There are so many elements when eating Korean food, especially Korean bbq, and dipping sauces are a big factor. For me, forgoing dipping sauce during KBBQ feels like there’s something missing with my meal–and it usually means I’m missing optimum flavor potential.
Learn how to make three popular Korean dipping sauces that are just as important as the meat. Luckily, these dipping sauces are super easy to make!
What are the dipping sauces at Korean BBQ?
Let me show you three common Korean dipping sauces you might eat at your local Korean bbq at home or in a restaurant. These are definitely my favorite ones to eat. Each restaurant has its own spin on how to make each dipping sauce, but I’ve combined my favorite parts of these traditional sauces for these recipes.
Each sauce is meant to pair with various grilled meats and fresh veggies during your KBBQ meal, but they’re also eaten with other types of food too like Korean savory pancakes. But at the end of the day, each sauce is based on your preference so feel free to adjust ingredients as you go!
The three Korean BBQ dipping sauces we’ll cover are:
- ssamjang dipping sauce
- sesame oil, salt & pepper dipping sauce
- brisket sauce
Ssamjang, aka wrap sauce, is a KBBQ staple. This dipping sauce is made for grilled pork belly during Korean bbq at home or the restaurant because it’s got a nice mildly spicy, savory, and nutty flavor. The two main components of ssamjang are doenjang (a fermented bean paste) and gochujang (red pepper paste), along with other ingredients like onions, garlic, sesame oil, rice syrup, and more.
Korean sesame oil dipping sauce
This simple three-ingredient dipping sauce is anything but basic. You would think that dipping fatty pork belly or marbled brisket into more oil is an overload, but the nutty saltiness of this dipping sauce adds way more flavor on top of grilled meat.
All you need is roasted sesame oil, kosher (or sea) salt, and black pepper. Try to use a very shallow and wide dipping bowl so the sides don’t get in the way when dipping. If you use a deep bowl the salt and pepper will also be much harder to reach at the bottom, forcing you to dip way more sesame oil than intended.
Brisket sauce for Korean bbq (cho ganjang)
For the longest time, I never knew the actual name of this dipping sauce, especially because when eating with my Korean friends, they just called it “brisket sauce.” When I finally started hosting my own KBBQ nights, I learned that its real name is cho ganjang.
It’s a slightly sweet, tangy, and savory sauce that’s made up of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, water, and other ingredients like garlic, onion, or gochugaru (chili pepper powder).
While you can most definitely eat it as a dipping sauce for savory Korean pancakes, fish cakes, and dumplings, it’s my favorite sauce for dipping grilled brisket (or really any grilled meat). While I prefer it with sliced garlic and jalapenos, you can also use sliced onions, a side of wasabi, ginger, or other ingredients to add a more savory flavor.
What is the most common dipping sauce?
One of the most popular and common Korean dipping sauces is ssamjang. This salty and slightly spicy sauce is becoming more and more popular due to chefs like David Chang, who featured his version of ssam sauce with his famous bo ssam dish. It’s also fairly common because it’s also dipping sauce for samgyupsal (Korean pork belly bbq) typically served during Korean BBQ.
Ssamjang (Korean dipping sauce)
- 2 tbsp doenjang fermented soybean paste
- ½ tbsp gochujang add more if you like it spicy
- 2 tbsp chopped onion
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp rice syrup
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
- knife and cutting board
- mixing bowl
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Sesame Oil & Salt Dipping Sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- 2 dipping bowls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Cho Ganjang (Brisket Sauce)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp filtered water
- ½ tbsp rice vinegar
- ½ tbsp cane sugar
- ½ clove garlic sliced thinly
- ¼ jalapeno sliced thinly optional
- cutting board and knife
- mason jar with lid (or mixing bowl with a whisk)
- In a mason jar, combine all the ingredients and cover with a lid. Shake until the sugar has dissolved. You can also do this in a bowl and use a whisk to stir until dissolved.
- Taste and adjust based on your preference. For more salt, add more soy sauce. For more acid, add more vinegar. For more sweetness, add more sugar. If the sauce is too strong, add half a teaspoon of water and adjust as you taste. Serve immediately or place in the fridge until use.