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HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF ULTIMATE GUIDE

Ground beef cooked to perfection is basically impossible not to enjoy and  is the basis for many great recipes. This ultimate guide of how to cook ground beef will have your kitchen smelling heavenly and your recipes tasting perfect.

Ground beef cooked into spaghetti, tacos, nachos and other dishes is always welcome wherever you take it. You are ALWAYS a kitchen rockstar with perfectly cooked ground beef!

A green bowl of cooked ground beef sitting on a green napkin with fork, tomatoes and a white bowl.

Super Easy Ground Beef Recipes

WHY THIS RECIPE FOR HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF WORKS

  • The basic recipe in the card below works as the basis for multiple dishes, hamburger and rice, tacos, spaghetti and many other dishes.
  • Knowing how to season ground beef is covered at length.
  • Perfectly cooked ground beef is the secret to many fine dishes!

THE MANY WAYS TO COOK GROUND BEEF

The recipe card below covers the usual way to cook ground beef. You’ll simply need your stove top, a frying pan and a little oil, salt and pepper. But there are other ways you can cook ground beef.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN THE OVEN

If you have a large amount of ground beef to cook / brown, then cooking it in the oven might be the right choice for you. This works perfectly for 2-4 lbs of ground beef.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil (for easy clean up)
  3. Break the meat up into pieces (like I show in the video in the recipe card below).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes
  5. Remove from the oven, use a spatula and turn the meat, break up any clumpy pieces and drain as best you can. Place the meat dish back into the oven
  6. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, drain again.
  8. Once cooled, use your hands or a spatula to break up any larger clumps

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN A PRESSURE COOKER OR INSTAPOT

  1. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pressure cooker
  2. Set the trivet in place
  3. Place ground beef on top of the trivet.
  4. Set on high pressure and bring to temp cooking at high pressure for 6 minutes.
  5. Allow to release naturally.
  6. Once ground beef is cooled, you can break it up with your hands or with a spatula.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN A CROCK POT OR SLOW COOKER

You can cook many pounds of ground beef this way all at once. How much you cook depends on the size of your crockpot.

The cooking time may have to be adjusted. Cook longer for more meat.

  1. Spray the crockpot with non stick spray.
  2. Break up the ground beef into pieces and place into the crockpot.
  3. Add ½ cup of water per pound of ground beef.
  4. Add ½ tsp salt per pound of ground beef.
  5. Set on high and cook for 2-3 hours.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN A MICROWAVE

  1. Spray a non stick casserole dish (with a lid) with cooking spray
  2. Crumble the hamburger into the casserole dish and place the lid on top.
  3. Cook in the microwave on high for 3 minutes with the lid on.
  4. Stir well and then cook in 1-2 minute intervals until cooked through, stirring between each session. Replace the lid and then microwave again 1-2 minutes until done.
  5. Drain when done.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FROM FROZEN

  1. Pour ½ cup water into your skillet.
  2. Place the frozen piece of hamburger in the skillet and set stove to medium.
  3. Put a lid on the skillet.
  4. Every 2 minutes, remove the lid and using a spatula, scrape off the loosened hamburger from the frozen chunk.
  5. Replace the lid and allow the hamburger to steam and cook for another 2 minutes, then repeat.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN A CAST IRON SKILLET

The recipe in the recipe card below covers how to cook ground beef in a skillet and you can use a cast iron skillet, non stick or stainless skillet, your choice!

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN WATER

  • If you are trying to cook your ground beef and avoid adding any oil, you CAN add a little water to help it steam and cook through better. This is not the method that I recommend, but it does work.
  • What you need to know is that cooking ground beef this way is slightly less flavorful.
  • Follow the basic directions below but do not add the oil. Instead add ½ cup water per 1 lb ground beef.
  • Proceed to cook as outlined in the video below.

IS BOILED GROUND BEEF HEALTHIER ?

As we have discussed many times in the past, healthier is a term that depends on what you are looking for in your diet. If you are on a low carb or keto diet, then maybe less fat is a negative. If you are looking for a low fat diet, then boiling the ground beef might be preferred.

At any rate, what you need to understand about adding water instead of oil to your ground beef is that it removes some of the flavor.

