If you’re looking for a quick and delicious dinner option, one of the best things you can do is start with ground beef. You can use this ingredient in many different ways, from soups to pasta to Italian favorites and easy Mexican meals.
According to Very Well Fit, ground beef also has several health benefits, though you should be careful how much of it you eat because it has a relatively high amount of fat and calories per serving. You’ll find 22 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving of ground beef, but also 5 grams of saturated fat. Protein is an essential building block of the human body, helping it to build lean muscle. But keep in mind the recommendation not to consume more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day.
Moderation is the key to a healthy consumption of ground beef, but there are dozens of ways to add it to your meal rotation. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips and tricks for turning a package of ground beef into a delicious lineup of easy weeknight crowd pleasers.
Cook it into chili
Chili is one of the easiest recipes you can make with ground beef, and there are so many ways to mix this dish up. Consider adding vegetables — not just the usual variety but also seasonal favorites like sweet potatoes or pumpkin. From there, you can customize with an array of spices and flavorful add-ins. Perhaps try out this Pumpkin Chili with Moonshine Sour Cream. It starts with butternut squash and ground beef, plus canned pumpkin. Still not enough fall flavor for you? It also uses pumpkin beer, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a double shot of Apple Pie Moonshine in the sour cream topping.
That’s a high-end chili, but there are far fewer fancy versions. If you’re looking for a simpler but equally satisfying version, you can mix up a batch right in your Instant Pot. Did you know the Instant Pot has a Beans and Chili function just for this tasty task?
No instant pot? No problem. You can cook up this easy Chicago Bears Chili recipe right on your stovetop. It’s is the very same chili served at Soldier Field in Chicago, hence the name. It takes only 10 minutes to prep, 45 minutes to cook, and makes eight servings. Finish it off with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, or any other toppings you like, and dig in.
Put it in pies
There’s actually a lot of ways to use ground beef in a range of savory pies that make for a very easy and filling way to feed your family. A simple and surefire recipe is a tasty taco pie. Start by baking a premade pie crust before filling it with your tasty taco mixture. Like tacos, the filling combines ground beef with chili seasoning or taco seasoning, cooked over medium-high heat. Add in a cup of salsa, scallions, cilantro, diced tomatoes, and sour cream, and stir to combine. Once it’s cooled, sprinkle some cheese all over the crust, and top with the beef mixture. Sprinkle more cheese over your filling and cover the pie with foil so the crust doesn’t burn. Cook for 15 minutes, and top with sour cream, cilantro, and lime juice before serving.
If tacos aren’t your thing, consider a cheeseburger pie that creates its own crust. Brown beef and onions and put them in a pie pan. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Mix Bisquick with milk and eggs (this becomes the crust for your pie), pour over the top of the beef and cheese, and bake for about 25 minutes.
Or for something even more traditional, consider a shepherd’s pie. The recipe blends ground beefs with veggies like corn, peas, carrots, and onions, making it a nutritious and balanced meal. For added comfort, the top or crust of this pie is made from mashed potatoes rather than the conventional dough or biscuits.
Mold it into meatballs
Meatballs are another multipurpose use for ground beef. There are as many flavors and variations for this as you can imagine. Consider a standard version from Mashed that uses ground beef, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese, served in tomato sauce. Linguine makes a perfect canvas for these works of art.
If you’re looking for a larger, more standalone kind of meatball with a sweeter taste, consider this BBQ Meatballs recipe from Tasting Table. The meatballs are similar: ground beef, parmesan, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, and onion. But this sauce is made from ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic salt, and pepper. Serve these tasty meatballs on their own, with rice, or over toast.
If you want something a bit spicier, try Tex-Mex Meatballs that you can prepare right in your slow cooker. Or, if you’re not a fan of tomato-based sauces, you could give these Swedish meatballs a try tonight. They’re swimming in a cream-based sauce dressed up with soy sauce and Dijon mustard, and make for a real umami treat.
Bake into burgers
If you thought burgers were simple, you’d be wrong. There are many flavors you can choose from and endless ingredients you can add to your burgers. You can go traditional with your toppings, or get creative with more underrated trimmings.
