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How To Add Fat To Lean Ground Beef

Stuck with a load of lean ground beef and not sure how to fatten it up? 

Don’t worry.

I’ve been in this exact situation more times than I care to remember.

In this article, I’m going to show you 7 quick and delicious ways to add that all-important fat to your ground beef.

Let’s get straight to the juicy bit.

How do you add fat to lean ground beef? The best way to add fat to lean ground beef is to use beef back fat (tallow). Ensure the tallow and ground beef are cold before mixing in a food processor. Other fats such as butter, bacon fat, and pork mince work well too.

Ways To Add Fat To Ground Beef

You can add fat to your ground beef in a variety of forms.

Personally, I find that adding beef fat (specifically from the back of the cow) works best and is super cheap – sometimes you can even get it for free! More on that later.

“I’m at home and need a quicker solution”

I hear you.

If you’re stuck for time or would rather use something you already have at home, here are some good options:

  • Bacon
  • Bacon fat
  • Butter
  • Chorizo
  • Sausages
  • Pork mince
  • Cheese

Add Beef Fat

This is my personal favorite. Adding beef fat to lean ground beef can transform it into something truly magical.

The trick to using beef fat is to use BACK FAT specifically.

Why?

  • Back fat is more ‘buttery’ and has a melt in your mouth texture VS regular beef fat.
  • Many butchers give it away for FREE. And even if your local butcher decides to sell it, it won’t be expensive.

How To Add Beef Fat (Tallow) To Ground Beef

Assuming you’ve got your tallow ready to go, you’ll need either a food processor or a dedicated meat grinder for the next part.

  • Ensure both the tallow and beef are COLD before adding to your food processor. I recommend placing them in the freezer for around 20 minutes before your ready to process them. If the meat is too warm it will smear and you’ll end up with mushy ground beef.
  • The same applies to your grinding equipment. Place it in the freezer at least one hour before you need to use it.
  • Work out how much tallow you need to get the desired lean to fat ratio. If you’re unsure, skip to this section where I cover it in detail.
  • Grind together the ground beef and the tallow just until they’re both properly mixed. Don’t overdo this step. Too much handling can also result in a mushy texture.

It’s that simple.

If you don’t have a grinder or food processor at home, you may have some luck asking your butcher if they’d be willing to work in the fat for you. 

Add Bacon

Bacon is here to save the day. You have three options when it comes to adding bacon to ground beef:

  • Grind the bacon and mix with the ground beef before cooking/making patties
  • Add cooked bacon to your ground beef
  • Use the bacon fat/drippings to cook the ground beef

Mixing the ground bacon with the ground beef before cooking will create a deliciously fatty and flavorsome patty.

Grinding the bacon not an option? Chopping it finely and mixing it in also works well.

Warning: adding bacon in this way requires you to cook the burger ALL the way through. Food poisoning is a real thing and even more important when it comes to dealing with pork products.

Like your burger rare to medium-rare?

There’s still hope.

Another open is to cook the bacon BEFORE grinding it and adding it to the ground beef. Cooking the bacon first still allows you to have your burgers rare to medium-rare without having to worry about any foodborne illnesses. 

Now…

Let me introduce you to my secret weapon:

BACON FAT.

Bacon fat is just as delicious as it sounds. I even spread it on my toast sometimes (I know, a heart attack waiting to happen but it’s just SO GOOD).

Moreish bacon fat in a burger? Yes please!

Decide how fatty you’d like your burgers and add in the bacon fat accordingly before cooking.

I’ve created a handy matrix below to help you decide how much fat to add. (Click here to jump straight to it)

Add Sausage

Sausages are a great way to make your ground beef more juicy and fatty.

And the best part?

You don’t need any additional equipment or hassle to mix them together. 

Work out how much fat you need to add, and then mix the sausage meat and ground beef together in a bowl.

Voila! Problem solved. 

Add Chorizo

Chorizo is yet another insanely delicious way to add flavor, fat, and life to your ground beef.

I keep it simple when adding chorizo. Providing the ground beef is around 90% lean, I recommend adding 1 part chorizo for 3 parts ground beef.

Remember: cooking is an art, not a science. You won’t do any harm by tweaking the above ratio to your liking. 

Add Cheese

No good burger is complete without a hefty portion of cheese to go with it.

So why not add some cheese into the beef instead of on top of it?

Adding cheese is a foolproof way to add fat and oozy-juicy-ness (is that even a word?). All without needing to add any other meats.

Here are a few of my personal favorite additions:

  • Blue cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Cream cheese

Simply add a generous helping of your favorite cheese into the raw ground beef and gently mix by hand.

If you’re using a solid cheese I recommend cutting it into small chunks or use a cheese grater if you’re feeling lazy.

Cold cheese works best for this task. I’d even go as far as freezing the cheese for 20-30 minutes before mixing it into the raw beef.

Add Butter

Let’s not forget about butter. Adding butter to ground beef elevates the beef’s flavor profile while not adding any other distractions (flavors). Butter also adds moisture and tenderness to the beef.

And it’s very likely that you have some handy right now.

Here’s how to add butter to ground beef:

  • Dice or grate the butter into small pieces (too big and you’ll have pockets of air in the beef once the butter melts).
  • Ensure the butter is cold (like ice cold) before adding to the beef. I recommend freezing both the butter and beef for about 30 minutes to make sure they’re at a similar temperature.
  • Gently work the butter pieces into the ground beef and form individual patties. A light touch is crucial here to prevent the ground beef from turning mushy.

