How do you drain ground beef? (+3 Safety tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “How do you drain ground beef?”, and how to store ground beef?

How do you drain ground beef?

Removing grease from the pan

  1. First of all, you need to brown the ground beef in a greased non-stick pan. Heat the beef on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally for even cooking. Add salt, pepper, and other spices according to your taste.
  1. Corner the cooked beef to one side of the pan using a spoon or a fork. Then tilt the pan towards its empty side to allow the grease to drain and collect slowly.
  1. Remove the collected grease using a spoon. Remove it into a bowl lined with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil will make the cleanup easier but this step is optional.
  1. Once the grease has lost most of its heat, suck it up using a turkey baster. Press the top of the baster and place the tip in the grease. Release the bulb. The baster will suck the grease.
  1. Alternatively, you can use paper towels to absorb the grease. Make sure the pan is not too hot or else you will burn your fingers.
  1. The grease takes about 1-2 hours to become solid. You can solidify it in a bowl or a can by placing it in the freezer. Solidified grease can be easily disposed of. If you do not want to throw it in the bin, use it in place of lard and butter in different recipes.

Using a colander to remove grease

  1. Just like the above-emntioned method, the first step is to brown the ground beef by cooking it with salt, pepper, and other spices on low-medium heat for at least 10 minutes.
  1. Adjust the colander on a ceramic or glass bowl. Never use a plastic bowl as It may melt during draining. Pour the cooked beef into the colander. The grease will slowly drip and collect into the bowl.
  1. To ensure complete removal of grease from the ground beef, pour a cup of boiling hot water over the beef. This mixture of water and grease should be allowed to come to room temperature. After that, transfer it to the fridge. The fat will float on the top of the water in the form of solid drops which can be easily skimmed off using a spoon.

How to store ground beef?

Refrigerate your ground beef in its original packaging if it is to be consumed within 3 days of its purchase. Keep at a steady temperature of 4.4°C or below.

Cured ground meat will last more in the fridge than raw meat. It is not recommended to store partially cooked ground meat. This allows the bacteria to multiply to unsafe levels that cannot be destroyed by subsequent cooking.

If meat is to be stored for longer time periods, then freezing is a good choice. For freezing, take out the meat from the original packaging and transfer it to a freezer bag or a heavy-duty plastic bag to prevent freeze injury. The meat will remain safe indefinitely at a steady freezing temperature but gradually loses quality over time.

How to thaw ground beef?

Do not thaw your meat at room temperature. Instead, plan ahead and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Refrain from refreezing thawed ground beef as it will considerably damage the quality.

The freeze-thaw cycle will result in the formation of larger ice crystals each time. These crystals, each time when they melt, disrupt the texture and deprive the meat of essential nutrients.

Although it is not recommended, if you are in a hurry and will be cooking your meat immediately after thawing, you can thaw your meat under cold running water.

The second option is to microwave it. This is going to damage the quality and partially cook your meat and is not recommended. You can also thaw ground beef by keeping the bag in a bowl full of water and changing the water every 30 minutes or so.

How to handle raw ground beef?

  • Wash your hands properly after touching raw meat to avoid cross-contamination.
  • When shopping, cover your ground beef with an additional wrap to prevent any drippings.
  • Keep the raw ground beef separate from other food items. 
  • Buy the perishables at the end of your grocery shopping and make sure the package is not damaged and is frozen. 
  • Check the meat has printed manufacturing and expiry date.

The shelf life of ground beef

The meat will remain the best quality for the time periods suggested below. It may remain safe beyond this time but not of the prime quality.

In the fridgeIn the freezer
Raw ground beefUp to 3 daysUp to 4 months
Cooked ground beefUp to 4 daysUp to 3 months

Other FAQs about Beef which you may be interested in.

How long does cooked ground beef last? (3 Tips)

How long does raw ground beef last in fridge?

Can you cook beef from frozen? (+3 Tips)


In this article, we answered the question “How do you drain ground beef?”, and how to store ground beef?