Lean Ground Beef vs. Ground Chuck: What's the Difference?

Ground chuck contains about 15 to 20 percent fat.
Image Credit: istetiana/Moment/GettyImages

The difference between ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef is minimal.

Advertisement

Video of the Day

Ground chuck contains about 15 to 20 percent fat, meaning it's 80 to 85 percent lean. In other words, a ground chuck cut is often equivalent to lean ground beef.

What Is Ground Beef?

Ground beef refers to the meat from any primal cuts or trimmings of a cow, including the shoulders, hindquarters or back.

Advertisement

Although it can contain seasoning, it cannot contain additives like binders or water if it's still going to be labeled and sold as ground beef, according to the Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences.

You might notice that some packages of ground beef are specifically labeled as ground chuck, ground round or ground sirloin, which means the meat comes exclusively from specific parts of the cow.

Advertisement

Ground beef must be a minimum of 70 percent lean by law, per Texas A&M University.

What Is Ground Chuck?

Ground chuck is a specific type of ground beef, just like round or sirloin, according to the Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences. It comes from the shoulders of the cow. Ground chuck is likely to be the fattiest of ground beef varieties you'll find on the market.

Advertisement

Something like ground round or ground sirloin will have a lower percentage of fat and a higher percentage of lean compared with chuck.

Chuck is usually around 80 to 85 percent lean (20 to 15 percent fat), per Texas A&M University.

Lean Ground Beef vs. Ground Chuck

1. Fat Percentage

Chuck has a higher fat content compared with sirloin or round, according to the Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Ground beef that's exclusively chuck beef will likely be around 15 to 20 percent fat. Beef that's a blend of other cuts could have less fat.

2. Price

The price depends on how lean the cut is — the less fat, the higher the price, according to Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences.

Ground chuck is usually around 80 percent lean, so if you choose an 80 percent lean ground beef, both options will cost around the same price

3. Taste

Because chuck has a higher fat content than other cuts of beef, it's going to be much more flavorful, according to On the Gas. This doesn't mean other cuts of beef don't taste great, too — for example, sirloin might be much leaner, but it's much more tender than other cuts.

Tip

"Ground chuck comes from a specific part of the cow — from the shoulders. Whereas ground beef is kind of the leftover pieces that remain after the other parts of the animal are already carved out (like steaks and roasts, and so on)," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, CDN.

Ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef can be used interchangeably, as they usually have the same fat content. Oftentimes, though ground beef is leaner because it is sold as 85, 90 and 95 percent lean.

How to Choose Between Ground Beef and Ground Chuck

Choosing between ground beef and ground chuck all boils down to the recipe you're making.

Ground chuck may have a higher fat content, making it a bit tastier — so it might build a better burger. On the other hand, because ground beef is often leaner, it could be best for meatloaf or a Bolognese, Taub-Dix says.

If you want a leaner cut of meat, choose a lean ground beef. Byt if you want something fattier and more flavorful, go for the ground chuck.

Ground Beef Recipes

There are many recipes to make with ground beef that are both simple and tasty, such as tacos, lasagna, stroganoff, shepherd's pie, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, chile con carne, burgers.... the list goes on. Here are some recipes to try for dinner this week:

Ground Chuck Recipes

Although you could use ground chuck in any recipe calling for ground beef, a fattier type of beef like chuck works especially well in recipes where you drain the fat, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Here are some delicious recipes to try with ground chuck:

Advertisement

references & resources