Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

As a Grandma (the littles call me “Amma”) I had kind of forgotten about some of the challenges in getting everyone “on board” with dinner. Especially now that I’m day to day with six very opinionated eaters. Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls is something I trialed this week while the kids were gone and I think it’s going to be a winner.

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls


At least I couldn’t stop eating it! Add a little bell pepper medley or a little steamed broccoli on the side for a little balance for the kids while the adults can have the classic accompaniments and dinner can be done in just about the time it takes to cook the rice.

About Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls:

You can read more about Gyudon in this article, Discover Gyudon. Gyudon is just one of many types of Donburi (rice bowls) and in this dish, basically, you have beef & onion simmered in a delicious souplike sauce.

The dish is so simple it’s hard to believe how good it is! I did fiddle a bit until I came up with what I thought was just the right balance of ingredients and flavors. It is said that the discerning diner in Japan will first taste a single piece of onion in order to judge the sauce before moving on and adding any of the garnishes.

I don’t know that I’m that sophisticated, nor are my pretty available grocery store ingredients, but there is no lack of flavor, here. There’s dashi (and I’ll give you substitutes if you can’t or don’t want to buy this fishy broth), soy sauce and Mirin (which is a sweet rice wine – grocery store Aji Mirin will work) a touch of sake (if you have it), and a little sugar in that sauce.

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

The Accompaniments:

This dish is nearly always served over rice, being a rice bowl. I suppose you could use noodles if you’re determined. I love to do my rice in my Instant Pot; it turns out just like rice at a restaurant. You can go with plain old rice (like my Perfect Instant Pot Rice) or if you’d like to up your game, choose a Japanese variety.

It’s the condiments that steal the show, here. First and foremost is the pickled ginger. It is what takes this dish next level. If you don’t have it or don’t want to buy it just for this dish, add a little ginger to the broth with the onions, either powdered or grated from fresh. My daughter is obsessed with pickled ginger, tho, and has convinced me…maybe you’ll feel the same way.

As far as the egg, you can do what you want. You can add a poached egg, go with the traditional egg yolk (it gets stirred in and adds body to the sauce) or you can do what some people do and just beat three or four eggs and drizzle them into the simmering beef.

I buy larger jars of sesame seeds, already toasted. You’ll def find them in any Asian market and possibly in your grocery store. They’re so cheap and no need to toast. Just keep them in your freezer.

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Making Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls:

There couldn’t be anything simpler to make than this recipe. You simply mix the few ingredients together to form a broth and simmer the onions until crisp/tender. In goes the beef and that’s simmered two to three minutes longer until cooked through. The only way you can go wrong is to overcook the beef.

When slicing the beef, make sure your knife is sharp and it’s very helpful to freeze it for 20 minutes. Trim off any hard fat and slice in very thin slices across the grain.

If you don’t have dashi it can be made homemade (see Just One Cookbook) or you can do what I do and add two tablespoons of fish sauce to a cup of water. I’m guessing if you don’t have dashi, you may possibly not have the ingredients hanging around to make it with!

Saving Money on Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls:

When shopping for Asian ingredients, including rice, you have several options. If you live near an Asian market, you’re likely to find the best pricing. In your grocery store, you may need to check several aisles. You might have an international aisle, an ethnic aisle for Asian foods as well as a section that carries the more common Asian ingredients. If you watch for sales, the most likely one is going to be during the Chinese New year, which varies every year, and sales may be unadvertised. Stock up when the prices are low.

Watch for sales on beef, too, and stock up during sales which you’ll find around just about any holiday. Buy what fits your budget; this is an ideal recipe to take a steak and stretch it to feed a family and of course, you have the option of using more or less beef as you desire.

I hope you guys are intrigued enough to try this recipe out – it’s so easy and so fast and will make you look like a hero! It’s worth searching out a few ingredients for and you have lots of options to substitute. That’s always a huge selling point for me, anyway!

Until next time, sayonara!


Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls


Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • 1 large (or two small onions) vertically (pole to pole) sliced
  • 1 cup dashi (see substitutes)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
  • 10 to 12 ounces beef, thinly sliced against the grain
  • 4 cups steamed Japanese (or any) rice
  • garnishes: egg yolk, pickled ginger, green onions, sesame seed, and/or kimchi as desired


To a skillet or saucepan, add the dashi (or substitute), onions, soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Bring up to a good simmer and simmer for about 8 minutes or so until onions are just tender but still holding their shape.

Add the beef, separating as you add, and continue to simmer, stirring, until beef is nearly done to taste. Keep in mind that the beef will continue to cook in the hot broth even after the heat is off.  Total cook time for the beef should be two to three minutes.

Serve over rice, garnished with your choice of any or all of the above garnishes.

Keywords: Alcohol, Asian, Bargain Meal of the Week, Beef, Japanese, Rice, Steak

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Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls are found all over Japan but they're super simple and super fast to make right at home and surprisingly affordable. Dinner in under 20 minutes! #JapaneseBeefRiceBowls #Gyudon #JapaneseFood #RiceBowls #Steak


5 thoughts on “Gyudon Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls

  1. Laura M Lake

    Looks wonderful! I remember the days of feeding the littles! Now i have a vegetarian, a red meat eater…any way, wanted to add that tofu can be cooked similarly, with similar sauce, after draining and flouring, for the vegetarian. For the toddlers in your life, i remember scrambled eggs and rice serving pretty well, with them eventually adding “flavor” such as the rest of us were eating to their bowl. Thanks gor the recipe!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Laura thanks yeah it can be a challenge. We even Have one (the 3 yr old) who only wants plain noodles when we have spaghetti. Most of them turn out all right in the end don’t they? I remember my brother practically surviving on peanut butter and jelly because he wouldn’t eat anything else all through high school And now I think he likes more food than I do.

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