It seems that hybrid or crossover cuisines are all the rage these days. There’s Moroccan ramen, Mexican mac and cheese, and, yes, Asian tacos. Of all hybrid food choices these days, these slow cooker Korean beef tacos are my favorite!
The original Korean BBQ tacos recipe is believed to have originated from Roy Choi and his food trucks in Los Angeles (e.g., the original Kogi beef tacos), before quickly spreading across the country. So, like most people, I discovered hybrid cuisine at a food truck. And yes, it was for homemade Korean tacos.
At the time, I was a veteran of cooking Mexican, and I remembered thinking how truly ingenious it was. There are so many similarities between the Korean taco and Mexican cuisine that this just made natural sense. It is pure brilliance.
A few weeks later, I started working on my own Korean tacos recipe. While Chef Choi and others use more expensive short ribs in their tacos, I’ve found I had very good results using chuck roast in a slow cooker for my authentic shredded beef tacos recipe.
The secret hero of this dish is the gochujang BBQ sauce. I’m a huge fan of making my own barbecue sauces (let’s give a cheer for my Alabama white sauce recipe!). But the gochujang sauce is my absolute favorite. I’ve been known to keep some on hand and top hamburgers and just about everything else with it.
The other hero here is the slaw. A good Asian slaw is the perfect topping for so many things. So it’s natural that these Korean beef tacos with slaw are paired together. If you’re pinched for time, you might be tempted to skip it, but don’t. Trust me on this.
Finally, you can’t really eat Korean without kimchi. With that said, I really don’t like the kimchi on the tacos, there’s just too much going on. Instead, serve the kimchi on the side.
See the kimchi side dish recipe here
How to Make Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos
First, make the Korean shredded beef. Start by searing your chuck roast beef on both sides in a large skillet on over medium-high heat. The goal is to get a good sear on each side–not to fully cook the beef. When finished, transfer the chuck roast to a slow cooker.
In the same pan with the reserved fond, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. If the pan seems dry, feel free to add a bit of oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and the onion begins to soften.
Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar to the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds–just long enough to deglaze the pan and loosen any of the bits that have stuck. Scraping the pan, pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.
Add the brown sugar, scallions, and red pepper flakes to the beef and sauce in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
The beef is done when it is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Once done cooking, transfer the chuck roast to a cutting board and pull it apart with forks or tongs. Then return the beef to the slow cooker and cook an additional 30 minutes with a lid off.
How to Make Gochujang BBQ Sauce
I love gochujang BBQ sauce! I use it on everything. Gochujang is a Korean fermented hot pepper paste, but the heat is moderated by the brown sugar in the sauce, and the other ingredients deepen its flavor.
One of the keys to good gochujang barbecue sauce is to make it at least a day or two in advance. Otherwise, it is a fairly simple recipe.
To make the sauce, simply whisk the soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together. Once the mixture is smooth (happens once the sugars are mixed), set it aside to let the flavors blend together.
How to Make Korean Slaw for Tacos
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, lime juice and zest, brown sugar, oils, and Sriracha (if using). Mix until the sugar dissolves.
Add the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and green onions together to the bowl with the dressing. Mix thoroughly to coat. For best results, use your hands, but be sure to wear gloves. Otherwise, use tongs or a spatula.
I like my Asian slaw to “settle,” so I usually make it the day before I want to eat it.
Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos with Gochujang BBQ Sauce and Asian Slaw
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2.5 lb chuck roast
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger (about 3 inches)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 5 scallions, sliced in 1-inch pieces
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 10 flour tortillas
Gochujang BBQ sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/4 head)
- 1 cup shredded carrots (2-3 large carrots)
- 3 scallion, thinly sliced
- 1 handful cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
- Rinse all fresh produce and prepare as directed.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan.
- Add beef to pan and sear until a crust forms and the meat releases from pan, about 3 minutes. Repeat on all sides and edges. Transfer the chuck roast to a slow cooker.
- In the same pan with the reserved fond, add the diced onion,
minced garlic, and minced ginger. If the pan seems dry, add a little bit of oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and the onion begins to soften.
- Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds or just long enough to deglaze the pan. Scraping the pan, pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.
- Add the brown sugar, sliced scallions, and red pepper flakes to the slow cooker mixture and cook on low for 6-8 hours. When the beef is done, transfer it to a cutting board and pull it apart with forks or tongs. Then return the beef to the slow cooker and cook an additional 30 minutes with the lid off.
Gochujang BBQ Sauce
- Whisk the soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and brown sugar together until the ingredients are combined and the sugar dissolves.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, lime
juice and zest, brown sugar, oils, and Sriracha (if using). Mix until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the vegetables and toss to coat.
To serve, put the pulled beef in the tortillas and top with BBQ sauce and slaw.
- The goal in searing the beef is not to fully cook it--just to form a thin crust.
- The beef is done when it is tender and easily pulls apart
with a fork.
- The BBQ sauce is best if made 1-2 days before use, but making it ahead isn't absolutely necessary.
- Our kimchi makes a great side dish for a complete meal.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 563Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 1162mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 3gSugar: 17gProtein: 34g