How To Cook Ground Beef The Best Way

12" Frying Pan & Skillet Hammered Finish Black | Avalon Series | Dalstrong ©Avalon Series 12" Frying Pan & Skillet Black Hammered Finish

Quick Steps Overview: How to Cook Ground Beef? 

  1. Set up the cooking station
  2. Remove the beef 20 minutes before cooking it
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet
  4. Add the ground beef 
  5. Cook it for 5 minutes 
  6. Break apart the meat
  7. Cook and break into smaller clumps
  8. Season the beef 
  9. Remove from heat
  10. Serve as desired 

      Beautifully browned ground beef is a staple in so many dishes. Comfort food like chili, tacos, a sloppy Joe, or spaghetti, all start with one basic concept: perfectly browned ground beef. Yes, you can add onion, garlic, and other spices to boost the flavor profile, but it is browning the ground beef that helps you build a dish with impeccable taste. 

      Browning beef is a culinary skill every home cook must know. Cooking and browning beef is a fairly simple task, but a lot of things can go wrong if you don’t get the technique right or try to rush the process. Ground beef also freezes well which makes it a great ingredient when you are crunched on time. 

      If you have ever tried cooking beef by yourself and noticed that it turned out more gray than brown, then you’re not doing it right. Read on to learn how to get perfectly browned ground beef at home using a skillet and some basic kitchen ingredients.

      Before we get into the details, let me quickly take you through the difference between cooking and browning meat: 

      Cooking Ground Beef

      Browning Ground Beef



      Brown, with crispy edges



      Crunchy and tender



      Beefy and acidic

      Liquid Used

      Beef broth or oil

      Very little to no oil

      Lionswood Colossal Teak Cutting Board | Dalstrong ©Lionswood Colossal Teak Cutting Board

      1. What is Browning?

      Browning, also known as the Maillard reaction is a process that changes the food on a molecular level by creating acidic flavors. It helps items like ground beef stay tender and nice for a longer time. In this process, a chemical reaction occurs between the amino acids and reducing sugars that give the meat a distinctive taste. 

      While this process is most commonly used to brown meat, it can happen with any food. For example, this reaction also occurs when you brown marshmallows or vegetables. Even the char you get from a grill fall under this category. 

      2. How to Pick the Best Ground Beef?

      When picking ground beef to brown, take a look at the label of the meat packet. It will help you understand what cut of meat has been ground and what the fat-to-lean content of the meat is. After trying a bunch of different types of ground beef, I concluded that 85/15 is good all-purpose beef. However, if the packet simply says “ground beef” or “market ground beef”, you can ask the butcher for more details.

      Here are some things you would want to keep in mind when purchasing ground beef for browning: 

      • You want to purchase the freshest ground beef you can. To do this, start by choosing a package with the sell-by date that is furthest from today’s date. 
      • Another important thing to look out for is the color of the meat. Keep in mind that a bright red color can be misleading as the meat could have been packaged with carbon monoxide to maintain the color. You also want to avoid any trays that look gray 
      • Lastly, you want the ground beef to stay cold, so stop at the meat counter right before you head to the billing counter. 

      3. Tools Required to Cook Ground Beef

      While browning ground beef is no rocket science, some tools will help you complete this task with utmost precision and accuracy. 

      • Skillet: A 9-12 inch non-stick skillet will not only help you brown the meat beautifully but will also give the meat enough room to cook evenly. If you use more or less meat, try to size the pan up or down accordingly. 
      • Apron: It is always a good idea to put on an apron that will protect your clothes from unwanted splatters and help you hold things while you work in the kitchen. 
      • Cutting Board: A sturdy cutting board is every cook’s best friend. A big cutting board is a great tool to chop big and small fruits and vegetables and hold meat so you don’t mess up the kitchen counter. 

