70 Budget-Friendly Ground Beef Recipes That Are Weeknight MVPs (2024)

It's time to branch out from burgers.

By Camille Lowder
70 Budget-Friendly Ground Beef Recipes That Are Weeknight MVPs (1)

When we’re talking about , ground beef reigns supreme. It’s versatile, quick-cooking, and great for when you’ve got a crowd to feed. If you’re not careful though, it can become a little one-note. Have some on hand and not sure what to make with it? Look no further! From classics like meatloaf to creative meals like totchos, we’ve got you covered. There’s something here to please any and every appetite.

Let’s start with the classics. Though we’re all for trying new things or putting spins on our favorites, you’ve gotta walk before you can run. We’ve tested our recipes for things like stuffed peppers, goulash, sloppy Joes, Salisbury steak, meatballs, chili, and more over and over again to guarantee they’re the best and the most reliable they can be. Trust us, you’re going to want to bookmark these.

Once you’ve got some of those recipes down, it’s time to have a little fun. We’ve also included twists on all your favorite flavor combinations here—you could turn them into a casserole, like we did in our our stuffed pepper casserole or our unstuffed cabbage casserole; into a sandwich, like our French onion meatball sub or our Big Mac crunchwrap; or into a soup, like our meatball sub soup or our taco soup. Feel free to get creative too, and if there’s any mash-ups you’re craving, let us know in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do to make them.


Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme

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We're so obsessed with Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme that we have not one, but 9!! copycat recipes. And while we love our twists (mmm, especially our Big Mac crunchwrap), we'll always have a special place in our hearts for the original.

Get the Copycat Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme recipe.


Classic Stuffed Peppers

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Bell peppers are strong enough to hold their shape in the oven, and the flavor is subtle enough to go well with just about anything. This is our favorite recipe, but the customization options are endless—check out all our stuffed pepper recipes here too.

Get the Classic Stuffed Peppers recipe.

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Mexican Beef 'N' Rice Skillet

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Is there anything better than a one-skillet meal? We don’t think so, particularly if it’s as family-friendly and quick as this one, featuring spiced ground beef, flavorful rice, hearty beans, and lots of cheese. It all comes together in just 40 minutes with minimal prep too!

Get the Mexican Beef 'N' Rice Skillet recipe.



70 Budget-Friendly Ground Beef Recipes That Are Weeknight MVPs (6)

A classic nostalgic comfort dish, goulash is the hearty weeknight dinner we'll always crave. The best thing about it? Everything cooks together in one pot—even the pasta!

Get the Goulash recipe.

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Sloppy Joes

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If you're craving a reliable, nostalgic, easy (and cheap) weeknight dinner, then there’s no debate: A sloppy Joes’ night is in order. Our tried-and-tested recipe uses the unstoppable trio—ground beef, tomato flavors, and onion—to create a flavor-packed meal that’s for way more than just sandwiches.

Get the Sloppy Joes recipe.


Cabbage Roll Skillet

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Cabbage rolls just became a viable weeknight dinner with this quicker to make skillet dinner, which skips the rolling and gets dinner directly on the table. It’s less work, yet the payoff of a comforting home-cooked meal all the same.

Get the Cabbage Roll Skillet recipe.

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Classic Chili

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While many chili recipes call for simmering for at least an hour (sometimes even more), our best-ever beef chili can be made in just 40 minutes. If you’re looking for the most classic version to come home to after a long day, then this is the recipe for you.

Get the Classic Chili recipe.


Taco Spaghetti

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One-pot taco spaghetti is a fast-as-can-be weeknight dinner that pairs all your favorite taco fixin’s with spaghetti rather than taco shells. Everything comes together in one pot—from browning the beef to simmering the sauce, even boiling the spaghetti!

Get the Taco Spaghetti recipe.

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Smash Burgers

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If you're unfamiliar, the draw of a smash burger is its SUPER thin patties. Because they are so slim, it's impossible for the ground beef to dry out, but you still get those deliciously crispy, lacy edges. Win win!

Get the Smash Burgers recipe.


