Healthy Ground Beef Recipes

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Find delicious and healthy ground beef recipes for an easy, weeknight meal that the whole family will love! From classics like meatballs and tacos to tasty dishes from around the globe, we've rounded up the best ground beef dinner ideas.

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Are you staring at a pound of ground beef wondering what to make for dinner? Ground beef is one of the most popular, versatile, affordable proteins out there, but it can get boring to always make the same things. Next time, try a brand-new ground beef recipe!

These healthy ground beef recipes are all completely different - from Asian dishes to American comfort foods - there's sure to be something you love in this list.

In this guide, you'll find delicious ground beef ideas for everything from Asian stir-fries to tacos, casseroles, slow cooker meals, pasta, and more.

Quick and Easy Ground Beef Recipes

on busy weeknights, these quick and easy ground beef recipes are the answer! With easy-to-find ingredients, these recipes are packed with flavor but can be cooked in 30 minutes or less!

Korean Beef Bowls

296 CAL 20 MIN
Korean beef bowls with rice, cilantro, carrots, bell peppers, and sprouts in a bowl with spicy sauce.

These easy Korean Beef Bowls come together in less than 20 minutes! Packed with the most delicious Korean-inspired ground beef, tons of fresh vegetables, and rice.

Beef Tostadas are layered with creamy refried beans, taco-seasoned beef, and an assortment of flavorful toppings piled high on crispy tostada shells. This delicious tostada recipe takes Taco Tuesday to a whole new level.

Ground Beef Bulgogi Bowls are chock-full of mouth-watering beef, whole grains, and fresh veggies. This 20-minute meal guarantees to please with the most delicious sweet and spicy sauce.

Ground Beef Tacos

398 CAL 20 MIN
Ground beef tacos with ancho chili seasoning served in baked taco shells with lettuce, tomato, and cilantro.

Say goodbye to those pesky premade seasoning packets! These Ground Beef Tacos are so delicious you’ll wonder why you never tried them sooner. This 20-minute taco recipe is easy, flavorful, and perfect for the whole family!

In just 15 minutes, make the most amazing Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps! They taste just like the delicious PF Chang's lettuce wraps with the most delicious sauce. Easy to make and healthy.

This Thai Basil Ground Beef Bowl makes the perfect twenty-minute weeknight meal and you won't believe the flavor! Served with cauliflower rice, it's a healthy meal you will make again and again.

These 15-minute Thai Beef Cabbage Wraps make a delicious appetizer or dinner. Made with lean ground beef, Thai flavors, cashews, and cilantro all wrapped in a crunchy cabbage leaf.

The Best Meatball Recipes

One of the best ways to use ground beef is to make meatballs! From classic meatballs to the best Mexican chipotle meatballs and even some Asian meatballs that make the best lettuce wraps.

Slow Cooker Italian Meatballs

244 CAL 6 HOURS, 20 MIN
Slow cooker Italian meatballs served with pasta, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Few things are more delicious and comforting than meatballs simmered low and slow in tomato sauce with hints of Parmesan, parsley, and sausage studded throughout

These Turkish Kofte Meatballs are made with a delicious combination of ground lamb, ground beef, fresh herbs, and spices for a tasty dinner that tastes like takeout. They are easy to make and freezer-friendly.

Asian Meatballs

224 CAL 30 MIN
Asian meatballs with cucumbers, pickled carrots, and lettuce wraps.

Asian Meatballs with soy, ginger, cilantro, and Sriracha are easy to make, full fo Asian flavor, and great for leftovers.

Spinach Meatballs

198 CAL 35 MIN
Spinach meatballs with lean beef and chopped spinach on a plate with tongs.

Spinach meatballs made with lean ground beef, frozen spinach, onions, garlic, and spices are delicious with pasta, rice, in salads, or sandwiches.

Tasty Ground Beef Soups and Stews

Ground beef is the perfect ingredient for soups, stews, and chili since it soaks up any flavors you are using!

Caldo de Albondigas is a hearty Mexican Meatball Soup made with homemade beef and rice meatballs, potatoes, and fresh vegetables served in a spicy tomato broth. This cozy, mouth-watering soup guarantees to please.

This Easy Beef Chili Recipe made with ingredients found in your pantry and ready in just 30 minutes. This simple chili is packed with flavor, good for you, and you won't believe it hasn't been simmering on the stove all day.

This easy Tortellini Soup with Turkey and Spinach is packed with lean ground turkey, tomatoes, white beans, spinach, and tortellini in a delicious broth. Simple to make and a huge family hit.

Classic Ground Beef Recipes and More

There are honestly so many delicious ways to cook with ground beef! These recipes are some popular classics like baked ziti and our favorite burgers plus some creative ideas you definitely don't want to miss!

This Unstuffed Pepper Skillet has all the taste of classic stuffed peppers in a one pan, easy to make recipe. This hearty recipe is nutritious, filling, and tastes amazing.

This classic Baked Zitti Bolognese is a delicious baked pasta dish packed with turkey bolognese, tons of veggies, and delicious melted mozzarella cheese. Great to prep and freeze for a make ahead meal.

Zucchini Taco Boats have all the flavor of tacos with lean ground turkey, peppers, onions, salsa, and cheese. They are a healthy and low carb option for taco night!

