19 Delicious Ways to Use Up Leftover Ground Beef

Ground beef is a kitchen staple in many households. It’s flavorful, budget-friendly, and versatile enough to use in everything from weeknight dinners to backyard barbecues. But despite its versatility, you may sometimes end up with more ground beef than you need after cooking up a batch of burgers or meatloaf.

Leftover cooked ground beef only keeps for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Rather than letting it go to waste, get creative with ways to repurpose those leftovers into quick and easy meals. Here are 19 delicious ideas for using up leftover ground beef.

Transform Into Tacos, Burritos, or Nachos

Ground beef makes an easy protein filling for Mexican-inspired dishes like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos.

  • Tacos: Brown some onions and taco seasoning with raw ground beef. Or simply reheat cooked ground beef and sprinkle on seasoning. Stuff into tortillas along with cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc.

  • Burritos: Fill tortillas with seasoned ground beef, beans, rice, cheese, etc. and roll up.

  • Quesadillas: Sprinkle cooked ground beef and cheese between flour tortillas and grill until crispy.

  • Nachos: Top tortilla chips with seasoned ground beef, beans, salsa, cheese, etc. and broil until melted.

Make Taco Salad

Transform leftover taco meat into a flavorful taco salad. Season ground beef with taco seasoning and combine with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, beans, corn, avocado, etc. Drizzle with a tangy dressing for a hearty and healthy meal.

Stuff Into Peppers, Zucchini, or Mushrooms

Use cooked ground beef as a protein-packed filling for hollowed out raw veggies. Peppers, zucchini halves, and mushrooms all make excellent edible vessels for taco-spiced ground beef. Top with cheese and bake until tender.

Turn Into Shepherd’s Pie

The ultimate comfort food, shepherd’s pie transforms leftover ground beef into a hearty casserole. Line a baking dish with leftover mashed potatoes and fill with seasoned ground beef and vegetables like peas, carrots, and corn. Top with more mashed potatoes and cheese, then bake until bubbly and browned.

Mix Into Chili

Stretch leftover ground beef by stirring it into a pot of chili along with beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices. Top with avocado, cheese, etc. Freeze extras in single portions.

Add to Spaghetti Sauce

Leftover browned ground beef makes an easy, flavorful addition to any red pasta sauce. Simply stir it in along with your preferred blend of tomatoes, garlic, herbs, etc. and simmer until thickened. Toss with pasta for a quick meal.

Make Sloppy Joes

Reheat seasoned ground beef in a skillet with ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce until saucy. Pile onto buns for classic sloppy joes. Stuff into a hollowed out bread loaf for Sloppy Joe Sliders.

Whip Up Cabbage Roll Soup

Simmer ground beef and veggies like onions, garlic, carrots, and cabbage in broth. Season with tomato paste and herbs. Top bowls with sour cream or yogurt.

Fold Into Lasagna

Assemble easy skillet lasagna by layering cooked ground beef with jarred pasta sauce, noodles, spinach, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Bake until bubbly for a flavorful one-pan meal.

Make Stuffed Peppers

Transform bell peppers into hearty vegetarian mains. Stuff pepper halves or rings with a mixture of cooked rice, seasoned ground beef, cheese, beans, etc. Bake until peppers are tender.

Create Meatballs

Combine leftover ground beef with breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan, herbs, etc. and shape into balls. Bake, grill, or simmer in tomato sauce. Freeze extras to have on hand for easy meals.

Blend Into Meatloaf

For homemade meatloaf, mix together ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, onion, and seasonings. Pack into a loaf pan and bake. Slices make excellent sandwiches the next day.

Fold Into Empanadas

South American empanadas are handheld meat pies made from dough stuffed with savory fillings. Stuff circles of dough with cooked ground beef, onions, olives, etc. Seal edges with a fork and bake until golden.

Make Hamburger Steaks

Form leftover raw ground beef into patties and pan-fry with onions until browned. Smother with gravy and serve with mashed potatoes for homey comfort food.

Blend Into Hash

Cook diced potatoes and onions until lightly browned. Fold in cooked ground beef and season with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce etc. Crack a few eggs on top and cook until set for a hearty hash.

Toss With Pasta

Transform leftover Bolognese or meat sauce into a quick pasta dinner. Toss hot cooked pasta with reheated sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with garlic bread for a satisfying meal.

Fold Into Baked Ziti

Mix cooked ground beef into baked ziti along with tomato sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella. Bake until hot and bubbly, then sprinkle with fresh basil and Parm.

Make Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is shepherd’s pie’s equally delicious Irish cousin. Fill a baking dish with seasoned ground beef and veggies like peas and carrots. Top with cheesy mashed potatoes and bake until browned and bubbly.

Create Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Blanch cabbage leaves until pliable. Fill with a mixture of cooked ground beef, rice, onions, garlic, etc. Roll up and place seam-side down in a baking dish. Pour tomato sauce on top and bake to heat through.


With so many options for transforming leftover cooked ground beef into fast and easy meals, there’s no reason to let it go to waste. Tacos, stuffed peppers, chili, sloppy joes, and casseroles are just some of the many possibilities. Get creative in the kitchen and put those leftovers to delicious use.

It’s so delicious that I cook it 3 times a week❗❗ Incredible ground meat and Eggs Recipe!


How long is leftover cooked ground beef good for?

USDA recommends using cooked beef within 3 to 4 days, kept refrigerated (40°F or less). Refrigeration slows but does not stop bacterial growth. USDA recommends using cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

How long does ground beef last in the fridge?

Refrigerator [40°F (4°C) or below]
Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultry
Hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them
1 to 2 days
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork
3 to 5 days
3 to 5 days
3 to 5 days

What to do with ground beef after you open it?

It can be refrigerated or frozen in its original packaging if the meat will be used soon. If refrigerated, keep at 40 °F or below and use within one or two days. For longer freezer storage, wrap in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or plastic bags made for freezing.

What can you get from old beef?

Consequences of Eating Old Ground Beef The most common bacteria that grow within meat are E Coli and Salmonella- it isn’t just cookie dough you need to look out for. These bacteria can cause stomach issues like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and intense stomach cramps.

Leave a Comment