Ground meat cooking tips

Weeknight standards like chili, tacos, and sloppy Joes all start with the same basic ingredient: ground meat. Properly cooking ground meat for the start of a dinner recipe or for storing in the fridge for meals all week isn’t hard, but here’s a refresher for when you need it.

Buying ground meat

Cooking ground meat starts in the butcher shop. When you shop for ground meat, make sure you know what cut of meat you are looking for: is it beef, pork or chicken? What is the content of fat-to-lean you are looking for?

Browning meat

  1. Heat the pan and oil. In order to brown ground meat, the pan needs to be hot. Adding oil is optional, but it’ll help with better browning.
  2. Add the meat to the pan and break it into large pieces. Use a wooden spoon, or a sturdy spatula to break the meat into large pieces in the pan. let it brown for several minutes.
  3. As it cooks, break the beef into smaller pieces as it cooks.
  4. Cook until browned (and try not to stir). Try not to stir the meat too much. Just stir occasionally until all of the beef is browned.


  1. When cooking ground meat, you’ll have less shrinkage with leaner blends than with regular ground beef, since they have less fat.
  2. Generally speaking, the higher the temperature, the greater the shrinkage, so cook ground meet at a moderate temperature. Don’t forget that overcooking will result in a dry, tasteless result as the juices evaporate.
  3. If making burgers or meatballs, dip your hands in cold water before handing the meat as it will not stick to your hands.
  4. You can mix seasonings into ground meat with your hands, but don’t overdo it.

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