When you have options and you want to build the best burger or meatloaf possible, here’s what you need to know about Ground Chuck Vs Ground Beef. This post will give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision, but in the end it all comes down to personal preference and the two meats can be used interchangeably.
Ground chuck is a form ground beef, but not all ground beef is ground chuck. That’s because chuck comes from a specific part of the cow so the content is more controlled and predictable.
The difference between ground beef vs ground chuck is displayed in the graph below.
|Ground Chuck||Ground Beef|
|Cost||$4 per pound||$4.50-5 per pound|
|Fat Content||15-20% Fat||7-30% Fat|
|Cooking Method||Grilled in patties, baked in meatloaf, browned to use in sauces and soups, tacos and sandwiches such as sloppy joes||Grilled in patties, baked in meatloaf, browned to use in sauces and soups, tacos and sandwiches such as sloppy joes|
|Cut||Shoulder and Neck Area of the cow||Trimmings from any cut of the cow|
|Shrinkage||Moderate||Depends on the fat content|
Prices pulled from shopping website for comparison. Prices vary by location.
What is Ground Chuck?
This cut of beef and anything labeled “chuck” comes from the neck and shoulder of the cow and is fatty with significant, tough connective tissue. Chuck is one of several “primal cuts” as categorized by the USDA. It has good flavor from the muscle and rendering of fat.
Ground chuck has anywhere from 15-20% fat content. The muscle is well used giving it plenty of flavor. Chuck is definitely not the most tender cut of beef, but grinding it helps tenderize it making it perfect for burgers or meatballs, like we did for the Travis Scott Burger.
What is Ground Beef?
Ground beef is comprised of leftover trimmings and edge pieces from any cut of beef as it is butchered. The quality and content can vary greatly. Flavor will also vary. If the beef comes a very specific location, it is labeled ground sirloin, ground chuck, or ground round instead of the more generic ground beef. If it is labeled “ground beef” it originated as a way to simply use up all those extra bits and pieces of the cow.
The fat content of ground beef ranges widely depending on the makeup of the beef mixture and whether or not fat has been added in the grinding process. The USDA has specific rules for selling and labeling ground beef. The maximum amount of fat allowed is 30%. In order to be labeled extra lean, it must be less than 7% fat. There is a range available and the leaner the ground beef the higher the cost.
We used a Kobe Beef that is lean for the Grilled Kobe Beef Kebabs. Using the chuck would make the little kebabs shrink quite a bit.
🍔 How to Choose
Your choice between ground chuck and ground beef really comes down to preferences for cost, fat content, and flavor. Ground chuck is cheaper, more moderately flavored and less fatty than your typical ground beef.
It is, however, more flavorful and more fatty than any ground beef labeled lean or extra lean. Both of these cuts cook at approximately the same rate. Ground beef with more than 15-20% fat will shrink more than ground chuck. Both require seasoning to make a good burger, meatball, or meatloaf.
🔥 How to Grill Burgers with Different Fat Content
No matter what you make your burgers with, the fat content will cause shrinkage as the burger cooks and the fat renders away. Preheat your grill and give the burgers a good sear on both sides before cooking them for a few minutes on each side to your desired doneness. Use an instant read thermometer to determine the finish you like.
The more fat in the meat, the greater the shrinkage. To compensate, make sure to form the burgers large than you want and smash them flatter since they will pull up and thicken as they shrink in the cooking process. Adding an egg, diced onions, shredded zucchini or even ground mushrooms can help keep the burgers more uniform and add significant flavor.
How to Use Ground Beef and Ground Chuck
These are the most common recipes where you’ll use ground meat.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
Use a burger press. This will not control the shrinkage of your burgers, but it will guarantee a uniform size and thickness.
Add an egg. Mixing your hamburger with an egg before forming the patties will help the patties stick together and add a bit of protein and flavor.
Add seasoning to the ground beef mixture. Before you form the patties, mix-in salt and pepper to the meat to bring up the flavor. You can also use your favorite burger seasoning so that it’s flavor is spread throughout the burger and not just sprinkled on the outside.
With the cost of beef rising, you might consider any of these add-ins to stretch your browned ground beef or beef patties.
- shredded zucchini
- mashed beans
- cornflake crumbs
- diced onions
- ground or diced mushrooms
- shredded potatoes
Know your temperatures. The USDA recommends a minimum of 160° for a safe temperature for ground beef. Don’t try and use the temperature guide for steaks and other cuts of meats.
How to Store Leftovers
Keep anything cooked with ground beef for two days in the refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container. If you won’t use the leftovers within one or two days consider freezing them.
Freeze burger patties cooked or uncooked and plan to use them within three months. Freeze them on a tray, and then throw the individual burgers in a freezer-quality zipper bag. Cook them in a skillet or on the grill directly from frozen. Once cooked, beef can frozen to use at a later date. Once cooked, frozen, and then thawed meat should be consumed immediately or thrown away.
Learn how to reheat burgers on the stovetop, in the air fryer, on the grill, in the oven and in the microwave.
This really depends on personal preference. Ground chuck is about 15% fat and more moderate in flavor. Ground beef has a very wide range in fat content and have better flavor but more shrinkage. Weigh out the differences for your purposes.
The normal color of beef is brown. Red dye may be added in some cases to improve the color. The inside will go back to brown before the outside and the beef is probably still useable. Check the sell by date and use it within two days of the sale by date. Check the smell and don’t use meat that is off-putting. If the entire package of refrigerated meat is brown, it has been packaged long enough for all of the red dye to oxidize and is probably not edible. Frozen meat will be brown.
Browned meat should be cooked until all of the pieces are thoroughly brown. Do not leave pink pieces of meat. Brown the meat in a medium skillet and separate the pieces with a spatula to make sure it is all cooked.
Yes! Use a meat grinder and purchase whatever meat you would like to use for your recipe of choice. Sirloin mixed with chuck is a really nice blend with plenty of flat and excellent flavor.
Raw meat should be kept in a refrigerator at a temperature of less than 40ºF.
Follow the USDA’s guidance and cook your burger until 160°.