Does Draining Grease From Meat Make it Leaner?

Can you make ground beef healthier by draining the fat?

If you cook a pound of 80 % lean ground beef and drain the grease, does that mean you basically have the expensive 90% lean ground beef without the added cost? That’s what a Best Food Facts reader asked, so we reached out to Dr. Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, from North Dakota State University to answer their question.

The short answer is, “Yes!” There are others factors to keep in mind, as well.

“Cooking and draining ground beef significantly reduces fat and calorie content,” Dr. Garden-Robinson said.

The fat content in an 80% lean patty decreases from 22.6 grams of fat to 15 grams after cooking, according to data compiled by USDA’s Nutrient Database and Iowa State University research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

“During cooking, both moisture and fat content decrease within the meat. On average, 4 ounces of lean raw ground beef becomes 3 ounces (about 85 grams) of cooked meat,” Dr. Garden-Robinson said.

SourceU.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Database and Iowa State University’s research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

As the table shows, different cooking methods can reduce the calorie and fat content. Pan-broiling refers to cooking in a skillet without the addition of fat. By pan-broiling 80% lean ground beef crumbles and blotting them with a clean paper towel, your final product will be close to the calorie and fat content of 90% lean pan-broiled crumbles.

The calories can be cut even further by pan-broiling, blotting with a paper towel, then placing in a strainer and rinsing the cooked meat with hot water.

“Be sure to remember that fat usually carries the flavor in meat, so you will see decreases in flavor along with decreases in fat,” Dr. Garden-Robinson said.

Safe food handling is important throughout the process.

“Regardless of the type of ground beef, defrost it in the refrigerator and clean all work surfaces and utensils that come in contact with meat – either raw or cooked. Finally, be sure to cook beef to an internal temperature of 160F and until the juices run clear,” she said.

Draining grease from hamburger reduces the fat and calorie content. Follow safe food handling

 “4815” by Bob Peters is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Originally published Oct. 2, 2014