In our house, ground meat is a total lifesaver. There’s no need to slice or cut a slab of meat; you just take it out, toss it in, and dinner is on the table that much quicker. That’s why we’ve gathered our favorite––easy––ground meat recipes in this post!
While some of these recipes call for a particular type of ground meat––ground beef, pork, or chicken, feel free to use whatever ground meat you like. You could also sub in ground turkey or ground lamb.
We’ve divided this list into a few sub-categories, including Rice & Noodles, Southeast Asian recipes, and Traditional Chinese recipes, all using ground meat!
When In Doubt, Defrost Some Ground Meat!
We reach for ground meat when we don’t want to think too hard about cooking times, are serving a crowd, need to put meals on the table fast, or need a little handful of protein to add that extra umami flavor to a stir-fry or noodle dish.
Some of the most popular Chinese recipes rely on just a small handful of ground meat: MaPo Tofu, Stir-Fried Chinese Green Beans with Pork, and Dan Dan Noodles, to name a few. Not only is it tasty, it’s an economical way to stretch budgets and make really tasty meals with a small amount of protein.
I pretty much survived all of my penny-pinching college years with three proteins I always had on hand: eggs, bone-in chicken breast, and a package of ground turkey. I could use ground turkey for anything: Chinese dishes for when I was homesick, meat sauce for pasta, chili, meatballs, etc. etc. etc. It didn’t take much thought or prep when I came home after a day of classes looking for a quick meal.
Plus, we’re fresh off of July 4th—Happy Independence Day!—which means summer is really here, and spending a lot of time in the kitchen probably isn’t on your mind. Many of these recipes take just 10-30 minutes to pull together!
Don’t Have Any In Your Freezer?
You might find yourself scrolling through these delicious recipes, turning excitedly to your fridge/freezer, and realizing that instead of ground meat, you only have chicken thighs or pork chops in there.
Fear not! We have a guide to “grinding” your own meat, which you can do in just minutes with a sharp knife and a cutting board. We use this method all the time with a range of proteins: chicken, pork, or beef. In fact, there are some recipes that actually hugely benefit from a coarser and more uneven ground meat texture.
We always separate packs of meat, portioning pork out into small chunks that are perfect for “grinding” when we’re pulling together a quick dinner.
Substitute Your Meat of Choice
Again, any of these ground meat recipes can be tweaked to use your protein of choice—heck, you could even try them with crumbled tempeh—with successful results. Just keep in mind the balance of meat and fat when you make these adjustments, and ensure you have enough fat / moisture as needed.
You could solve this by adding more oil, or adding more liquid to make things saucier, depending on the recipe!
Remember: Other Recipes Can Be Adjusted
While these are our favorite ground meat recipes, don’t limit yourself just to these! We have plenty of stir-fries where you could substitute ground meat for sliced or julienned meat to make things easier.
We hope you enjoy these recipes!
Rice & Noodle Recipes Using Ground Meat
1. Chinese-Style Spaghetti Bolognese
This is one of our favorites, and it has been approved by our Chinese family and non-Chinese friends alike!
I’ve made it for small family dinners and big crowds, always with great success. And it’s great for picky little kids, too!
2. Spicy Crispy Pork Noodles (Made with Spaghetti!)
Another easy noodle dish, particularly when you might only have a box of spaghetti on hand!
3. 15-Minute Lazy Noodles
The name really says it all: great noodles, very little effort!
4. Hamburger Fried Rice
No chopping, no special proteins needed. Just good old hamburger meat made into a perfect fried rice.
5. Easy Korean Beef Bibimbap
Korean Beef Bibimbap is delicious with sliced bulgogi, but it’s much easier to sub in cooked ground meat to get the same beefy flavor!
Sarah developed this recipe after going to a dinner party in college hosted by her English professor––a Korean home cook who cooked up bibimbap for her entire class with this easy method.
6. Cantonese Beef Rice Bowls
Inspired by our Chinese Spaghetti Bolognese, these Cantonese Beef Rice Bowls make for a fast one pot dinner. You can also serve it with some sauteed bok choy or broccoli on the side.
7. Easy Curry Beef Rice Bowls
Curry can take lots of chopping and simmering, but this Curry Beef Rice Bowl uses ground beef to cut prep and cooking times! If you’re looking for another fast curry recipe, try our 15-minute Chicken Curry, Takeout Style!