Caramelized Beef With Rice

This flavorful, weeknight-friendly dinner cooks in under 10 minutes! Top tip: Brown the ground beef and then caramelize it with agave syrup (or any sweetener you prefer)—the sugars melt, darken, and get nutty delicious.

Get the Caramelized Beef With Rice recipe.

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Freezer Burritos

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To make these after-school/work snacks, ground beef gets simmered in hearty spiced tomato sauce, then layered into a flour tortilla with refried beans, rice, and a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese. Though we made these for freezing, we won't judge if you eat one right away. 😉

Get the Freezer Burritos recipe.


Big Mac Salad

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Got a craving for a Big Mac, but avoiding the drive-thru? This salad is for you—it's got everything you love, minus the bun!

Get the Big Mac Salad recipe.

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Classic Italian Meatballs

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The perfect meatball is a work of art. It must be tender, packed with flavor, nicely round, and hold together while cooking. Lucky for you, our classic Italian meatball recipe passes all of these tests with flying colors.

Get the Classic Italian Meatballs recipe.


Taco Soup

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When you’re craving tacos but looking for something with a little more oomph and comfort, taco soup is the dinner for you. It’s hearty and filling, super-flavorful, and comes together FAST (we’re talking 30 minutes fast!).

Get the Taco Soup recipe.

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Loaded Beef Totchos

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Totchos (tater tots + nachos) are truly the BEST of both worlds. Be sure to cook the tater tots first so they have a chance to get crispy, then go wild with your toppings.

Get the Loaded Beef Totchos recipe.


Hamburger Steaks

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Hamburger steak is similar to Salisbury steak in that both are covered in an onion and mushroom gravy, but what separates this version is a more simply-flavored patty mixture and the omission of tomato-based ingredients like tomato paste and ketchup, resulting in an unadulterated, beefier bite.

Get the Hamburger Steaks recipe.

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Taco Salad

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When it comes to healthy salads, none are more hearty than a taco salad. Load it up with veggies, cheese, and ground beef for the perfect satisfying summer meal. We love this classic version, but if you want to get fancy, feel free to swap in and out your fave toppings.

Get the Taco Salad recipe.


Miso Bolognese

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We’re no strangers to the simple magic of a well-done Bolognese; it’s a staple in our weeknight dinner rotation. To avoid falling into a dreaded rut, we turned to one of our favorite superpower ingredients to jazz it up. Enter: miso!

Get the Miso Bolognese recipe.

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Classic Meatloaf

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For some, it's a dependable weeknight dinner; for others, a nostalgic comfort food from childhood. Whatever meatloaf is for you, one thing is for sure: Your go-to recipe should be simple and dependable, just like this one.

Get the Classic Meatloaf recipe.


Stuffed Pepper Casserole

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We took inspiration from our classic stuffed peppers for this casserole, creating a mixture of ground beef, tomato-flavored rice, and melty cheese. That being said, just like our other stuffed pepper recipes, you can really experiment with this recipe to make it your own.

Get the Stuffed Pepper Casserole recipe.

70 Budget-Friendly Ground Beef Recipes That Are Weeknight MVPs (2024)


What is 70 30 ground beef good for? ›

You can find ground beef blends with a range of lean points, but 70/30 is very common. The high fat content makes this ground beef the ideal product for juicy burgers that require a lot of napkins. Just be aware that the meat will shrink considerably as the fat melts.

What to make with 73 27 ground beef? ›

Ground Beef that is not less than 70% lean (usually a 73/27 or 75/25 lean-to-fat ratio) is used for burgers and in recipes calling for browning (crumbles) and pouring off drippings, such as chili, tacos and spaghetti sauce. When properly cooked, it is moist and juicy.

What is the 70 30 meat ratio? ›

Trimmings are defined as the small pieces containing both lean and fat that come from a beef carcass as the carcass is cut or “fabricated” into beef primals, subprimals or individual cuts. The maximum fat content in any ground beef is 30% (70% lean) by law.

What does 93 7 mean on ground beef? ›

the percentage of fat. For example, “93/7” means 93 percent lean meat and 7 percent fat. The lower the fat content, the less saturated fat you'll consume. To help reduce consuming extra fat from both ground turkey and ground beef, Hueschen recommends these options: Drain grease from the pan.

