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How To Cook Ground Beef

Learn how to cook ground beef to get the most taste and flavor. We will cover how to cook the beef in a frying or saute pan.

Ground beef is added to so many dishes such as tacos, a meat sauce for your spaghetti and people love to put it on top of pizza and nachos.

If you are just throwing the packaged meat into the frying pan without a plan on how to brown the beef then you are going to miss creating the flavor that you can pull out of the beef with the Maillard reaction.

How to cook ground beef Video

Choosing your Ground beef

If you are going to cook ground beef I feel it is a good idea to get beef with at least 20% fat content. Fat is a flavor and this will help the taste of the ground beef.

You really want to purchase the freshest ground beef you can from a grocery store or butcher shop that is doing the grinding.

When you grind beef you are providing a lot of surface area on the meat that can be a breeding ground for bacteria etc.

If you have a great butcher then, great! But if you don’t, make sure to look for a package that says organic and grass-fed beef.

I also recommend, if possible, try buying grass-fed AND organic beef. Buying the meat this way gives you the opportunity to not be exposed to GMO grains, pesticides, and fertilizers that conventional cows feed on.

It is really important to make sure that your ground beef had not gone bad.

How to cook ground beef in 5 Steps

Here are the 5 simple steps that you are going to need to take to get the best flavor out of your ground beef. Remember we want to brown the beef we do not want to end up with gray ground beef.

Ground beef goes amazing in my American chop suey recipe.

1. Prepare the ground beef

cutting ground beef into 1' pieces

It is a good idea to pull the meat out of the fridge 10-20 minutes before you are ready to cook. This will give the meat some time to warm up so you do not extract all the heat from the pan when you add it.

I like to cut it up into pieces real quick. This is super easy when you buy one of the organic packages that are square. The goal is to break it up so it does not go in the pan in one clump.

Heat up the oil to Brown the Ground Beef

adding oil to the frying pan

For 1lb. of beef you really want to use a 12″ skillet. We want to make sure there is enough surface area for the beef when it is being cooked.

In a frying pan heat up some oil and cook the beef on medium heat. I prefer to use avocado oil seeing that it has a high smoke point.

You do not need a lot of oil as the beef has some fat content to it already. The idea is to get the ball rolling and get a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.

You want to make sure the oil is hot before you add the beef!

2. Cooking Ground Beef in Frying Pan

ground beef just added to a pan to cook

Add meat to the preheated skillet. After you get it in the pan and have it separated with some space from the different chunks of meat you’re going to let it sit so the water can evaporate off.

You do not want to be moving it around at this stage. Let it do its thing.

After it appears that most of the moisture has come out go ahead and grab a spatula and push on the meat to extract some of the moisture.

Make sure the beef was frozen learn how to defrost ground beef.

3. Seasoning Ground Beef

seasoning the meat

Go ahead and add some salt to the beef. I like to use kosher salt but sea salt also works well. Add some fresh cracked black pepper.

4. browning The ground beef

browning ground beef in a pan

This is the best part of the process. You are looking for the Maillard reaction “browning of the meat”. After the meat starts to brown on the bottom. Keep an eye on it.

Start to break the ground beef apart so that you get the most contact with the hot pan.

After you have it spread out a bit let the meat do its thing and brown up. Take a look to make sure you are not burning it. After you get some browning try to flip the meat to a side that has not yet been browned.

Keep moving it to raw beef sides until you get some crust on all sides.

5. Resting the Ground Beef

So the ground beef is ready when it is fully cooked through. You are looking for no more pink.

If you bought the meat already ground this is very important to not have a pink center because it could be harboring some bacteria that can make you sick.

The USDA recommends cooking ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now if you ground your own meat say, steak scraps from trimming a beef then go ahead and cook it to the temp you’d like. You can cook it to rare, medium, medium-rare, or still you can cook it well done.

The beef did not have time to be exposed to potential bacteria and that’s why you’re safe to eat it when it is not fully cooked.

What to make with ground beef

Ground beef goes really well with so many dishes. The most common is a spaghetti meat sauce. It also goes really well in Classic Italian Lasagna.

It is cooked for shepherd’s pie, one of my wife’s favorites! I also like it on tacos and nachos.

If you need to prolong the life of your ground beef you can always freeze it, learn how in my comprehensive guide.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Cook Ground Beef

I would not wash ground beef. You have so much surface area that it is pretty much impossible. The key is to make sure it is fully cooked to prevent getting sick.

You can tell when it has no more pink to the meat. I always suggest using a thermometer to measure temp but it is nearly impossible with ground beef.

Just make sure you see no more pink and then go a little longer to be safe.

You want to get to a temperature of at least 160 degrees. Ground beef can carry and most likely does carry E.coli. Cooking the meat well done will make sure that you kill any bad bacteria.

ground beef in a bowl

How to Cook Ground Beef Recipe

Learn how to cook ground beef to get the most taste and flavor. The key to getting some flavor out of ground beef is to brown the meat.

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 320 kcal


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil


  • Prepare the beef and let it sit out for 10-20 minutes. Chop it into 1" chunks to help with the cooking process.
  • Heat a pan to medium high heat and add the avocado oil. Test the oil to make sure it is hot enough by sprinkling a bit of water on it.
  • Add the ground beef to the hot pan. Move the pieces around so that they have some space from one another. This will give room for moisture to come out of the meat.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper.
  • Allow the meat to brown on one side. After it has browned flip the meat to the other side to allow it to brown.
    Break the meat up to desired size and continue to move it around and brown it.
  • Remove it from the heat when it is cooked through and has reached a temp of at least 160°


To get flavor you need to brown the meat. Browning creates the Maillard reaction and this is flavor!
Cutting the ground beef into chucks prevents the meat from steaming and allows the moisture to release so it can brown.


Calories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 20gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 657mgPotassium: 306mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gCalcium: 20mgIron: 2mg
Keyword ground beef recipe, how to brown ground beef, how to cook ground beef
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