      4. How to Brown Ground Beef in a Skillet?

      Browning Ground Beef in a Skillet

      Prep Time

      5 mins

      Cook Time

      12 mins 




      Ground Beef

      • 1 LB Ground Beef (85% lean)


      • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
      • ¾ teaspoon Salt (adjust to taste)
      • ¼ teaspoon Pepper (if desired)

      Cooking Instructions

      Step 1: Set up the cooking station

      • Gather all the ingredients and tools before you get cooking. 

      Step 2: Remove the beef 20 minutes before cooking it

      • Start by removing the beef from the fridge so it can come closer to room temperature.
      • This will help cook the meat evenly. 

      Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large skillet

      • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes. 

      Step 4: Add the ground beef 

      • Add the ground beef to the skillet.
      • Use a spatula to press the beef into an even, flat layer in the pan. 

      Step 5: Cook it for 5 minutes 

      • Let this cook untouched for 5 minutes.
      • This will give the meat a nice brown crust. 

      Step 6: Break apart the meat

      • Start to break apart the meat, flipping it over. 

      Step 7: Cook and break into smaller clumps

      • Cook this for another 5 minutes or until cooked all the way through. 
      • Go back with the spatula and break it down further into smaller clumps. 

      Step 8: Season the beef 

      • Season with salt and pepper as desired. 
      • Stir the meat to give it a good mix.

      Step 9: Remove from heat

      • Once the beef has a nice golden-brown color, remove it from heat. 

      Step 10: Serve as desired 

      • You can store this ground beef or use it in tacos, spaghetti, meatballs, or any other meal you like.  

      5. Recipe: Ground Beef for Tacos

      Now that you know how to brown ground beef to perfection, let's take a look at some yummy dishes you can prepare with it. My all-time favorite has to be tacos. Ground beef prepared for tacos is juicy, flavorful, quick and so versatile that you can also use it to fill burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, empanadas, or anything else you can think of. 

      The best part about this recipe is that you even double or triple the quantity of this recipe and use it to meal prep for the whole week or freeze it to use on days you don’t have time to cook, but still crave a satisfying meal. 

      Ground Beef for Tacos

      Prep Time

      5 mins

      Cook Time

      15 mins 

      Total Time

      20 mins




      Ground Beef

      • 2 LB Ground Beef 


      • 1 cup Onion (finely diced)
      • 4 cloves Garlic (minced)
      • Kosher Salt (to taste)
      • 2 tablespoons Chili Powder
      • 1 tablespoon Paprika
      • 2 teaspoons Cumin
      • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
      • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or Black Pepper)
      • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
      • 1 cup Beef Broth 
      • ⅓ cup Cilantro Leaves (chopped)  

      Cooking Instructions

      Step 1: Set up the cooking station

      • Make sure you have all the tools and ingredients required to get cooking. 

      Step 2: Heat the Skillet

      • Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. 
      • Once hot, add the meat to the skillet and cook, using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to break up the ground beef into equal-size pieces as it cooks. 

      Note: Make sure it’s not pink anymore. 

      Step 3: Add the veggies

      • Add onion and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally. Do this until the onion is soft (about 2-3 minutes). 
      • Lightly season with salt to taste. Mix properly to combine. 

      Note: I suggest you don’t add a lot of salt as the beef broth will also contain some amount of salt. 

      Step 4: Add the spices and beef broth

      • Add paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, tomato paste, and beef broth. Mix this well, until everything is combined. 

      Step 5: Reduce heat and let it cook

      • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the skillet for 8-10 minutes and let it cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 
      • Taste and adjust salt as required. 

      Step 6: Garnish and stuff

      • Garnish with chopped cilantro and voila- your ground beef is set to be used as filling for tacos, burritos, empanadas, etc. 

