In the last week, the topic of what is ground beef has been a hot one, thanks to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. This show airing on ABC, brought up the topic of pink slime. Pink slime is pieces of meat that were once considered only good for animals, but now is used as a filler in much of America’s ground beef (Check out my earlier post to learn more about pink slime). I thought this would be a good time to talk about different types of ground beef, so you can better know what you are buying.

Hamburger
This is made from what leftover beef a butcher has. I don’t not recommend buying hamburger as you never know what you are getting and I think there is a high chance you will end up with at least some pink slime. The USDA allows for up to 30% fat to be added to hamburger.

Ground Beef
You may see beef just labeled as ground beef. Again you are not quite sure where on the cow that meat is coming from, so you need to be cautious. Ask the butcher, if there is one present to ask. The USDA says you can have up to 30% fat in ground beef, but no fat can be added.

Ground Chuck
Anything labeled ground chuck must contain nothing but meat from the chuck primal. This area is located towards the head of the cow. It’s where we get cuts for delicious pot roasts! It’s a pretty fatty cut, but that fat helps make a juicy burger. Ground chuck typically contains between 15-20% fat. This is the type of beef Jamie Oliver used to make his Revolution Burgers.

Ground Round
Anything labeled ground round must contain nothing but meat from the round primal. This area is located towards the back of the cow, near the tail. It’s a cheap area of the cow, but the meat can be tough. Ground round typically contains between 10-15%

Ground Sirloin
Anything labeled ground sirloin must contain nothing but meat from the sirloin area. Sirloin steaks are cut from the short loin, near the middle of the cow. This area produces some of the most tender and expensive steaks (like the Porterhouse and Filet Mignon). The downside to ground sirloin is that it is more expensive than ground chuck or round. It is also leaner which is good health wise, but ground sirloin can dry out really easy. Ground sirloin typically contains between 8-10% fat.

Things to Keep In Mind
1. Whenever you see a number on ground beef, it is indicating the amount of fat. 85/15 ground beef would contain 15% fat.
2. Grass-fed ground beef is made from cows that eat a natural grass diet. Many people notice a difference in taste (it tastes better!)
3. To be sure of what you are getting your meat, grind it yourself. The quality will also be better if you do it yourself (that is of course you start out with good quality beef). You can use a hand meat grinder or if you have a stand mixer, you can buy an attachment.

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  1. Jill July 4, 2011, 6:19 pm

    I use a lot of ground beef cooking for my family. I am interested in grinding my own beef. What whole cuts of meat make a good quality ground beef that can be used in a variety of applications? The guy at the butcher counter told me not to waste my money buying top sirloin to grind. He suggested bottom round, but I’m concerned it will be too lean. Can you help direct me?