THE MANY WAYS TO USE GROUND BEEF IN RECIPES

A white plate with spaghetti noodles and a thick red meat sauce on top

Super Easy Ground Beef Recipes

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR SPAGHETTI

Simply follow the recipe below for cooking the ground beef and then add your spaghetti sauce. You can have a lovely fresh tasting spaghetti sauce by following my San Marzano Tomato Sauce recipe!

It is ready in just 20 minutes or so!

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR PASTA

If you are serving up some pasta that requires ground beef, simply follow the directions in the recipe card listed below!

Two soft tacos filled with ground beef, corn, avacado, sour cream and cilantro on wax paper on a cutting board with coke and lime to the side

Super Easy Ground Beef Recipes

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR TACOS

For delicious tacos, brown your ground beef according to the directions in the recipe card below and then add your taco seasonings per the package instructions!

Three plates of nachos topped with sour cream sitting on green swirled napkin with lime and salsa to side

Super Easy Ground Beef Recipes

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR NACHOS

To cook ground beef for nachos, brown the ground beef as in the directions below. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Also add 1 tsp Chili powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper and ½ tsp thyme.

A frying pan of sloppy joes ground beef with wooden spoon lifting some out of the pan

How to Cook Ground Beef

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR SLOPPY JOES

Follow the basic instructions in the recipe below. You may benefit from watching the video located in the recipe card.

Then, check out the recipe for my Homemade SlOPPY JOE Sauce and add those other ingredients for a taste that can’t be beat.

two square bowls filled with colorful chili sprinkled with cheese. Brown napkin and striped towel, spoon and orange pot lid in background

How to Cook Ground Beef

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR CHILI

Follow the basic instructions in the recipe below and then click over to my Party Chili Recipe! You won’t be disappointed! 

WHAT KIND OF GROUND BEEF WORKS BEST FOR TACOS, SPAGHETTI, NACHOS, CHILI OR SLOPPY JOES?

Use 80/20 or 70/30 ground beef for these dishes. Those are ground beef mixes that are 70-80% lean and will have a nice flavor for your dish.

THE MANY WAYS TO SEASON GROUND BEEF WHEN COOKING GROUND BEEF

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF WITH ONIONS or WITH GARLIC

Ground beef with garlic and onions is a wonderful flavor. Simply heat 2 Tbs of oil in the skillet, add some chopped onions and/or garlic and allow that to cook till fragrant and softened. Then add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) FOR HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF

DO I NEED TO ADD OIL TO COOK GROUND BEEF?

Adding oil to ground beef is a personal choice. Some ground beef is more greasy and needs less oil than others.

When you add oil to the ground beef, essentially, you are adding a type of moisture that helps the ground beef to cook more thoroughly and quickly.

In addition, oil added to the pan for cooking adds some flavor.

With a 70/30 ground beef you will be pouring grease off at the end but oil added at the beginning will help it cook a little more quickly.

For leaner ground beef, you will likely have less grease at the end and again, the oil will add flavor and help the meat to cook more quickly.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF WITHOUT OIL

Choose a more fatty ground beef such as a 70/30, add zero oil to the pan, and simply add ¼ cup of water to help the beef to steam a little to aid in cooking.

WHAT CAN I ADD TO GROUND BEEF FOR FLAVOR.

There are ALL KINDS OF THINGS YOU CAN ADD FOR FLAVOR!

Here are a list of a few of my favorites:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ground onion powder
  • Ground garlic powder
  • Cayenne
  • Cumin
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Taco seasoning

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF FOR DOGS

If your vet has advised you that it is ok to cook some ground beef for your dog, place the ground beef in the pan, add ¼ cup of water.

  1. Cook over medium heat and break up the hamburger as it cooks.
  2. Do not add any seasoning to the beef and then pour off the grease after it has cooked.
  3. Allow to cool before giving to your dog.
Side view of a green bowl holding ground beef sitting on a swirled green napkin with tomatoes and white bowl in background

How to Cook Ground Beef

HOW TO KNOW WHEN GROUND BEEF GOES BAD

When ground beef starts to go bad, you will notice that the meat turns a grey color and is no longer red/ pink.

