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How to Boil Ground Beef for the Freezer

Learn how to boil ground beef in bulk to help create a freezer full of read-to-season meat for all of your family’s favorite meals! It’s a great way to make freezer batch cooking quick and easy!

Bowl of ground beef aka minced meat or hamburger meat.

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I already see you there – looking at me as if I’ve done lost my mind! Boil hamburger meat? What the heck would I want to do that for?

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Well, let me tell you – boiling ground beef is a great way to

Why Boil Ground Beef?

Sometimes, when I can’t pass up a deal on ground beef (minced beef/meat for you folks on the British side of the language), I buy a lot…and that means I have to process it quickly if I don’t freeze it whole. I prefer to spend a little time cooking it all ahead of time instead of freezing it. After all, it helps me build my purposeful pantry!

  • Time effective – boiling the meat in larger quantities is faster than browning multiple rounds, especially since it isn’t used in a hamburger but in a seasoned sauce or casserole.
  • Produces a finer texture of meat, much like the texture of Taco Bell meat.
  • Easier cleanup – less splatter, fewer dishes, AND…the big thing – fat cleanup, in the end, is so much easier.
  • Prepare hamburger meat for meal prep.
  • Deal with the fat that comes with the higher fat percentage of ground beef more easily than to pour it down the drain.
  • Create a simple beef broth for use later!
  • Easier to deal with less expensive, higher fat-content ground beef. Boiling separates the fats better, so even high-fat ground beef can cook this way to reduce fat content.

Does Boiling Beef Make it Tasteless?

There is a misconception that boiling ground beef takes away all the flavor, but you don’t. You don’t boil to the point of death of the meat. Just until it’s cooked thoroughly, then you stop.

There is no browning to produce a Maillard reaction, but you can always toss it back into a skillet and brown it a bit before using it.

No, there are no seasonings. You do that when you put it into a sauce that can simmer for a while with added seasonings.

Ways to introduce flavor:

  1. Brown the thawed beef much like fresh.
  2. Allow thawed beef to simmer in a seasoned sauce or dish to pick up flavor.
  3. Add more aromatics to your dish and let the meat cook with them as they brown.

►►TIP: Freezer power out? Here’s what to do!

Ground beef in a bowl.

How to Boil Ground Beef or Hamburger Meat

  1. Set a pot of water to boil on your stove top. I suggest a large stockpot to do larger quantities and ensure you have room.
  2. Break ground beef in pieces and carefully place it into pot – it may splash back on you. *
  3. Stir occasionally to help the hamburger meat move around and cook evenly.
  4. Boil for approximately 6-8 minutes or until thoroughly cooked – no pink showing. The internal temperature should be 145°F / 60°C.
  5. Use a spider or large slotted spoon to scoop beef out onto a cooling rack or a paper towel-covered pan to drain water. I really like to use the Scott Blue Towels because they absorb without falling apart, and I can use fewer of them.
  6. Once cooked, place the meat crumbles in portion sizes into zip-top freezer bags or vacuum seal in Foodsaver vacuum bags for storage in the freezer from six to twelve months (your mileage will vary based on the type of bag you choose).

*If you prefer, you can place the beef in before the pot comes to a boil. I don’t like this method because I can’t judge the time cooked, but it is a personal preference. Just make sure no meat is pink.

►►You might also like: Love the bacon and want to learn to store it long-term?

Can I Rinse in the Sink?

The fat that comes from cooked ground beef, that you drain from your meat, or even worse, strain out of your pan like I used to do with my mom, may seem fine at first because you’re rinsing it down with hot water. Because it stays hot the whole time, right?

The problem is that hot water and fat cool off quickly in your home and yard pipes and begin a build-up that can soon wreck your plumbing…and your wallet.

Even if you are diligent with pipe cleaners, why spend that money on harsh chemicals by stopping the issue in the first place – don’t rinse your hamburger meat in your sink!

With boiled ground beef, you can skim the meat out of your pot, drain it on newspaper, a cooling rack, or even paper towels, and most of the fat stays in the pot. The little bit that is still in the meat will help add flavor to your dish and is minimal.

What to do with the Beef Fat

You have a couple of choices. Once you’re done with all of your meat,

Save:

  1. Cool the pot overnight in the fridge.
  2. Skim the fat off the top with a spoon into a container that can be covered.
  3. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to six months.
  4. Use the broth that is left to cook rice, make other dishes, or even can for shelf-stable storage. You can opt to freeze it or can it as well.

“When I skim off beef fats, I’ll save them in a glass jar in the fridge. I mean bacon grease is still king but beef (and chicken) fats do add great flavor to dishes, and sometimes I use that instead of butter when I need to saute veggies.”

Bunny Wickham at Pond River Farm

Toss:

  1. Allow your pot to cool overnight.
  2. Skim the fat off the top with a spoon into a container you can throw away.
  3. Put a strainer into the sink, with an old rag or paper towels in the strainer, then pour the water down the sink. The paper towel catches what little fat is still left in the water, thus saving the sink from buildup.
  4. Use the broth for cooking grains, making soup, or anything that you’d use any other broth for. You can freeze it or can it, as well.
Before and after of removing fat from cooking beef.

Does Boiled Ground Beef Taste Good?

