Reducing fat in cooked ground beef

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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A study in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association has good news for beef eaters. Nutrition researchers found that a simple rinsing process reduced the fat content of cooked ground beef (that is 73 percent to 85 percent lean) crumbles by as much as 50 percent. Because 90 percent lean and higher are lower fat products, rinsing will not produce the same results and therefore, is not recommended. Draining and rinsing will not decrease beef’s vitamins and minerals.

So whether you buy ground beef for taste, convenience or price, you also can enjoy the health benefits of lower-fat ground beef with a few easy steps.

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until beef is fully cooked.

2. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef crumbles onto a plate lined with 3 paper towels. Let it sit 1 minute. Blot the top of the beef with more paper towels.

3. Place beef in a colander over a large bowl. Pour very hot water (not boiling) over the beef to rinse the fat. Drain for 5 minutes.

If your recipe calls for browning ground beef with onion or garlic, these items can be added during the cooking process. Rinsing the beef mixture after cooking results in minimal flavor loss. Additional seasoning and herbs may be added after rinsing as desired.

Here are a few other fat- reducing tips:

  • If time does not allow rinsing, remove any excess fat from the skillet as it accumulates by using crumpled white paper towels during browning and before adding other ingredients.
  • Substitute low-fat, low-calorie versions of ingredients. For example, use nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream.
  • For flavor without adding fat, cook with fresh ingredients such as hot and sweet peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes.

As the weather cools down, many of us begin preparing soups and stews. I hope you will try the following recipe idea, obtained by the Texas Beef Council.


  • 2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 16 ounces fresh or frozen corn
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 14 ounces canned, chopped, green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 24 ounces canned evaporated milk
  • 7 ounce jar of roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips

1. Melt butter in a medium frying pan; saut onion, celery and corn until crisp tender.

2. Combine chicken broth, chilies and thyme in a large saucepan and heat.

3. Add cooked vegetables, red bell peppers and shredded beef.

4. Add evaporated milk and heat until simmering.

Serves 4-6

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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