What is Lean Ground Beef? A Guide to Choosing the Healthiest Minced Meat

Lean ground beef is a nutritious and versatile minced meat option. With less fat and calories than regular ground beef, lean ground beef provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. This guide covers everything you need to know about buying and cooking with healthy, lean minced meat.

What is Lean Ground Beef?

Lean ground beef is ground beef containing less than 10% fat content by weight. It has at least 90% lean meat and no more than 10% fat.

The leanness or fat percentage is called the “lean point”. Common lean points for ground beef include:

  • Lean: 90% lean meat, 10% fat
  • Extra Lean: 93% lean meat, 7% fat
  • Super Lean: 95% lean meat, 5% fat

Lean ground beef provides the beefy flavor and texture of regular ground beef, with the added bonus of being lower in saturated fat and calories.

Benefits of Lean Ground Beef

Choosing lean minced meat offers several advantages:

  • Lower in fat & calories – Less fat means fewer calories per serving. Lean beef fits better into a healthy diet.

  • More protein – With less fat, lean beef offers more protein per ounce. Great for building muscle and satisfying hunger.

  • Less greasy – Foods made with lean beef won’t be as greasy or oily.

  • Heart healthy – The American Heart Association recommends choosing leaner cuts of meat.

  • Budget-friendly – Ground beef costs less than premium cuts like steak or roasts.

Tips for Cooking with Lean Ground Beef

  • Don’t overcook – Cook just until no pink remains to prevent dry, tough meat. Aim for 160°F internal temp.

  • Add moisture – Mix in broth, tomatoes, or yogurt when cooking to keep lean beef tender.

  • Use gentle heat – Slow cooking or braising is better than high searing heat.

  • Try mixing – Combine lean beef with fattier meats like pork or lamb for moisture.

  • Use strong flavors – Spices, sauces, and marinades add lots of flavor.

How Lean Ground Beef is Graded

There are no universal regulations for labeling lean ground beef. However, the common lean points used are:

  • 90/10 – This “90 percent lean” beef contains 90% lean meat and 10% fat. This is considered the leanest conventional ground beef.

  • 93/7 – Beef labeled “93 percent lean” has 93% lean meat and 7% fat content. This is classified as “extra lean”.

  • 95/5 – “95 percent lean” beef contains 95% lean meat and just 5% fat. It is described as “super lean” ground beef.

  • 96/4 – Some brands offer “96 percent lean” beef, meaning 96% lean meat and 4% fat. This is an extremely lean variety.

The more lean meat and less fat, the healthier the ground beef. But less fat means the meat can dry out, so adjust cooking techniques.

Buying the Healthiest Lean Ground Beef

Check the label when purchasing ground beef and look for the following:

  • Lean point – 90% or higher is the leanest. Higher number = more lean meat, less fat.

  • Ingredients – Should only list beef and no fillers, additives, or preservatives.

  • Color – Bright, reddish-pink color indicates freshness.

  • Pack date – Choose the freshest ground beef possible, ideally used within 2 days of purchase.

  • Fat content – Low fat % = leaner beef. No more than 10% fat.

Is Lean Ground Beef Good for Burgers?

Lean beef makes excellent burgers, although they may be slightly drier than burgers made with higher fat beef. To keep lean burgers moist:

  • Don’t overcook. Cook to 160°F internal temp or they will be dry.

  • Make thinner patties that cook faster and avoid overcooking the inside.

  • Add toppings like cheese, avocado, or bacon that add moisture.

  • Brush with olive oil or coat with spices to boost flavor.

  • Mix in a few tablespoons of fattier ground meat like pork or lamb.

  • Serve on a hearty bun or bread that adds structure.

With the right techniques, lean ground beef makes healthy, delicious burgers full of protein. Just be mindful not to overcook the lean meat.

Healthy Recipe Ideas with Lean Ground Beef

Lean minced meat works great in recipes like:

  • Bolognese sauce – Simmer lean beef in a rich tomato sauce for pasta.

  • Meatloaf – Bind with eggs, oats, or mashed veggies for a classic dish.

  • Meatballs – Mix with breadcrumbs or oats to keep moist. Bake or simmer in sauce.

  • Chili – Slow cook with beans and tomatoes for a hearty, protein-packed chili.

  • Lasagna – Layer lean beef with lasagna sheets, tomatoes, and cheese for an Italian classic.

  • Tacos – Brown lean beef with taco seasoning and pile high on tortillas or taco salads.

With its versatility, lean ground beef can be used in endless healthy, satisfying meals. Its lower fat content allows it to fit into almost any diet.

Is Lean Ground Beef Healthy?

Yes, lean ground beef can be a very healthy choice when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Here are some of the benefits of lean vs regular ground beef:

  • Lower in fat and calories – Less saturated fat than regular ground beef. Calories are reduced by about 33%.

  • More iron and zinc – Essential minerals that are more concentrated in leaner cuts.

  • More protein – About 25g protein per 4oz serving. The leaner the beef, the more protein per ounce.

  • No carbs or sugar – Pure protein and nutrition without unwanted extras.

  • Nutrient-dense – Excellent source of B-vitamins, selenium, phosphorus and creatine.

Lean beef provides high-quality protein and essential nutrients. In reasonable portions, it can be part of a healthy diet, especially when paired with vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods.

The Bottom Line

Lean ground beef contains at least 90% lean meat and no more than 10% fat, making it healthier than regular ground beef. With careful cooking, lean minced meat can make delicious burgers, meatballs, tacos, chili, and more. Choosing healthy lean beef provides plenty of protein, iron, and zinc without all the saturated fat. Just be mindful not to overcook it, and incorporate it as part of an overall balanced diet.

How To Cook Ground Beef


What is considered very lean ground beef?

The leanest type of ground beef is called ground sirloin, with a lean point of 90% lean and 10% fat (90/10). Some ground beef blends can be as lean as 96% lean with 4% fat (96/4).

What is the difference between lean beef and regular beef?

Extra Lean – maximum fat content of 10% (90% lean) Lean – maximum fat content of 17% (83% lean) Medium – maximum fat content 23% (77% lean) Regular – maximum fat content 30% (70% lean)

Is lean ground beef healthier?

So, if you have health problems or are watching your weight, leans (lean cuts of beef) are a great way to include red meat in your diet. They are beef cuts with the least fat content. The best cuts of beef are ones with higher fat content. But lean cuts of beef are not just healthier but can be flavorful, too.

Is 85 15 ground beef lean?

85/15 Ground Beef means 85% lean and 15% fat.

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