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How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef

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Can you cook frozen ground beef? Absolutely. Read this article to learn how to cook frozen beef; it’s easier and faster than you might think.

cooked minced beef in a bowl with peppers and parsley.

A block of frozen ground beef can save dinner time on busy days. Ground beef is delicious, versatile and it cooks super-fast even when it’s frozen. And if you would like to know more about cooking frozen food, check out How to Cook Frozen Sausages or Frozen Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer. See the end of the post for more ideas.

Why should you have some frozen ground beef in your freezer?

  • Quick dinner: As mentioned above, it’s great when you have no clue what to cook for dinner, and you don’t have time for the grocery store. You don’t even have to thaw ground beef, so that this cooking method will save you lots of time.
  • Versatile: There are so many recipes you can make using frozen meat. Try this Ground Beef Cauliflower Casserole, for instance. Or the Beef and Potato Curry and Bolognese Pasta Bake.

What is ground beef?

Also known as minced beef or beef mince, it’s meat that has been finely chopped with a knife or a meat grinder (mincing machine).

There is no particular animal cut used for making ground beef; it’s usually made from less tender and less popular cuts. However, if you buy your meat at a good butcher, you might be able to get minced beef made from chuck, sirloin, or round steak, which might also be leaner than already packaged blocks of meat.

Depending on where you live, the food laws decide how much fat can be added to the mix. For instance, up to 30% of fat can be added to ground beef or hamburger in the USA, while in France or Germany, only 5 to 20 % of beef fat can be added to the meat. (Source: Wikipedia)

Difference between ground beef and hamburger meat

  • There is one, although many people use the products and terms interchangeably.
  • Ground beef can only contain the fat (up to 30%) from the meat trimmings used for making it, so nothing extra is added.
  • Hamburger can contain added fat (also up to 30%). So, if the trimmings are not fatty enough, extra fat can be added.
bowl with cooked ground meat with peppers and parsley with a spoon beside it.

Why freeze ground beef?

I rarely buy fresh ground beef to freeze it for later, but it does happen that I buy a pack that, for some reason, can’t be cooked before its use-by date. And to be honest, I am cautious when it comes to uncooked ground meat and food safety.

While I would not mind leaving a pack of steaks or chicken breasts in the fridge for 2-3 days (if it is within its use-by day), I never leave ground raw meat of any sort laying around in the fridge for more than 24 hours, it just doesn’t seem safe to me. So, whenever I buy some that cannot be cooked immediately, I prefer to freeze it; I don’t think there is no significant loss of quality when you do that.

Tips for freezing beef

  • Best one: Freeze it in reasonable portions. About 1 pound of beef (450-500 g) is the right amount for many recipes. So, I often leave it in the original packaging. However, if I want to make some meatballs for soup shortly, I might divide such a pack into two portions.
  • The raw beef will freeze in a block, so once frozen, you will not be able to remove just some of it from the pack; you will have to use it all at once.
  • You should NEVER freeze defrosted food again.
  • If you’ve frozen a portion that’s too large for one meal, you can cook it all and then freeze the COOKED beef again.
  • Freeze the meat in good freezer bags or containers to avoid freezer burn.
  • Add spices and form hamburger patties. Freeze them on a plate and transfer them to a freezer bag once solid. Having a frozen burger ready will save dinner another day.

Recipe ingredients

frozen beef, water, pepper, garlic, spices and onion on the table.
  • Ground beef: about 1 lb/ 450-500 g. However, you can cook as much as you need for a recipe.
  • Vegetables: red bell pepper, onions, garlic.
  • Spices: 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

Tips

  • This is a basic method for cooking frozen ground beef, so you can adapt it to fit your needs. If you need the ground beef to cook another recipe, you can use other spices.
  • You can leave out the peppers and use other vegetables instead. Onions and garlic are needed for most recipes, including minced beef, so you might want to use those no matter what.

