July 24, 2013

How to Boil Ground Beef, and Why You Should

I was recently gifted with a lot of ground beef when a friend's freezer died. (Thank you, SE!) I spent the next two days preparing it in several ways. I pressure-canned a canner-load, made two batches of meatballs, and then cooked the rest, divided it into meal-size portions, and froze it. Hubby and I usually use 3/4 pound of precooked ground beef at a time.

How to boil ground beef, and why you should.

When I have a lot of ground meat to cook, I boil it instead of frying it. It's faster, it's leaner, and it doesn't make the big splattery mess that frying does. (Click here for the index to my Homemade Convenience Food series, which includes several ground beef recipes.)

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I start by adding water to a big pot and bringing it to a boil. A couple of inches of water will do. Then I add the beef. My pot is only big enough to do two pounds at once, but if you have a large enough pot you can cook five pounds at a time.

How and why to boil ground beef.

Stir the ground meat with a large spoon soon after you add it to the water. If you want finer meat, stir it often and smoosh the pieces. If you like bigger chunks (which would be better in chili than fine pieces, in my opinion), don't stir quite as often or as vigorously.

Why you should boil ground beef

The meat will cook quite quickly, but the length of time will depend on the temperature of your stove so I can't tell you how long to boil it. You'll know when it's done when it's no longer pink.

How to boil ground beef.

Pour into a strainer. DO NOT POUR THE WATER AND FAT DOWN YOUR SINK DRAIN! I set my strainer inside a large bowl to catch the broth. Since I was cooking a large quantity in several batches, I just reused the water. I saved the broth when I was finished and poured it into Cracker's bowl.

How to boil ground beef

You can run the strainer of ground beef under hot water to help wash off any remaining fat (although this was lean enough for us), then under cold water to cool it down before freezing it.

That's it! Wasn't it easy? Now just package the meat for the freezer in containers or freezer bags. Better yet, vacuum-seal it with a Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer (affiliate link). Don't forget to label with the contents, amount, and date. And remember to rotate your frozen foods. You're not saving money if you're throwing food away because it's too old or freezer-burned, right? (That's why I love my Foodsaver! It really does keep food fresh longer.)

(NOTE: I've been asked a few times about the yield from boiling ground beef. Reader Margaret told me this: "I boiled approximately 1.5 pounds of 80% lean ground chuck and got 4 cups of beef crumbles. So I believe 3/4 lb would yield 2 cups of beef crumbles."  Thank you, Margaret.) 

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You might also enjoy:
Homemade Convenience Food series
Make Your Own Chili Seasoning
Make Your Own Taco Seasoning
Chili Mac

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. What a great idea! I've never thought about boiling it, I'll have to give it a try, thank you!

  2. I think it's much faster than frying if you have a large amount to do, and certainly less messy!
    ~ Kathi

  3. I never would have thought about boiling. GREAT tip!

  4. This is how we would cook hamburger when I was younger. I also at times will put water into a casserole dish and put our hamburger patties in there and cook in the oven..great way to get all that extra fat off. Thanks for sharing.

    1. How long and at what temperature do our cook the patties in the oven?

  5. I have never thought to boil ground beef.
    Thanks for sharing this great idea at the HomeAcre Hop.
    Hope you join us again on Thursday!

  6. I buy large quantities of organic, pasture raised beef and pressure can it to keep on my pantry shelf. I tried the boiling method and found that the taste and texture was not to our liking. But I will try freezing the boiled meat and see if it suits better than the canned boiled meat. Have you pressure canned the ground beef you boiled?

  7. Shannon, yes, I do pressure-can the ground beef. I tried canning it raw but the texture and the appearance were both off-putting. Boiling it first and then canning it is more to our liking.

  8. Does this work for fattier ground beef? It's on sale often but I never purchase it because of the amount of fat, I'm wondering if this would help.

  9. Hi Marina, yes, it works for any beef. All the fat will rise to the top of the boiling water. Just strain it, and the fat goes out with the water. (Don't pour it down your drain or all that grease might clog it.)

  10. Would know or can you tell me where to find how much fat and calories are eliminated by boiling and draining the meat? Thank you in advance!

  11. I'm sorry, Greg, I don't know. If there's 15% fat in the uncooked ground beef, by boiling it and rinsing it in hot water you'd get rid of most of that 15%, I'm sure.

  12. Thank you, Kathi. I figure you're correct but thought I "used" to know a formula that I can't remember or find.

  13. What a great idea! Never thought of doing this!

  14. Cracker must have enjoyed that.

  15. Yes, he enjoyed it Very Much!

  16. Hi Sue. This method yields ground beef "crumbles". It's best used in recipes such as chili, sloppy joes and other dishes that ask you to brown the ground beef before adding other ingredients. If you want to make patties or burgers, it would be better to freeze the ground beef unboiled/uncooked.

  17. You should put the broth in the fridge, the fat will rise and solidify. Then you can discard it before you put it in Cracker's bowl so he doesn't get pancreatitis! It's awful when doggies do!

    1. That's a good point, Michelle, thank you.

  18. Thank you for posting the super easy way to boil the hamburger I've been thinking about trying it but wasn't sure how to do it at all, this is great will be trying it tonight!

    1. It's very easy, I'm glad this was helpful!


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