Brown Ground Beef {The Easy Way}

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One of my least favorite tasks in the kitchen is browning ground beef {or turkey, or chicken or whatever}. The microwave seems to make the meat tough and chunky and browning meat on the stove top is just a pain to me for some reason. Call me weird. 🙂

Recently, I’ve started using a simple trick that I learned from my mom. She’s incredibly brilliant at streamlining daily tasks.

The solution?

A slow cooker.  This is SO easy, you’re gonna love it!

I pop the {normally frozen because I forget to get it out} ground meat into my slow cooker, add a dash of garlic powder and onion powder, salt and a bit of water.  Then I let it cook on high for three hours or until it’s cooked through.  I normally stir it a few times with my amazing Pampered Chef Mix’ n Chop – everyone needs one of these!

The cooking time totally depends on the amount of meat that you’re cooking and the temp you do it on.

If I’m going to be gone all day, I leave the slow cooker on low and add a little bit of extra water.  Dinner is already started when I get home! I typically drain the meat and then use it for tacos or spaghetti.

This tip could also be used for cooking ground meat in bulk before freezing in dinner-size portions.

How do you normally brown ground meat?

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  1. I do mine on the stove. It seems to work okay for me that way! I agree that the microwave totally messes meat up, though! And you can call ME weird- I have really limited counter space and I find hauling the slow cooker out to be a hassle… so I hardly use it. 😉
    JessieLeigh´s last blog post ..Resolved- To Be Happy With My Home

    1. I can’t wait to try this! My biggest problem is getting the meat thawed- problem now solved! I agree with the microwave; I don’t even like to use it for defrosting. And the Mix n Chop? Probably my fave PC gadget! It also works great for smashed potatoes and for chopping up spaghetti for the kids.

  2. Great tip! Thanks for sharing. I usually try to brown frozen ground beef in the microwave & you are right….YUCK!
    Congrats on the Casabella Project—new hardware looks fabulous!

  3. I do mine on the stove. Actually, it’s my husbands favorite job, so I usually leave it for him to do, haha. I have that pampered chef mix n’ chop and I agree that it is awesome for browning ground meat, SO much less work. Great idea for the crock pot though. My problem is that I rarely think 3 hours ahead for dinner. I’m bad that way.

    1. Ha! Girl, I totally understand…I have to force myself to start thinking about dinner right after breakfast or I wait until the last minute. 🙂

  4. Brilliant! I like to brown 3 pounds or more at a time and freeze in 1 pound portions. This would totally eliminate the grease splatters all over my stove top.

  5. Have you tried baking potatoes in the slow cooker yet? OMGOSH! it is awesome! I did sweet potatoes Sat. for the first time and they came out sooooo good! I can’t wait to try white baking potatoes!!

    I just rubbed them down with a little oil… popped them into the crockpot.. turned it on high for about 5 hours! No need to add water or pierce the potatoes!!!!!!

    AWESOME!! my favorite new thing for 2011!!!

  6. oh and if you wanted to leave for the day just turn them on low and it would take longer and not overcook them! You can do a search on the internet for this idea… but remember you DO NOT need to pierce the potatoes or wrap them in foil!!!!

  7. Hi Myra!
    Mine may sound even weirder but you can boil it in some water on the stove. Mind you it doesn’t “brown” as well as it would in a frying pan but it cooks it perfectly for Pasta sauces etc., when you drain it all the fat goes off in the water!!
    And to save a further step, cook it when you bring it home after Grocery shopping, cool and freeze in 2 cup lots in Ziploc bags and voila! you have some on hand when needed, it defrosts quite quickly as it goes a little crumbly when frozen, am I smart or what?!!! lol!!!
    Now you have a lovely little day!
    PS Don’t use up ALL your water doing this..ha!!!

    1. @Linda, I cook my ground beef the same way. The water seems to make it cook faster, which is handy with frozen meat. So much easier draining the fat!

    2. And you have beef broth for soup. I add tvp crumbles to cut the cost and fat. If you cook this in a pasta pot with a strainer in it, all you have to do is lift..

  8. I love that tool from pampered chef the other one I really like is the little whip it is great for gravies. (I do mine on the stove).

  9. Ok, I’m giving this tip a try today. *crosses fingers* 🙂
    I would LOVE to have some ready-made ground beef for dinner tonight. 🙂

    Thank you so much!

  10. Oh, my word! AWESOME idea! This tip is going to save me so much time! Thanks, and keep ’em coming. LOVE the potato idea too. You guys are the best!

  11. Love, love this idea! I love my slow cooker and I jump at any oppurtunity I have to use it.One thing I always do is mash up the ground beef with a potato masher. So much easier and it chops it up way quicker than with just a wooden spoon. I’m guessing its the same idea as your Mix ‘n Chop except this method is a little cheaper ;).

