Versatility is What Ground Beef is All About!

Guest blog by Michelle Baumhover,
Director of Consumer Marketing, Iowa Beef Industry Council

Memorial Day marks the start of the serious grilling season.  The long, holiday weekend is a good time to try your hand at outdoor cooking with new recipes.  It’s also the perfect time to celebrate May Beef Month with ground beef!

Ground beef is all about versatility.  It can be used in countless ways with various cooking methods.  In fact, there are so many ground beef options that many consumers have asked me for tips on how to choose the type of ground beef that will best fit their needs.

When should you use regular ground beef?  How can you make juicy burgers from lean ground beef?  Ground beef is labeled according to leanness levels, ranging from 70 to 96+ percent lean.  Below is a summary of leanness levels and their best uses:

Regular Ground Beef (Leanness Level of 70%-77%)
Regular ground beef contains the most fat and the most flavor!  When properly cooked, it’s moist and juicy.  It can be used for burgers or for any recipe that calls for “browned” ground beef such as for chili, tacos and meat sauce for spaghetti or lasagna.  Remove excess drippings or fat from browned crumbles.

Ground Beef or Ground Chuck (Leanness Level of 78%-84%)
This grind is a balance of flavor and leanness.  It’s perfect for burgers and also is works well for meatballs, meatloaf or Salisbury Steak.  When properly cooked, it’s moist, juicy and has a slightly firm texture.

Ground Round or Ground Sirloin (Leanness Level of 90%-93%)
The highest leanness levels are ideal for recipes when you can’t drain off drippings, like in casseroles or stuffed peppers.  It also works well for recipes that call for browned ground beef as there is very little excess fat that needs to be drained.  When properly cooked, it has a firm, dense texture.

Lean Ground Beef (Leanness Level of 95%+)
95%+ ground beef meets the USDA guideline for lean, which means it contains less than 10 grams of total fat per 3-oz. serving.  While 95% lean is generally too dry to make juicy burgers, you can add a few  ingredients to help retain the juiciness.  Check out today’s featured recipe for Lean Mean Cheeseburgers.

In honor of May Beef Month, a long holiday weekend and the beginning of the summer grilling season, we’ve assembled some of our favorite related recipes:

Lean Mean Cheeseburgers



  • 1 pound ground beef (95% lean)
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon steak seasoning blend
  • 4 seeded or whole wheat hamburger buns, split
  • 4 slices lowfat cheese, such as Cheddar or American


  • Lettuce leaves, tomato slices (optional)



  1. Place oats in food-safe plastic bag. Seal bag securely, squeezing out excess air. Roll over bag with rolling pin to crush oats to a fine consistency.
  2. Combine ground beef, oats, and steak seasoning blend in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four, 1/2-inch patties.
  3. Place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 7 to 9 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F, turning occasionally. *Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.
  4. Line bottom of each bun with lettuce and tomato, if desired; top with burger and cheese slice. Close sandwiches.

Note: For tips to create the perfect hamburger patty, click here. If you are one of those people who need some help making the perfect patty, try this


Photo & Recipe Source: Beef It's What's For Dinner

Total Recipe Time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 servings