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11 Fast, Family-Friendly Ground Beef Dinners

For some cooks, ground beef is always on the weekly shopping list, and there's a good reason why: This cheap staple can be used in hundreds of ways—from hamburgers and tacos, to casseroles, chili and pasta—and can get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. It's also a convenient meat to keep in your fridge or freezer for quick, family-friendly meals. Try these top-rated recipes for ground beef, and keep scrolling to get loads of tips for buying and cooking it, including how to thaw ground beef before cooking it (because you know you've got some stashed in your freezer).

1. Quick Chili II

Super-easy and super-fast, this quick-cooking chili is sure to become a family favorite. Serve it alongside cornbread and top it with plenty of shredded cheese for a family-friendly meal everyone will enjoy.

Quick Chili II | Photo by Rock_lobster

Quick Chili II | Photo by Rock_lobster

2. Gyros Burgers

Burgers are often the first recipe we think of when using ground beef. This recipe adds a Greek twist, mixing ground lamb with the ground beef and calling for it to be served on pita bread rather than a hamburger bun. Watch the video to see how to make these tasty burgers.

3. American Chop Suey II

Since this chop suey recipe only calls for five ingredients, you probably already have most of what you need in your pantry or fridge to make it. Feel free to add cheese or garlic if you want to give it even more flavor.

American Chop Suey II | Photo by Diana Mc

American Chop Suey II | Photo by Diana Mc

4. Jeff's Hot Dog Chili

If you're using beef with a high fat ratio (see below for how to read ground beef labels), there's no need to add water to the pan while cooking. If you have it on hand, a splash of beef stock will add extra flavor to the tomato sauce and seasoning. Here's a handy video to put it all together for you.

5. Ground Beef With Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Preparing homemade taco seasoning for this ground beef recipe is really what makes it extra flavorful. After the meat is cooked, use it to top soft or crispy tacos, or wrap cooked beef in a lettuce leaf and top it with your favorite condiments or garnishes.

Ground Beef With Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix | Photo by Rock_lobster

Ground Beef With Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix | Photo by Rock_lobster

6. Ranch Burgers

The trick to making these moist and flavorful burgers is to mix ranch seasoning, crackers, and eggs into the ground beef before shaping it into patties. Garnish these burgers with your favorite toppings, and you're ready for burger night!

Ranch Burgers | Photo by Holiday Baker

Ranch Burgers | Photo by Holiday Baker

7. Taco Pie

This quick and easy recipe is very filling and great for feeding a crowd. Store-bought refrigerated crescent dough and pre-made taco seasoning mix make it a breeze to put together and add tons of flavor.

Taco Pie | Photo by Shalaine_1

Taco Pie | Photo by Shalaine_1

8. Easy Korean Ground Beef Bowl

"Your busy weeknight needs this dish," says Buckwheat Queen. "It’s so simple to make, and it is super delicious and full of flavor. The first time I made it, I served it over rice. Second time, with rice noodles. Next time, I’ll take the advice of another reviewer and serve as tacos with cabbage. Leftovers warm easily, which is great when you’ve got teenage midnight grazers."

Easy Korean Ground Beef Bowl

Easy Korean Ground Beef Bowl | Photo by bd.weld

9. Rice Mess

Kids will love the name of this dish—and parents will love how easy and filling it is. Several reviewers suggest adding chopped green bell peppers for additional color and flavor.

Rice Mess | Photo by Arizona Desert Flower

Rice Mess | Photo by Arizona Desert Flower

10. Cheese and Hamburger Macaroni

Save time and space on your plate with this one-pan dish that mixes two family favorites—hamburgers and mac 'n' cheese—into one meal. If you want to make it a little healthier, swap in whole-wheat noodles for white.

Cheese and Hamburger Macaroni | Photo by It's A New Day

Cheese and Hamburger Macaroni | Photo by It's A New Day

11. Kafta BBQ

Kids love food served on skewers because it's fun and easy to eat. The Lebanese-inspired seasonings are flavorful enough for the adults, but no too strong for the kids.

Kafta BBQ | FrackFamily5

Kafta BBQ | FrackFamily5

Tips for Cooking (and Buying) Ground Beef

  • For the best flavor and texture, always check the sell-buy date and look for ground beef with a bright, fresh color.
  • Cook ground beef at a moderate temperature to reduce shrinkage and keep flavorful juices in.
  • If you're forming patties or balls, dip your hands in cold water first to prevent sticking.
  • Made too much of a good thing? You can cook up a large batch of ground beef and freeze cooled portions for future meals. When you need a quick addition of beef, toss into tacos, soups and sauces, or crumble a bit of cooked ground beef over vegetables and pasta for a quick weeknight meal.

Know Your Ground Beef Labels

You might be surprised by how many different options there are when choosing ground beef. Butchers can use different cuts (known as "source grinds") in a package of ground meat, which affects the taste, texture, and fat content of the package. The numbers you see on the package? That's the lean-to-fat ratio, and tells you a lot about the grind you're about to buy. Here's what to look for:

  • 90/10: Made from the round, this type of ground beef is one of the leanest you can buy. It's best used for casseroles and meatloaf, where binders (eggs, breadcrumbs, etc.) are used to hold in moisture and flavor.
  • 85/15: Sirloin is used for this source grind. It's a great middle-of-the-road choice for most recipes; not so lean that you need to use binders to hold it together, but not so fatty that you need to drain off the fat numerous times either.
  • 80/20: This grind is made from chuck. It has a higher fat that's perfect to use when you want juicy hamburgers and flavorful kabobs.
  • Lean or extra-lean: If you buy a package labeled "lean" it has less than 10% fat, while "extra lean" has less than 5% fat. If you're watching your fat intake or don't want to deal with skimming off the fat, this is a good choice.

Frozen Ground Beef: To Thaw or Not to Thaw?

Having a package of ground beef in the freezer means you're always a thaw away from dinner—but be sure to plan ahead, as using frozen beef will cause it to lose flavor as the frozen juice crystals cook out with the fat. Be sure to thaw ground beef completely before cooking. Always thaw your meat in the refrigerator—not on the countertop—to avoid any unwanted bacteria growth. It's a good idea to place the beef on a plate to catch any drips while it defrosts, too. It's far easier to clean a plate than it is to scrub out your refrigerator.

How to Brown Ground Beef

Many recipes ask you to "brown" ground beef. But if you do it wrong, ground beef will often turn out more gray than brown. To get crisp and juicy browned meat, start by letting the beef come to room temperature, then gently blot it with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This will help keep the beef from steaming in the pan. Add a thin layer of oil to a preheated pan, then add the beef in a thin layer. Now, let it be! Cook without turning, crumbling, or stirring until the underside is deeply brown. Use a spatula to flip over large sections and continue to sear. Once the ground beef is golden-brown on both sides, crumble it into your recipe.


Need time-saving recipes? These fast meals are ready in under 30 minutes.


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About Chef Jackie F

Recipe developer, food stylist, culinary tinkerer and mama of two kitchen monkeys. When I'm not cooking (or cleaning up after cooking), I'm outside running, skiing, gardening, and dodging Nerf bullets. Follow me on Instagram: @chefjackief.