Gyudon or Japanese beef bowl is a sweet and savory Japanese beef dish that's also synonymous with comfort. This beef rice bowl is super easy and quick to make. You can have dinner or lunch ready in 10 minutes! Perfect for any weekday meal.
Comfort food, like kimchi jjigae and tomato egg stir fry, is our ultimate go to during the weekdays because they are super easy to make and always hit the spot. If you're the same, let us introduce this easy, quick, and tasty gyudon to your weekday menu!
Gyudon is also known as Japanese beef bowl. It's a sweet and savory dish made by simmering thinly sliced beef with onion, in a sauce made with mirin, soy sauce, and dashi broth and served over a bowl of white rice.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Thinly sliced beef - Thinly sliced beef with good marbling, like ribeye, is perfect for gyudon. Chuck eye is also a good choice. We recommend getting the thinly sliced beef labeled for hot pot or shabu shabu at your local asian market. They will be already thinly sliced, which will save you lots of time.
- Yellow onion - To add flavor and some natural sweetness in gydon. It's also a classic ingredient most Japanese rice bowls.
- Mirin - A Japanese kitchen pantry must have! Mirin is a sweetened Japanese rice wine often used in Japanese cooking, from this vegan "unagi" don to teriyaki sauce. If you prefer to not use alcohol, we recommend this non-alcoholic mirin.
- Soy sauce - For adding color and savory, salty flavors to the sauce to help balance the sweetness. We used low sodium soy sauce. If you are using regular soy sauce, you may want to use a little less.
- Sugar - Regular granulated sugar is perfect. Just a little more to help round out and balance out the sauce.
- Water or dashi broth - We usually do not have dashi prepared in our fridge, so we just opt for water. However, if you have the time to make dashi broth, it make the Japanese beef bowl more nutritious. Just use equal amounts of dashi broth as water.
- Hondashi powder - Also known as bonito soup stock. It's a great substitute for dashi, just as chicken bouillon cubes are great for chicken stock when you're in a pinch. Because we are using water for our sauce base, we need to add some hondashi powder to give the dish the same flavor as if using dashi broth.
- Rice - Can't have a rice bowl without rice! We recommend either short grain or medium grain white rice for best texture.
How to make gyudon
1. In a saucepan or any pan with tall sides, add the water, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and hondashi powder. Give everything a stir and add the sliced yellow onions.
2. Cover the pan and bring everything to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Once the sauce is simmering, add the thinly sliced beef on top of the onions. Spread the beef as evenly as possible.
4. Let the beef cook until no longer pink and if you prefer, skim off the scum. Remove from heat.
5. Portion the beef and onion amongst two bowls of rice and pour your desired amount of the sauce over everything.
Similar to katsudon (Japanese pork cutlet rice bowl), gyudon is also popularly served with beaten eggs drizzled into it. This variation is called gyujidon, aka beef and egg rice bowl. To make this variation, simply drizzle one beaten egg (per serving) over the beef when the beef is just cooked. You can also skim the beef first before adding the egg. Cover and let the egg cook until set.
What to eat with gyudon
Although you can enjoy gyudon as it is, this beef bowl can be elevated with some toppings and sides such as:
- Egg - Top the gyudon with a raw egg yolk or an onsen tamago (Japanese hot spring egg). It'll add richness and creaminess to the beef bowl.
- Green onions and pickled red ginger - These are popular toppings for the beef bowl. The pickled red ginger (also known as beni shoga or kizami shoga) helps to cleanse your palate so that you can keep eating more!
- Miso soup - A classic side dish and starter for any Japanese meals!
- Kimchi - Although this is unorthodox, we really enjoy gyudon with a side of both napa cabbage kimchi and this quick cucumber kimchi. They help to cleanse the palate, like the Japanese red pickled gingers.
- Use beef with good marbling. Having good marbling and fat on the beef will ensure the beef is flavorful and tender. Highly recommend thinly sliced ribeye.
- Don't overcook the beef. Overcooking the beef, no matter the cut, will give you tough, dry beef. So cook the beef just until no longer pink and maybe a few seconds longer.
- Skim the scum for better presentation and mouthfeel. This is totally up to personal preference.
- Have extra rice available. Whether for gyudon or katsuson, we alway prepare extra rice because there's usually always extra sauce and the sauce is quite flavorful.
Storage and reheating
Any any leftover gyudon needs to be cooled completely before storing in an airtight container. It will stay good in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month. We do recommend storing the beef separately from the rice so that the rice does not get bloated and soggy overtime. it will also be easier for reheating.
To reheat, microwave until everything is hot or bring it to a simmer in a pan, on the stovetop.
We highly recommend thinly sliced ribeye for gyudon because it's just fatty enough. This ensures the meat stays tender and flavorful after cooking. Chuck eye is also a good choice if ribeye is not available.
Although every family and restaurant makes the sauce for their gyudon differently, it's usually made with mirin (and/or sake), soy sauce, sugar, and water with dashi powder or dashi broth.
If you're looking for a non-alcoholic substituion, we recommend Honteri. If you are okay with alcohol, you can use sake instead. Mix 3 parts sake to 1 part sugar for mirin substitute.
Gyudon is a rice bowl made by briefly simmer beef and onion in a mirin and soy based sauce. Sukiyaki is a dish, similar to shabu-shabu and hot pot, made by simmering thinly sliced meat with an assortment of vegetables in a mirin and soy based sauce, traditionally served in a shallow cast iron pot.
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Gyudon (Japanese Beef Bowl)
- ½ pound thinly sliced beef ribeye or chuck eye
- ½ large yellow onion thinly sliced
For the sauce:
- 2 cups cooked white rice hot (more or less to your preference)
- 2 large egg yolk or onsen eggs (optional)
- Pickled red ginger beni shoga or kizami shoga (optional)
- Green onion thinly sliced (optional)
- In a saucepan or any pan with tall sides, add all the ingredients for the sauce (water, mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and hondashi powder). Give everything a stir and add the sliced yellow onions.
- Cover the pan and bring everything to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once the sauce is simmering, add the thinly sliced beef on top of the onions. Spread the beef as evenly as possible.
- Let the beef cook until no longer pink and if you prefer, skim off the scum. Remove from heat.
- Portion the beef and onion amongst two bowls of rice and pour your desired amount of the sauce over everything.
- Serve the gyudon with a raw egg yolk or an onsen tamago (Japanese hot spring egg) and garnish with some pickled red ginger and sliced green onions. Enjoy!
- Eggs - It is not recommended to serve raw or undercooked eggs to young children, the elderlies, or those that are immune compromised. So feel free to omit the egg if necessary.