      Tips to Cook Ground Beef for Tacos: 

      • I prefer to use 85-90% lean beef. This is why you skip the step of draining the fat that is released from the meat. If you end up using higher fat content ground beef, remember to drain the extra fat after browning. 
      • You can use store-bought beef broth for this purpose. You can also dissolve 1 beef bouillon in 1 cup of hot water for extra flavor. 
      • To store the ground beef, place the leftover meat into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 
      • If you wish to freeze the meat, let it cool completely. Then place the leftover ground beef into an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. This frozen ground beef can also be made into meatballs. Make sure it is sealed well to avoid freezer burn. 

      6. Nutrition Information

      Ground Beef for Tacos





      Saturated Fat


      Dietary Fiber














      Vitamin A


      Vitamin C






      *IU stands for International Unit and is a measure that is used in pharmacy and for the use of measurement of vitamins.

      7. Best Skillets to Cook Ground Beef

      1. 9” Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      9” Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      This medium-weight and ultra functioning piece of cookware is perfect for braising and browning foods like ground chicken. That is because the skillet boasts impeccable conductivity making sure that all the food inside is cooked evenly. 


      • This nonstick skillet is extremely durable and very simple to maintain. 
      • This skillet is versatile enough to perform almost all kitchen tasks with utmost accuracy and is compatible with all stovetops. It is also oven, broiler, freezer, dishwasher, and refrigerator safe. 
      • A vented hole on the lid serves as a pressure release to prevent the pan from rattling and food from boiling over. 


      • While a 9” skillet is perfect if you’re cooking ground beef for 1 person, it would not be sufficient if you had to cook for more people. In that case, you can go for one of the bigger skillets. 
      • Some cooks would prefer a skillet with 2 side handles to get a better grip on the vessel. 

      2. 10” Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      10” Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      Looking for a skillet that will work tirelessly by your side while making sure that all your cooking tasks are finished to perfection? Then this is what you need! This stunning 10” skillet is an investment you will not regret making and here’s why: 


      • The 3-ply aluminum cladding cookware is designed to prove unmatched conductivity to quickly heat the skillet and cook food evenly. This becomes very important when you are browning something like ground beef. 
      • Enjoy healthy cooking as this skillet is free of harmful chemicals that are often found in nonstick cookware. This is accompanied by Dalstrong’s limited lifetime warranty on any defect. 
      • The tempered glass lid allows you to ce=leary see what’s cooking in the skillet and keep an eye on the food during the cooking process. 


      • The all-metal side handle of this skillet can get hot when on the flame, making it difficult to lift it without cooking mitts. 
      • This is a good size to cook ground beef for 2-3 people, however, if you are a bigger party, your ground beef recipe might require a bigger skillet.

      3. 10” Frying Pan & Skillet | Avalon Series - Dalstrong

      10” Frying Pan & Skillet | Avalon Series - Dalstrong

      Built to last, this bold-designed, highly versatile piece of cookware is a great vessel for brown ground beef. The painstaking craftsmanship and engineering that goes behind making this skillet also makes it a great tool for tasks like searing, sauteing, deep-frying, quick booking, and even baking. 


      • This skillet is simply stunning to look at. The all-black finish of this is bound to make this skillet the star of your kitchen. 
      • The size of this skillet makes it very easy to store it, even if you have a compact kitchen. 
      • With Dalstrong’s fine craftsmanship you can be assured that this piece of cookware will not break, rust, or loosen if used for a long time. 


      • Some cooks would prefer a skillet that comes with a transparent lid to be able to keep a check on the food that’s cooking inside. 
      • This 10” skillet comes at a premium price but if you cook often, this investment is worth it. 

      4. 12’ Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      12’ Frying Pan & Skillet | Oberon Series - Dalstrong

      Maximum performance and minimal maintenance are what make this skillet a worthwhile investment for your kitchen arsenal. Made of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel, this skillet is perfect for cooking tasks like browning and braising food. The pan is also built to last ad is designed to boast luxury and performance.