Consider layering blue cheese and buffalo on top of your burgers, like this Spicy Blue Cheese Burger recipe. Combine ground beef with paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, and garlic, and divide into four patties. Grill your burgers and toast the buns. Add mayo if you like, then top with buffalo sauce and blue cheese. You can also consider adding fried onions (strongly encouraged), lettuce, tomatoes, or mustard.
Don’t like spicy, or not a fan of blue cheese? Try something completely different with this twist on a Gordon Ramsay burger recipe that wraps ground beef around chinks of Monterey jack cheese, so it bakes into the middle of the burger. Once your burgers are prepped, pop them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you put them over your grill flames. Any sooner, and you risk your patties falling apart as they cook because the cheese in the center will be too soft. Baste your burgers with butter before they come off the grill and serve on toasted buns.
Serve it up in skillets
Skillets are not only a simple, often one-pan way to make dinner, but also a healthy meal option if you prepare them correctly. One of the best ways to do this is by using iron skillets. According to Lily Nichols, RDN, there are many benefits to cooking in cast iron. It’s a naturally non-stick cooking material that’s easy to clean, inexpensive, and nearly indestructible. It adds a small amount of iron to any food you cook. Plus, cast iron pans hold an even cooking temperature, allowing for superb searing or meticulous maintenance of your skillet meals.
And since ground beef cooks up so easily in a skillet, there are countless recipes the incorporate it into easy one-pan meals. Need some ideas? Try a stuffed pepper skillet recipe that is basically deconstructed stuffed peppers. It takes less time but has all the same wonderful flavors. Chop your peppers right in the skillet with your rice, tomatoes, and seasonings.
If that’s not your style, you could try this Greek Style Beef Skillet that features pasta instead of rice. In addition to the traditional Italian flavors of tomato, oregano, and garlic, it also contains cinnamon and feta cheese, shifting the flavors to an entirely different part of the Mediterranean.
Slip it into sandwiches
Sandwiches are simple and satisfying options that you can get on the table quickly. They usually contain things everyone in your family will enjoy, whether they are 5 or 85 years old.
What are some of the classic options available in this category? Consider classic and nostalgic sloppy joes. You could use a can of readymade sauce, but the homemade variety will be so much more delicious. Mix ground beef with peppers, onions and garlic, tomato sauce, ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar, then slather the mixture on hamburger rolls. Try toasting the buns first for some added flavor and texture.
If you’re looking for something a bit less messy or a little easier to eat, you could also try an Italian meatball sandwich. This recipe will take a bit longer than sloppy joes, as you must prepare and cook the meatballs and the tomato sauce before assembling your sandwiches. But the instructions are simple and the results are worth it. Once assembled, top your sandwiches with parmesan or mozzarella, broil until melted and enjoy your hard earned treat.
Make it into meatloaf
Like so many ground beef recipes, meatloaf is incredibly versatile. You can almost certainly find something that everyone in your family will love, so long as they are meat eaters. There are the traditional versions that most people have a recipe for at home already. But there are also more unique options like the Athenian Meatloaf with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce. The meatloaf and the yogurt sauce get a kick from Greek seasoning in this recipe, and the sauce is as simple as it sounds — Greek yogurt, cucumbers, Greek seasoning, and salt.
Looking for something smaller or more varied? Try some Mini Meatloaves that are not only healthy but also full of flavor. You start with the same basic meatloaf recipe, cooked in muffin tins for miniaturized versions. And you can change what goes into them based on your tastes. You could make different versions in the same batch and give yourself some much needed variety in your nightly meal and weekday leftovers. Try an Italian version with mushrooms, basil, and tomato sauce, topped with parmesan. Or tour the Greek Isles with a version featuring kalamata olives and oregano, topped with feta. And if you have a family full of carnivores, you could try a bacon-wrapped version of meatloaf. It’s certain to satisfy even the most die-hard meat eater.
Beef up your soups
Soups are the perfect fall and winter treat. And they come in so many options, from spicy taco types to Italian varieties full of meatballs. If you’re considering something different, you could try this unstuffed cabbage roll soup from Tasting Table. This deconstructed style recipe can be ready in under an hour and serves 6.
Whether you’re whipping up a slow cooker taco soup recipe, or you want to try a creamy taco soup, they both start with simple ground beef and taco seasoning. While the cream cheese is what gives the creamy recipe its consistency, the slow cooker soup has you make your own seasonings rather than buying premade. And both of these recipes make for great weeknight meals.