It tastes like boiled meat, unlike lightly browning it without any seasoning. I prefer not to season the beef because I want that blank canvas for whatever dish I want to use it for later. I make sure to give it lots of time to simmer and absorb that saucy goodness.

We all know that the Maillard reaction (the browning of meat and all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan) of meat is best, but this is about quickly processing for the freezer when you’re working on meal prep or batch cooking.

You can do a quick sautee in the skillet before adding other spices and seasonings or adding it to a sauce to help develop that browning goodness before using.

What Can I Do with Boiled Hamburger Meat?

  1. Tacos – one of my favorite ways because I love that fine texture – much like Taco Bell taco meat
  2. Casseroles.
  3. Spaghetti, lasagna, and other dishes in sauce.
  4. Stuffings – tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc.
  5. Anything you use other than ground beef (other than hamburgers).
  6. Dehydrate it. Yep – you can dehydrate it to make it shelf stable until you need it!

How to Store

Like most meats, if properly stored in an airtight package (vacuum seal is best), you can get six to twelve months easily, though I’ve used two-year-old meat before. Since you don’t eat it alone, it blends into the flavor of the dish you’ve prepared.

Short-term storage

Place meal-sized servings of boiled hamburger meat into a freezer zip-top bag and make sure to remove all of the air, then throw it into the small freezer.

For best results, put these smaller bags into a larger zip-top bag for double protection.

Freezer storage bags full of cooked ground beef

Long-term storage

Vacuum seal (I use a Food Saver similar to this one, but any brand will do) your boiled ground beef into meal-sized portions, then place into your deep freeze.

TIP – BE SURE TO LABEL! Even if you THINK you’ll remember, always label your freezer packages!

Dehydrate It!

Yes, ground beef can be dehydrated safely and effectively. While ‘optimal’ storage is in the freezer for best results, shelf-stable storage is still an option!

Follow these instructions on how to dry ground beef for shelf-stable storage!

Watch my easy step-by-step video below.

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Other Pantry Building Ideas

tablet with 30 Day Pantry Challenge book cover on a table with a cup of coffee and buy now text

Your thoughts?

Please let me know if you have ever boiled ground beef (or if you ever would) and your results. Just leave a comment down below.

Bowl of ground beef to learn to boil

How to Boil Ground Beef for Freezing or Dehydrating

Boiling ground beef can be handy for making large quantities of hamburger meat ready for the freezer for batch cooking, for freezer prep, and even for dehdyrating later!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Preserved Food
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 72kcal
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Set a pot of water to boil. I suggest a large stockpot to do larger quantities and ensure you have room.
  • Break ground beef in pieces and place into pot carefully – it may splash back on you. *
  • Stir occasionally to help meat move.
  • Boil for approximately 6-8 minutes or until thoroughly cooked – no pink showing.
  • Use a spider or large slotted spoon to scoop beef out onto a cooling rack or a paper towel-covered pan to drain water. I really like to use the Scott Blue Towels because they absorb without falling apart, and I can use fewer of them.
  • Once cooked, place portion sizes into zip-top freezer bags or vacuum seal in Foodsaver vacuum bags for storage in the freezer from six to twelve months (your mileage will vary based on the type of bag you choose).

Darcy’s Tips

Use any kind of ground meat, but this works best for ground beef (hamburger meat).
 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25lb | Calories: 72kcal | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 19mg | Potassium: 77mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimation only. Nutrient information for dehydrated foods is based on fresh. Use 1/4 of the servicing size for the same nutrient information. Thus 1 Cup of fresh fruit has the same sugars as 1/4 dried.

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12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had never heard of boiling hamburger, but I tried it today. Had two 2-pound chubs in the freezer, and defrosted, boiled, and bagged ten portions. Wow, boiling truly is quick and easy! I’m never frying hamburger again except for burgers. Will be using the skimmed boiling water in a stew tomorrow. Thank you!

  2. Always boil hamburger whenever making hot dog sauce. Have found it breaks down fine. Can add onions to hamburger before boiling. Has worked for casseroles additionaly. Great time to season burger when boiling. Great in soups.

  3. My mom has always spoiled the hamburger for taco salad and it’s yummy !

  4. Once boiled would it be possible to can the ground meat?

    1. Yes – follow the regular canning recipe, but you’ve already cooked the meat from the boiling.

  5. Avatar for Renee Zamora Renee Zamora says:

    I was looking for a way to dehydrate hamburger but wanted to not pour the fat down my drain. I found your video demonstration and it was what I was thinking could work. Have you ever taken this boiled hamburger and dehydrated it and then vacuum sealed it?

    1. I don’t dehydrate hamburger at this point, but this is the way Id do it if I did. Browning leaves too much fat.

  6. Avatar for Martha Gillam Martha Gillam says:

    I see a potential bonus here that it appears that you are throwing away. I would save that ‘water’, which is actually now broth, cook it down maybe as much as half, and can or freeze it for use in those dishes where you will use that ground beef. It will add flavor and in my book, it is worth the additional involvement to save it for future reference. It could go in casseroles, soups, anything that would take a broth of some sort.

  7. In my late teens I would boil hamburger meat, simply because it would thaw it out and cook it much faster. Then I realized that I wasnt having to drain the grease. I did it this way for years, I really don’t know why I stopped.

    1. Me either, Ed. Seems like it’s time to start up again 😉

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