How Much Fat is in Ground Beef?

Ground beef is a versatile and popular meat choice used in everything from burgers and tacos to meatballs and chili. But with the convenience comes questions about the fat content. Ground beef contains significantly more fat than other cuts of beef. Understanding the different types of ground beef, their nutrition facts, and how to shop for leaner varieties can help you enjoy it in a healthier way.

Overview of Ground Beef Fat Content

On average, a 3-ounce cooked serving of standard 85% lean ground beef contains 13 grams of total fat. Of that:

  • 5 grams is saturated fat
  • 6 grams is monounsaturated fat
  • 0.4 grams is polyunsaturated fat

So more than one-third (38%) of the calories in regular ground beef comes just from saturated fat. Too much saturated fat has been linked with increased cardiovascular disease risk.

However, the leaner the ground beef, the less fat it contains. Choosing a 90-95% lean variety can cut the saturated fat significantly.

Below is a detailed look at the different types of ground beef, their nutrition profiles, tips for selecting leaner varieties, and how to cook and serve ground beef in healthier ways.

Nutrition Facts for Different Types of Ground Beef

Ground beef is available in a range of fat percentages, from 70% lean (30% fat) up to 97% extra lean (only 3% fat). The more fat in the ground beef, the more calories and saturated fat it contains per serving.

Here is the nutrition data for 3 ounces of cooked ground beef, pan-browned with no added fat, according to the USDA:

70% Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 16g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Calories: 235

80% Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 15g
  • Saturated fat: 5.8g
  • Calories: 230

85% Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 13g
  • Saturated fat: 5g
  • Calories: 218

90% Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 3.9g
  • Calories: 184

95% Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 5.2g
  • Saturated fat: 2.1g
  • Calories: 158

97% Extra Lean Ground Beef

  • Total fat: 3.8g
  • Saturated fat: 1.9g
  • Calories: 130

As you can see, moving from 85% lean up to 95% lean cuts the saturated fat per serving nearly in half, from 5 grams down to 2.1 grams.

Choosing 95-97% lean ground beef is ideal for limiting saturated fat intake.

Tips for Selecting Leaner Ground Beef

When shopping for ground beef, check the label for the fat percentage. Here are some tips:

  • Choose at least 90% lean. 85% lean has a significant amount of saturated fat per serving. Go for 90% or leaner.

  • Try 95% or 97% lean. For maximum leanness, look for 95% or 97% lean varieties.

  • Check the calories and fat grams. Comparing nutrition labels can help identify the leanest options.

  • Opt for “round” or “sirloin.” Packages labeled “ground round” or “ground sirloin” are typically leaner.

  • Avoid added fat varieties. Skip ground beef labeled “chuck” or with added fat percentages like 73/27.

  • Buy small packages. Only purchase what you plan to use in the next day or two.

  • Divide into servings. Separate larger packages into recipe-sized portions and freeze to avoid waste.

Making leaner choices when shopping and being mindful of portion sizes can help keep your intake of saturated fat from ground beef within healthy limits.

Healthier Ways to Cook and Serve Ground Beef

Preparation techniques can also cut some of the fat in ground beef. Here are healthier cooking ideas:

  • Use a rack or broiler. Cooking on a rack or under the broiler allows fat to drip away.

  • Brown then simmer. Browning ground beef before making chili or pasta sauce further cooks off fat.

  • Blot fat. After browning, use a paper towel to blot excess grease.

  • Combine with turkey. Mixing lean ground turkey into burgers or meatloaf adds moisture with less fat.

  • Skip frying. Opt for baking, broiling, or grilling burgers instead of frying in oil.

  • Limit portion size. Stick to 3-4 ounces of cooked ground beef per serving in dishes.

  • Load up veggies. Bulk up tacos, pasta, and rice bowls with lots of vegetables to balance the meat.

  • Add beans and lentils. Mixing in plant proteins like kidney beans cuts back on saturated fat.

  • Use lean additions. Top burgers and tacos with avocado rather than cheese for heart-healthy fats.

With smart preparation methods and recipes, you can still enjoy flavorful ground beef as part of an overall healthy eating pattern. Moderation and making lean choices is key.

