Red meat often comes up in conversations as being “bad for you.” But, if it’s prepared in healthy ground beef recipes, sourced from grass-fed cows, and eaten in moderation, it can actually be a nutritious food.
Aside from delivering amino acids that increase satiety, speed up metabolism, and build lean muscle, ground beef contains healthy doses of iron, zinc, niacin, selenium, vitamin E, and B vitamins—nutrients that support blood formation, as well as brain, and nervous system function. And it’s easy to incorporate red meat into meals, especially when you’re cooking with ground beef.
We know you probably have some questions around ground beef. Read on for the answers, plus 45 easy ground beef recipes you and your whole family will love. (Related: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make).
Can I eat ground beef on a diet?
Yes, you can. See, The World Cancer Research Fund recommends limiting weekly consumption of red meat to three portions a week (about 12–18 ounces total). Consuming fat in excess, healthy or not, results in one thing: flab. Ground beef is sold with 5-30% fat, giving you the option to choose from 80-95% lean varieties. However, the leaner the cut, the lower the vitamin and mineral content. So no, you don’t have to stop eating red meat completely.
We recommend going for 90 percent lean, which yields fewer calories and fat than regular ground beef. When possible, it’s best to go for grass-fed. It’s naturally lower in calories and fat than grain-fed beef, and it contains more heart-healthy omega-3s, less saturated fat, and as much as four times the vitamin E.
How to cook ground beef
Ground beef is very simple to make, and it cooks fairly quickly. You just need a skillet and a stovetop.
Place the meat in the skillet—along with any seasonings—and wait for all the pieces to brown, stirring occasionally. When they’re no more pink meat, that’s how you know the meat is done. You can keep browning it in the pan for as long as you like to get that desired level of crispness. According to the USDA, you should cook ground beef within two days of purchasing it, unless you freeze the meat.
We consulted Chef Will Savarese, executive chef at Robert’s Steakhouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to get some more insight on everything you need to know about cooking with ground beef, too, and his tips for perfectly browning prove just how simple cooking with ground beef is.
“Make sure you start with a hot pan with oil. Cook in small batches to get even color on it, and don’t overcrowd it,” he says. “When forming meatballs, patties, or working with ground beef, dip hands in cold water so [the meat] doesn’t stick to your hands.”
How important is a meat thermometer when cooking ground beef?
To destroy any bacteria, it’s suggested to cook ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer to help you check the temperature.
Chef Savarese explains that while a meat thermometer isn’t necessarily essential, it is helpful, so there is no harm in using one when you’re cooking beef.
“Using a meat thermometer isn’t so important unless you are making a meatloaf that has other ingredients like eggs,” Chef Savarese tells us. “Or if people are older or younger [who] have immune issues, then I suggest you use one and [be sure] serve the meat at 160 degrees.”
What’s the difference between minced beef and ground beef?
When you’re cooking with beef and following along with a recipe, you might see “minced beef” or “ground beef” listed. But have no fear, it’s the same type of meat, just chopped up differently.
“Minced is usually done by hand and diced small, and ground beef is ground using a grinder with different sized dies,” Chef Savarese says.
How can I tell if the ground beef I want to cook with has gone bad?
One thing you want to be careful of when cooking meat is checking to make sure it’s not spoiled. Savarese’s advice is classic: if you see or smell anything suspicious with your meat, then it’s most likely not good anymore.
“Use your nose and sight. The color goes pretty fast on ground beef, so use your nose,” he advises. “Then, use your hands and check the texture: [if it’s] sticky and tacky, [then it’s] no good. Rule of the kitchen: ‘When in doubt, throw it out.'”
What can I make with ground beef?
From a classic bowl of chili to a cheeseburger pizza, the possibilities are endless. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best healthy ground beef recipes you can make right at home.