Recipe steps

  • You will need one large saucepan with a lid.
  • Start cooking: Place the frozen block of ground beef in the saucepan (1). Add about ¼ cup of water, cover the pan and cook the meat on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Flip the block (2).
collage of two pictures of a block of frozen beef in a pan before and after cooking.
  • Scrape off the cooked outside of the block (the meat that has already changed color and is now brownish-grey) (3).
  • If necessary, add very little water again.
  • Continue cooking the meat for 2-3 minutes, scrape again, flip and scrape the other side as well (4).
collage of two pictures of scraping cooked meat from a block of frozen meat in a pan.
  • By now, you should be able to break the block into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon.
  • While the minced beef cooks, dice all the vegetables.
  • Add them to the pan, stir well, increase the temperature to medium-high, and cook without the lid.
  • Add all the spices and stir well, trying to break all the lumps with the wooden spoon.
  • Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through, there should be no red or frozen pieces anymore, and the vegetables should be soft. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the frozen block.
  • Adjust the seasoning and serve.
  • By now, you should be able to break the block into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon.
  • While the meat cooks, dice all the vegetables.
  • Add them to the pan, stir well, increase the temperature to medium-high, and cook without the lid.
  • Add all the spices and stir well, trying to break all the lumps with the wooden spoon (5).
  • Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, there should be no red or frozen pieces anymore, and the vegetables should be soft. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the frozen block (6).
  • Adjust the seasoning and serve.
collage of two images of cooking ground beef and vegetables in a saucepan.

Recipe FAQ

How to know if the meat is cooked through?

It should be very hot and brown all over, with no pink or red spots. The safe temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit/ 72 degrees Celsius. Still, I find it difficult to check that with a digital meat thermometer, as there is no whole piece of meat to stick the thermometer into. The meat should be cooked after the recommended time, but check by looking at it thoroughly and stirring well to check all over.

Can I cook other kinds of ground meat the same way?

Yes. Pork or a mixture of beef and pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken. Cook them as instructed, making sure the meat is cooked through before serving.

How to store and reheat?

Refrigerate in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Reheat well before serving. Place the leftover cooked meat in a small saucepan and add a splash of water. Reheat gently, often stirring, until piping hot.
Freeze: Once it has reached room temperature, place it in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for about 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat well before serving. Or reheat from frozen as instructed above.

How to serve?

  • Cooked ground beef is versatile, you can make lots of delicious meals with it, and you can serve it with almost anything you can think of. Mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, or bread are perfect.
  • Use the meat to stuff jacket potatoes or sweet potatoes or make sloppy joes.
  • Serve it with oven-baked or air fryer potato wedges, fries, couscous, polenta, or other grains.
  • Spice the meat with taco seasoning and use it to fill tacos, tortillas, enchiladas or to make tostadas.
close up of a black bowl containing beef and red peppers with parsley on top.

Cooking food from frozen

cooked minced beef in a bowl with peppers and parsley.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef

Can you cook frozen ground beef? Absolutely. Read this article to learn how to cook frozen beef; it’s easier and faster than you might think.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Meat Recipes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 316kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large saucepan with a lid.

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb frozen ground beef 450-500 g, Notes 1,2
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 red bell pepper Note 3
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander Note 4
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon chili
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the block of beef in the saucepan. Add about ¼ cup water, cover the pan and cook the meat on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Flip the block and scrape cooked meat off (the meat that has already changed color and is now brownish-grey). If necessary, add a tiny splash of water again.
  • Continue cooking the meat for 2-3 minutes with the lid on, scrape again, flip and scrape the other side as well.
  • Break block: By now, you should be able to break the block into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon.
  • Vegetables: While the meat cooks, dice pepper, chop onion and garlic finely.
  • Add them to the pan, stir well and cook on medium heat without the lid.
  • Add all the spices and stir well, trying to break all the lumps with the wooden spoon.
  • Cook for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through, there should be no red/pink or frozen pieces anymore, and the vegetables should be soft (Note 5).
  • Adjust the seasoning.

Notes

  1. You can cook more meat than that, adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  2. You can use this method for cooking ground pork or a mixture of beef and pork, turkey or chicken. Cook them as instructed, making sure the meat is cooked through before serving.
  3. If you cook frozen beef for use in other recipes, you can leave out the vegetables or use other vegetables instead.
  4. If you need the meat for another recipe, use other spices as required.
  5. The meat should be very hot and brown all over, with no pink or red spots. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit/ 72 degrees Celsius. Still, I find it difficult to check that with a digital meat thermometer, as there is no whole piece of meat to stick the thermometer into. The meat should be cooked through if you follow the time instructions, but make sure to check by looking at it thoroughly and stirring well to check all over.

Nutrition

Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 376mg | Potassium: 452mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1330IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 3mg
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