Can You Marinate Ground Beef?

by Charlie
raw marinated beef ground meat

We don’t know about you, but ground beef is a reliable staple in our fridge. It’s easy to prepare, cooks quickly, and is used in many delicious recipes such as burgers, sloppy Joes, quick stir-fries and even stews. 

Not marinating beef, or any type of meat, makes the recipe a bit less flavorful. In fact, you may be able to taste the true flavor of the meat (which is not everyone’s favorite), unless you let the dish simmer in sauces and juices for a while.

Marinating is very important to make sure the flavors permeate every ingredient, and it makes cooking easy because you can do it the day before. Yes, you can marinate most meats on the previous day, seal it off and place it in the fridge to cook the next day for an even more savory flavor.

Can you marinate ground beef? Yes, you can marinate ground beef! Not only will you get more flavor, adding sauces and spices to ground beef can also make it more tender and easier to cook.

However, there are some things to be aware of when you marinate ground beef that can change your entire dish.

Why Marinate Ground Beef? 

Some cooks and chefs disagree on whether or not you can marinate ground beef because it could change the texture. We definitely believe you can, but you have to do it right.

We suggest marinating ground beef because it can add more flavor, tenderize your beef, and also preserve moisture. The key is to not do it for too long.

Here is an easy and scannable list to help you decide if you should marinate ground beef for your dish or not.

Pros

  • Tenderizes your beef
  • Adds more flavor and really soaks it in
  • Preserves moisture in the beef

Cons

  • Acidic ingredients in the marinate could cause the beef to become soggy. Acidic ingredients include vinegar and fruit juices.

How Long is Too Long to Marinate Ground Beef?

We know some Asian recipes that may call for Chinese black vinegar or the addition of plum juices that are crucial to the recipe. In general, these recipes are used on beef slices, but in a pinch, they also work well on ground beef. 

So should you forego this idea of using ground beef with traditional recipes that require a marinade?

No, you don’t have to as long as you don’t let it stew for too long. It really all depends on how strong your marinade is. There is no minimum, but we do recommend marinating your ground beef for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 24 hours. 

Can You Marinate Ground Beef Overnight?

We mentioned that there are plenty of meats that are excellent to marinate and prepare the day before to make cooking the next day easier. However, is ground beef the best option to do this?

Yes, you can marinate ground beef overnight. Just try not to exceed the 24-hour mark before you cook it. This way, you can ensure that the integrity of your beef stays the same. 

How Long Can You Store Marinated Ground Beef?

If you don’t really mind the beef becoming soft and almost exhibiting a soggy texture, then you won’t need to pay as much attention to the time span. You wouldn’t store marinated ground beef in the freezer, but how long can you store marinated ground beef in the fridge before it spoils?

You can keep marinated ground beef in the fridge for up to 5 days before it spoils. However, we don’t recommend this. You won’t need to store it for that long if flavor is what you are worried about. 

To successfully marinate ground beef, the most you will need is 1 to 3 hours for the flavor to really permeate the meat. The sooner you cook the marinated ground beef, the fresher your dish will be. 

If you decide to freeze your ground beef, check out our article on how to thaw ground beef.

What Marinate Can You Use on Ground Beef?

We mentioned what can spoil the texture of the ground beef, so you may be wondering what type of marinade is best to use. We have a few beef marinate suggestions we personally love that translate well to ground beef!

Just keep in mind that you would have to marinate beef slices and steaks for much longer than you would for ground beef. 

Beef Bulgogi

So good. Beef bulgogi is a Korean staple and one that we have grown to love. It’s traditionally used on beef slices to cook on the grill, but it works well on ground beef in a pan as well. 

Ingredients:

  • Sesame oil
  • Chopped garlic 
  • Chopped green onions
  • A splash of black pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Some water

Ground Beef Patties

Ground beef is known for hamburger patties. You can now make it extra flavorful by marinating it in the below ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Brown sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Grated ginger

Mongolian Beef Marinade

Here is a Chinese dish that also translates very well to ground beef. You would typically use thick beef slices, but ground beef works well in a pinch. It’s almost as if you are getting a 2-in-1 deal with these marinades because they work well on different cuts.

Ingredients:

  • Soy sauce
  • Some water
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • White pepper 
  • Garlic powder

You may have noticed that we didn’t list out the amount for each ingredient, and that’s because you can eyeball it yourself (recipe aficionados look away). The ingredients necessary for these recipes can change as every cook or chef has strayed away from tradition and have their own takes on each recipe.

The bulgogi beef recipe is quite standard, but some may involve adding onions, pears and plum extracts. You can add most things to a burger patty and still have it taste good, so don’t hesitate to experiment and let your creativity flow.

As for the Mongolian beef marinade, there are numerous recipes out there for you to explore as well.

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