Ground meat is extremely versatile. You can use it for your homemade burgers, meatballs, tacos, and other delicious meals. You can even add them to sauces to give it that meaty flavor and texture.
Because of its versatility, ground meat has become a staple food item in most kitchens. They’re always available in supermarkets, so you know there’s always enough to come around.
But with the rising concern as to the sanitary procedures of factory-ground meat, more and more individuals are opting to grind their meat at home. This can be one with a meat grinder of your choice.
Nevertheless, we understand that buying a meat grinder may not be the most economic option. This is especially true if you don’t always use ground meat in your recipes. In this case, you may want to consider other options. You can also grind meat without a meat grinder.
In this article, we will teach you how to grind meat without a grinder. We’ll thoroughly discuss several options so you can identify which method works best for you.
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Why Grind Your Meat?
Before getting into the details, let’s first discuss the reasons why you should grind your meat.
- Safety. The most important reason why you should grind your own meat is that it’s safer. The ground meat available in supermarkets is usually mass processed in factories, so you can’t be sure of how well-maintained the machines are.
Also, you have no idea as to how the meat is handled. If you were to grind meat on your own, you can be sure of how clean the machine is. You also know how sanitary your kitchen is, so you don’t have to worry about the meat being contaminated.
- Fresh. Some store-bought ground meat is not exactly the freshest. It may have been ground for days or a week already, and that means that it’s been exposed to air for a long time. Unfortunately, this makes it susceptible to contamination from airborne bacteria that can lead to illnesses.
Also, the quality of the meat starts to diminish the longer it is exposed to air. Since those sold at supermarkets have already been ground for you, then you can’t be sure of how fresh they are. And that means you can’t be sure of its quality.
Thus, you can see that grinding it on your own will leave you with fresh and healthy meat. And since you’ll be cooking it right after grinding, then you’re assured that all the nutrients are still sealed in.
- Presentable. The fresher the meat, the more appealable it looks – so it goes without saying that ground meat that’s been on display for a long time looks rather dull and unappealing. If you grind your own choice cuts, you’re assured of how fresh it is. And that guarantees that any dish you cook with it will look and taste good.
- Better Taste. Aside from freshness, the meat also loses its taste after being exposed to air for a long time. It also loses much of the moisture, so it’s not as juicy as the freshly ground ones.
Additionally, if you already know what dish you’re cooking after grinding, then you can already start seasoning the meat while you grind. This allows the flavor to stick to the meat, so you’re assured of how tasty it would be after you’re done cooking.
- Customizable. When you grind your own meat, you get to choose the particular cut you want to use. It also helps you choose the freshest cuts to assure the flavor and nutrient content of each cut.
Alternatively, you can incorporate various cuts into the meat you’re grinding. This allows you to experiment with the fat content and come up with a batch of ground meat with a unique texture.
Being creative also allows you to optimize the flavors of each cut, and that allows you to experiment on the flavor of your patty, sausage, or whatever dish you’re planning to serve.
- Cost-Effective. And finally, grinding your own meat is a more cost-effective solution.
Think about it: ground meat available at supermarkets are more expensive than regular cuts of meat. Sometimes, the ground version of a particular cut has a price difference that’s too steep from the regular-cut version.
You get to save a lot of money if you buy your choice of cuts yourself and grind them on your own at home. This leaves you with more money for your food or other household expenses.
What Cuts of Meat Are Best for Grinding?
Knowing how to grind meat without a grinder has a lot to do with the specific cuts of meat that make it easier to grind on your own. But more importantly, the cut you need depends on what you plan to use the meat for.
For example, you would want one that’s on the fatty side if you want to make burger patties. On the other hand, if you’re on a low-fat or low-calorie diet, then go for those that are leaner. We’ll discuss which cuts are the best for grinding below.
It’s best to categorize the cuts of meat depending on whether it’s beef, pork or lamb, and poultry. This will help you narrow down your options to guarantee meal preparation success.
When it comes to beef, you have a wider selection of cuts compared to pork, lamb, or poultry. Here are the beef cuts that are best for grinding, even if you do not own a meat grinder.
The most common cut is the chuck steak. This is that part of the beef that’s beautifully marbled throughout. This means that it has a great fat to lean ratio of about 20 to 40 percent, depending on how marbled it looks. The marbling fat helps produce the juicy flavor even after you’ve ground the meat.
If you can’t seem to find a chuck steak cut in your local supermarket, another alternative is the boneless short rib. This also contains high-fat content, and can thus give you that same rich flavor. Its high-fat content can also make the ground meat moist, and thereby the opposite of dry and uncomfortably chewy.
The next cut option is the brisket. This part of the beef has a distinctly beefy flavor, and this would be perfect for grinding if that’s what you’re after. This can be a great cut for burgers or other recipes that need a rich and juicy flavor.
On the other hand, if you prefer lean meat, then you can’t go wrong with sirloin cuts. This part of the beef is relatively lean yet still packs up a lot of flavors. It still has a decent amount of fat, so you don’t have to worry about your ground meat being too dry.
