What to do with ground beef?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 28, 2024

Introduction to Ground Beef

Ground beef is one of the most versatile ingredients in the culinary world. Its adaptability allows it to be used in a myriad of dishes, from simple weeknight dinners to elaborate gourmet meals. Whether you're a novice home cook or an experienced chef, knowing what to do with ground beef can open up a world of culinary possibilities.

Classic Ground Beef Dishes

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is a timeless classic that never fails to please. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, and carrots until softened. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Pour in tomato sauce, a splash of red wine, and Italian herbs like basil and oregano. Simmer for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve over a bed of al dente spaghetti and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Beef Tacos

For a quick and delicious meal, consider making beef tacos. Brown the ground beef in a skillet and season with a blend of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and paprika. Serve in warm corn or flour tortillas and garnish with fresh toppings like shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. Add a squeeze of lime for an extra burst of flavor.

Comfort Food

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is the epitome of comfort food. Begin by cooking ground beef with onions, carrots, and peas. Season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy on top. This dish is perfect for a cozy night in.


Meatloaf is a hearty dish that can be customized to suit your taste. Combine ground beef with breadcrumbs, an egg, finely chopped onions, and seasonings such as salt, pepper, and parsley. Shape the mixture into a loaf and place it in a baking dish. Top with ketchup or barbecue sauce and bake until cooked through. Serve with a side of roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes for a complete meal.

International Flavors

Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are a popular dish in many Latin American countries. Create a filling by cooking ground beef with onions, garlic, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Season with cumin, paprika, and oregano. Spoon the filling onto dough circles, fold them over, and crimp the edges to seal. Bake until golden brown and enjoy these savory pastries as a snack or main course.


Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that layers ground beef with eggplant and béchamel sauce. Start by cooking the ground beef with onions, garlic, and cinnamon. In a separate pan, fry slices of eggplant until tender. Layer the eggplant and beef mixture in a baking dish and pour a creamy béchamel sauce over the top. Bake until the top is golden and bubbly.

Healthy Options

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are a nutritious and flavorful option. Cut the tops off bell peppers and remove the seeds. In a skillet, cook ground beef with onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes. Stir in cooked quinoa or brown rice and season with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs. Stuff the mixture into the bell peppers and bake until the peppers are tender.

Beef Lettuce Wraps

For a low-carb meal, try beef lettuce wraps. Cook ground beef with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Add water chestnuts and green onions for extra crunch. Serve the beef mixture in large lettuce leaves and top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a drizzle of hoisin sauce. These wraps are light, refreshing, and packed with flavor.

Innovative Recipes

Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff typically features strips of beef, but using ground beef can simplify the preparation. Sauté ground beef with onions and garlic, then add sliced mushrooms. Stir in beef broth, Dijon mustard, and sour cream to create a creamy sauce. Serve over egg noodles or rice for a comforting and satisfying meal.

Asian Beef Bowls

For a quick and flavorful dish, make Asian beef bowls. Cook ground beef with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Add a splash of rice vinegar and a touch of brown sugar for balance. Serve the beef over steamed rice and top with sliced green onions, shredded carrots, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. This dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Rarely Known Small Details

Choosing the Right Fat Content

Ground beef comes in various fat percentages, typically ranging from 70% lean to 95% lean. The fat content can significantly affect the flavor and texture of your dish. For burgers and meatballs, a higher fat content (around 80% lean) is preferable as it results in juicier and more flavorful meat. For dishes like sauces or casseroles, leaner beef (90-95% lean) might be a better option to reduce excess grease.

Enhancing Flavor with Umami

To elevate the flavor of ground beef dishes, consider incorporating umami-rich ingredients. Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and mushrooms are excellent choices that can add depth and complexity. A small amount of anchovy paste or fish sauce can also enhance the savory profile without being overpowering.

Proper Storage and Handling

Ground beef is highly perishable and should be handled with care. Store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use it within two days of purchase. If you need to freeze it, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Thaw frozen ground beef in the refrigerator overnight rather than at room temperature to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.

Ground beef truly stands out as a cornerstone ingredient in diverse cuisines, offering endless possibilities for creative and comforting meals. As you explore these recipes and techniques, you'll discover that the versatility of ground beef knows no bounds.

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How long can ground beef stay in the fridge?

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