How to Cook Ground Beef (Boiling Ground Beef for Tacos, Spaghetti, etc.)

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Wondering how to cook ground beef? Frying is a popular option, but boiling ground beef is easy, quick, and it creates leaner meat! Cooking ground beef with this method creates the perfect crumbled ground beef for tacos, chili, spaghetti sauce, and more.
boiled ground beef in a bowl with a wooden spoon

How to Cook Ground Beef (Boiled Ground Beef)

This recipe will show you how to cook ground beef or chuck to use it in other recipes. Boiling ground beef is a unique way to cook it so that it comes out in small crumbles. So easy and fail-proof!
If you want to know how to cook ground beef to use in other recipes, then you’ve come to the right place! Most people seem to fry it in order to brown it before cooking with other dishes, but sometimes boiling ground beef is really the best option.
Cooking ground beef with this method is so easy, and I love the perfect little ground beef crumbles it creates. Even better, boiling ground beef is a much healthier option compared to frying it in oil. The boiling process helps separate fat from the meat, and it comes out quite lean. 
This is my favorite way to cook ground beef for tacos, but it is also great for making things like meat sauce for spaghetti, chili, casseroles, and more. There are so many things you can cook with ground beef, so you won’t have trouble using it once you learn how to boil it!

Want to know how to cook ground beef for tacos, chili, and more? Boiling is a simple, quick, and healthy method for cooking ground beef!

uncooked ground beef submerged in water, inside a blue pot
cooked ground beef crumbles in a serving bowl

Is it better to fry or boil ground beef?

A lot of people fry ground beef and brown it in a pan before using it in a recipe. While frying works great and can be quick, frying anything in oil or butter is going to add fat and calories. I like boiling ground beef because it comes out much leaner, and the boiling process is super easy.
Cooking ground beef with this method also give you the perfect ground beef crumbles, which is great for tacos and pasta sauces.

What to Make with Ground Beef

Ground beef works in all kinds of recipes. Once you learn how to cook ground beef, you’re going to want to start using it all the time. So if you find you have some in the refrigerator, but you just don’t know what to do with it; grab it, boil it, and try one of these recipes!
Things to cook with ground beef:
three taco shells filled with ground beef, on a white serving platter
large bowl of boiled ground beef next to a wooden spoon and hard taco shells

How to Boil Ground Beef

Cooking ground beef with this boiling method is SO simple. All you need is ground beef/chuck and water, plus a deep stove top pot or pan. Boiling ground beef will only take a few minutes on the stove, so it’s a quick way to get it prepared for any recipe.
How to Cook Ground Beef:
  1. Place the ground beef in a pot.
  2. Fill the pot with enough water to fully cover the meat.
  3. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into small crumbles.
  4. Bring the water to a boil, stirring often so the beef stays in small pieces.
  5. Once it boils, lower the temperature, cover the pot, and let it simmer until the beef is fully cooked through.
  6. Drain the boiled ground beef, and season it to your liking (or whatever your recipe calls for).

How long to cook ground beef?

Once the water has reached a boil, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer. It should only need about 15 minutes to fully cook through. The meat will turn brown when it’s done, so keep an eye on it.

What temperature to cook ground beef?

Ground beef should be cooked to 160°F to be considered safe to eat. Use a meat thermometer to check internal meat temperatures, and check this Meat Temperature Guide for more information about the best temperatures for all types of meat.

How do you drain ground beef?

After you’ve finished boiling the ground beef, you’ll need to drain it. To avoid letting any fat or grease fall down the drain of your sink, set up a strainer inside of a large bowl. Pour the pot of boiled beef through the strainer, and the bowl will catch the grease. Then you can gently rinse the beef after draining if needed to help remove extra fat.

How long does cooked ground beef last in the refrigerator?

If you’re cooking ground beef ahead of time, or you just have extra, store it in an airtight container (let it cool before storing). Boiled ground beef will last in the refrigerator for a couple of days. You can also freeze it for 1-2 months for later use.

how to cook ground beef for tacos, ground beef in taco shells

How to Cook Ground Beef for Tacos

Wondering how to cook ground beef for tacos? Boiling ground beef is my favorite way to do it! This method is easy, it creates leaner meat, and it makes the PERFECT ground beef crumbles for tacos. You can easily season it for tacos with my Homemade Taco Seasoning, or use whatever you prefer. 
Once it’s boiled and drained, pour it into a large serving bowl so everyone can make their own tacos. That’s my favorite way to do Taco Night, with bowls of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and more laid out. Heat up some taco shells or tortillas and you’re good to go!
If you prefer chicken tacos, try our Baked Chicken Tacos!

What spices go well with ground beef?

The wonderful thing about ground beef is that it’s easy to season any way you like. What works best really depends on what you’re making! If you’re cooking ground beef for tacos, then a simple taco seasoning works beautifully. Salt a pepper is a simple way to add some flavor no matter what you’re using it for. Onion, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and thyme are all favorites as well, and work with a lot of recipes.
If you’re mixing the boiled beef into sauces, stews, casseroles, or other recipes, you won’t have to worry too much about seasoning it on its own. I actually recommend boiling ground beef without seasoning, and mixing it in after draining, or as you cook it with other recipes.
taco shells filled with boiled ground beef crumbles
Boiled ground beef is so easy, and it’s definitely a great simple cooking how-to to have under your belt. So now that you know how to cook ground beef, what are you making tonight?

See the recipe card below for more details on how to cook ground beef by boiling. Enjoy!

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