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How to Make Sure You Order the Ground Beef You Really Want

As you go to place an order, you generally assume ordering ground beef will be easy. But as you then look down the list of ground beef items you can order, you realize things are a bit more complicated than you knew! There's a lot of terminology used around ground beef, so picking and ordering what you want can be a bit confusing the first time around. To ensure you order the type of ground beef you really want, take a look at these terms you'll often see on order forms.


80/20 is considered the "standard" for ground beef. The numbers mean that it is 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This is the blend of beef most often used to make burgers. If you use ground beef for multiple purposes, then this is a good type to buy. You can always cook it down in a skillet to render out more of the fat if you want a leaner beef.


The terms "hamburger" and "ground beef" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Hamburger is a kind of ground beef. It can be made from beef on any part of the animal, but it has to be 30% fat or less. Since fat is cheaper than meat, most hamburger is right around 30% fat. Hamburger can be great for making burgers, but if you buy it expecting to use it for some other purpose, you will likely find it too fatty.

Ground Chuck

Ground chuck is ground beef that is made specifically from grinding up the chuck portion of the animal. It tends to be really flavorful and has a nice amount of fat. You might use ground chuck to make a meatloaf, a meat sauce, or another dish where you want a higher quality ground beef.

Ground Sirloin

If you want really lean ground beef, order ground sirloin. The sirloin is one of the leanest cuts of beef, and ground sirloin is just that cut, all ground up. Ground sirloin does tend to be dryer since it's so low in fat, so you have to be careful not to overcook it.

Extra Lean

When the order form lists extra lean beef, that means the beef probably contains less than 5 grams of fat per serving. Often, this is just ground sirloin sold by another name. Again, it may be a good choice for making low-fat burgers, but you would not want to use this for every application in your kitchen.

You should now have a better idea of what these terms mean and which type of ground beef you really want to order. If you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to ask companies that take ground beef orders.