and delicious meal!
- Enjoy the turkey wrapped in lettuce leaves (called "ssam" in Korean). If you've been to a Korean BBQ place, then you'll know how the meat is typically wrapped in lettuce leaves to enjoy it. You can do the same with this gochujang ground turkey! It's a super delicious way to eat it, especially when cooking for friends and family.
- Prepare other side dishes. You could serve kimchi, Korean cucumber salad, or pickled radish. Serving a bunch of side dishes and enjoying this spicy Korean ground turkey ssam-style is a great way to prepare a delicious meal for other people!
Frequently Asked Questions
It is slightly spicy, rich in umami, very aromatic, and has a hint of sweetness. As the sauce is very flavorful it pairs perfectly with ground turkey. It's honestly a super delicious dish that I recommend trying if you like a tiny bit of spice!
It isn't overly spicy and should be enjoyable for most people. If you prefer it spicier, you can use more gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). If you prefer very mild dishes, I'd recommend making another recipe that doesn't use gochujang. My Korean ground beef bulgogi would be a great option!
Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) can be found in most Asian grocery stores. If you don't have an Asian grocery store nearby, you can also order them online. They are staples in Korean cooking and can be reused to make a variety of dishes.
You can enjoy it with rice in a bowl or make lettuce wraps. For more information, check out the post where I've provided some additional ideas.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat them, use a microwave or your stovetop.
More easy and delicious Korean recipes
I absolutely love Korean cuisine as most dishes are super flavorful and spicy! If you want to try more Korean or Korean-inspired dishes, I recommend checking out the following recipes.
- Ground Beef Bulgogi
- Kimchi Pancake (Kimchi Jeon)
- Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes)
- Rabokki (Tteokbokki with Ramen)
- Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
Spicy Korean-Style Ground Turkey
Gochujang Stir Fry Sauce
- 2 tablespoons gochujang mild or medium-hot
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ tablespoon gochugaru more to taste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Ground Turkey Stir Fry
- 1 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ yellow onion finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 pound ground turkey
- black pepper to taste
- sesame seeds and sliced green onion (optional, recommended) for garnish
- First, prepare the sauce by whisking together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set the sauce aside.2 tablespoons gochujang, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon honey, ½ tablespoon gochugaru, 1 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Next, preheat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion softens and turns translucent.½ yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- Now add the ground turkey. Continue to stir fry until the ground turkey has browned fully. Make sure to break it into smaller pieces while cooking.1 pound ground turkey
- Pour the gochujang stir fry sauce into the pan and season with black pepper. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes.black pepper
- Serve the spicy Korean-style ground turkey over rice and with other side dishes of your choice. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion slices. Enjoy!sesame seeds and sliced green onion (optional, recommended)