Easy Guide To Ground Beef


Ground beef sold in grocery stores comes in three types of cuts. Each one has a different ratio of meat to fat. There is always more meat than fat, but the higher the meat percent the leaner the beef is going to be.

So its good to know ahead when shopping for ground beef. What cut you are going to need for whatever you are making. But it can also depend on how you like your meat.

Is minced meat the same as ground beef? The term minced meat and ground beef both refer to beef that has been finely chopped. Both are made using a meat grinder. In the U.K. the grinder is called a mincer and in the U.S. its called a grinder. Ground beef is how it is labeled and in the U.K. people call it minced meat.

The two are very similar, ground beef is what in the U.S. people call chopped beef or hamburger. In the U.K. it is referred to as minced meat.

There are many varieties, cuts and versions of ground beef. A grocery store may have up to ten different selections to chose from. You will see labels like, all natural, grass-fed, Angus.

Where Does Ground Beef Come From?

Ground beef can be made from most any part of a cow. The most common types come from three different sections. These refer to the cuts of meat that are made. These cuts are broken down into large ( and small cuts.

Types of Meat Cuts For Ground Beef

There are about 60 different types of cuts (sub primal) you can get from the eight various sections (called primal cuts) of a cow. Ground or minced beef can be made from most primal cuts, but the most common kind in grocery stores comes from three.

  1. Chuck
  2. Round
  3. Sirloin

You will see these labeled as ground chuck, ground round, and ground sirloin. Since many other sub primal cuts are made from these larger cuts. They use the term ground when referring to “hamburger” or simply “ground beef”.

Cut TypeWhere It Comes From
Ground ChuckCow Shoulder
Ground RoundRear Leg and Rump
Ground SirloinBack Half of Cow Before the Round

Ground Beef For Sausage

You can read more about the type of beef cuts used specifically for sausage making. If you want to make some really delicious homemade sausage….https://cookingchops.com/meat-cuts-for-sausage/

Term Variations between British and American

The names for the primal cuts can vary between the U.K. and the United States. Even though they are from the same sections of the cow, they are given different names.

AmericanBritish
RoundTopside, Silverside
Shank (front and back)Shin (front), Leg (back)
ChuckNeck & Clod

U.S. Beef Grades

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has a beef grading system. Called USDA grading, there is a eight grades of quality they will give out. The top five are the ones that will become consumer grade.

The top three grades are the ones most commonly seen or advertised. Here are the three of the best beef grades put out by the USDA.

  1. U.S. Prime (Highest grade)
  2. U.S. Choice
  3. U.S. Select

Each grade is given based on the amount of marbling in the beef. Marbling refers to the fat that is within the meat. The more marbling the higher the grade is given. Since marbling makes the meat more tender and gives it more flavor.

The difference between hamburger and ground beef, is that fat is allowed to be added to hamburger. USDA rule is that the maximum amount of fat allowed is 30% in both ground beef and hamburger.

A meat manufacture wants to have its beef inspected by a trained inspector in order to receive these grades. Because if the meat is quality then it will be officially labeled as such and sold for higher prices.

The terms prime, choice, and select are not copyrighted by the USDA. So a grocery store or meat seller can label their products as prime to raise the price. When the meat has not actually been graded by the USDA. Make sure it has the official USDA sticker.

The other two grades are lower than all three.

  • Standard and Commercial
  • Utility, cutter and canner

Standard and commercial are usually ungraded or they are sold under a grocery store’s generic brand name. Utility, cutter and canner is very low quality meat. It can be used a pet food or sometimes in hot dogs.

No-roll beef is another name for ungraded beef. Meaning it has not be inspected by the USDA and given a grading label.

Grass-Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef as opposed to grain-fed is when the cattle are raised on a diet of just grass. The cows are allowed to graze in pastures, instead of feedlots.

It is important to note that all cows are grass-fed early on when they are calves. This is during the first nine months. Then they are placed in to feedlots and fed diets consisting of about 95% grains (soy and corn).

The reason for using grains is it helps fatten up the cows quickly. That is why grain-fed beef tends to be more fatty. Grass-fed beef is more lean, and does contain a higher concentration of certain vitamins.

Grass-fed and grass-finished are terms used to describe the feeding methods of raised cows for beef production. Grass-finished is more specific as it means, they are continuously fed grass until slaughter.

Since most cows start out eating grass but then are grain-finished. Grass-fed does not mean organic beef. Because the cows could still be given antibiotics or the pastures could still be treated with fertilizers or pesticides.

In order for it to be organic, either the grains themselves have to be certified organic. Or the field in which they graze and the grass they consume must also be certified organic.

IF you are looking for organic grass-fed beef. Look for labels that state certified organic and grass-fed or grass-finished.

What Cut of Beef is Best for Mince (Hamburger)?

Typically ground beef is made from meat parts that are tougher and less desired. It is best to find the best fat ratio when making your own mince (hamburger).

Ground chuck is usually the best meat for making hamburgers. The amount of fat is optimal compared to ground round. Which is more lean and will become dry quicker.

When buying ground beef for making hamburgers, you want some fat because it not only adds flavor. The fat helps the beef stick together when forming patties. A ground beef that is 80% lean is ideal for grilling hamburgers.

Before you make hamburgers, this article is about some awesome grilling utensils to use. https://cookingchops.com/8-top-tools-for-making-burgers-on-the-grill/

Eric M Wilkens

Content writer and recreational cook. I also enjoy craft beer, comedy and the outdoors.

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