  12. I have a mix n chop too! One of my FAVORITE kitchen gadgets! I will definitely be trying the crock pot idea.

  13. I love my mix ‘n chop. I also have a family size 12 inch covered skillet that I use to cook my ground beef. I often try to cook enough for a few meals, just because it saves a step later.

    I do the same thing when I cook spaghetti meat sauce. I make a huge crock-pot of it and freeze it in meal size portions, I only have to make it about once a month (sometimes twice).

  14. I do mine on the stove. But this is a super handy tip and I will definitely try it. With a new baby, a 2 and a 4 year old the dinner prep hour can sometimes go any which way but loose! Having this step working in the afternoon might just save dinner. Thanks, Myra!
    Tracey´s last blog post ..One Word 2011 Patience

  15. I love this idea and I’m going to use it tonight! Thanks for the dinner idea lol! I’ve been following your blog secretly for awhile and I’ve decided to start my own for the New Year. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Sarah´s last blog post ..UH OH JELLO!

  16. It’s not weird – I totally hate having to brown meat in a skillet on the stove!

    Thanks for the slow cooker idea! I usually buy ground beef in bulk and cook then freeze. So this is prefect! I can’t believe I never thought of it!
    Tabitha´s last blog post ..New Blog Directory!

  17. Love that idea and love the tool from Pampered Chef..had to go and order one for myself! I hate having to use a fork so looking forward to this handy little gadget!

  18. I add water and cook it on the stovetop- no splatters, cooks the beef and it ends up in nice little crumbles, and then I drain in a colander. It also takes out most of the fat, so my tacos, spaghetti sauce, whatever, is not at all greasy. Works like a charm.

  19. I too LOVE the pampered chef tool!! I also have the black microwavable pan. 1 lb in the pan, nuke for 5 minutes, chop and done!! I have tried to cook in bulk and then freeze but it always has a funny taste, almost sweet. anyone else have this problem??

  20. Just found this post. I cook ground meat in multi-pound batches for my dog’s food and this will save me a TON of work. Thanks!

  21. This was just the assurance I needed, I thought about doing 4 lbs of grassfed beef in the crock-pot last night… I start a full time job on Monday after being a stay at home Mom for 8 years. So I figured the more prep I can have on had the easier for me to run home in between shift and throw dinner together for Family to warm up while I am gone. Do you think on LOW4 pounds will be safe cooking for a 4-5 hours if I don’t get home at the 3 hour mark?

    1. I think that would be perfectly fine. Just add a bit more water to the pot because you can always drain it off…but it will keep the meat from burning. 🙂 I hope that helps!

  22. Oh my goodness, this is genius! I am always cooking up a bunch of it to freeze so the kids can pull it out and make a quick lunch…taco soup, spaghetti, nachos, whatever. I would ever have thought of this. Now I’ve got to call my Pampered Chef friend and get me one of those mixer thingys! Tell your mom thanks!!! Lisa~

  23. I have been using my slowcooker for my ground beef for awhile now. Such a time saver. I have a family of 8, so I buy the jumbo packs of fresh ground beef. I put it in the slow cooker & stir every once in a while. Then I freeze in dinner sized portions. Love the time i save!

  24. I cook a meal that our church delivers to the homeless/ elderly/ those in need within our small community. Our church is tiny – maybe 40 attends each week and yet we feed over 100 every Wednesday. Of course, ground beef is a staple of the meals because it’s less expensive. But, browning 20 lbs of ground beef becomes such a trial. I’ve never heard of doing this in a crockpot and just wanted to say thanks for posting this!
    Bunny´s last blog post ..In Spite of Me

  25. all I can say is WOW, I never thought of meat in the crockpot like that. I usually get 93-7 when I buy my hamburger so there is not much fat in it while I cook, so I wonder if we can actually add everything to the pot at once, like making taco meat, add the little bit of water and the seasoning in to cook all day long. I am not home to start it later in the day so I will have to do it ALL day! and as far as the MIX N CHOP, hubby says it is the best thing that Pampered Chef has ever made and with me selling Pampered Chef and if he is around everyone buys those!

    1. Thanks for your comment Rene! Yes! You absolutely can do the meat, water and seasonings all day long on low. 🙂 Love the mix n chop.

  26. Using a tall stock pot, to eliminate mess, I brown 15 -20 pounds in an hour or so. I brown 5 pounds to start and then drain it in a large colander while I start the next batch. When each batch is drained I put it into freezer bags, in 1 and 2 pounds packages, lay flat to freeze, then stack in boxes in the freezer. This way all the mess is done at once and we can have a meal in minutes, or I can send it off to college with my kids for them to make quick meals. I started doing this when my twins were born, I had little help, and, of course, they were crankiest when I was preparing supper. Adding the water is a great idea!!

  27. I have done this before, but I also put the frozen ground meat in a stock pot, add water, cover and simmer. Quicker than slow-cooking. Meat is much more tender and just ‘frying’ it.

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