Boiling Hamburger to Save Time in the Kitchen


I boil most of the hamburger I buy (some I make into meat loaves & meat balls). I usually buy it on a loss-leader sale when it’s about a buck a pound (that price was from 2009! a buck a pound would be a dream in 2023 where a sale price is $3 a pound), and can boil 10 pounds at once in my largest stock pot.

Not only do you get the finer texture, you also cook out even more of the fat than if frying. Some nutritionist say boiling leaches out too many of the nutrients, but my feeling is that if the occasional meal with boiled hamburger is going to have that much effect on your health because of nutritional issues, you probably shouldn’t be eating hamburger at all. But heck, I’m not a doctor or dietitian, so you’ll have to use your own judgment.

In my large stockpot, I add 5-10 pounds of ground beef and a few cups of water, then set on the stove on high to cook.

After just a few minutes you’ll see it turn a nice (or not nice) shade of taupe. The drawback with boiling hamburger is that it isn’t browned. I’m usually using it something that will be cooked just before serving on the stove, or in a really saucy dish, so that doesn’t really matter much.

Keep stirring and breaking up the meat. You’ll get a much finer texture than you would if you browned it in a skillet.

After it’s fully cooked, scoop the meat out into a mesh colander* (you can use a plastic one if the holes are small enough.

The next step is optional: rinse the meat under very warm or hot water. Personally, after having done this many times, I no longer rinse it.

To package, I use sandwich-size zip bags and my trusty 20+ year old Tupperware measuring cup, which holds the bag nicely. Fold the edges over the cup to keep the zipper clean so it will seal.

Fill the cup to the 2-cup mark. I stuff it in there pretty good, but don’t pack it down like you would brown sugar. One pound of cooked hamburger equals about 2 cups.

Pull the bag out of the cup, squoosh (how’s that for a technical term?) the air out and zip it up. Flatten the bag for best storage.

The bags flatten out nicely and stack well for freezing. Moreover, they defrost really well (2 minutes in the microwave, flip over halfway through).

Super-quick tacos, sloppy joes, hot dog chili, hamburger helper or other casserole type meals.

*No matter if you have city sewer or a septic system, you really should not pour the liquid down the drain, too much fat. Plus, if you’re really looking to be frugal, you can use the “broth” for other recipes and render the fat to make tallow for soap making.

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More notes about what to do with the water and fat after boiling hamburger.

The water/broth:
This can be frozen, canned or freeze dried. Try using a small amount for another recipe before going to the trouble, in case it is not your cup of tea.

The fat:
You can further clarify the the fat by boiling and straining a few times and use it as tallow: for candles, soap making, cooking, or suet for the birds. Once clarified it can last years for non-food uses.