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Know how to handle and store ground beef to maximize food safety.

Cooking tips for tasty ground beef meals

Taking small steps can make all the difference when you're preparing ground beef. Use these tips to maximize the taste and quality of your favorite meals, so that every bite is delicious from start to finish.

  • Minimize handling - Burgers, meatloaf, meatballs and other ground beef recipes will be more tender if you handle the meat as little as possible as you add seasonings and other ingredients. If you over mix it, you'll end up with a firm, compact texture after cooking.
  • Enhance browning - Pat beef with a paper towel before cooking, because liquid in the pan can prevent ground beef from browning.
  • Time for salt - Add salt after cooking. Salting before cooking can draw moisture and juices out of the meat.
  • Turn with tongs - When flipping burgers, you can use a spatula, but don't press down on patties or you'll lose the juices that make the burger moist.
  • Watch the heat - If the heat is too high, you may overcook your beef on the outside while the inside remains undercooked.
  • Marinades and rubs - Experiment with various marinades and rubs to add a little excitement to your meal.
  • Be safe - Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours, and be sure to eat leftovers within 2 to 3 days.
  • Keep it clean - Always wash hands and sanitize cutting boards, countertops and utensils after working with ground beef to prevent potential cross contamination of other foods.
  • Always - Cook ground beef to 160˚ F to ensure that any harmful bacteria are eliminated. Use a meat thermometer to verify the temperature before serving.
  • Minimize fat — To reduce the amount of fat remaining after browning, drain your ground beef using a colander. If you prefer to rinse your ground beef to remove additional excess fat, we recommend you wait to add seasoning until after you rinse.

Source: Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff Program.

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