How Much Fat Should I Add To My Ground Beef?

I’ve created a handy table to help you calculate how much fat to add to your ground beef.

Let’s go through a quick example to illustrate how it works.

You have 90% lean ground beef (10% fat) and decide you want to make burgers with 30% fat (70% lean).

Now you simply have to match the type of ground beef you have (in the columns) with your desired ground beef type (in the rows).

60% Lean70% Lean80% Lean
80% Lean+ 25%+13%
85% Lean+ 29%+ 18%+ 6%
90% Lean+ 33%+ 22%+ 11%
93% Lean+ 35%+ 25%+ 14%
The percentages in the table represent how much pure fat to add to the total original weight of your ground beef.

To turn 90% lean ground beef into 70% lean ground beef, you’ll need to add 22% of the total weight of your original ground beef in pure fat (e.g. tallow, bacon fat, butter).

Confused? Lets go through a real life example:

If you have 2lbs of 90% lean ground beef, you’ll need to add 7oz (0.44lbs) of fat to make a 70% lean mix. 0.44 lbs is 22% of 2 lbs.

Tips For Making Lean Ground Beef Juicy

Here are a few final tips to help you get maximum juiciness and tenderness from your ground beef:

  • Don’t overwork the meat. Overworking the beef makes it tough and lifeless. Treat it gently and you’ll be rewarded.
  • Cooking burgers? Just flip them ONCE. Pretty much the same logic as #1. Also, avoid the urge to press the patties with your spatula when cooking.
  • The fattier the beef, the more heat you need. Generally speaking, leaner cuts should be cooked on a medium flame, whereas high-fat cuts should be cooked on a high flame. Adjust depending on the amount of fat you decide to add.

How To Add Fat To Lean Ground Beef

Stuck with a load of lean ground beef and not sure how to fatten it up?
Don’t worry.
I’ve been in this exact situation more times than I care to remember.
In this recipe, I’m going to show you 7 quick and delicious ways to add that all-important fat to your ground beef.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person
Calories 286 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion beef back fat (tallow) optional
  • 1 portion bacon optional
  • 1 portion bacon fat optional
  • 1 portion chorizo optional
  • 1 portion butter optional
  • 1 portion sausages optional
  • 1 portion pork mince optional
  • 1 portion cheese optional

Instructions
 

Add beef back fat (tallow)

  • Adding beef fat to lean ground beef can transform it into something truly magical.
    The trick to using beef fat is to use BACK FAT specifically.
  • Ensure both the tallow and beef are COLD before adding to your food processor. I recommend placing them in the freezer for around 20 minutes before your ready to process them. If the meat is too warm it will smear and you’ll end up with mushy ground beef.
  • The same applies to your grinding equipment. Place it in the freezer at least one hour before you need to use it.
  • Work out how much tallow you need to get the desired lean to fat ratio. If you’re unsure, skip to this section where I cover it in detail.
  • Grind together the ground beef and the tallow just until they’re both properly mixed. Don’t overdo this step. Too much handling can also result in a mushy texture.
  • If you don’t have a grinder or food processor at home, you may have some luck asking your butcher if they’d be willing to work in the fat for you.

Add bacon

  • You have three options when it comes to adding bacon to ground beef.
  • Grind the bacon and mix with the ground beef before cooking/making patties.
  • Add cooked bacon to your ground beef.
  • Use the bacon fat/drippings to cook the ground beef.
  • Warning: adding bacon in this way requires you to cook the meat ALL the way through. Food poisoning is a real thing and even more important when it comes to dealing with pork products.
  • Another open is to cook the bacon BEFORE grinding it and adding it to the ground beef. Cooking the bacon first still allows you to have your burgers rare to medium-rare without having to worry about any foodborne illnesses.
  • You can also add bacon fat to lean ground beef. Once you've calculated how much fat is required (see matrix), add the bacon fat to the lean ground beef before cooking.

Add sausage

  • Sausages are a great way to make your ground beef more juicy and fatty.
    And the best part?
    You don’t need any additional equipment or hassle to mix them together.
  • Work out how much fat you need to add, and then mix the sausage meat and ground beef together in a bowl.

Add chorizo

  • Keep it simple when adding chorizo. Providing the ground beef is around 90% lean, I recommend adding 1 part chorizo for 3 parts ground beef.

Add cheese

  • Adding cheese is a foolproof way to add fat and oozy-juicy-ness (is that even a word?). All without needing to add any other meats.
  • Choose your cheese. Blue cheese, Feta cheese, and Cream cheese all work well here.
  • Add a generous helping of your chosen cheese into the raw ground beef and gently mix by hand.
  • If you’re using a solid cheese I recommend cutting it into small chunks or use a cheese grater if you’re feeling lazy.
  • Cold cheese works best for this task. I recommend freezing the cheese for 20-30 minutes before mixing it into the raw beef.

Add butter

  • Adding butter to ground beef elevates the beef’s flavor profile while not adding any other distractions (flavors). Butter also adds moisture and tenderness to the beef.
  • Dice or grate the butter into small pieces (too big and you’ll have pockets of air in the beef once the butter melts).
  • Ensure the butter is cold (like ice cold) before adding to the beef. I recommend freezing both the butter and beef for about 30 minutes to make sure they’re at a similar temperature.
  • Gently work the butter pieces into the ground beef and form individual patties. A light touch is crucial here to prevent the ground beef from turning mushy.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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