20 Healthy Ground Beef Recipes

You’ve got a pound of ground beef, and we’ve got a healthy ground beef recipe (or 20) for you! When we need a nutritious and well-balanced dinner in a pinch, we love to use ground beef as a base for a variety of healthy recipes, from stovetop casseroles and skillet dinners to soups, chilis, meatballs, and meatloaf. The following 20 Healthy Ground Beef Recipes will give you plenty of inspiration for what to make tonight and add to your menus for later.

This post was created in partnership with the Minnesota Beef Council.

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20 healthy ideas for What to make with Ground Beef

Dinner is relentless, isn’t it? As in, it comes every.single.night! And if you have health in mind and a family to feed, dinner can be a pain point in your day. We’re here to help you solve the dinnertime dilemma with these nutritious, easy, customizable, and healthy ground beef recipes. They’re easy and budget-friendly solutions that you’ll love to make again and again. Scroll down and click on any recipe title or photo to be taken to that recipe post right here on The Real Food Dietitians.

Meatloaf Muffin with Sweet Potato Topping 1

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Healthy Soups Made With Ground Beef

Healthy Hamburger Soup 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Packed to the max with veggies and full of flavor, this delicious Hamburger Soup is a hearty and healthy recipe you’ll be glad you added to your menu! It’s perfect for make-ahead prep and makes for a tasty cook-once-eat-twice ground beef meal!
Method: Slow Cooker | Total Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes

Slow Cooker Healthy Hamburger Soup 6

Instant Pot Lasagna Soup 

Dairy Free Option | Gluten Free Option | Nut Free

Lasagna lovers meet soup lovers. Two comfort foods converge to create a warm and cozy soup that’s easy to make and has big lasagna flavors. This easy Lasagna Soup brings together Italian seasoning, soft lasagna noodles, and ground beef in a base of tomato-basil marinara topped with dollops of creamy ricotta and a sprinkle of Parmesan.
Method: Instant Pot (Slow Cooker Option) | Total Time: 30 minutes

Instant Pot Lasagna Soup 8 1

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free

This is a chili for chili lovers. It’s thick, chunky, spicy, packed with fiber, and packed with all the right chili flavorings. Nutritious ground beef combines with three types of beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and two secret spices that bring out all the flavor (hint: ground cinnamon and cocoa powder for the win).
Method: Slow Cooker Option | Total Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes

Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili 5

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

This crowd-pleasing chili incorporates canned pumpkin for a touch of sweetness, fiber, and vitamin A. Not only does it hit the spot when you’re craving a big bowl of chili, but it’s also a great way to sneak more veggies into your diet.
Method: Slow Cooker | Total Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili 6

Instant Pot Taco Soup 

Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free

Ready to up-level your Taco Tuesday? This veggie-loaded, wholesome, hearty, and full-flavor Taco Soup is a quick, tasty, and healthy ground beef recipe with endless topping possibilities. It’s meal prep and freezer-friendly, making this a delicious reheat-and-eat meal that you can enjoy in the days and weeks to come. 

Method: Instant Pot | Total Time: 30 minutes

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Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili  

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

A comforting, cozy chili recipe that nourishes you with great flavor and nutritious ingredients. High-quality protein and vitamin-loaded sweet potatoes make the base of this flavorful, easy chili that fits into many special diets and contains no beans or added sugars. 

Method: Slow Cooker | Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Overhead view of slow cooker sweet potato chili in a grey bowl topped with avocado and fresh cilantro.


Nutritious ground beef meatballs & meatloaf

Sheet Pan Mini Meatloaves 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Here’s a well-balanced, filling, and healthy ground beef recipe that tastes like Sunday dinner, only much simpler and with far fewer dishes to wash! Shaping the barbecue sauce-infused ground beef into mini meatloaves shortens the cooking time so you’ll be able to get dinner on the table faster.

