Food tips • recipes

What Can I Cook With Ground Beef? Easy Recipe Ideas

Written by Emily Fawcett
13 Minute Read
Published on Feb 06, 2023

Ground beef is affordable, easy to find, and simple to cook, making it one of America's most popular meats. There are so many ways to include ground beef in your home cooking, whether you’re making something for the family or just for yourself. Our favorite recipes are easy to follow and delicious to eat.

For all of these ground beef recipes, you’ll need at least one pound of high-quality ground beef; salt, pepper, and garlic powder; and a working oven with a stovetop.

American Cheeseburger

We know: It’s simple, obvious, and not exactly a secret — especially considering the U.S. eats nearly 50 billion of them every year — but a good burger is the cornerstone of classic comfort food. Better yet, a burger can be much more than the boring beef and buns you might imagine.

Burgers are a family favorite in the ground beef dinner category, and they’re ideal for a busy weeknight meal when you don’t have much time to cook.

For this easy dinner idea, consider upgrading your standard burger to a cheeseburger, a budget-friendly classic that everyone loves. A cheeseburger can have so much more than just a beef patty and some American or cheddar cheese, though those are the critical cooking components.

You can also include slowly sauteed onions or other veggies, poached pear slices, crispy onion rings, a fried egg- … the list goes on. When it comes to toppings, there are no wrong choices — you can easily find something your whole family will love atop their burger.

Prepping Your Burger

As far as cooking the patty itself, we prefer to keep it simple with an easy ground beef recipe. Let your imagination run wild with toppings and keep the beef classic to minimize prep and cook time.

Shape your 80/20 lean ground beef into patties a little bigger than the size of your palm and not quite an inch thick. While doing so, get a seasoned cast iron pan heating up to medium-high heat. You want your pan hot so that we get that deep brown crust on the beef through the Maillard reaction.

Just as your pan begins to smoke (but not too much if you don’t want to hear your smoke detectors going off), season your ground beef with an even blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. That’s all you’ll need!

We don’t recommend using kosher salt for burgers simply because you want an even consistency across your meat and finer salt has a more salty taste to it, so you need less of it. Don’t season your burger too early before cooking, or else the salt might extract some of the liquid from the meat, leaving you with a dry burger.

Slap your seasoned beef down on the skillet, and cook it until the internal temperature is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want your burger medium rare, heat until 160 degrees — this is also what you’ll need if you want to kill bacteria.

Remove your burger and let it rest for a few minutes before placing it on a toasted bun with whatever toppings you’ve chosen. Congrats! Your burger is ready to eat.


Meal prepping for the week is easy when Italian lasagna is one of the dinner recipes on the menu. You can make so much in one fell swoop that you’ll have plenty of leftovers in your fridge and even freezer after a yummy weeknight dinner.

For this tasty recipe, you’ll need to start with lasagna noodles. Next, choosing pre-made marinara sauce will dramatically cut down your prep time (and total time spent in the kitchen). After you have these ingredients, grab some ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Prepping Your Lasagna

To start, sear and cook your ground beef in a heavy bottom pot or Instant pot, make sure to scrape up all of the bits and juice at the bottom as you go — there’s so much flavor to be found there. Once your beef is cooked all the way through, add in your premade sauce, mix it until combined, and keep it on a low simmer.

Bring the water up to boil in another large pot and season heavily with salt. As the saying goes, you want your pasta water as salty as the ocean.

Put your lasagna noodles into the water once boiling and follow the timing instructions on the box, likely about 10 minutes. Have a large baking dish and all of your cheese ready to go before your noodles are ready since you’ll be layering everything together pretty quickly!

The first layer on your pan should be a thin layer of sauce, then add a layer of noodles, then more sauce and cheese, and repeat. Don't be stingy with the cheese either, we like to switch between the ricotta and mozzarella every other layer to have a delicious blend.

Once you can’t layer any more, top off your lasagna with shredded mozzarella and cover it with foil before placing it into the oven at 400 degrees for one hour.

Remove the lasagna carefully, take off the foil and bake for another 20 minutes until your cheese is a golden brown. Remove it again, then let it rest for 15 minutes before digging in.

Lasagna might take a while to bake, but it’s so worth it come dinner time. And don’t forget that lasagna is always even better on the second day, so make sure that you don’t eat all of it in one sitting.


Sandwiches? Spaghetti? Á la carte?

Meatballs are versatile and a guaranteed hit with people of all ages — and they really aren’t that hard to put together. To make juicy and tender meatballs, you’ll need a pre-made sauce of your choosing, eggs, breadcrumbs, a sweet yellow onion, fresh basil, and garlic.

Prepping Your Meatballs

Start by finely dicing three to four cloves of garlic and the whole onion. Then, place your pound of ground beef into a bowl and work it up onto the sides to create an interior beef bowl. Put your onion, garlic, a half cup of breadcrumbs, and two eggs into your beef bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Don’t forget to add salt and pepper while you mix to ensure proper seasoning!

After you’ve made sure that everything is properly combined, start separating and shaping each meatball, ⅓ cup each. Place onto an oiled baking sheet with at least an inch between each ball. Once your pan is full, place it carefully into the bottom rack of an oven set to broil. Don’t be intimidated by the broil setting but be sure to watch over your meatballs so that they don’t burn- You just want some deep brown coloring on top.

Meanwhile, place your premade sauce into a heavy bottom pot or crock pot and bring it up to a light simmer. After five to 10 minutes under the broiler (the time depends on your oven and how far away the lowest rack is), remove your meatballs and place them into the sauce.

Cover the sauce and let it simmer for at least an hour until tender and thoroughly cooked. Remove from the sauce and set up your meatballs however you plan to eat them!

