When it comes to dinnertime, a pound of ground beef can be the start of something great. I’m thinking meatballs floating in tomato-butter sauce or minestrone soup (or even grape jelly—don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). Or maybe smash burgers slathered with ketchup and mustard, shatteringly crisp lumpia, spicy kebabs wrapped tightly in chapati, a steaming bowl of chili with a skillet of cornbread on the side. Whichever direction your taste buds are sending you, these ground beef recipes will feed a crowd.
Some of these recipes are takes on classic dishes that swap in grains or vegetarian protein for some of the beef. And even if you’re not a meat eater at all (but have somehow found yourself reading this, a roundup of ground beef recipes), there are still options. Swap in a ground faux meat like Impossible or Beyond, which both make vegan ground “beef” offerings that would work relatively seamlessly in any of these 19 ground beef recipes.
A good cheeseburger is tough to beat when it comes to ground beef recipes. This one has grated cheddar mixed right in with the meat. Smash the patties onto a cast-iron skillet, then layer with tomato, onion, lettuce, and plenty of ketchup and mustard. The real question: Do you prefer an English muffin, potato bun, or brioche roll to house your burger?
“Our current obsession: half-veggie burgers,” writes food editor Emma Laperruque. The ground beef (you’ll need just half a pound for four hefty burgers) in these patties is mixed with finely chopped kimchi and cooked brown rice for a burger that begs to be slathered with mayo. These burgers would also make killer patty melts on milk bread, just saying.
Here’s a not-so-secret thing: Salisbury steak is not steak at all, but rather a very well seasoned ground beef patty, much like a burger, bound together with panko bread crumbs and egg, and cooked with a tangy-sweet gravy. Who’s going to stop you from plunking one of these “steaks” on a toasted bun?
Wraps & Rolls
These spicy beef kebabs are great on their own, but they’re even better when stuffed into warm chapati or naan and served with tamarind and cilantro chutneys.
Recipe developer Amelia Rampe notes that you should look for real-deal lumpia wrappers for these beef, pork, and vegetable spring rolls at Filipino grocery stores, but if you can’t find them, regular spring or egg roll wrappers will work, with a slight difference in the end result.
When contributor Ella Quittner was a baby, her parents would feed her this beef and rice stuffed cabbage (her great-grandmother’s recipe) puréed through a food mill. While she now eats plenty of solid food, her love of saucy stuffed cabbage remains.
“These mince and cheese pies feature ground beef encased in a thick, dark, beefy gravy interspersed with pockets of melted white cheddar cheese,” writes recipe developer Miranda Keyes, who found these hand pies at every gas station in New Zealand and simply had to make an at-home version.
The traditional British shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb; American versions of the casserole tend to favor ground beef (you might also call it “cottage pie”). While either lamb or beef will work in this recipe, you’ll use just half of what you’d typically find in the dish: The other half of the protein comes from cooked lentils.
“These are classic Cuban empanadas, filled with a minced meat filling called picadillo,” says recipe developer Sandra Gutierrez, who also notes there are as many picadillo recipes as there are home cooks. Her version has ground beef, sweet Caribbean peppers, oregano, cumin, and tomato paste. Fried until perfectly crisp, you’ll absolutely go in for seconds.
Meatballs & Meatloaf
Not a typo: These meatballs are tossed in a sweet-tangy sauce made with grape jelly and Heinz Chili Sauce (it’s been a thing since at least the 1960s, so clearly the dish is doing something right). But if you’re not feeling saucy, these sheet pan meatballs are also delightful as a stand-alone recipe to accompany your favorite Parmesan-dusted pasta or mozzarella-filled sandwich.
What makes these meatballs Genius-approved? Two cups of water stirred in with the meat mixture. It makes for super-light, super-moist meatballs that are just waiting to be plunked in tomato sauce and tossed with spaghetti or sandwiched between thick slices of ciabatta.
This simple meatloaf has a small ingredient list, but a big amount of flavor. The biggest trick here is mixing in water along with the ground beef, a secret borrowed from that meatball recipe from Rao’s we were just talking about.
A couple teaspoons of espresso powder enhances the beefiness of this meatloaf, which is also totally gluten-free, thanks to puffed rice instead of bread crumbs as a binder.
Soups & Stews
“Minestrone made with green vegetables (like beans, peas, and zucchini) tastes crisp and fresh. But it still should be a soup that warms the soul, so I’ve added tiny meatballs, brightened with arugula and lime, for that cozy, hearty feeling,” writes Meike Peters in the cookbook 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking & Baking. “It’s the German in me. I can’t help it.”
Recipe developer Alexandra Stafford’s weeknight chili is just begging to be dished into a deep bowl and served with a thick piece of buttered cornbread.
Whether you call it hamburger soup or vegetable beef soup, this hearty number from recipe developer Eric Kim comes together in the Instant Pot, so cleanup is a snap. Save leftovers in the freezer for a super-quick lunch.
An ideal Sunday afternoon project, this meaty lasagna started as a family recipe from Anna Francese Gass. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can DIY the lasagna noodles, but you absolutely must make time for the from-scratch red sauce and béchamel.
Resident Mandy Lee’s “instant” dan dan noodle mix is the perfect solution to the never-ending “what’s for dinner?” question. You can stash the sauce in the refrigerator for a week, or, to make your future self very happy, divide it into ½-cup portions and freeze, where it will keep for several months, ready to be defrosted and mixed with noodles when a craving strikes.
This classic meat sauce, based on the ragu you’d find in Bologna, calls for ground beef, pork, and veal, but you could easily use all beef if that’s what you have. Toss it with your favorite pasta, open a bottle of red, and that’s amore.