Skip to Content

What do you use lean ground beef for?

Lean ground beef is a versatile and healthy ingredient that can be used in many dishes. It has less fat and calories than regular ground beef, making it a smart choice for cooking. Here are some of the top uses for lean ground beef.


One of the most popular uses for lean ground beef is making burgers. The leanness of the beef allows you to make burgers that are juicy without being greasy. Lean beef burgers are easy to make – simply form the beef into patties and grill, pan-fry, or broil until cooked through. Top with your favorite burger toppings like cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and condiments.

Turkey Burgers

For an even leaner option, use lean ground beef to make turkey burgers. Combine the beef with ground turkey and seasonings like garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. Shape into patties and cook as you would regular burgers. Turkey burgers have all the flavor but less fat than beef-only burgers.


Lean ground beef makes light and tender meatballs. To make basic meatballs, mix the beef with breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper. For Italian-style, add Parmesan and herbs. Form into balls and bake or simmer in your favorite sauce. Meatballs go great in pasta dishes, sandwiches, or appetizers.


For a classic comfort food, make meatloaf with lean ground beef. Mix together the beef, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, ketchup, and any other desired seasonings. Form into a loaf and bake until cooked through and slightly browned on top. Sliced meatloaf is delicious served with mashed potatoes and gravy.


Ground beef is a taco must-have. Cook up lean ground beef with taco seasoning and top with shredded lettuce, cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. You can serve the beef in crunchy taco shells, soft tortillas, or taco salads. Easy taco night!


For cheesy nachos, cover tortilla chips with lean ground beef, beans, salsa, shredded cheese, jalapenos, olives, and anything else you enjoy. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. The seasoned beef provides plenty of flavor.


What’s chili without the ground beef? Brown lean ground beef with onions and garlic. Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and other spices. Simmer until thickened. Garnish with shredded cheese, onions, and sour cream for perfect bowls of chili.

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes are a fun and messy meal. Cook lean ground beef with ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, and onion. Spoon onto hamburger buns and get ready to dive in! This kid-friendly dish is sure to please.


For the meat layer in lasagna, lean ground beef is just the ticket. Cook it with tomato sauce and layer in the lasagna with noodles, cheese, and spinach or other veggies. The lean beef provides plenty of protein without excess fat.

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is comfort food at its best. Fill a baking dish with lean ground beef cooked with onions, carrots, peas, and gravy. Top with mashed potatoes and bake until bubbly and golden. Who doesn’t love pie?

Stuffed Peppers

Lean ground beef mixes perfectly with rice, veggies, herbs, and cheese to stuff peppers. Cook the ground beef with onion and garlic, then mix with cooked rice, tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan. Spoon into halved peppers and bake. You can also use larger bell peppers.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

For a low carb option, use lean ground beef to make stuffed zucchini boats. Scoop out zucchini halves and fill with the beef and veggie mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until tender. Zucchini boats make an easy light meal.

Spaghetti Sauce

Lean ground beef is an essential ingredient in many classic spaghetti sauces. Cook it with onion, garlic, tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, basil, parsley, and red wine. Simmer the sauce with the beef for 1-2 hours for the best flavor.

Beef Stroganoff

For beef stroganoff, sauté strips of lean ground beef with mushrooms and onion. Make a sauce with beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and sour cream. Mix the beef with the sauce and cooked egg noodles. Top with more sour cream.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie traditionally uses ground lamb, but lean ground beef also makes an excellent version. Cook the beef with veggies like carrots, peas, and onions. Pour into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake until the potatoes are crispy on top.

Cabbage Rolls

For stuffed cabbage rolls, cook lean ground beef with rice, onion, and seasonings. Wrap in steamed cabbage leaves and top with tomato sauce. Bake the cabbage rolls until tender and serve with mashed potatoes.

Skillet Dinners

Lean ground beef is great in quick and easy skillet meals. Try beefy rice bowls with veggies or cheesy beef and pasta bakes. Cook the beef right in the skillet with the other ingredients until heated through. Dinner in one pan!

Beef and Broccoli

Stir-fries are a weekday lifesaver. For beef and broccoli, stir-fry lean ground beef and sliced broccoli in teriyaki sauce. Serve over steamed rice for a well-balanced meal in minutes.


When making casseroles, lean ground beef provides protein and flavor throughout. Use it in enchilada casseroles, stuffed pepper casseroles, cheesy noodle bakes, and more. Mix the beef with sauces, veggies, and cheeses suited for your recipe.

Beef and Noodles

Beef and noodles is pure comfort food. Mix lean ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and pour over buttered egg noodles in a casserole dish. Top with crispy fried onions and bake until bubbly and delicious.

Soups and Stews

Lean ground beef adds heartiness to many soups and stews. Use it in beef barley soup, chili, beef stew, minestrone, and more. Brown the beef before simmering it in broth with veggies until tender.

Beef Vegetable Soup

For beef vegetable soup, sauté lean ground beef with onion and garlic. Add broth, carrots, potatoes, celery, beans, tomatoes, and whatever veggies you have on hand. Season with thyme, basil, oregano, and simmer until the veggies are tender.


Marinated lean ground beef makes an excellent salad topping. Cook the beef with seasoning like garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. Let it cool then serve over leafy greens, shredded cabbage, or noodle salads. Sprinkle with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Taco Salad

For a Mexican-inspired salad, top chopped lettuce with lean ground beef cooked with taco seasoning. Add beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, cheese and crispy tortilla strips. Drizzle with a cilantro lime dressing for a fresh taco salad.