Method: Sheet Pan | Total Time: 50 minutes

Sheet Pan Meatloaf Veggies 6

BBQ Meatloaf Muffins with Sweet Potato Topping

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

We know these adorable meatloaf muffins topped with whipped sweet potatoes are almost too cute to eat! But once you taste one, you’ll be scarfing them down without remorse. The perfectly seasoned ground beef mixture bakes in muffin cups before getting topped with creamy sweet potatoes and a drizzle of BBQ sauce.

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 30 minutes 

Meatloaf Muffin with Sweet Potato Topping 7

Ultimate Meal Prep Meatballs 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

When you want to have nutritious, high-protein, easy dinners ready to go, turn to this simple and healthy ground beef recipe. This recipe is perfect for doubling or tripling and making ahead. Then simply reheat and serve them in a variety of ways.

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 30 minutes 

Ultimate Meal Prep Meatballs 5

Perfect Teriyaki Meatballs 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Teriyaki! Not only is it fun to say, but these homemade teriyaki meatballs are a FUN and easy recipe to make, requiring less than 10 ingredients. Plus, we include a delicious and cleaned-up homemade teriyaki sauce recipe that provides the iconic sweet-salty and gooey-delicious glaze that teriyaki dishes are known for. Serve them as a party appetizer or as a meal on their own over rice, rice noodles, or greens.

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 40 minutes 

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healthy dinners made with ground beef

Healthy Taco Hot Dish 

Gluten Free | Nut Free

This delicious and budget-friendly Healthy Taco Hot Dish takes all of the best flavors of one of our favorite handheld foods and combines them into one cozy hot dish (that’s Midwestern speak for ‘casserole’, dontcha know?). This one-dish meal features lean ground beef, plenty of veg, tender rice, taco seasonings, and black beans.

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes 

Beef Taco Hotdish 6

Easy One-Skillet Zucchini Lasagna 

Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free

Got some zucchini? Love lasagna? Great! Then you can make this Easy One-Skillet Zucchini Lasagna. It’s a noodle-free, healthy ground beef recipe, and our favorite way to infuse family-favorite lasagna with a veggie boost, upping the nutrition and making a pleasing weeknight meal that will be enjoyed by all.

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 45 minutes 

Birdseye view of one-skillet zucchini lasagna with melted mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese on top.

Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie  

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

This updated twist on traditional Shepherd’s Pie is hearty, healthy, comfort food at its finest. It’s one of our favorite healthy ground beef recipes that can be made ahead and also easy enough for a busy weeknight. It’s complete with ground beef, sneaky veggies, dried herbs, a touch of chili powder, and topped with a smooth layer of creamy, mashed sweet potatoes.

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 45 minutes 

Shepherds Pie 3

Easy Beef Taco Bowls 

Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to weeknight meals. Not every meal needs to be fancy! This Easy Beef Taco Bowl is a healthy ground beef recipe that’s simple, nourishing, and delicious. An easy way to get a meal on the table when time isn’t on your side, and because it’s perfect for customization, you can use what you’ve got on hand.

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 20 minutes 

Easy Beef Taco Bowls with Salsa Ranch 4

Easy Skillet Lasagna 

Gluten Free | Nut Free

For busy weeknights, consider this Easy Skillet Lasagna. With jumbled-up ‘layers’ of lean ground beef, curly lasagna noodles, vegetables, and cheese, it’s a hearty and wholesome meal the entire family will love. 

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 45 minutes 

Easy Skillet Lasagna 7

Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Hash

  Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Make good use of leftover taco meat by giving this easy, one-skillet Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Hash a try. A tasty and hearty breakfast or weeknight dinner option. This healthy ground beef recipe is meal-prep friendly and makes for a delicious reheat-and-eat meal throughout the week.

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 40 minutes 

Tex-Mex Sweet Potato Hash in a cast iron skillet topped with a fried egg and avocado slices.