      • A 12” skillet is perfect for browning ground beef as you have enough space to layer the meat and ensure that it cooks evenly. 
      • This skillet comes with a brushed finish induction bottom that improves the cookware’s grip for smooth top electric ranges, induction cooktops, and gas stoves. 
      • You can use this skillet to cook a full range of culinary delights from thick proteins to delicate omelets. 


      • Storing this 12” skillet can be a hassle, especially if you have a compact kitchen or minimal storage space. 
      • While the single handle of this skillet is strong and has a comfortable grip, some chefs would rather prefer 2 side handles, to ensure full safety while cooking in a bustling kitchen.

      5. 12” Frying Pan & Skillet | Avalon Series - Dalstrong

      12” Frying Pan & Skillet | Avalon Series - Dalstrong

      This skillet is the perfect combination of style, luxury, design, and performance. The 5-ply Copper Forged Foundation layer of this skillet is redefining culinary spaces and cooking. It also boasts premium conductivity that heats 5X better than iron and 20X better than stainless steel.


      • This is a good size to invest in, especially if you are someone that loves to cook and entertain family and friends often. 
      • The skillet comes with 2 handles that give the user a better grip when transferring the skillet from the gas to the oven or the dining table. 
      • The minimalistic yet stunning design of this cookware is eye-catching. 


      • The skillet comes with a steep price tag that might not make this everyone’s first choice. 
      • It comes with an all-steel lid that helps during the cooking process, however, if you are someone that prefers a glass lid to keep a check on the food, you can go for this skillet instead. 

      8. Frequently Asked Questions

      What is the best way to cook ground beef?

      Stainless steel or cast iron is the best choice for getting that beautiful, brown sear. Once the pan is hot, add the meat and use a spatula to break it up into pieces. Let the meat brown without touching for about 5 minutes. This gives the meat more contact with the pan and thus, a better sear. You can also use an instant pot or crockpot for this. 

      How do you make the best flavor of ground beef?

      Add chopped herbs and soaked breadcrumbs to boost the flavor profile of your ground beef. Minced garlic, fresh herbs, and dried spices flavor ground beef so effectively because they get mixed right into the center of the meat, unlike with a steak or roast, where the seasoning just sits on the surface. 

      Do you preheat the pan for ground beef?

      You want to get the skillet nice and hot for several minutes before adding the meat. A hot pan will help you achieve that browning that builds depth of flavor. You can also preheat the skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.

      How to cook ground beef step by step?

      In a skillet over medium heat, cook and break up the beef until browned. Drain excess fat if necessary. Use the cooked beef in various recipes like beef enchiladas or as a topping. For healthier cooking, consider using an air fryer or baking on a sheet pan. Enhance flavors with ingredients like cheddar cheese. For more detailed instructions, refer to sources like Dotdash Meredith.

      How should ground beef be prepared?

      Ground beef can be prepared in various ways. For burger meat, form patties seasoned to taste, then grill or pan-fry until cooked through. Create dishes like baked ziti or bolognese using browned ground beef for flavor. Incorporate it into weeknight dinners for convenience. You can even grind your own meat using a meat grinder for fresher results, ensuring deliciousness every time.

      What is the main ingredient in ground beef?

      The main ingredient in ground beef is beef itself. It's commonly used in various recipes, from meat sauces to one-pot meals. Ground beef is typically made from cuts like chuck roast and can vary in the amount of fat content. When using it, brown frozen ground beef thoroughly and drain excess fat for optimal results. It's a versatile choice for trending burger recipes and flavorful dishes, often enhanced with Worcestershire sauce.

      What meat is used for ground beef?

      The meat used for ground beef is typically sourced from various cuts of beef, including chuck, sirloin, and round. These cuts provide a balance of flavor and fat content, resulting in the desired taste and texture for ground beef. The specific combination of cuts can vary based on preferences and recipes, but these cuts are commonly used to create ground beef for culinary purposes.

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      Written by Himani Vaid
      Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.

      How To Cook Ground Beef The Best Way

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