Ground beef, also known as mince beef, has led to some of the world’s most delicious foods: burgers, Bolognese, tacos, chili – the list goes on! There are a few different kinds of ground beef that may be referred to by their fat percentage, or by the cut they come from. Each type of ground beef has different uses, so if you’ve been using any old ground beef for your burger patties and found that they often fall apart, there’s actually a good reason for that.
If you’re ready to learn everything about ground beef, from ground beef protein content and calories to the best recipes for each type, keep reading.
Table of Contents
What is ground beef?
Ground beef is beef that has been ground with a meat grinder and turned into the long thin noodle-like pieces that form ground beef. The composition of ground beef must meet food law standards by only containing certain amounts of fat. Here in the US, companies can add additional beef fat to their hamburgers but not to ground beef, and any ground beef can contain up to 30% fat.
There are 3 different types of ground beef:
- Ground chuck (the fattiest cut, typically 20-25% fat)
- Ground round (usually around 15% fat)
- Ground sirloin (lean, usually around 7-10% fat)
If you buy “ground beef” in the store, it’s usually chuck, but may be made from other cuts such as shank or brisket, so can have a fat percentage of up to 30%. If it’s called “hamburger meat”, it will have a high-fat percentage, typically in the 25-30% range.
What is ground sirloin?
Ground sirloin is actually a type of ground beef, as we saw above. It’s the leanest form of ground beef, and so may simply be called “lean ground beef” rather than ground sirloin. Because it’s so lean it’s the healthiest form of ground beef, and also the most expensive.
Ground Sirloin vs Ground Beef: Head-to-Head Comparison
If you’re interested in getting as much protein into your diet as possible while also keeping your calories to a minimum, you should opt for ground sirloin. Here’s how they compare for 4oz:
- Ground Sirloin Calories: 200 (99 from fat)
- Fat: 11g (4.5g is saturated)
- Carbs: 0g
- Protein: 23g
- Vitamin A: 0%
- Vitamin C: 0%
- Calcium: 0%
- Iron: 15%
- Ground Beef Calories: 308 (177 from fat)
- Fat: 20g (7.4g is saturated)
- Carbs: 0g
- Protein: 31g
- Vitamin A: 0.2%
- Vitamin C: 0%
- Calcium: 2.4%
- Iron: 18%
If you are looking to maximize your ground beef protein content and aren’t too worried about calories or fat content, ground beef may be the best choice. Unless you’re on a diet, it’s best to choose your ground beef based on the recipe you want to cook, which we’ll cover in more detail shortly.
When you compare the two on nutritional content (20g for ground beef per 4oz and 11g for ground sirloin per 4oz) you can see that you are eating half the fat pound-for-pound when you opt for ground sirloin over ground beef. Fat isn’t always bad, but it is something to consider when you’re choosing which beef to use for your recipes.
Unfortunately, there is a reason butter is said to make everything tastes better – fat adds flavor. It’s not often good for us, but it’s true. For this reason, ground beef usually wins out over sirloin in the flavor department. That said, unless you sat down with both and took a bite of each, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference, since ground sirloin isn’t exactly lacking in flavor.
The variation in texture between ground beef and ground sirloin is small and again comes down to the fat content. Ground beef, because it is higher in fat, has a softer texture, while ground sirloin is chewier.
When it comes to price, ground sirloin is around $5.70 per pound, while ground beef is around $4.30 per pound. This price difference is because there’s more quality meat in ground sirloin, whereas ground beef may be made up of various cuts, depending on the brand. The price will also vary depending on the quality of the meat, since grass-fed beef will always be better and thus pricer.
What is ground beef best for?
Due to ground beef’s high-fat content, it lends itself well to ground beef recipes that need to “stick” together. For example:
It’s also best for recipes you’re going to cook for a long time without significant sauce since the leanness of ground sirloin can dry out.
Here are a few of our favorite ground beef recipes:
Mexican Ground Beef
What is ground sirloin best for?
Ground sirloin is best for chilis, Bolognese, tacos, and other recipes you cook with sauce and other ingredients. It’s also best for browned and crumbled beef.
Here are some of the best ground sirloin recipes:
Korean Ground Beef and Rice Bowls
Crispy Ground Beef Tacos
Sloppy Joe Baked Potatoes
Alternatives to Ground Beef
If you want to mix up your recipes and try something new, or if you’re looking to eat more lean white meat in an effort to stay healthy, here are some alternatives you can consider:
- Ground bison – bison is the best alternative as it has a similar taste to beef but is also leaner.
- Ground chicken – this is usually a leaner alternative to chicken and is a good way to try your favorite ground beef recipes with chicken (such as chili or tacos), but check the label. Sometimes they ground up the skin with the lean chicken and this increases the fat content.
- Ground turkey – ground turkey is delicious and usually the healthiest form of ground meat you can choose from.
If you want to use any of these lean alternatives for recipes that fattier ground beef is usually best for, try mixing the mince with an egg or some egg whites. It helps give the mince more structure, adds even more protein, and some extra flavor.
How to Make the Perfect Hamburger Patty
Ready to make the best hamburger patties? If you’re choosing ground beef to make burgers, you generally want a high-fat content, so opt for ground beef or ground chuck (around 20% fat is about right).
You can mix in some chopped chilis or onion if you want to add a little flavor, but just make sure that anything you add is small in size, or you’ll find your patty doesn’t stick together well enough.
When you’ve got your ground beef ready, wet your hands a little so the beef doesn’t stick to your hands, and roll all the ground beef into equal balls. Then press the balls with the palm of your hand or a spatula to flatten them to your desired thickness, and shape them with your fingers. You can also use a burger press if you prefer. Once they’re in the right shape, they’re ready to cook! See our 9 Tips for Smoking Burgers to make sure you get the best results possible.
When it comes to ground sirloin vs ground beef, it generally comes down to personal preference, your health goals, and the recipe you’re planning to make. If you’re a lover of beef and have yet to try cooking your favorite recipes with a wood pellet grill, where have you been? We’re biased, but everything really does taste better when it’s been cooked on a wood pellet grill. If you’re ready to up your grilling game, it’s time to join the Z Grills family.