We are a meat loving nation. In 2013, Americans meat companies produced 25.8 billion pounds of beef (according to the North American Meat Institute). That’s a lot of cow. Much of that beef was eaten in the form of burgers. On average American eat 3 burgers a week (this according to PBS Newshour). I felt it was iportant to look at what is in those burgers. Not all burgers are made the same. Different types of ground beef can be used to produce a burger. Today, I want to talk about the differences and how it will impact your burger eating experience.
The Types of Ground Beef
There are 3 areas of the cow that we get most of our ground beef from and that you will find in most grocery stores – chuck, sirloin, and round. Let’s take a look at a cow diagram to see where those areas (called primals) are located.
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.
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%.
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.
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. The beef will be labeled by it’s fat content. If it has 15% fat that it is labeled as 85-15. You may also see 80-20 or the lean 90-10.
You may see ground beef labeled as just hamburger. This is usually a mix of whatever is leftover from other cuts. Anything might be in it. It is not labeled with how much fat is in it. I often avoid it as I don’t like not knowing what is in, unless I can talk to an actual butcher and find out what is in it.
You can always make your own burgers buy using a meat grinder and doing the grinder yourself. Check out the reviews for the Gourmia Meat Grinder.
Frequently Asked Quesetions
In this section I am going to answer some of the frequently asked ground beef questions I have gotten over the years.
What is the Difference Between Ground Chuck and Ground Sirloin?
Chuck has more fat in it than sirloin does. Most people find that sirloin is more tender and flavorful. A great idea is to buy some of each and get the advantages of both – the fat in chuck and the flavor in sirloin.
What Hamburger Meat is Best in Soup?
I would go with ground chuck for soup. It is better when cooked for a longer period of time, like you would with a soup. After all this is the same cut that most pot roasts come from. Ground round would work for this as well, I just prefer chuck. Ground sirloin would not be a good option – it is best when cooked quickly.
Is Ground Sirloin Tender?
Absolutely. Ground sirloin is the most tender of ground beef types. It is not tough unless you overcook it.
Difference Between Ground Round and Chuck?
Ground round is a bit leaner than ground chuck. Both of them can stand up to longer cooking times. I think ground round does best for tacos and meat sauces. It can stand up to longer cooking without drying out and it isn’t as fatty as chuck, which I like better for burgers and meatballs.
What Type of Beef is Better for Hamburger?
Everyone wants to know this one. I think all types of ground beef have their place in burgers. What I think is best is mixing two types together – chuck and sirloin. I also love mixing together ground sirloin with ground pork sausage. If you are just going to buy one type than I would choose chuck for a juicer burger.
Does Angus Ground Chuck Taste Different?
Angus beef comes from a specific bred of cow. It is certified Angus by the USDA. Angus beef is not a different cut at all, so you can have Angus chuck. Does Angus beef taste different than beef not certified Angus? I honestly have not noticed any difference. If I did a side by side taste test maybe then. Seeing grass-fed on the label gets me more excited than certified Angus.
What is the Cheapest Ground Beef Type?
Mixes labeled as ground beef or hamburger are normally the cheapest thing you are going to find. Ground chuck and round are cheaper than sirloin.
Which Is Higher – Quality Sirloin or Chuck?
This all depends on the source of the meat, not the type. If you can get and afford grass-fed beef I would go with that every time. Make sure it says grass-fed, not just grass-finished. Cows that eat the food they were meant to eat produce the best meat.