Additionally, you will notice a sour smell.

I have noticed that as my ground beef sits in my refrigerator, more and more blood starts to ooze from the meat and this is particularly so as the meat becomes too old.

If you have any doubts, simply discard the meat and get new. You don’t want to risk getting sick from eating spoiled meat.

DO YOU WASH GROUND BEEF LIKE YOU DO CHICKEN BEFORE COOKING?

There is no need to wash ground beef like you might do with chicken or turkey before cooking.

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF WITHOUT BIG CLUMPS

To cook ground beef without big clumps, break the meat up with your wooden spoon or spatula.

Take a look at the video located in the recipe card below and I show you how to do this effectively.

WHEN YOUR GROUND BEEF IS TOO SALTY…

If you have over salted your ground beef, there are a couple of things you can do. (Adding potato to your dish to absorb salt is just an old wives tale and doesn’t really work).

  1. Add more meat to what you have already cooked but do not salt the meat that you are adding. This effectively thins out the salt and decreases it.
  2. Place a “creamy” element in your ground beef such as sour cream or plain yogurt. This may affect the taste of your overall dish.
  3. Do not add salt to other ingredients you are adding. For example, if your meat is too salty for your spaghetti sauce, do not salt any items in the sauce and do not add salt to the noodles.
  4. Sometimes, if not TOO salty, the flavor can be overcome by adding a small amount of sugar.
  5. If only slightly over salted, adding 1 tsp of vinegar can be effective as well.

The best bet is to avoid oversalting to begin with.

HOW MUCH SALT DO YOU USE WITH GROUND BEEF?

How much salt to use with ground beef entirely depends on the final use of the ground beef. If the ground beef will be used with cheese or a similarly salted dish, then very little salt needs to be added to the ground beef.

If your final application is something like hamburgers or a hamburger steak, then you will need to add more.

RULE OF THUMB:  I recommend starting with ½ tsp of KOSHER salt per pound of ground beef for most applications and if the final dish is not naturally salty, then 1 full tsp of KOSHER salt per pound of ground beef.

HOW DO YOU DRAIN GROUND BEEF

Draining the ground beef can be accomplished several ways…

  1. You can carefully hold the pan over a heat safe dish and pour the grease from the pan into the dish being careful not to spill the ground beef.
  2. Similarly, you can dump the entire contents of the pan into a strainer and allow the grease to drip from the strainer.
  3. Finally, you can use a slotted spatula or spoon to lift the hamburger from the pan, thus leaving the grease behind.

HOW DO YOU FIX SALTY GROUND BEEF?

Please see the section above called “When your ground beef is too salty”

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PERFECTLY BROWNED GROUND BEEF IN HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF.

  • Tear the ground beef into small pieces as you put it in the already warmed pan with a small amount of oil.
  • Use your wooden spoon or spatula to break up the pieces as they cook
  • When choosing a ground beef for browning, I like to use the 80/20 ground beef. This means that it is 80% lean and no more than 20% fat. This allows enough fat for flavor but your final product will not be dripping with grease either.
  • Put all of the ground beef into the hot pan at once and then stir, chop and work with the ground beef until it is entirely brown. When you note that the very last piece has turned from pink to brown, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Do not keep cooking the ground beef further past this initial brown stage if you are going to use it in another dish (like nachos, tacos or spaghetti) because it will cook MORE in those dishes.
  • Drain your ground beef as described above, but leave a little bit of the grease (maybe a tablespoon or so) because this adds a lot of beef flavor to your dish.

TRY OUT HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF IN THESE RECIPES: 

Hamburger Gravy

How to Make Beanie Weenies

Cowboy Lasagna

Homemade Sloppy Joe Sauce

Cowboy Baked Beans

Crockpot Cheeseburger Soup

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls 

Pinto Bean Soup Recipe

LET’S SEE HOW THIS RECIPE IS DONE!

First break up the ground beef and put it in the heated frying pan with a little dash of oil.

hand tearing up ground beef and putting in black skillet with red napkin for how to cook ground beef

HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF

Use your spatula or wooden spoon to break up the pieces of the ground beef.

