How to Cook Ground Beef

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Never serve bland or grainy ground beef ever again with my guide for How to Cook Ground Beef on the stove! All my years of cooking have come together to make sure your next ground beef meal is crispy, succulent, and full of flavor.

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Cooking Ground Beef

If you asked me to name my favorite ground beef recipe, I wouldn’t know where to start. Tacos, stroganoff, empanadas, chili, meat sauce; what can’t you make with ground beef? It’s always been my go-to for a quick and easy (plus budget-friendly!) family meal.

And it all starts the same way: ground beef and a pan on the stove! But as I learned through years of trial and error, there’s a trick to perfect stovetop ground beef.

Once you learn it, you’re sure to cook the best ground beef recipes you’ve ever had! So before you start cooking, follow this guide – and be sure to let me know what you’re making in the comments below!

How to Season Ground Beef

  • Ground beef
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Depending on the dish you’re making, you may want to add other seasonings, such as my super flavorful taco seasoning. It’s straightforward and will make amazing ground beef for tacos!

For soups and pasta dishes, salt and pepper should do the trick..

How to Cook Ground Beef

  1. Leaving the ground beef in a large chunk, season it with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking oil (except for cast iron which does not need to be sprayed!). Add the beef and sear on one side without breaking it up, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Once the bottom side of the beef has a good crunchy sear, flip the beef over and break it up to your desired size. I like to leave large chunks for soups and stroganoffs, and make the pieces smaller for taco filling.
  3. Stir with a spoon to keep all sides of the beef cooking. If using any add-ins, such as vegetables or taco seasoning, add them now.
  4. Saute until the beef is browned completely and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.

Remember, the USDA advises that all ground meat be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F. See my Beef Temperature Chart for more info.

How to Brown Ground Beef

The best way to brown ground beef is to add it to the pan without breaking it up. Allow it to cook on one side until browned, then flip it and begin breaking it up into pieces.

How to Cook Ground Beef for Tacos

  1. Leaving the ground beef in a large chunk, season first with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking oil (except for cast iron which does not need to be sprayed!). Add the beef, and sear on one side without breaking it up, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Flip the beef, and break it up into desired-size pieces. Add in taco seasoning and ½ to 1 cup of water.
  3. Stir well and let the ground beef simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the water is mostly reduced and the beef cooked through.

You can also make crockpot taco meat!

Cooking Ground Beef from Frozen

If your ground beef is still frozen and you’re short on time, it’s possible to cook it from frozen by following the same directions, but cooking it for at least twice as long. Make sure to break up the pieces small, so you can be sure it cooks all the way through.

I would not recommend this, as the beef will cook unevenly. Instead, the best way to deal with frozen ground beef on a tight schedule is to carefully defrost it in the microwave. Check out my guide for Defrosting Ground Beef to make sure your beef is thawed quickly, easily, and most importantly, safely!

Cooked Ground Beef Tips

  • Cast-iron and stainless steel skillets are ideal for cooking ground beef! Non-stick skillets are acceptable but will not produce the same delicious crunchy sear.
  • Make sure to sear the beef on one side! This is the secret to flavorful, delicious ground beef on the stove.
  • Do not rinse the beef afterwards – rinsing ground beef is a one-way ticket to bland, watery beef. Just drain it with a strainer or scoop it out of the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Cooking more food afterwards? Save the beef fat and use it as the oil for sauteing vegetables, heating up bread, and more! It’ll be loaded with flavor perfect for anything else you cook.
  • If you’re making a sauce as well, splash a little liquid in the pan first to de-glaze it and use those scraped up browned bits! That’s where all the flavor is.

Ground Beef Skillet Recipes FAQ

How long to cook ground beef on stove?

Ground beef needs roughly 8-10 minutes of cook time on the stove to be fully cooked, but this can change with the heat and type of pan. Make sure to check ground beef with a meat thermometer- it’s done when it reaches 165°F.

Do you cook ground beef with oil or water?

Always cook ground beef with oil, if it needs oil at all! Just a little spray oil will do fine for stainless steel pans, and no oil is needed for cast iron. This is because even very lean ground beef still contains a fairly high amount of solidified beef fat that will melt as it cooks, creating its own oil. Water is only necessary if you’re cooking in seasonings such as for taco meat.

What is the best way to cook ground beef?

There is no one best way to cook ground beef- it depends on what you want in terms of flavor and cook time! Ground beef on the stove gives you an amazing sear from the pan, but for stewed beef or bulk recipes, slow cooker ground beef is just so easy!

How to Cook Beef Guides

Looking for more tips and tricks when it comes to cooking beef? Luckily for you, I’m obsessed with beef– and I’ve put together a ton of great resources for making sure it turns out perfect, every time! Try one of my guides above for more tips!

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📋 Recipe

How to Cook Ground Beef on the Stove

Never fear bland or grainy ground beef again with my guide for How to Cook Ground Beef on the Stove! It’s crispy, tender perfection!

Prep Time10 minutes

Cook Time20 minutes

Total Time30 minutes

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Keyword: cooking ground beef, how to brown ground beef, how to cook ground beef, how to season ground beef

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 444kcal

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds Ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon Black pepper freshly cracked
  • 1 Onion (optional)

See our Beef Temperature Chart for helpful tips on cooking any cut of beef!

Instructions

  • Leaving the ground beef in a large chunk, season it with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with cooking oil (except for cast iron which does not need to be sprayed!). Add the beef, and sear on one side without breaking it up, 3-5 minutes.

    1.5 pounds Ground beef, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon Black pepper

  • Once the bottom side of the beef has a good crunchy sear, flip the beef over and break it up to your desired size. I like to leave large chunks for soups and stroganoffs, and make the pieces smaller for taco filling.

  • Stir with a spoon to keep all sides of the beef cooking. If using any add-ins, such as vegetables or taco seasoning, add them now.

    1 Onion

  • Saute until the beef is browned completely and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.

Notes

  • Cast-iron and stainless steel skillets are ideal for cooking ground beef! Non-stick skillets are acceptable but will not produce the same delicious crunchy sear.
  • Make sure to sear the beef on one side! This is the secret to flavorful, delicious ground beef on the stove.
  • Don’t rinse the beef afterwards – rinsing ground beef is a one-way ticket to bland, watery beef. Just drain it with a strainer or scoop it out of the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Cooking more food afterwards? Save the beef fat and use it as the oil for sauteing vegetables, heating up bread, and more! It’ll be loaded with flavor perfect for anything else you cook.
  • If you’re making a sauce as well, splash a little liquid in the pan first to de-glaze it and use those scraped up browned bits! That’s where all the flavor is.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 503mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg

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