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Have you ever needed to cook a large quantity of ground beef and wondered how to do it easily? It’s your lucky day!
This is not so much a recipe as it is a technique. And like all my favorite crock pot cooking, it requires very little effort…and that spread out throughout the day.
I have been on a bit of a freezer stocking mission lately. And having cooked ground beef stashed in the chill chest makes meal prep so quick!
Hamburger in the Crockpot
If you’re not home during the day, this would make a perfect weekend task. You’ll want to be around at least a few times during the cook time to stir the meat, breaking it up.
But it’s not a strict timetable, so no stress.
I like to buy my meat in bulk at Costco. It comes in one pound chubs, five to a package. I cooked all five pounds in my oval crock pot.
In the morning, put your frozen ground beef directly into the crock pot, along with one cup of water. (You could use beef stock, if you wanted to). If you’re doing a smaller amount of meat, lessen the water accordingly.
I didn’t season the meat at all at this stage. That comes later.
Turn your crock pot on low and ignore it for 2-3 hours. That’s when you want to open it up and use a large spoon or spatula to break up the ground beef. Really get in there and break it into small pieces.
This is when I seasoned my meat. Since I want to freeze my hamburger to use for various recipes, I’m keeping the seasoning pretty basic. Salt, pepper, garlic powder.
Cover your crock pot back up and let it cook for another 2-3 hours. At that time, open it up and give it another good mix.
At this point, I got a little concerned that it might not be done in time to make the tacos I was planning for dinner, so I turned it up to high for the last couple of hours.
I think it would have been ok on low the whole time, but just to be safe, if I was doing that, I’d shoot for 8-10 hours instead of 6-8.
My total cook time was 8 hours (6 on low and 2 on high).
At this point, give it one last good stir. Then it’s time to strain it.
I set a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and scooped the beef in batches to let it drain. I moved the beef directly from the strainer into my labeled Ziploc bags.
Since I have two teenage boys, one pound of ground beef doesn’t typically cut it for most of our recipes. (We like leftovers, too, for my meat-eating boys). So, I divided the meat about in half and froze half of it in two bags.
The other half I strained and then returned to the crock pot for tacos. I seasoned it up and put it on high until dinner (just about 15 minutes).
My two cents on this method
This is easy-peasy and I love that! For preparing ground beef for the freezer, this will be my go to method for sure.
Update: Since trying this method, I’ve used it lots of times! I’ve also used thawed beef instead of frozen and it works GREAT! Just cut a couple hours off your time.
Because the meat is not cooked over direct heat, you miss the dark brown, yummy bits that browning beef on the stove top produces. What you end up with is a lot softer in texture. It’s great for tacos and casseroles, hamburger stroganoff, and the like.
Yes, I’ll definitely use this for bulk meat preparation. For an average night when I’m just cooking a pound or two I’ll still rely on my trusty cast iron skillet. The beef I use typically doesn’t need any straining so in those cases, it’s actually easier to do it that way.
Have you ever tried cooking ground beef in the crock pot?