Health Impact of Saturated Fat in Ground Beef

The saturated fat content is the primary nutritional concern with ground beef. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to 5-6% of total daily calories.

For a standard 2000 calorie diet that equals about 13 grams of saturated fat per day. Just 3-4 ounces of 85% lean ground beef can provide nearly half that amount.

High intakes of saturated fat from red meat have been linked to:

  • Increased LDL cholesterol. Saturated fat raises levels of unhealthful LDL cholesterol, increasing heart disease risk.

  • Higher blood pressure. Saturated fat appears to increase blood pressure, another cardiovascular risk factor.

  • Greater risk of stroke. One study found eating more processed and unprocessed red meat increased stroke risk by 13-17%.

  • More heart disease. Replacing red and processed meats with other protein sources was associated with a 16-42% lower heart disease risk.

While beef does provide important nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins, limiting intake of higher-fat varieties like ground beef to 1-2 times per week is generally recommended for better heart health.

Ground Beef Versus Other Cuts of Beef

In addition to more total fat, gram for gram, ground beef tends to be higher in saturated fat compared to other cuts of beef.

For example, a 3 ounce serving of 85% lean cooked ground beef has 5 grams saturated fat. Whereas the same serving size of eye of round roast has only 2.3 grams saturated fat.

Likewise, a sirloin steak has 4.6 grams saturated fat per 3 ounces cooked. So ground beef typically contains more artery-clogging saturated fat than roast beef or steak.

Other healthy ways to get your red meat fix include:

  • Top sirloin or strip steaks
  • Tenderloin or filet mignon
  • Flank steak
  • Beef tenderloin roast
  • Eye of round roast
  • Sirloin tip roast

All of these cuts are significantly leaner than ground beef. Consuming more intact muscle meats like these is preferable to frequent intake of fattier ground meats for heart health.

Ground Turkey as a Healthier Alternative

Replacing some recipes calling for ground beef with leaner ground turkey can help reduce saturated fat in your diet.

For example, 3 ounces of 85% lean cooked ground turkey contains just 2 grams saturated fat compared to 5 grams for the same amount of 85% lean ground beef.

Ground turkey also has fewer total calories and less overall fat:

  • Ground turkey (85% lean): 160 calories, 7g fat total
  • Ground beef (85% lean): 218 calories, 13g fat total

Just be sure to choose ground turkey that is 93-99% lean to get these nutritional benefits. And as with beef, portion control is still important even with leaner ground turkey.

Cooking Gound Beef Safely

Raw ground beef always carries a risk of foodborne bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. Be sure to:

  • Cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a food thermometer to verify doneness.

  • Never eat raw or undercooked ground beef.

  • Avoid cross-contaminating countertops and utensils with raw meat juices.

  • Refrigerate cooked ground beef within 2 hours; eat within 3-4 days.

Proper handling, cooking, and storage helps destroy any dangerous pathogens present in raw ground meat.


Ground beef’s high convenience and flavor make it a popular staple. But with that can come high amounts of saturated fat, depending on the leanness. Choosing 95-97% lean varieties, limiting portion size to 3-4 ounces per serving, and preparing it in healthier ways can help control fat intake. Compare labels and opt for leaner ground turkey for even greater health benefits. Overall, enjoying ground beef in moderation as part of a diet focused on produce, whole grains, nuts and seeds, along with other lean proteins can allow for its inclusion without much risk.

Wait… Ground Beef for Weight Loss?


Is ground beef high in fat?

Many of the calories in ground beef come from fat. There are 13 total grams of fat in a 3-ounce serving of cooked 85% lean ground beef. Of that total, 5 grams is saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat consumption to 5% to 6% of daily calorie intake.

How much fat is in 80 20 ground beef?

Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Protein 19g
Total Fat 23g

How much fat is in 85 15 ground beef?

Protein (g)
Total lipid (fat) (g)
Carbohydrate, by difference (g)
Energy (kcal)
Sugars, total (g)

Is 85 percent lean ground beef healthy?

Thus, healthy way is to choose lean beef cuts or ground beef with 90 % lean or more. Beef is good source of protein, niacin and Vitamin-B12 and lean beef contains omega-3 fatty acids which is considered healthy.

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