How to Brown Ground Beef


Ground Beef is the perfect way to make a quick and delicious meal.

Back to the basics. Recipes often direct us to “brown ground beef, drain fat” but what is the best way to do this?

There are a few secrets to getting flavorful ground beef! Make large batches and freeze in portions for future recipes.

cooked beef in a pan to show How to Brown Ground Beef

Why is Browning Beef Important?

  • Known as the Maillard reaction, when beef is browned, the outside gets seared and that’s how the meat gets its rich, meaty flavors and aromas.
  • Browned ground beef releases fat that can be drained away resulting in a healthier meal.
  • Cooked ground beef can be used to make casseroles, pasta sauces, tacos, and more.
ingredients to show How to Brown Ground Beef

Choosing Ground Beef

You can find differet varities of ground beef including ground chuck, ground round, sirloin, and ground beef, and each one has a different fat content that affects how it cooks down.

For best results, an 80/20 is the grind we choose for most recipes which means it is 80% meat with 20% fat. This is a good balance of meat to fat for recipes like spaghetti sauce or tacos. The fat adds flavor while keeping the beef from becoming dry but too much fat can make a greasy dish.

  • If using leaner beef (extra lean ground beef is about 90/10), you’ll want to add a tablespoon of oil to the pan or use a non-stick pan. I sometimes add a slice or two of chopped bacon for extra fat too.
  • If using regular ground beef, it has closer to 25-30% fat and will need to be well-drained before adding to recipes.

How to Season Ground Beef

Season ground beef during the cooking process to ensure the meat is infused with flavor. Once the beef begins to brown, add salt & pepper or your favorite seasonings like onion and garlic (or garlic powder).

Try some DIY seasoning mixes that will give a boost of flavor to your recipes.

adding salt and pepper to beef to show How to Brown Ground Beef

How to Brown Ground Beef

  1. Preheat a skillet and add beef, do not stir.
  2. Season and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring and breaking up beef occasionally.
  3. Cook until no pink remains and drain any fat.

The Secret to Flavorful Beef

Place the ground beef in a preheated skillet (adding oil if needed). Break the beef apart and add it to the pan.

Do not stir the beef for 4-5 minutes or until it develops a browned crust on one side.

After this, stir and break up the beef and continue cooking until no pink remains. The browned edges of the beef will add so much flavor to your recipe!

breaking beef into pieces to show How to Brown Ground Beef

My favorite tool for cooking ground beef is a meat chopper. This simple item helps to break up the beef easily and evenly. It makes it easy to get the texture you prefer.

A meat chopper can be used for much more than meat! I use it to chop up canned tomatoes, mash fruit, chop up avocados for chunky guacamole, and more.

Cooking Ground Beef from Frozen

It is possible to cook ground beef from frozen, you may not get the same browned edges but it does work well in recipes.

  1. Place ground beef in a large skillet with ½-inch of water.
  2. Cover and cook on medium heat until the beef is thawed enough to break up.
  3. Cook as directed in the recipe below.

Best Ground Beef Tips

  • Preheat the pan for the best restults and do not stir the beef until it’s browned on one side.
  • Avoid over-stirring the beef as it cooks in order to develop a crust that adds flavor.
  • Onion or garlic can be added to the beef as it browns.
  • Remove the ground beef from the heat as soon as it’s cooked through to keep it from drying out.
  • Drain fat but do not rinse the beef or it will lose flavor.
  • Cook beef ahead of time and freeze. Add it to recipes right from frozen.

Best Ground Beef Dishes

cooked beef in a pan to show How to Brown Ground Beef
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How to Brown Ground Beef

Learn how to brown ground beef for use in so many recipes from tacos to casseroles!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 20 minutes

  • Place oil in a skillet if using and heat over medium-high heat.

  • Add beef and cook 4-5 minutes without stirring or until a crust forms on one side.

  • Season with salt & pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat stirring only occasionally. Don’t stir too much.

  • Continue cooking until no pink remains. Drain any fat.

Olive oil (or vegetable oil) is optional but helps the beef to brown better. Don’t stir too much, cooking the beef without stirring allows it to actually ‘brown’ which adds great flavor!
  • Preheat the pan for the best results and do not stir the beef until it’s browned on one side.
  • Avoid over-stirring the beef as it cooks in order to develop a crust that adds flavor.
  • Onion or garlic can be added to the beef as it browns.
  • Remove the ground beef from the heat as soon as it’s cooked through to keep it from drying out.
  • Drain fat but do not rinse the beef or it will lose flavor.
  • Cook beef ahead of time and freeze. Add it to recipes right from frozen.
5 from 3 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Calories: 274 | Protein: 21g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 334mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 2.4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American


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