Omelets and Frittatas

Add some protein to breakfast with lean ground beef omelets and frittatas. Cook the crumbled beef along with veggies like onion, spinach, peppers, or mushrooms. Add the filling to whisked eggs before cooking the omelet or frittata.

Breakfast Burritos

Make breakfast burritos with eggs, lean ground beef, cheese, beans, peppers, and onions wrapped in tortillas. Sauté the beef and veggies then scramble the eggs. Top with salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Pizza Toppings

Lean ground beef makes a savory pizza topping. Sauté it with taco seasoning or Italian seasoning to give it lots of flavor. Sprinkle the crumbled cooked beef all over the pizza or just on half to give some tasty bites.

Meatball Pizza

For a fun twist, use lean ground beef to make mini meatballs to top pizza. Bake bite-sized meatballs seasoned with Italian herbs and garlic. Add them to pizza along with other toppings like mushrooms, peppers, and onions.

Pasta Sauces

Cook up lean ground beef to mix into pasta sauces for added texture and protein. Try a bolognese sauce, beef ragu, Alfredo with meat sauce, or ziti bake with ground beef. The beef intermingles with the pasta for a hearty dish.

Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna rolls are easy to make with lean ground beef. Spread cooked beef with tomato sauce on lasagna noodles and roll up. Place seam side down in a baking dish and top with more sauce and cheese. Great for single servings.

Stir Fry

Lean ground beef is tasty cooked up in an Asian stir fry. Try beef with broccoli, peppers, bok choy, snap peas, mushrooms and sprouts in a teriyaki or sesame sauce. Serve over rice noodles or brown rice.

Fried Rice

Beef fried rice is a takeout favorite you can make at home. Stir-fry lean ground beef and frozen mixed veggies in a soy sauce and sesame oil sauce. Toss with cooked white rice. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.


Ground beef makes a satisfying wrap filling. Sauté seasoned lean beef and mix into tortillas or flatbreads with veggies, cheese, beans, rice, or sauce. Top beef wraps with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole or hummus.

Greek Beef Wraps

For Greek-style beef wraps, cook lean ground beef with onion and Greek seasoning. Fill tortillas with the beef, cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, spinach, and tzatziki sauce. Fold up and enjoy.


Quesadillas are quick and easy to make with lean ground beef. Sauté the crumbled beef along with taco seasoning and onion. Place between tortillas with shredded cheese. Grill the quesadillas until the cheese melts. Top with avocado, lettuce and salsa.

Beef Empanadas

For empanadas, fill dough rounds with cooked lean ground beef mixed with onions, olives, raisins, and spices. Fold the dough over into half moon shapes and bake until golden brown. Enjoy this hearty hand pie.


Lean ground beef works great formed around wooden skewers for kabobs. Shape seasoned beef into long tubes around the skewers. Grill the kabobs with veggies like peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple, and onion. Brush with a teriyaki glaze.

Meatball Kabobs

Make mini meatball kabobs with lean ground beef for a fun twist. Form into small meatballs seasoned with garlic, parsley and Parmesan. Thread onto skewers with cherry tomatoes, squash slices, or onion wedges. Grill to perfection.

Nacho Bar

Set up a nacho bar for fun get-togethers using lean ground beef. Cook the beef with taco seasoning and let guests build their own nachos. Provide chips, beef, beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and jalapeños.

Taco Bar

You can also make a taco bar with lean ground beef. Cook some plain beef and some seasoned beef for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. Put out toppings like lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion, cilantro, salsa and hot sauce.

Pot Pies

Warm and comforting beef pot pies are made using lean ground beef. Make a filling by cooking the beef with onion, carrots, peas, corn, and gravy. Spoon into pie shells, top with second crust and bake until golden brown.

Hand Pies

For single serving hand pies, fill small pie dough rounds with the lean ground beef mixture. Fold over and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush with egg wash and bake until the crust is flaky.

Dish Ingredients Cooking Method
Burgers Lean ground beef, buns, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, condiments Grill, pan-fry or broil
Meatballs Lean ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic, herbs, Parmesan, sauce Bake or simmer
Tacos Lean ground beef, tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream Sauté beef, assemble tacos
Chili Lean ground beef, onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, spices, toppings Sauté beef, simmer with ingredients
Lasagna Lean ground beef, noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, spinach, herbs Layer assembled lasagna, bake
Stuffed Peppers Lean ground beef, rice, onion, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, Parmesan, peppers Fill peppers with mixture, bake
Spaghetti Sauce Lean ground beef, onion, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, spices, red wine Sauté beef, simmer sauce
Shepherd’s Pie Lean ground beef, veggies, mashed potatoes Fill baking dish with layers, bake
Skillet Dinners Lean ground beef, rice or pasta, vegetables, seasonings Cook everything in one skillet
Casseroles Lean ground beef, pasta or rice, cheese, veggies, sauce Assemble casserole, bake
Soups and Stews Lean ground beef, broth, veggies, herbs, spices Sauté beef, simmer stew or soup


With its versatility, lean flavor, and nutrition, lean ground beef is useful in all types of recipes from burgers to casseroles. Browning the beef and cooking it through are keys to safety and great texture. Spice up lean ground beef with flavors from around the world for exciting new dinner ideas. Keeping a stash in the freezer makes whipping up quick weeknight meals a breeze. Lean ground beef provides a helpful protein boost to salads, scrambles, pizzas, pasta dishes and more. From classic comfort foods to global one-pot meals, lean ground beef is one of the most handy ingredients to always have on hand.