Grain-free Spaghetti Pie 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

This Italian-inspired comfort meal combines strands of spaghetti squash, nutritious veggies, spices, and marinara sauce for a grain-free pasta dish that’s easy to make in an oven-safe skillet. This healthy ground beef recipe is a good one to keep in rotation for when you want familiar flavors in a new and exciting way!

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes 

Grain-Free Spaghetti Pie

Stovetop Sloppy Joes

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Forget the salty, sugary canned Sloppy Joe mix and make your own delicious, veggie-filled Healthy Sloppy Joes tonight from lean ground beef, bell pepper, onion, and just the right spices. Serve it in buns, or between cooked sweet potato slices or as a salad (for a gluten, Paleo, and Whole30 option).

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 35 minutes 

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Burger Bowl with Special Sauce 

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

Now, you don’t even have to own a grill to enjoy everything you love about a burger! Especially when you’ve got this Burger Bowl with Special Sauce recipe to satisfy that craving. The best part is that you can have them on the table fast, and they’re infinitely customizable to take advantage of what you have on hand.

Method: Stovetop | Total Time: 30 minutes 

Burger Bowl with Special Sauce 10 of 13

5-Ingredient Baked Ziti

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole30

With just a handful of ingredients, you can enjoy a classic Italian meal that makes one of our favorite healthy ground beef recipes. Not only that, but this recipe is easy to prep ahead of time for a delicious, well-balanced meal you can freeze and bake to sizzling perfection later!

Method: Oven Baked | Total Time: 50 minutes 

Baked Ziti 9 1


How to Defrost Ground Beef

We’ve all been there: You’re ready to make a healthy ground beef recipe, but realize that your ground beef is still frozen solid in the freezer. So how do you defrost ground beef? Use one of these easy methods to safely defrost ground beef for dinner tonight or tomorrow:

  1. Thaw overnight: If you’ll be making your ground beef recipe the next day, place the frozen ground beef package on a plate (to catch any thawing liquid) and place it in the refrigerator to thaw for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Defrost in 1 hour: You’ll be making a healthy ground beef recipe tonight, so you need that ground beef faster. Here’s what to do: Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the frozen package of ground beef. Refill the bowl with cold water every 20 to 30 minutes. The beef should be thawed in about 1 hour and cooked right away.
  3. Thaw in 5 minutes: Dinner is on your mind now and you need that frozen ground beef to be defrosted asap. If that’s the case, remove the frozen ground beef from the packaging and place it on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave it at 50% power for 2 to 3 minutes, rotating and flipping the ground beef every 30 seconds. Then, use the ground beef right away.

Easy Beef Taco Bowls with Salsa Ranch 3

how long is ground beef good in the fridge?

Raw, uncooked ground beef can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before cooking. And the same goes for pre-cooked and crumbled ground beef that is cooled and then stored in the fridge – you can safely store it there for up to 3 days. If frozen, raw or cooked will keep at good quality for up to 3 months.

ground beef nutrition: Is ground beef healthy?

Most people know that ground beef is a healthy, low-cost, and high-quality protein food. Here are additional health benefits of ground beef:

  • excellent source of iron: beef helps your body produce hemoglobin, an important protein that helps transport blood from your heart to the rest of your body. If you don’t get enough iron, you could be at risk of iron deficiency anemia, meaning your body is not getting enough oxygen.
  • great for immunity: ground beef is a good source of zinc, an important mineral your body needs to keep your immune system strong and to ward off illness.
  • high-quality protein: not only do we need protein to build and repair muscle tissue throughout our lifespan, but the amino acids in protein are essential for helping to keep hormones balanced and the neurotransmitters throughout our bodies revving strong.
  • lean choices: when it comes to ground beef, you can choose from different lean percentages. Higher percentages, such as 93% lean, means there is less fat in the ground beef, while lower percentages, such as 85% lean, mean there is a higher fat content.
Tip!

Beef is an excellent source of 10 essential nutrients

Check out posts from the Minnesota Beef Council for more information about how beef can be a healthy, nutritious, and delicious choice for meals.

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