The Best Ways to Season Ground Beef for Maximum Flavor

Ground beef is a kitchen staple that can be used in everything from tacos to meatballs to burgers. While plain ground beef works well in many recipes, seasoning it amps up the flavor and makes it taste even better. With the right blend of spices and ingredients, you can take your ground beef dishes from boring to sensational.

Why Should You Season Ground Beef?

There are a few key reasons to season ground beef:

  • Adds flavor: Plain ground beef can be bland and one-note. Seasoning adds layers of flavor that make each bite pop.

  • Enhances recipes: Seasoned ground beef blends better with sauces, spices and other ingredients in recipes. The added flavors complement dishes like tacos, chili and meatloaf.

  • Prevents dryness: Seasoned ground beef stays juicier during cooking. Spices and ingredients like onions or garlic help retain moisture.

  • Easier cooking: Pre-seasoned and pre-flavored beef eliminates the need to season later. It saves you time and dishes.

  • Versatility: Seasoned beef works well in a wide range of recipes. Make a big batch for easy weeknight meals.

Tips for Seasoning Ground Beef

Follow these tips for maximum flavor when seasoning ground beef:

  • Use 80/20 beef: The 80% lean and 20% fat ratio provides the best texture and moisture retention. Going leaner can cause dry, crumbly beef.

  • Don’t overmix: Mix just until combined, about 1 minute, or the texture suffers. Gentle handling prevents toughness.

  • Cook before freezing: For best results, brown seasoned beef before freezing. This seals in flavor. Thaw before cooking again.

  • Brown well: Browning adds deeper, richer notes. Cook over medium-high heat until nicely browned.

  • Drain fat: Draining excess fat prevents greasiness. Use a colander or paper towels to absorb fat after browning.

  • Add acid: Splash in a bit of vinegar or lemon juice at the end. The acid brightens and balances flavors.

Best Seasonings for Ground Beef

Ground beef adapts well to all kinds of seasonings. Start with a base seasoning blend, then customize it to suit your tastes. Here are some top options:

Basic blends

These combinations provide a well-balanced foundation:

  • Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
  • Oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt
  • Smoked paprika, dry mustard, thyme, salt

Chili and Tex-Mex

For taco meat, chili and more:

  • Chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, garlic
  • Chili powder, cumin, salt, brown sugar, oregano
  • Cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper

Spicy blends

Turn up the heat with spices like:

  • Chili powder, cayenne, black pepper, red pepper flakes
  • Chipotle chile powder, ancho chile powder, cumin, garlic
  • Curry powder, ginger, cumin, mustard powder

Herbed flavors

Fresh herb combos work nicely:

  • Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage
  • Cilantro, cumin, lime zest, garlic
  • Parsley, dill, lemon zest, garlic

Poultry seasoning

For a lighter flavor, use:

  • Poultry seasoning (thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary)
  • Sage, parsley, rosemary, nutmeg
  • Tarragon, thyme, paprika

Breakfast flavors

Great for breakfast tacos or hash:

  • Onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne
  • Chili powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon
  • Cumin, paprika, turmeric, mustard powder

![Seasoned ground beef ingredients][]

Image from Pretty Providence

Recipe Ideas Using Seasoned Ground Beef

Pre-seasoned ground beef is handy for all kinds of quick and easy meals. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Tacos – great seasoned with chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder
  • Burritos bowls – with taco or fajita seasoning
  • Nachos – top with Tex-Mex spiced beef and all the fixings
  • Casseroles like chili mac or cheesy potato bake
  • Meatballs – mix beef with Italian spices for flavorful bake
  • Meatloaf – combine beef with sautéed onions and tangy glaze
  • Stuffed peppers – fill with Greek seasoned beef and rice
  • Enchiladas – with chili powder and cumin rubbed beef
  • Pasta sauce – break up seasoned beef into tomato sauce
  • Hash – use chipotle chile or Southwest spiced meat
  • Burgers – sprinkle burgers with steak seasoning before cooking
  • Chili – make it mild or spicy with your choice of chile powders
  • Taco soup – quick meal with taco seasoned beef and beans
  • Breakfast tacos or burritos – with beef rubbed in chili and cumin

The options are endless! Seasoned ground beef takes recipes from mundane to spectacular.