But if you’re looking for something fancier or a weekend meal that takes a little more time to make, consider this Italian Wedding Soup. You start by making meatballs, then make a broth out of chicken stock, escarole, orzo, and shredded carrots for the soup’s base. If you’re short on time or don’t feel like doing the work, you could easily swap out matchstick carrots for the shredded variety. Add your meatballs and cook until they’re tender. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.
Make it Mexican
Mexican meals tend to be crowd pleasers. And they often feature ground beef. Enchiladas, like in this recipe from Tasting Table, combine ground beef with tortillas and cheese for a meal everyone in your home is sure to love. The tortillas are filled with ground beef, onions, and a sauce made from sour cream and salsa. All you have to do to assemble is roll them, put them into a baking dish, and top with cheese. These are guaranteed to be a hit the next time you feed friends and family.
And if your family can’t decide between Mexican food and pizza, you could try a Mexican pizza instead. In this recipe, you’ll also start with tortillas, but they get toasted up in oil in a stovetop skillet. Top your bottom layer with refried beans and seasoned beef. Next, add a second tortilla, and top with enchilada sauce and cheese. Transfer your pizzas to a baking sheet and bake until the cheese is melted, and you have a perfect Taco Bell copycat recipe. No trip to the drive-thru or tip to your DoorDash or UberEats driver required.
Import some Italian
Italian food is another go-to crowd pleaser. You can find something for just about anyone. Consider a beef and sausage lasagna that cooks right in your Instant Pot. This is particularly nice on hot days when you don’t feel like adding more heat from the oven to an already stifling home or apartment.
You’ll cook this Instant Pot pleaser in a springform pan to keep everything together while it’s in the Instant Pot. But first, you need to cook the fillings. Cook your meats using the sauté function, along with garlic and onion. Add tomato paste and deglaze the pot with white wine. This creates a ragu you will use in your lasagna. Set aside to chill, and then use some of the ragu as the bottom layer, topped by noodles, more ragu, and cheese. Repeat until you run out of noodles and fillings, and top the whole thing with more cheese before letting it cook away in the Instant Pot for half an hour.
If this seems like a lit of work, you could try a one-pot herbed ground beef Italiano pasta instead. The dish uses beef broth, herbs, ground beef, onion, tomato paste, rotini, and mozzarella. It’s a one pan dish and everything cooks in just 25 minutes.
Add it to apps and dips
Another common use for your ground beef that everyone will love? Nachos. This Mexican-Style Beef Sausage Nachos recipe uses ground beef to create a sheet pan full of nachos will disappear so fast, it’s probably best that you start with at least two, especially if you’re making them for a special occasion, like New Year’s or the Super Bowl.
Start with ground beef, and add a host of seasonings – smoked paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and chipotle powder. Cook over medium heat, then add salsa and green chilis. Set the oven to broil, top your chips with the seasoned beef and some drained black beans, then top with cheese. Put the nachos under the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden.
Another possibility? Try this Cheeseburger Dip that combines your favorite sandwich with tortilla chips in a scoopable appetizer full of ground beef, cheese, thousand island dressing, and pickles. Start by cooking ground beef with onions, salt, and pepper. Add cream cheese and shredded cheese and pour into a baking dish. Top with more cheese and put it in the oven. Once everything has melted together, remove from the oven and top with pickles and thousand island dressing. Serve with chips.
Add it to your slow cooker
There are a couple of ways you can use ground beef in stuffed dishes. The ones you’re most likely to love? Stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage. Fortunately, there are lots of variations on a stuffed theme here. Try traditional stuffed cabbage rolls recipe that use ground beef and pork with this recipe, or a sweet and sour variety of stuffed cabbage that calls for all beef. One thing to keep in mind when cooking with cabbage is that it’s not the most amenable of vegetables when cold. Let your cabbage come to room temperature before using it in cabbage rolls for the best results.
Don’t like cabbage? No problem. Try stuffing baby bell peppers with beef and couscous for a delightful dish. You could serve them as a meal, but these little gems also really shine when served as an appetizer. Fill tiny peppers with seasoned beef topped with parmesan, and your party guests will be raving about them for months to come.