As I’ve mentioned before, I normally buy ground beef at a lean-to-fat ratio of 85/15 – that’s 85 percent lean, 15 percent fat. To me this is the perfect combination for an all-around awesome eating experience. But I also buy based on price. So if the 80/20 or even 70/30 ground beef is what’s on sale, and the price difference is worth it to me, that’s what’s going in my cart.
The downfall to is that those lean-to-fat ratios are a little too fatty for my liking. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I 100 percent believe that fat is flavor. But let’s face it – it’s also grease. And that’s just too much grease for me.
The good news is that there are a few ways I’ve found to make ground beef leaner when I just can’t pass up the sale. The better news is that each method is simple. None of them are time consuming. And they are all also grand options if you’ve already bought the lean 90/10 ground beef, but want it even leaner. So, without further ado, I give you…
3 Simple Ways to Make Ground Beef Leaner
Note: The following methods work for browning ground beef only and won’t be helpful in burger or meatloaf type situations. For those situations, it’s best to purchase ground beef in your preferred lean-to fat-ratio – sale priced or not.
I know, right?! Who ever heard of boiling ground beef to brown it? I had not, that is until I met my friend, and fellow ranch mom blogger, Naomi.
Naomi is an amazing cook and almost always boils her ground beef to brown it. She does it that way because that’s the way her mom did it. It’s a safe and fast way to brown ground beef when you haven’t thawed it first. And it’s a great way to make ground beef leaner.
To boil it, place your ground beef (frozen or thawed) in a large skillet or pot, add enough water to just cover the beef, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to boil, breaking up the beef as it cooks.
When all the beef is browned and thoroughly cooked, drain it in a colander over the sink. All the fat goes down the drain with the water and you’re ready to rock the rest of your recipe. Or you can rock one of Naomi’s recipes by clicking HERE.
This is my go to method. I prefer it because it removes enough fat to leave my ground beef un-greasy, but leaves enough to satisfy my taste buds. There are a couple of ways you can do this, both start with browning your ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, breaking it up and giving it the occasional stir.
Once your ground beef is completely cooked, you can drain it either in a colander either over a bowl to collect the fat or over your trash can. You can drain it over your sink as well, but I would recommend running some hot water down the drain afterward to make sure the fat doesn’t cool and set up, clogging your drain.
The other method of draining your ground beef, and my preferred method, is to not drain it at all but rather sop up the rendered fat with paper towels. To do this, I simply move the browned ground beef to one side of the skillet and gently tip the skillet so the fat collects on the other side. Then I soak it up the fat with a paper towel and throw it all in the trash when I’m done.
I prefer the paper towel method because I heartily dislike cleaning, and in my opinion, it offers easier clean-up than the colander method. Now I know, some could argue that the paper towel method is a bit wasteful. And I would not disagree. But, it does save me a dirty dish as well as the water to wash said dirty dish. Plus, a paper towel is biodegradable. So there is that.
If boiling it isn’t your bag and draining it just doesn’t get it lean enough for your liking – you can rinse your browned ground beef.
This method is similar to the draining method in that you brown the ground beef in a skillet first. After it’s completely cooked, put it in a colander and rinse it with hot water over your sink for thirty seconds or so. Give it a toss to shake off any excess water and you’re good to go.
How they stacked up in a blind taste test.
I did it. I prepped ground beef in each of these three ways. And I made my husband, our intern, and our kids blindly taste test an un-seasoned sample of each, ranking the beef according to flavor and texture.
The unanimous winner for both flavor and texture was the drained ground beef. The boiled beef came in second, with testers citing great texture but blander flavor. The rinsed beef – well, let’s just say it was clearly not the favorite.
The moral of the story.
All three are simple and effective methods that make ground beef leaner.
That and – two adults, and three kids under the age of eight, is not a large enough sample size to draw any hard and fast conclusions. It did, however, solidify what I suspected about my family’s preference for lean ground beef – fat is flavor. And that trumps texture and leanness in our house.
What about in your home? Are you also a fat is flavor household? Or do you prefer ground beef at its leanest?