How to Make Perfectly Seasoned Ground Beef

Making a flavorful batch of seasoned ground beef is simple with just a few ingredients. Here is an easy method:


  • 1 lb ground beef (80% lean)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄2 clove minced garlic
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper


  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.

  2. Add in the onions, garlic, cumin, salt, oregano and pepper. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the beef is browned and cooked through.

  3. Drain excess fat from the skillet. Serve beef immediately, or let cool completely before storing in the fridge or freezer.

Customize the ingredients based on the flavor profile you want. Onion and garlic provide a flavor base, while spices like cumin, chili powder and paprika add warmth and vibrancy.

Browning the beef well develops richer flavors. Cook over medium-high heat until the meat turns deep brown. Draining excess fat prevents greasiness.![Browned seasoned ground beef][]

Image from Pretty Providence

This versatile blend of seasoning works well in tacos, pasta, soups, burritos and more. Make a batch or two on the weekend for easy meals all week.

Storing and Freezing Seasoned Ground Beef

Properly stored, seasoned ground beef keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Here are some tips:

  • Store cooked ground beef in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Glass dishes also work well.
  • Refrigerate for up to 4 days. Use within this time for peak freshness and flavor.
  • For longer storage, freeze beef for 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
  • Portion into recipe-sized amounts before freezing. This allows you to thaw just what you need.
  • Remove as much air as possible and seal bags tightly to prevent freezer burn.
  • Use freezer bags designed for long freezing times. Write the date and recipe notes on bags.
  • Add a bit of olive oil or broth to beef before freezing to maintain moisture.

With properly frozen seasoned ground beef on hand, you’re never more than a quick defrost away from an easy, delicious dinner!


What’s the best cut of beef to use for seasoning?

Go with 80/20 ground beef. It has the right ratio of fat to lean meat that provides great moisture and texture. Super lean blends can turn out dry.

How long does cooked ground beef last in the fridge?

Cooked ground beef stays fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days. Store in airtight containers and use within this time.

Is it safe to re-freeze thawed ground beef?

It’s not recommended. Thawed meats can develop bacteria, so only refreeze if absolutely needed. Cook thawed beef within 1-2 days.

Can you cook ground beef from frozen?

Yes, you can cook frozen ground beef without thawing first. Add a bit more cooking time. Break up the block of meat as it cooks.

What’s the white stuff that sometimes forms on cooked ground beef?

The white substance is fat and moisture evaporating from the meat as it cooks and cools. It’s harmless, but can make the beef dry out, so drain it before refrigerating or freezing.

With the right blend of seasonings and spices, you can take your ground beef to the next level of flavor. A little prep time pays off in big taste dividends. Keep your fridge and freezer stocked with seasoned ground beef for easy, delicious meals anytime.

How to cook ground beef for maximum flavor | I bet you didn’t know this!


What should I season my beef with?

Spices like onion and garlic, with their inherent pungency, are some of the first that come to mind when it’s time to season beef. They are savory and strong, and also easy to come by! Black Pepper goes wonderfully with beef, with its slightly hot bite and the piney aroma. Cayenne is a terrific spice to use with beef.

When should I season ground beef?

Seasoning Ground Beef The meat needs to be seasoned no matter what you’re going to do with it. In the recipe below I add salt and pepper at the end. You can also add it midway through. It doesn’t matter much.

What spice enhances beef flavor?

Beef tastes great when seasoned with oregano, rosemary, sage, garlic or a combination of these seasonings. Poultry gets an added burst of flavor with spices like paprika, lemongrass and saffron. Fish can be made more flavorful with dry mustard powder, thyme and turmeric.

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