What is the healthiest hamburger meat to eat? ›

If you choose beef, choose 90 percent lean or higher. Bison and venison are also leaner red meat choices. Poultry such as ground turkey or chicken can be higher in saturated fat and calories if dark meat and skin are used in the mix. If you choose to use ground chicken or turkey, look for breast only.

Why does baking soda make ground beef taste better? ›

Baking soda helps prevent ground beef from drying out, allowing those burger patties to keep their moisture and brown quicker for the most flavorful cookout. Not to mention, baking soda is the ideal ingredient for getting the most out of your Thanksgiving bird.

How do Mexican restaurants get their ground beef so fine? ›

Ever wonder why some taco meat found at restaurants or in chili is ground SUPER fine and how they get it that way? That is the result of actually boiling the hamburger first. This method of cooking brings the temperature of the meat up slowly and prevents it from clumping, keeping it finely ground.

What seasonings go well with beef? ›

Spices like onion and garlic, with their inherent pungency, are some of the first that come to mind when it's time to season beef. They are savory and strong, and also easy to come by! Black Pepper goes wonderfully with beef, with its slightly hot bite and the piney aroma. Cayenne is a terrific spice to use with beef.

Can I use 73 lean ground beef for meatloaf? ›

Regular ground beef (70% to 77% lean)

Ideal for meatloaf and meatballs, ground chuck holds its shape during cooking. The cooked meat should be moist, juicy and slightly firm.

What is the best beef for smash burgers? ›

Ground beef.

The magic of the smash burger (that crisp, caramelized crust) comes from the combination of high heat and the high fat content of the burger. Because of this, smash burgers don't work as well with a leaner ground beef, so aim for an 80-85% meat to fat ratio. Ground chuck would also work wonderfully here.

What is the difference between ground beef and hamburger? ›

The method of adding beef fat to hamburger is the primary difference between ground beef and hamburger. Ground beef can only be made using the fat that is a component of meat trimmings. If a processor makes ground beef containing 30 percent fat, the processor must use meat trim that contains about 30 percent fat.

What does 80 20 mean in ground beef? ›

80/20 means 80 percent lean ground beef with 20 percent fat. This ground beef recipe has excellent flavor without needing much else.

How many burgers does 1 pound of ground beef make? ›

Burgers. Our Test Kitchen uses a range of 1 to 1½ pounds of ground beef to make 4 burgers. That's 4 to 6 ounces per burger. Check out our best tips for grilled burgers and use these guidelines to know how much ground beef per burger to buy.

How much ground beef per person for spaghetti? ›

If the meat is part of a bigger dish, like pasta or curry, plan for 1/4 to 1/3 pound (four to six ounces) per person. That means you'll want at least 2 1/2 pounds of meat if you're planning to have 10 people over to dinner, and 5 or more pounds of meat if you're cooking for 20 guests.

Is 70 30 ground beef good for burgers? ›

To make the juiciest, most flavorful burgers, choose ground beef that is 70 percent lean and 30 percent fat. To make more healthful burgers—but ones that are still pretty juicy and tasty—choose ground beef that is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat.

What's the best lean percentage for ground beef? ›

When shopping for ground beef, the most important consideration is usually the percentage of fat; most of our recipes call for ground beef that's 85 percent lean (15 percent fat) for the best balance of beefy flavor and tender texture without too much greasiness.

What is the perfect ground beef ratio? ›

And on this, experts concur — the most popular and flavorful ratio of lean to fat comes in at 80/20. Paul Vaccari, owner of New York City's Piccinini Brothers, which sells to restaurants as well as individuals, says his most popular mixture for hamburgers is an 80/20 ground chuck.

What is the best percentage of ground beef for meatloaf? ›

Like meatballs, many meatloaf recipes include a blend of meat, which will determine whether you need fattier or leaner beef. If it's an all-beef recipe, avoid 90/10, and go for 80/20 or 85/15. Most recipes call for 70/30 or 80/20 ground beef, which makes a rich and juicy burger patty with a good exterior crust.

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