Ground beef is one of the supporting pillars of mainstream food worldwide. It’s cheap, readily available, and can be applied to all kinds of preparations. So here’s a handy guide to choosing, storing, and using ground beef in all the best ways.
Before we get cooking, check out these purchasing and storing tips:
How to Buy Ground Beef
You’ll probably want to pay the most attention to cost and fat content. Naturally, the lower the fat content, the higher the price. A leaner meat, however, may not taste as moist and flavorful, so keep that in mind if you’re making a meal that’s prone to dryness (like meatloaf or hamburgers). Sometimes the extra fat can make or break a dish.
Dry Aged Ground Beef, 1 pound for $9 at Porter Road
Pasture raised beef free of hormones and antibiotics, dry aged and ground with a great meat-to-fat ratio.
Related Reading: The Best Places to Buy Meat Online
How to Store Ground Beef
In the Refrigerator
If you refrigerate ground beef, use it within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran Wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. The beef can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
As a general rule of thumb, never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
In the Freezer
In order to effectively freeze ground beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package the meat is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags, $7.99-$15.99 at The Container Store
These reusable silicone bags are a great option.
Related Reading: Food You Can Freeze Besides Meat and Produce
How to Thaw Ground Beef
The best way to thaw ground beef is to leave it in the refrigerator. If you’re in a pinch, take out your frozen meat and place it on a plate under running cold water. A microwave may also work, but it is likely to start cooking your meat, which you’ll want to avoid.
Ground Beef Recipes
All right, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Here are 15 globe-trotting ground beef recipes we can’t seem to stop making.
After the burger, of course, the Sloppy Joe is the best sandwich ever devised around a pound of ground chuck (keep reading for the classic recipe). This sandwich, though: it combines everything good about Vietnamese banh mi, and fills it with a Sloppy Joe–adjacent mix of red curry and ground beef. Get our Red Curry Sloppy Banh Mi Sandwiches recipe.
We love meaty beef chili almost as much as we love black bean chili, just slightly less than we like bacon. Fortunately, this easy-to-batch-cook-and-freeze recipe combines three into one. Get our Bacon and Black Bean Chili recipe.
Related Reading: 5 Tricks to Make Canned Chili Taste Homemade
Buttery, creamy polenta, rich with mascarpone and Parmesan, is the perfectly lush landing pad for a tomatoey, herb-scented Italian ragu. This is a dish that shows off ground beef’s implausibly worldly possibilities. Get our Italian-style Beef Ragu with Cheesy Polenta recipe.
Ground beef allies with familiar Latin partners pimiento-filled green olives and dried currants in this classic handheld pie recipe. What’s more, oregano, hot sauce, onion, sweet peppers, and tomato puree tame the potential animal quality of beef. Get our Beef Empanadas recipe.
You begin by making rustic, kofta-like meatballs out of the beef, then slicing and stuffing into pita halves. Their accompaniments: a cucumber-yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. Get our Ground Beef Gyros recipe.
The taco salad is a fine old American specialty built around versatile, inexpensive, and widely available ground beef. This version preserves the slightly over-the-top outlines of the original, while still managing to feel contemporary. Get our Beef Taco Salad recipe.
Everything you love about beef taco salad minus the things you’re kind of iffy about (this is a rather unveiled reference to shredded lettuce). Seriously, this soup offers a comforting concentration of Mexican flavor, built around ground beef. Get our Beef Taco Soup recipe.
A bit of ground pork combines with ground chuck of a moisture-preserving 15- to 20-percent fat content for these burgers, a mashup of burger and meatloaf. Unlike regular burgers, there are breadcrumbs, which bind the patties and add density. Get our Meatloaf Burgers recipe.
One of the most nostalgic American recipes we know, just like mom used to make. Begin by making a flavorful onion and ground beef sauté, then cover it with a simple batter and tons of cheese. A sojourn in the oven later, and you have a delicious weeknight meal. Get our Cheeseburger Pie recipe.
“Meat and potatoes” can be an indication of insipidness but this ground beef and mashed mash-up is anything but. Just remember, it isn’t a true shepherd’s pie until the fluffy white topping is baked until golden brown. Get our Ground Beef Shepherd’s Pie recipe.
Related Reading: A History of Shepherd’s Pie
Say zdravstvuyte to this simple take on a Russian classic. Prepared with ground beef, mushrooms, egg noodles, and ample sour cream, stroganoff is hearty to say the least so consider serving with a side salad. Everything’s done in one pot which makes it perfect for a weeknight meal. Get our One-Pot Beef Stroganoff recipe.
12. Beef Pierogies
These addictive crispy beef dumplings are an Eastern European staple. The recipe keeps things traditional with a sour cream dough and juicy, meaty filling. One batch yields 20 pierogies so you can freeze the leftovers and enjoy them down the road. Get our Beef Pierogies recipe.
You know it. You love it. Spaghetti and meatballs is the ultimate in comfort food, bridging meat, pasta, and cheese and a slathering of tomato sauce. If you have access to ground pork and turkey, blend it with beef for some flavor diversity but if you want to keep your balls exclusively cow-based, that’s fine too. Get our Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.
14. Sloppy Joes
If you went to public school, the phrase Sloppy Joes may send a shiver down your spine. This homemade version, however, should change your mind with a potent spice blend and a thick, sweet and savory, tomato-based gravy. Get our Sloppy Joes recipe.
Spark up the grill for these simple-to-prepare patties with an Asian twist. For that full hit of ginergy spice, opt for fresh over dried. Skip the carbs and wrap in lettuce leaves—it’s healthier and, in this case, a better flavor pairing than a bread-based bun. Get our Asian Beef Burgers with Ginger and Cilantro recipe.