Marinating chunks of steak is a great way to flavor a dish. Many marinades have ingredients that break down tough meat fiber so the meat can be juicy and tender.
But what about ground beef? Isn’t it already tender since it’s been through the grinder? Is it still a good idea to marinate ground beef in a liquid marinade?
You can marinate ground beef in a liquid marinade, but don’t leave the ground beef in a liquid marinade for more than 12 hours due to how tender it already is.
Ground beef may already be tender, but it still needs to be flavored. Ground beef can sit in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
If the marinade mixed with ground beef tastes or smells terrible, the entire dish is not edible.
What to Know About Marinating Ground Beef
You may have heard that a pack of ground beef should never sit in a liquid marinade or that ground beef should only have seasonings mixed into it, like a dry rub.
But that is not true. Ground beef can sit in a liquid marinade, just like beef slices or steaks.
If the marinade is bad, do not use it on the beef.
If you need to marinate ground beef for 24 hours, then do it during the first three days. Do not eat meat that is five days old.
Can You Marinate Raw Ground Beef?
You can marinate raw ground beef as you would a piece of steak. Chefs can use a liquid marinade or a dry rub marinade to give the meat flavor and make the meat more tender.
Most people prefer to marinate raw beef in the marinade than to cook ground beef by itself and then pour the marinade on the cooked meat.
Marinating raw beef will allow the flavors of the marinade to seep into the ground beef and flavor the entire dish.
Along with a liquid marinade, you can also marinate the ground beef in dry seasonings. This is known as a dry rub.
Many brand new home cooks add dry ingredients to their ground beef, including bread crumbs, onions, garlic powder and onion powder, pepper, salt, oregano, cheese, etc. Dry ingredients add flavor to hamburgers or meatballs.
According to the USDA, ground beef can sit in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Marinate ground beef within 3 days. Do not try to extend the life of a five-day-old package of ground beef by placing it in a marinade.
Not only will the marinade not kill any of the bacteria that has been sitting on the surface of the beef, you may not be able to tell if the beef is bad or old because the marinade will overpower the taste of old rotten meat.
How Long Should You Marinate Ground Beef?
You should never leave ground beef sitting on the countertop, even if it is in a marinade. When you cannot marinate ground beef in the fridge, mix the marinade into the ground beef and cook it within 20 minutes.
However, many cooks say to let the ground beef sit on the countertop and at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking it.
Allowing the temperature of the meat to rise will make it easier to cook.
Meatballs, hamburger patties, pork, and beef with a thick center will cook evenly and the heat from the frying pan will reach the center of the meat faster when the meat is closer to room temperature than 40F.
How Long Can You Marinate Ground Beef In The Fridge?
The refrigerator is the best place to allow ground beef to marinate. The temperature will prevent bacteria from growing on the beef and prevent food poisoning.
Always place the ground beef and marinade mix into the refrigerator. The longer the ground beef can marinate, the more flavorful the ground beef will be.
If you do not have a lot of time on your hands, then marinate ground beef for 2 hours. This is enough time for the marinade to combine with the meat of the ground beef.
But if you have plenty of time on your hands, the ideal time to allow a package of ground beef to sit in a marinade is 6 hours.
If the recipe calls for it, leave the ground beef marinating in a liquid or dry marinade for 24 hours.
However, 24 hours is where most culinary masters set the time limit.
If you leave the ground beef in a marinade for over 24 hours, the broken fibers of muscle in the meat will break down even further and disintegrate. The meat will become mushy and it will have a sponge-like texture when fully cooked.
What Can I Marinate Ground Beef In?
So now that you know the rules of marinating ground beef, what types of marinade should you buy to have ready on hand whenever you buy ground beef?
There are a few marinades that are common all over the internet and in most people’s basic culinary cookbooks.
- Teriyaki flavor – Garlic powder, onion powder, rice vinegar, brown sugar or maple syrup, and soy sauce, or liquid aminos.
- Savory Burger flavor – soy sauce, liquid smoke, smashed garlic cloves, pepper, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce
- A juicier patty – heavy cream soaked into the ground beef overnight.
- Herbed Patty meat for skewers – time, olive oil, rosemary, pepper, salt, minced tomato.
Conclusion to Marinating Ground Beef
Never let the ground beef sit in the marinade on the countertop. It is better to allow the marinade and ground beef to sit in the refrigerator, and then allow the mix to sit on the countertop for 20 minutes to reach a higher temperature.
After 20 minutes is over, cook the meat. The longer the ground beef sits in a marinade, the more flavorful it will be. If meat sits in a marinade for over 24 hours, the meat can become mushy and sponge-like.