What Is the Difference Between Ground Chuck and 80% Lean Ground Beef?

Ground chuck contains about 15 to 20 percent fat.
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The difference between ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef may be minimal. 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.

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There's little difference between ground chuck and 80 percent lean ground beef as ground chuck is usually 80 to 85 percent lean.

Types of Ground Beef

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), a maximum of 30 percent fat is allowed in ground beef. If ground beef contained more than 30 percent fat, it would be considered "misbranded." The National Cattlemen's Beef Association explains that "chuck" is generally lean and less tender as it's from a "locomotion" muscle, although certain cuts of chuck can be tender as well. The fat content of ground chuck varies, depending on the cut.

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The National Cattlemen's Beef Association provides an overview of different fat percentages of ground beef and the types of food for which they're best suited: In general, 75 percent lean ground beef is good for less structured dishes, such as sloppy Joes and chili; 80 to 85 percent lean ground beef is suitable for meatballs, casseroles and Salisbury steak; and 90 to 95 percent lean ground beef is best for "combination dishes and low-calorie recipes."

Read more: It's All About the Ratio: How to Make Ground Beef Good for Your Diet

Ground Beef Recipes

There are many recipes you can 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, and the list goes on. Our recipe for Ground Beef Tacos with Crispy Cheese Shells, for example, calls for cooked ground beef with diced vegetables and replaces conventional taco shells with cheese shells for a tasty low-carb dish that serves two.

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You'll need these ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces of 93 percent lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • One diced medium green bell pepper
  • 34 grams or approximately 1 ounce of minced Serrano peppers
  • One clove of minced garlic
  • 2 ounces of shredded cheese

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until lightly browned; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in the peppers, garlic, onion and tomatoes. Cover and simmer on low heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  4. While the beef mixture cooks, make cheese shells by adding 1/3 cup of cheese to a small nonstick pan and letting it cook on medium-high heat for 30 to 45 seconds or until it's melted and the bottom is crisp. Then flip to the other side and cook for an additional 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer cheese shell to a plate, let cool for 30 seconds, fold in half and fill with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the beef mixture. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to make the second taco.
  6. Top with lettuce, tomato and cheese and serve with sour cream and salsa.

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Read more: 5 Healthy Red Meat Recipes That Satisfy

Safely Handle Ground Beef

Like all other meats, ground beef requires safe handling and cooking. Once purchased, place packages of ground beef in plastic bags to prevent leakage, says the USDA FSIS. If refrigerated, raw ground beef should last for up to two days, whereas cooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. If frozen, ground beef can last for up to four months.

The best and safest way to defrost ground beef is in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold water. Never leave ground beef out at room temperature for more than two hours. Doing so could allow harmful bacteria to grow. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the safe minimum temperature for cooking ground beef is 160 degrees Fahrenheit as measured using a food thermometer.

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When handling ground beef, thoroughly clean your hands and cooking surfaces regularly. The USDA FSIS recommends washing your hands with soap and water before and after touching ground beef to help prevent bacteria from spreading.

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