Southeast Asian Recipes Using Ground Meat
8. Pork Larb, The National Dish of Laos
Low-carb, packed with aromatics, and lean protein, there’s nothing not to like about Pork Larb. Plus, it’s good enough for spider man, right?
Serve it with rice, or in lettuce cups!
9. Pork and Holy Basil Stir-Fry (Pad Kra Pao)
This is one of our all-time favorites from the blog. It’s so easy and delicious, it’s a great option for Sunday night meal prep for the week ahead. If you’re looking for a healthy grain option, this would be great with brown rice or quinoa.
10. Spicy Meatball Banh Mi
Okay, so this takes a couple of extra steps to make the meatballs, but this Spicy Meatball Banh Mi is delicious and perfectly refreshing for warm weather, with lots of crunchy vegetables and herbs!
11. 10-Minute Thai Basil Chicken (Easy Gai Pad Krapow)
For a lower calorie option, this Thai Basil stir-fry uses ground chicken. You could easily use ground turkey or pork, however. That’s the beauty of a good ground meat recipe. This one is a real Woks of Life reader favorite!
Traditional Chinese Recipes Using Ground Meat
12. Mapo Tofu
Mapo Tofu is made irresistibly delicious by a handful of ground pork. The combination of silky tofu and spicy pork is hard to top.
13. Gan Bian Si Ji Dou: Sichuan Dry Fried String Beans
This dish is easy and TASTY, with those little bits of crisped pork, perfectly cooked string beans, and the Goldilocks “just right” amount of spice.
14. Steamed Eggs with Crispy Pork
I wasn’t kidding when I said that sometimes a little handful of ground pork can take a dish from good to amazing.
Case in point, this steamed egg dish, which wasn’t long for this world once it was set down on the table. We couldn’t stop raving about it days after we blogged it.
15. Stir-Fried Chinese Green Beans with Pork
This is a great one-pot dish to get vegetables and protein in one go—string beans, bell peppers, and ground pork. It’s tasty and satisfying.
16. Garlic Chive Stir Fry with Pork (Cang Ying Tou – 苍蝇头)
Our summer chives are pretty much bursting out of the ground at this point, and this garlic chive stir fry is a great dish to use them. With the addition of salty fermented black beans, pass the rice, please!
17. Steamed Pork Cake with Salted Fish (咸鱼蒸肉饼)
A super traditional dish that uses a big round of ground pork, dotted with ginger and salty fish. This isn’t for everyone, but for my Cantonese people, it’s deliciously homey.
18. Ants Climbing a Tree (Ma Yi Shang Shu)
This is a dish that’s hard to find outside of China, so you may as well prepare it at home! It’s a delicious way to enjoy vermicelli noodles.
19. Home-Style Tofu Stir-Fry
This is the kind of thing that would often show up on the weeknight dinner table when we were growing up. You could make this with the ground meat, or skip it entirely for an easy vegetarian/vegan meal.
20. Chinese Pickled Long Beans with Pork
Pickleheads! I know you’re out there, and this dish is for you.
Pickled Chinese long beans tossed into a stir-fry with ground pork and spicy chili paste is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. And even better, you can enjoy it with rice or noodles!
21. Braised Eggplant with Minced Pork – 肉沫茄子
If you don’t feel like making a more oil-intensive eggplant with garlic sauce, try this braised eggplant with minced pork, which doesn’t need as much oil for delicious results.
22. Easy Braised Turnip Rice Bowls
This is a homey, comforting one-pot dinner with healthy turnips and flavorful pork served over rice. We all come back to this recipe on our blog ourselves again and again when looking for an easy, tasty dinner.
23. Chinese Curry Puffs with Beef
These Chinese Curry Puffs with Beef are made from an absurdly easy curry beef filling and store-bought puff pastry. They’re great for parties, but beware––your guests might end up fighting to get the last one!
24. Stir-Fried Green Beans with Pork and Chinese Olive Vegetable
“Chinese Olive Vegetable” may sound weird, but it’s one of the most under-appreciated ingredients hidden in your Chinese grocery store. While it can get lost in the shuffle of the pickles and canned foods aisle, it immediately adds tons of flavor to any dish, which means less work for you!