There are a few tips and tricks you are going to want to learn when it comes to browning your ground beef. The simple cooking process will leave you with flavorful meat that will be a great addition to any recipe.
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I know you’re probably thinking you already know how to brown your ground beef. However, there’s a high chance that you are actually doing it wrong! Sure, you may be cooking your meat, but are you actually browning it the right way? I will show you the best way to cook ground beef and I promise it will be a simple cooking technique to learn that will make all of the difference in your food.
How to Perfectly Brown Ground Beef
Ground beef is a staple in so many recipes. It is a staple in baked pasta, casseroles, chilis, Mexican ground beef recipes, sloppy joes, meat sauce and so much more. When cooked correctly, the ground beef adds incredible flavor to all of those recipes. So, how do you get excellent ground beef? It actually starts before you even begin cooking.
When you are buying ground beef, look for meat that is super fresh and has a strong fat-to-lean percentage. You’ll also want to check out the color of the meat and make sure it doesn’t look grey in color. Finally, you want to make sure the meat you buy stays extra cold until you cook it. Don’t let that ground beef get to room temperature! Cold is definitely better.
Now, when it comes to cooking the meat, you are going to want to use a large skillet. The large skillet will give the meat room to cook in the pan without being overcrowded. Before you add the meat to the skillet, make sure the skillet is super hot and coated with oil. As you add the meat to the pan, break it into pieces using a wooden spatula or spoon. As it continues to cook, you can break it up into even smaller pieces.
Now here is where the secret comes into play. Once the meat is broken into tiny pieces, try not to stir it. I know this sounds counteractive, but it will help the beef brown. It allows the beef to really connect with the hot pan and lets the flavors develop. Too much stirring could cause the beef to steam, resulting in grey pieces of meat. Just let the meat sit until it is fully brown and slightly crisp.
Tools and Ingredients for Browned Ground Beef
- Ground beef – I like to use ground meat that is 15 or 20% fat. If you use lean beef, the meat can be too dry. The higher fat content helps keep the meat nice and moist.
- Large skillet – Cooking a pound of ground beef or more requires a nice, big skillet. You want enough room in the skillet to move the meat around as you are cooking ground beef. I like to use a cast iron pan or a large stainless steel pan since both cook meat nice and evenly.
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- Oil – Any neutral oil works. The best choice is olive oil or vegetable oil to cook ground beef.
- Salt and pepper to taste
How to Brown Ground Beef
- Prepare: Heat a large skillet with neutral oil and heat over medium-high heat to allow the oil to get hot in the pan.
- Cook: Add the ground beef into the pan, and break it into smaller pieces. Let the beef cook slightly, about 4-5 minutes. Continue to break it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper or a little garlic powder to add some more flavor.
- Brown: Once the pieces of the meat are small, continue to cook without stirring. The excess moisture in the pan should evaporate and only the oil, beef, and extra fat from the meat will be in the pan. Let cook until brown and slightly crisp.
You really want the meat to turn golden brown to achieve the best flavor. When the meat browns, a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction occurs. The sugars and amino acids in the meat are converted into something called melanoidins, a compound that gives the meat that distinctive, sweet flavor. A little bit of brown will completely change how the meat tastes!
How to Store Browned Ground Beef
Once your ground beef has cooked and cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. You can also put the ground beef in a large freezer bag, seal it up, and freeze it for up to 2 months. Make sure to seal the bags well to prevent freezer burn!
When you’re ready to eat, reheat it thawed or frozen in the microwave or in the skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of water as needed to freshen it back up. Add it to spaghetti sauce, use it for tacos, or use it for whatever your heart desires!
Yes, the oil is essential to the cooking process when it comes to browning ground beef. Make sure the oil is very hot in the pan before you add the meat. This will give it a good sear and start the cooking process. Any neutral oil will be good for browning beef.
Yes! This method is great for other types of meat such as ground turkey, ground chicken, or any other type of meat as well.
Browned ground beef freezes really well. Go ahead and cook the beef just like you would if you were to use it right away. Drain off any extra oil and grease, and then let it cool completely. When the beef is cool, add it to a container and seal it airtight. The beef should last in the freezer for about 3-6 months.
How to Brown Ground Beef
- large skillet
- wooden spatula or spoon
- ground beef
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large skillet with neutral oil and allow the oil to get hot in the pan.oil
- Add the ground beef into the pan and break it into smaller pieces. Let the beef cook slightly, about 4-5 minutes, and continue to break down into smaller pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Once the pieces of the meat are small, continue to cook the meat without stirring. Let cook until brown and slightly crisp. Drain excess grease.ground beef, salt and pepper to taste