Wooden spoon chopping ground beef in a black iron skillet with red towel

How to Cook Ground Beef

Continue cooking until the last piece of ground beef has turned from pink to brown. Then remove from the heat immediately. (So we don’t over cook it!)

Browned ground beef in pan with gingham napkin

How to Cook Ground Beef

 

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THE RECIPE FOR HOW TO COOK GROUND BEEF

How to cook Ground Beef from frozen, from scratch, homemade, in a crockpot, in a skillet, in an instapot, in a pressure cooker, in the microwave. Great for spaghetti, nachos, tacos, sloppy joes and more! Be your own Paula Deen or Pioneer Woman! #groundbeef #recipes

How to Cook Ground Beef

Ground beef cooked to perfection is basically impossible not to enjoy and  is the basis for many great recipes. This ultimate guide of how to cook ground beef will have your kitchen smelling heavenly and your recipes tasting perfect. You'll be cooking glistening, perfect ground beef in no time!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ground beef, how to cook ground beef
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Wendi Spraker

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP Vegetable oil
  • 1 lb 70/30 or 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add vegetable oil to a skillet set on the stovetop over medium heat.  Allow the oil to heat until ripples form on the surface and the pan is well heated throughout
  • Pinch off pieces of the ground beef and place in pan.  Do this as quickly as possible. 
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the ground beef into as small of pieces as you will need for your recipe.
  • Add the salt and pepper by sprinkling over the ground beef.
  • Continue to cook until the ground beef has just turned brown from pink.  Then remove from the heat and drain off the grease. Use in your recipe calling for browned ground beef.

Notes

  • There are many other seasonings that you can add to ground beef, this is just the basic recipe.  Depending on your final use for the ground beef, you will want to taste and add more salt and pepper.  If your final preparation has a lot of cheese, leave off adding extra salt until the final dish is prepared and you can taste the ground beef added to it. 
  • For more flavor, chop an onion and mince a garlic clove to add to the ground beef.  Add these BEFORE you start cooking the ground beef and allow them to cook until softened, then add the ground beef. 
  • You can add dried onion and garlic powders instead.  Add 1 tsp per pound of ground beef for flavor.
  • Feel free to experiment with adding a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, Cumin, herbs like thyme or oregano.  Lots of great spices mix well with ground beef.  

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Ground Beef
Amount Per Serving
Calories 200
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!

 

 

A VERSE TO SHARE

Recently I heard a disturbing story of a person who was fired from their job for reasons that have nothing to do with how the person performed the job. 

Let me be clear, I know nothing about this person, I’ve never met them. This was simply a story that was told to me by a friend. 

The circumstances of how the person was let go have really ached my heart. I’m praying for that person and their family daily. It’s heartbreaking to lose a job and can lead to feelings of worthlessness, self hatred and serious self doubt. 

I  pray that this person isn’t in that place right now. 

In pondering this situation, I fell upon several verses that I thought fit such as: 

 James 4:17 -So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Then I moved on to: John 16:33 – I  have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world

Finally, the more I thought about it, I realized that there is a chance that the “boss” is just kind of ignorant and doing what he felt best. Sometimes in this world two people can be doing what they feel is right and still come up at odds. 

I think this is the time that God can use us to his best advantage. We have to trust that no matter what is happening, God is in control.

I’m sure when Paul was sitting in prison, being stoned or any of the other awful things that happened to him that he must have felt down trodden and as if the whole world were against him.

Instead, look to the Lord for comfort, have faith in yourself, walk tall and move forward. All of this will work out for God’s good pleasure. 

I am praying for you, wherever you are.

Phillipians 2: 12-13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

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Recipe Rating




Jess R

Thursday 14th of November 2019

I try to meal prep and have been wondering about how to cook bulk ground turkey in the oven. Thanks so much for including several different ways to ground meat rather than just in a pan via stove-top. I can't wait to try it. I'm also going to try your pressure cooker version, too - when I'm feeling extra brave.

Wendi Spraker

Friday 15th of November 2019

Hi Jess. I haven't tried these methods with ground turkey, but I would assume that it works much the same. The difference might be that turkey has little fat, you might have to add a little oil to get it to cook.

Wendi Spraker

Thursday 28th of February 2019

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