(Regardless of whether you’re making a sandwich or spaghetti, we strongly recommend grating fresh parmesan on top for maximum mouth-watering flavor.)

You can always get creative with your meatballs and serve them alongside some unique pairings. For a quick low-carb meal, meatballs on their own are delicious. However, if you’re open to adding some carbs to tonight’s dinner, try enjoying meatballs with mashed potatoes or rice on the side.

That’s a hearty combination that will keep you full for hours.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Bolognese might sound fancy, but it’s just a spaghetti tomato sauce with ground meat. (Don't tell people from Bologna we said this.) Depending on your time, there are two ways to prepare bolognese, both of which yield tasty results.

Prepping Your Spaghetti Bolognese

If you’re short on time, simply purchase a premade marinara sauce and combine it with cooked ground beef. Mix and heat until combined, then add your meat sauce to any style of pasta noodles you prefer. Finally, top it off with grated parmesan cheese.

However, if you want to make the dish a little more personal by spending the time to make a delicious spaghetti sauce, you’ll need a can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, a sweet yellow onion, fresh garlic, and basil.

Heat a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat while dicing your onion and garlic. Add olive oil to the pot. Once it starts to simmer, add your onion and garlic. Stir and sear until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant, then add a tablespoon of your tomato paste.

Continue to stir until the redness of the paste isn’t as vibrant and then add your tomatoes and juice. Heat and stir this mixture over medium heat until the liquid reduces and the sauce becomes thicker. In another pot, cook your beef, making sure to sear it before cooking through for maximum flavor.

Once properly cooked, mix your beef into the tomato sauce and mix. Include the grease from the beef pan for extra flavor, or leave it out if you’d prefer the sauce to be a bit leaner.

Now, follow the same instructions as the other, adding your sauce on top of pasta noodles and finishing off with ripped basil and freshly grated parmesan. A little garlic bread for scooping up the additional sauce is also a good idea.


If you’re looking for something really easy, regardless of your cooking skills? Look no further than a delicious pot of chili.

All you need to do is put the ingredients into one pot and keep them over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You’ll need premade chili seasonings, one onion, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of kidney beans, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Prepping Your Chili

Begin by cooking your beef in a heavy bottom pot or slow cooker until golden brown, then add all of the seasonings, tomatoes, and beans. Mix well and heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of your slow cooker.

Remove from the heat, top with cheese and sour cream, and dig in! Chili is the perfect Fall food as it’s warm and hearty, but it also goes great during the summer- Especially if you use it as a topping for hot dogs or french fries!

If you want to keep it classic, enjoy your chili with some homemade cornbread.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are delicious, easy, and make for great leftovers, everything a busy home cook can appreciate!

All you’ll need is a pound of high-quality ground beef, shredded mozzarella cheese, ripe bell peppers (color of your choice, we love red and green), a can of diced tomatoes, and a cup of white rice. They make a delicious appetizer or main course.

Prepping Your Stuffed Peppers

First, cook your ground beef in a heavy bottom pot like a dutch oven. For the most delicious beef, start with medium-high heat so that your beef gets a beautiful sear. Next, turn it down to medium to continue cooking through. Season your meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Once your beef has cooked, add in the can of diced tomatoes and their juices, along with an additional half cup of water. Bring this mixture to a simmer before adding one cup of rinsed white rice. Drop the heat to medium-low and occasionally stir until the liquid reduces and the rice is soft for about 30 minutes.

While this is happening, you can prepare your peppers! It's the dealer's choice on how you prefer to cut them, whether standing up or laying down.

We prefer to cut them straight down the center so they can lie on their side. Cutting the top off and having the pepper stand straight up looks nice, but their bottoms are rarely even enough to support the weight of the stuffing so that they might topple over on you.

Once you’ve cut your peppers and removed any excess seeds from inside, fill them with your beef and rice mixture, laying in some cheese as you go.

Place the full peppers in an oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then remove and cover with shredded cheese and place back in the oven for another 15. Your cheese should be melted, peppers should be soft, and stuffing should be soft but holding shape.

Beef Tacos

Another super easy recipe for those of us with already busy days, Mexican tacos come in many levels of expertise. There are certainly fancy tacos that require precision and culinary skill. However, anyone can make a pretty simple yet filling dish with just a few ingredients and a little time.

Depending on your preference, you’ll need tortillas, corn or flour, taco seasoning, guacamole, salsa, cheese, limes, and cilantro. Simply sear and cook your ground beef in a pan and mix with your premade taco seasoning, heat some tortillas to stop them from falling apart when folded, and put together any arrangement of toppings that you like! For a little extra texture, you can crumble tortilla chips into your taco or burrito.

Ground beef can make plenty more Mexican dishes as well. You can use 80/20 meat to make enchiladas, taco soup, taco casserole, and much more. Each of these dishes is easy to make and leaves you with plenty of leftover servings after dinner tonight is complete. You can even use ground beef to make some satisfying nachos.

In Conclusion

While you might already have a family beef goulash, shepherd’s pie, or meatloaf recipe, you may not be using ground beef to its fullest potential. As you can see, there are so many ways to use ground beef as a main ingredient in your dinner.

Making dinner with ground beef opens up so many options that are not only delicious but also fairly easy to put together. You don’t need very many utensils aside from pots and pans, and you don’t need a lot of experience in the kitchen.

Ground beef is so popular because it’s a very forgiving protein, so don’t be afraid to get into the kitchen, crank up the heat and make something delicious for you and your family!


Americans consume an average of 2.4 hamburgers per day — and more meaty facts | Yahoo

What is the Maillard Reaction | Science of Cooking

Restaurant Ground Beef Handling and Cooking | EHS-Net

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