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Make-Ahead Ground Beef

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When my husband and I first got married, I could cook, but the number of things I could cook were very limited.  I wasn’t at the point yet where I would just throw things in a pot and know it would taste good. 🙂  However, I was also super busy – honestly, I think I was busier then than I am now.  Getting dinner on the table was a chore that I just didn’t have time for.

Then, I discovered my deep freeze!  I started making things that could be frozen and pulled out later!  This make ahead ground beef recipe has been one of my go-to OAMC recipes!  It’s such a quick and easy beef recipe! I only buy in bulk and I almost always have some pre-seasoned beef in my freezer.  This super simple recipe has been a life-saver for over 15 years.

How to cook ground beef

Ninety-percent of the time, when I make Tacos, Spaghetti, Chili, Sloppy Joes, or other things that call for ground hamburger meat, I have some ready to use without having to go through the cooking or chopping process!

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Here’s what I do, it is actually very simple.  I am writing this recipe with the assumption that you are buying a 6 pound package, but you can add or subtract as needed:

This is great for sloppy joes, chili, spaghetti, tacos, and more!  Seriously, the options of things to make with ground beef are nearly unlimited!  You can add it to just about any meal, but here are my favorite ground beef recipes:

Rotel Dip with Hamburger Meat

Crockpot Pizza

Saucy Beef Chili

Make Ahead Ground Beef Recipe

How do I freeze cooked ground beef?

Freezing cooked ground beef is a fantastic way to save time on future meals and minimize food waste. First, to properly freeze cooked ground beef, ensure it is cooled down after cooking. It should be at room temperature to prevent condensation inside the freezer bag, which could lead to freezer burn.

Portion the beef into meal-sized quantities to make thawing more convenient. Use airtight freezer bags or containers, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing to maintain the quality and prevent freezer burn.

Label each bag or container with the date, and use the oldest ones first. Cooked ground beef can be frozen for up to 4 months.

When ready to use it, thaw the beef in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave. This method preserves the cooked ground beef and retains its flavor and texture when properly thawed and reheated.

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What recipes can I use ground beef in?

Ground beef is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be the star of countless recipes, making it a staple in kitchens worldwide. From the classic comfort of meatloaf and juicy hamburgers to international dishes like Italian lasagna, Mexican tacos, and Korean bibimbap, ground beef offers a rich base of flavor that complements various cuisines and cooking styles.

Spaghetti bolognese or beef chili con carne can be prepared with minimal fuss for a quick and satisfying weekday meal. Alternatively, for those seeking to explore the creative bounds of culinary arts, experimenting with stuffed peppers or crafting homemade beef empanadas can bring new tastes and textures to the dining table.

No matter the complexity or the type of cuisine, ground beef provides a delicious foundation for many dishes, each promising a hearty and flavorful experience.

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How do I know when frozen cooked ground beef is freezer-burnt?

Identifying freezer burn in frozen cooked ground beef is relatively straightforward. Once you open the packaging, inspect the meat for any signs of dehydration and oxidation.

Freezer-burnt ground beef typically exhibits dry patches, feels tough, and may have a slightly grayish or brownish discoloration rather than its original color. These areas can also be hard and leathery to the touch.

Additionally, the flavor profile of the meat can be significantly affected, often tasting bland or having a slightly off-putting taste. While freezer burn does not make the food unsafe to eat, it can severely impact the texture and flavor, making it less appetizing.

To maximize quality and minimize freezer burn risk, wrap your cooked ground beef properly in airtight packaging before freezing.

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How do I store cooked ground beef?

Storing cooked ground beef correctly is key to maintaining its freshness and ensuring it’s safe to consume later on. Once you’ve cooked the ground beef, allow it to cool at room temperature for no longer than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.

After it cools, transfer the beef into air-tight containers or heavy-duty resealable plastic bags. Be sure to press out any excess air before sealing to minimize the risk of freezer burn if you’re freezing it.

Cooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. Labeling the container with the date will help you track how long it has been stored.

Always thaw frozen beef in the refrigerator and not at room temperature to keep it safe from bacteria growth.

How to cook ground beef

Make-Ahead Ground Beef

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

This simple recipe will make dinner planning a breeze.


  • 3 medium onions I like to use one each of yellow, white, and purple onions
  • 6 lb 90% lean ground beef or 93% lean ground turkey
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 each red yellow, green bell-peppers


  1. Chop onions and/or press all veggies

  2. Brown hamburger meat, drain, and transfer to large bowl

  3. In pan or pot that you browned the meat (before cleaning it! you want the slight grease coating for this step) place chopped and pressed veggies for just a few minutes until the onions have a clear appearance

  4. Add back in the browned beef (or turkey), mix well. If you allow it to cook in the greased and heated pan for 2-3 minutes, it will cook those seasonings into the meat!
    Divide into 3 portions. You now have three, two-pound packages of make-ahead ground beef ready for a recipe that calls for ground beef. (or, if you are a smaller family, divide into 6, 1-pound portions)

  5. Flatten the air from your ziploc bags and stack in your freezer for a time-saver on your next meal. Be sure to write what it is and when you made it!


NOTE: The nutrition is for ONE POUND of beef, not one serving.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1109Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 418mgSodium: 410mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 134g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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Rebecca Wood

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

How do you start with 6# ground beef, plus the veggies and only get 3# end product that has a whopping 746 calories per portion?

Kelli Miller

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Thank you for bringing up your concerns about the recipe, and I apologize for any confusion caused. It seems there was a typo in the post regarding the quantity of the end product and the calorie count per portion. To clarify, when starting with 6 pounds of ground beef and adding the veggies, you should actually end up with three portions of approximately 2 pounds each or six portions of approximately 1 pound each.

Additionally, the calorie count mentioned is for the entire 2-pound portion, not for a single serving. I apologize for any misconception this may have caused.

Thank you for pointing out these discrepancies. Your feedback is valuable to me, and I appreciate your attention to detail. In light of your comment, I have updated the recipe to provide clearer instructions and accurate information. Please feel free to revisit the recipe for the revised version.

Once again, thank you for your feedback, and I hope you enjoy making the dish!

Jean K.

Sunday 13th of February 2022

6 pounds of ground beef divided into 3 packages might make three 2-pound packages, not three 1-pound packages. I love the idea and how to do this, though...thank you for the idea!

Kelli Miller

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

Thank you so much for your comment and for pointing out the confusion in the recipe. I apologize for the typo and any misunderstanding it may have caused. You are absolutely right, dividing 6 pounds of ground beef into 3 packages would result in three 2-pound packages, not three 1-pound packages. I appreciate your keen observation!

I'm glad to hear that you love the idea and the concept behind the recipe. Your feedback is invaluable, and I strive to provide accurate and clear instructions for everyone to follow.

In response to your comment, I have updated the recipe to reflect the correct portion sizes and package divisions. The revised version should now provide clearer instructions for creating both the 2-pound and 1-pound packages.

Thank you again for bringing this to my attention and for your kind words. I hope you enjoy making the dish, and please feel free to reach out if you have any further questions or comments. Happy cooking!

Miz Helen

Friday 30th of June 2017

I have pinned this post, what a great idea and great recipe! Hope you have a great 4th of July weekend and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday! Miz Helen


Friday 30th of June 2017

Great idea! Love having things in the freezer ready to throw together.


Friday 30th of June 2017

Great idea! Thanks for sharing!!

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