Cheeseburger Salad

251 CAL 20 MIN
Cheeseburger salad with ground beef, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese in a bowl.

Cheeseburger Salad takes the best parts of a cheeseburger and transforms them into a fun and delicious salad. Made with lean ground beef, cherry tomatoes, dill pickles, and shredded cheese, this mouth-watering dish is perfect for healthy lunches or dinners.

Picadillo

267 CAL 1 HOURS
Picadillo with potatoes, carrots, and chipotle tomato sauce in a bowl with rice, tortillas, and cilantro.

This authentic Mexican Picadillo packed with lean ground beef, potatoes, and carrots in a spicy Chipotle tomato sauce is a classic Mexican guisado that is delicious with corn tortillas or rice.

Italian Beef Burgers made with garlic, herbs, and onion and a touch of tomato sauce are delicious, perfect for grilling, and make a great dinner.

Tips for Cooking with Ground Beef

Now that you have a list of all my favorite healthy ground beef recipes, I want to share some of my biggest tips. These will help you as you buy ground beef, cook it, and save it for later.

Some of the tips in this list might seem obvious, and others might be new to you. I hope they all help you become a better cook as you use ground beef in your recipes.

  • Always Drain and Rinse Ground Beef - It's no secret that ground beef has lots of fat. As you brown it, that fat turns to grease. It's important to remember to drain the grease and then rinse the ground beef off before you cook with it. This will remove as much saturated fat as you can before you add it to your meals.
  • Buy In Bulk and Freeze - Ground beef is also one of the higher-priced types of meat you can buy. One of the best ways to save money is to buy it in bulk. If you do, then separate it into one-pound portions and place each pound in a resealable freezer-safe food storage bag. Since most recipes call for one pound of meat, you'll have what you need when you need it.
  • Make Once, Eat Twice - Another way to save money is to make a simple recipe that you can use in a different way the next day. This gives you two meals for the price of one. For example, reuse taco meat on top of nachos. Or, add Korean beef to some rice as a stir fry.

Ground beef bowls with spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, and Korean ground beef in a bowl.

Storing Ground Beef

Raw ground beef only lasts about two or three days past the sell-by date in the refrigerator. This is why you should always pay close attention to the sell-by dates when you are buying ground beef.

If you think you'll cook it right away, it's totally fine to get the ones that must sell today. If you don't think you'll be able to use it, freeze it for a later time.

Ground Beef Substitutions

In all of my recipes, you'll find suggestions and options for other types of meat you can use instead of ground beef. Most often, ground turkey is a perfect 1:1 substitute for ground beef. It also has less flavor, so you might have to add a bit more seasoning to it, but it can usually work just as well as ground beef.

Healthiest Ground Beef Choices

There are a couple of things to consider when choosing which type of ground beef to buy and which is the healthiest.

First is the fat content in the meat. If you want to eat less unhealthy fats, you should choose ground round or ground sirloin beef that is at least 90% lean.

Ground beef which is 95% lean is the best option if you are looking to eat less saturated fat and want the lowest calorie option.

The higher the fat content of the beef, the more calories and fat grams it contains. That means 80% lean beef has more fat and calories than 90% lean ground beef. 

Some people also consider where and how the beef was raised, looking for grass-fed, local, and organic options. 

How to Defrost Frozen Ground Beef

Freezing ground beef can help you save money - but what is the safest and healthiest way to thaw it when you are ready to use it?

If you have plenty of time, it will take about 24 hours to thaw one pound of ground beef in the refrigerator. This is the safest and best way to thaw frozen meat.

If you don't have a lot of time, submerge the frozen ground beef in cold water - not hot or warm. The cold water will defrost the ground beef in about an hour. Using hot or warm water could cause bacteria to grow on the outer layer of meat while the inner layer is still frozen.

The quickest way of all is to use the microwave. Remove the packaging, place the meat on a plate, and then microwave it at 50% power for about 5 minutes, rotating and flipping the meat every minute.

Ground beef tacos with radish, lettuce, and cilantro in crispy taco shells.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about cooking with ground beef.

There are a couple of things to consider when choosing which type of ground beef to buy.

First is the fat content in the meat. If you want to eat less unhealthy fat, then you should choose ground round or ground sirloin.

Then, look at the food-grade too. Prime grade comes from well-fed young cows. Choice grade is middle of the road and is still high-quality. Select grade is the leanest option. It's also less juicy, but it's the healthiest choice as well.

The number one way to add flavor to bland ground beef is salt. In fact, many people who think there beef is lacking flavor are simply missing some salt.  Kosher salt is best. 

Another way to add flavor to ground beef (or ground hamburger) taste good, is seasoning. Adding spices like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, or herbs to ground beef to infuse the meat with flavor. Fresh aromatics like diced onion, garlic, and bell peppers also are a great way to enhance the flavor.

Browning ground beef and draining off any excess fat also helps to improve the flavor.

 

 

Some recipes, especially for meatballs or grass-fed beef, may call for adding milk to ground beef. Whole milk and yogurt contain enzymes that can help tenderize beef and ensure it stays moist.

For that reason, in recipes where beef can get dried out, sometimes a touch of milk is adding to help ensure it stays tender and moist.

Generally speaking, ground beef has enough natural fat that you do not need to add any additional oil or butter when browning it.

Simply cook the meat in a hot skillet so the beef gets brown and releases the excess fat into the pan. Break the meat up as it cooks with a wooden spoon and drain off any extra grease or fat in the pan. 

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