Briefly, yes, you can freeze ground beef whether cooked or raw, preserving its texture, color, and flavor without changes, but ensure proper freezing and thawing methods to maintain quality and safety.
Ground beef is a great ingredient not only as a main meal protein but also in canapes, snacks, sandwiches, and fillings.
Raw, or cooked, meat does not have a long shelf life and needs to be stored and handled with care to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria.
Freezing ground beef is the perfect way to extend its shelf life, allowing you to keep suitable portion sizes without having to waste leftovers. Freezing minced beef will also save you money and save time, making for a quick fix meal when you are in a hurry.
Here is what you need to know when freezing ground meat.
Can Ground Beef Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze ground beef whether cooked, or raw. When you freeze ground beef you can preserve the texture, color, and flavor without changes.
It is important to follow the correct freezing and thawing procedures to ensure the meat remains safe to eat and does not deteriorate in quality.
Always make sure the ground beef is of good, fresh quality before freezing. Ground beef that is nearing its expiry should not be frozen.
Keep the beef mince free of contact with air and moisture on freezing as this will lead to freezer burn, causing the beef to spoil or have an unpleasant taste.
How To Freeze Cooked Ground Beef
Step 1: Cool
Cool the cooked beef completely after cooking. Freezing ground meat while still warm will result in the formation of large ice crystals which will ruin the flavor and texture of the meat.
Step 2: Portion
Once cooled, divide the ground beef into the portion sizes you will need at a time. This way, you can avoid having to defrost the entire batch if you are not planning to use everything at once.
To freeze single muffin-sized portions, line a muffin tray with plastic wrap so that it protrudes over the edges. This will prevent the meat from sticking to the tray and make it easy to pull the portions out of the molds once frozen.
Scoop the cooked ground beef into each lined compartment and place it in the freezer for a few hours just until frozen.
Step 3: Pack
Remove the frozen ground beef portions from the muffin tray and pack them into a ziploc bag.
If you prefer to freeze larger portions, simply scoop the cooked ground beef straight into the bags without portioning and pre-freezing them first.
Step 4: Remove Air
Regardless of which method you have chosen, lightly press out any excess air in the freezer bag before sealing it to keep the food contact with air minimal.
Step 5: Label and Freeze
Label each ziplock freezer bag with the contents and date and place it into the freezer.
How To Freeze Raw Ground Beef
Step 1: Portion and Pack
If you have bought ground beef in bulk, portion the raw meat according to what you may need at a time. Scoop each portion into a zip lock freezer bag.
Placing the bag flat, lightly roll a rolling pin over the bag to spread the minced beef evenly in thickness throughout the bag.
This will ensure even freezing and thawing of the raw beef, expel air, and speed up the defrosting process when needed.
Only roll once lightly over the freezer bag. Do not press down too hard, roll it too thinly, or roll it back and forth. You really just want to ensure even thickness.
Step 2: Remove Air & Seal
Lightly press out any remaining air and seal the bag.
Step 3: Label and Freeze
Label each freezer bag with a permanent marker and place it into the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Ground Beef
The best way to thaw ground beef is to place the freezer bag on a plate in the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Never leave frozen meat to thaw on the countertop at room temperature as this will compromise the safety of the food.
To defrost frozen beef a little faster, you can place the sealed freezer bag in a cold water bath. Ground beef that has been frozen in an even layer will thaw quickly this way.
Alternatively, use the defrost setting on the microwave to defrost minced beef. This is, however, only recommended if it is going to be cooked immediately.
Types of Ground Beef
There are four main varieties of fresh ground beef namely ground round, ground sirloin, ground chuck, and regular ground beef.
As their names suggest, ground round, sirloin, and chuck are grinds that come from specific cuts of beef, whereas, regular ground beef can be taken from a variety of cuts.
The fat to meat ratio and cut play the biggest part in the grind’s taste and texture. Ground round and ground sirloin are more expensive but are the healthiest options with the lowest fat content.
The quality grade of the meat is another factor to consider when purchasing ground beef. The three main categories are prime grade, which is the highest-grade beef, choice grade which is still good quality, juicy, and flavorful, and lastly, select grade beef which is leaner and less juicy.
Ground beef can be used in casseroles, pot pies, meatballs, burgers, pasta, curries, tacos, sandwiches, and even soups. Leaner grinds are best used in casseroles and for meatloaf, while higher fat grinds are best for hamburgers.
Freezing ground beef not only saves on waste, and money but allows you to have a quick-fix, healthy meal at the drop of a hat. Ground beef must be protected from contact with air and moisture when stored to avoid freezer burn and drying out.
Once thawed and reheated, ground beef should be consumed. Reheating the meat more than once may cause the growth of harmful bacteria and compromise food safety.
Preserve raw minced beef for cooking later, or use the already-cooked meat in casseroles, soups, sandwiches, tacos, pancake fillings, pasta or even to top a baked potato.