Ground Meat vs. Minced Meat (The Differences)

Ground Meat vs. Minced Meat (The Differences)derepente /Depositphotos

So you’re wondering about the differences between ground meat and minced meat? As usual, we’ve got you covered.

Contrary to what some people think, ground meat and minced meat are not the same things. And, for the reasons that we’re about to talk about in a second or two, they can’t necessarily be used interchangeably.

The terms “ground meat” and “minced meat” are sometimes used interchangeably. But they indicate two techniques for processing raw meat: ground meat is an emulsion of lean meat and fat, whereas minced meat is finely chopped skeletal-muscle meat.

Ground meat is consistent and smooth; minced meat is choppy and textured. When cooked in chili, gravy, or stew, the former melts into the sauce, and the latter keeps its shape and chewiness.

For the same reasons, cooked ground meat holds on to its shape better than minced meat. Perhaps that’s why one is used for burgers, kebabs, and meatballs, while the other is a common choice for chilis, fillings, gravies, pies, and stews (where the meat’s shape is of no concern).

Some stores add fillers, such as water, coloring, or preservatives to ground meat to give it a color that shoppers find to be more appealing and extend its shelf life. That isn’t as easy to do with minced meat, but it is still possible.

When in doubt, shop local and go for mom-and-pop stores:

“Generally speaking,” Adolph Store Manager Gina Kramer tells Duluth News Tribune, “small, locally owned butcher shops cut and grind all of their meat fresh, so you’re less likely to see fillers and water added for appearance.”

To make ground meat at home, you need a meat grinder—and there’s no going around that requirement. To make minced meat, all you need is a butcher’s knife and a butcher’s block or cutting board, though many cooks prefer the convenience of a food processor instead.

By far, my favorite recipe is Serious Eats Culinary Consultant J. Kenji López-Alt’s blue-label burger blend. Go on over and give it a try; I guarantee you that you will not be sorry that you did.

What Is Minced Meat?

Minced pork
topntp /123RF

Before German inventor Karl Drais created the hand-operated meat grinder in the 19th century, mincing meat was the OG way of preparing any recipe that required more technique than just slicing slab of meat into pieces.

Minced meat, also called “mince” in Commonwealth countries, is finely-chopped raw meat. You can buy it from the butcher’s or grocer’s, or you can make it yourself at home with a butcher’s knife and cutting board or in your food processor.

The general rule of thumb is that minced meat should only be made from the skeletal muscles of an animal, meaning the bits and pieces of meat attached to bones, and never from its internal organs.

Minced meat is usually leaner and crumblier than ground meat. It’s a common ingredient in chilis, fillings, gravies, pies, sausage rows, stuffings, and stews—less so in burgers, kebabs, and meatballs—as it has a hard time holding on to its shape.

Occasionally, you will come across recipes for minced-meat sausage. These recipes call for coarsely cut meat to give the sausages a distinct texture reminiscent of rustic, farmhouse cookery.

What Is Ground Meat?

zmaris /Depositphotos

Ground meat is raw meat processed in a meat grinder. The meat can come from a single animal, such as ground beef, or a blend of animals, such as ground meat mixed from beef and pork.

Single-varietal ground meats have a cleaner flavor, whereas multi-varietal ground meats are highly aromatic and intensely flavorful. There’s a place for both in my kitchen. For example, I like my burgers beefy and my meatballs lavishly mixed.

Ground meat, unlike minced meat, is an emulsion of muscle and fat. The two have blended together to form a smooth, harmonized consistency that yields burgers, kebabs, and meatballs that effortlessly hold on to their shape.

Commercially-sold ground meat has a ratio on the label—70/30, 80/20, 85/15, 90/10, or 93/7—which indicates the percentage of lean meat to fat. The more muscle and less fat, the leaner the ground meat. Conversely, the less muscle and more fat, the more succulent the ground meat.

Some people like the chewiness of leaner ground meat and claim that fattier options are too greasy and mushy. Others, me included, prefer the juiciness of fattier ground meat and think that leaner options come out overly tough and dry.

At the end of the day, what lean meat/fat ratio you cook with comes down to your recipe, dietary needs, and personal preferences.

Which Is Better?

If you like your meat chunky, chewy, and clean, go for minced meat. However, if you prefer smooth and succulent burgers or rich and hearty chilis, opt for ground meat instead.

Ground MeatMinced Meat
ContentsGround meat can be the meat of a single animal or a mix of the meats of two or more animals.Typically, minced meat is the chopped meat of a single animal.
ProcessingGround meat is made in a meat grinder.Minced meat is finely chopped on a cutting board or in a food processor.
TextureSmooth and pasty on fattier grinds. Dry and crumbly on leaner grinds.Coarse, chunky, and chewy unless chopped thoroughly.
UsesFor foods that need to hold on to their shape, such as burgers, kebabs, and meatballs.For foods where the shape doesn’t matter, such as chilis, fillings, gravies, pies, sausage rows, stuffings, and stews.

Though everyone tends to have an opinion on the topic, my go-to choice when it comes to the lean muscle/fat ratio of the meat is 80/20. You can hardly go wrong with ground beef for burgers, chilis, and gravies, and a mix of ground beef and pork for pretty much everything else.

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