10 Inventive Ground Beef Recipes
Where’s the beef? It’s all over these fun, fresh recipes. Don’t expect the basic tacos, burgers, chili, enchiladas … When you feel like you’ve overused the classics, turn to our smart, delicious ideas for utilizing one of the kitchen’s top workhorses: ground beef. Rather than a plain old cheeseburger, we’ve got a patty topped with Monterey jack, avocado and salsa. Expected meat sauce over spaghetti? Nope, our version boasts a chunky tomato-beef sauce ladled over parrapadelle noodles. And we don’t stop there. Read on for smart tricks for stuffing bell peppers with browned ground beef and grains; rolling the beef into sweet-and-sour meatballs that’ll get snapped up at the start of any party; and modern twists on beefy standbys, from meat loaf to cottage pie. As a general rule, it’s safe to use lean ground beef (say, 80 percent and up) for dishes that don’t require a bit of fat to stick together. Go for fattier ground beef when you’re planning to make meatballs, burgers, and meatloaf. If you’re buying ground beef in bulk, separate the meat into different baggies or containers to freeze each pound on its own, so you’ll only need to thaw one nights’ worth of protein at a time.
Pappardelle With Spicy Meat Sauce
We took the most straightforward use of ground beef (in a meat sauce served over spaghetti noodles) and gave it a tasty, sophisticated spin. The ground beef in this spicy sauce is mixed with garlic, crushed red peppers, and anchovies, for a salty, deep accompaniment to broad pappardelle noodles. Serve the pasta on its own or alongside a dish of broccoli rabe or a simple green salad. And a hunk of crusty bread could come in handy for scooping up the last few bits of the hearty sauce, after you’ve polished off the pasta.
Get the recipe: Pappardelle With Spicy Meat Sauce
Broccoli Rabe and Beef Flat Bread
In the past, the only place you’d see ground beef on a pizza crust was on slices of high-calorie supreme, or even a less-than-appealing hamburger-themed pie. But this flat bread uses ground beef, in concert with broccoli rabe, for a delicious all-in-one meal. It’s an excellent way to get pickier eaters to say yes to vegetables: There’s no tomato sauce to object to, but over the ground beef, you’ll layer broccoli rabe, red onions and mozzarella. Every bite is satisfying, hearty, and a fantastic combination of flavors.
Get the recipe: Broccoli Rabe and Beef Flat Bread
This is simple comfort food at its best. You’ve no doubt heard of a Shepherd’s Pie, a savory mince-meat pie with a ground-lamb filling. We opted to follow the Irish tradition of Cottage Pies for this satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs supper. You’ll boil and mash Yukon Gold potatoes, brown the ground beef, mix in frozen peas and carrots, then bake the individual, serving-size pies in a 425-degree oven. Note that if you happen to have leftover mashed potatoes, following Thanksgiving or other fall and wintertime meals, this is the perfect way to put them to use.
Get the recipe: Cottage Pies
Mediterranean Beef Pitas
There are a million different takes on beef pitas—you could try a Thai-inspired wrap or a fajita-like treatment. For this recipe, we opted for a sandwich with distinctly Greek flavors. Like a protein-rich falafel sandwich, these pitas take inspiration from halal, kafta kabob, or beef schwarma on-the-go wraps. Rather than using more-expensive sliced steak, though, we used ground beef to form miniature patties, which are placed over a layer of store-bought hummus and nestled under red onions and fresh parsley. A squeeze of fresh lemon brings a light, citrus note that ties the whole thing together.
Get the recipe: Mediterranean Beef Pitas
These bell peppers, stuffed with ground beef and couscous, take on a decidedly Mediterranean flavor, thanks to salty crumbled Feta, sliced scallions, and dried apricots. And in the quest for inventive new ways to use ground beef, you can use this simple recipe as a template. Try different grains, such as cooked basmati rice, farro, bulgur or quinoa, and different mix-ins, too: Charred corn, fresh cilantro, and feta create a stuffed pepper with Mexican flair, while diced fresh chives, chopped zucchini, and a can of diced tomatoes (drained of all juices) conjures a mid-summer farm-fresh meal.
Get the recipe: Couscous-Stuffed Peppers
Parmesan Meat Loaf
Meat loaf is one of those things that’s marred by a real love-hate divide. If you grew up in household that dined on meat loaf often, it might be one of your go-to recipes for using ground beef. But if you didn’t—or you have bad memories of eating meat loaf that you never quite liked—this dish can serve as a revelation. Our Parmesan Meat Loaf requires just a bit of mixing and molding before you through the savory loaf in the oven. Bake it for nearly an hour, serve...and we think you might just be a convert.
Get the recipe: Parmesan Meat Loaf
When you’re thawing a pound of ground beef, or putting one in the cart at the grocery store, cheeseburgers might be the first thought that enters your mind. But don’t fall into a rut with this family favorite, topping it with cheddar, tomato and iceberg lettuce each and every time it graces your table. These Tex-Mex Cheeseburgers, topped with Monterey Jack cheese, store-bought salsa and avocado, are sure to be an instant favorite, and they actually cut down on toppings that might get wasted (like the rest of that head of lettuce).
Get the recipe: Tex-Mex Cheeseburgers
RELATED: 6 Steps to a Delicious Beef Burger
Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
In the party food hall of fame, cocktail meatballs deserve major accolades, right up there with deviled eggs, dip and crudité, pigs in a blanket, and shrimp cocktail. Our recipe for Glazed Cocktail Meatballs requires just 20 minutes of cooking time, and you can make the meatballs in advance and easily keep the bites warm until your guests arrive. This straightforward formula calls for just six ingredients, aside from salt and pepper: ground beef, red onion, bread crumbs, one egg, ground nutmeg, and currant jelly.
Get the recipe: Glazed Cocktail Meatballs
Asian Beef and Cabbage Salad
On the table in 25 minutes flat, this no-carb, protein and nutrient-rich meal proves a pretty unexpected application for ground beef. Sure, you might occasionally see chicken and cabbage salads on menus, but beef? Turns out, it’s an equally delicious combination. A crunchy salad of shredded Napa cabbage, scallions, carrots, cilantro, with a dressing of rice vinegar and oil, stands up well to the freshly browned beef, flavored and sweetened slightly with store-bought plum sauce. Next time you’re thinking of take-out, remember this dinner salad clocks less than 370 calories per serving.
Get the recipe: Asian Beef and Cabbage Salad
Beef and Sweet Potato Turnovers
Put ground beef to use in these savory turnovers—the oven-baked crispy puff pastry shells contain browned beef, sweet potatoes, baby spinach, and a bit of cheddar and require just 15 minutes of hands-on time. A lower-calorie version of a British sausage roll, this dish makes for the ideal comfort food on colder nights, particularly in winter. Purchase puff pastry for the crust in the freezer aisle, but let the pastry thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 45 minutes prior to preparing the turnovers.
Get the recipe: Beef and Sweet Potato Turnovers