And finally, if you’re on a budget, then you might want to try the round cuts. However, this cut has a high lean content, making it perfect for those on a high protein and low-fat diet. Nevertheless, if you want to balance this out with more fat, you can mix it in with cuts with higher fat content. This will make it easier to chew while also being juicy, especially if you’re not on a particular diet. It’s also the more affordable alternative to premium marbled cuts.
Grinding Pork or Lamb
When it comes to grinding pork or lamb, it is recommended to go for the shoulder cuts. Shoulder cuts contain the perfect 80/20 lean to fat ratio, making it juicy once you’re done grinding.
But if you’re not a fan of this ratio, then an alternative is the 90/10 ratio to get more meat. This is perfect for those who are counting their calories or want less fat intake. However, this ratio may seem too dry and may be harder to grind.
For the 90/10 ratio, you can go for a leg cut or a bottom round which has naturally less fat. You can also cut out the exterior fat from your choice of cut to do so.
We also note that there are people who prefer cuts with more fat – somewhere in the 70/30 or 75/25 ratio. This is perfect for making meatloaves or meatballs because the extra fat helps bring out the flavors.
If you want that extra fat, then you can go for the shank, brisket, or short ribs. But when it comes to the rib area, make sure to get rid of all the bones first to make the grinding process easier for you.
Grinding Chicken or Turkey
At this point, you already know that fat is essential to grinding meat – otherwise, you’ll be left with ground meat that’s too dry and lacking texture.
Since chicken and turkey produce meat that’s naturally lean, you may think it’s hard to grind poultry meat. In this case, go for their dark meat cuts. These cuts contain more fat than white meat, so you can grind them with ease.
Nevertheless, if you plan to mix the ground poultry meat with sauce or anything else that can help boost its moisture content and flavor, then you’ll be fine with grinding white meat cuts.
Here is How to Grind Meat Without a Grinder
At this point, you now know the importance of grinding meat on your own, and the cuts of meat that you need to do the job right. Now, you’re ready to know how to grind meat without a grinder.
There are three ways to do this, and we will discuss each of them thoroughly below.
Using a Sharp Knife
The first way to grind meat without a grinder is to use a sharp knife to slice the meat into small pieces.
For this method, you will need a chopping board, a sharp knife of your choice, and a cleaver. To do so, here are the simple steps that you should follow.
- First, make sure that all your utensils are clean. Since you will be using it directly with your meat, then you have to make sure that they’re properly washed and cleaned before using it. After all, you’ll be eating the ground meat later, so you might as well be sure that you prepared it properly.
- The next step is to take the meat and slice it to about a quarter of an inch thick. Do not slice through the meat just yet.
In doing so, hold the knife at a 45-degree angle and slice the meat at the same angle. This would be easier for you to do if you had sharpened your knife before using it. It also helps if the meet had been in the freezer for about 15 minutes to keep it firm. This makes cutting more even and controlled.
- Now, flip the meat and do the same on this side. Again, make sure that the angle of each cut is 45 degrees. You also have to make sure not to cut the meat all the way through.
This is one of the ways to make sure that the meat will be finely chopped as if it’s been thoroughly processed in a meat grinder.
- Now, turn the meat again to the other side and begin slicing through at a 90-degree angle. You can go in a little deeper to about 75 percent of the thickness of the meat. However, make sure that there’s about a quarter of an inch thick difference between your every slice.
- Again, turn the meat over and similarly cut that side with a 90-degree angle. Again, you can cut through about 75 percent of the meat, but don’t go all the way through.
- After cutting up the slice of meat, you can set it aside and do the same steps to the other cuts. Once you’ve gathered your desired amount of meat, you can now proceed to the final step.
- For this step, you simply have to pile up the meat and run chop away swiftly with a cleaver. If you have a slightly curved cleaver, you can simply do seesaw motions from left to right until you achieve your desired texture.
Bear in mind that there is no right or wrong way to do this final step. What’s important is that you can chop the meat into smaller pieces and into the ground meat texture you desire.
Admittedly, grinding meat with a knife may not seem like the easiest way. You have to be patient while cutting through the meat, and carefully making sure that you do not cut all the way through.
But if you have a lot of time to spare, plus you’re also very handy with a knife, then we would highly recommend this method for you. Otherwise, you may try any of our other two options.
Using a Food Processor
If you have a food processor in your kitchen, then this may be the method that might work best for you. This is especially useful if you do not have a lot of meal preparation time in your hands, and especially so if you’re not very confident with your knife cutting skills.
For this method, you would need a chopping board, a knife, a food processor or blender, and baking foil. Here are the steps that you have to follow if you plan on using a food processor to grind your meat:
- We will always stress the importance of having clean materials before proceeding. Make sure that the knife, chopping board, and food processor are clean and safe for the next steps.
- Once you’re done with the necessary sanitation check, simply cut the meat into smaller pieces or cubes with a knife. You can slice it for about two or three-inch cubes, whichever you prefer. But we would advise going for two-inch cubes to make it easier on your food processor.
- After slicing the meat into cubes, place the meat inside a tin foil and put it inside your freezer. Leave it there for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the meat to become firm, but be careful not to leave it there for too long. If the blade on your food processor is removable, you can also put it in the freezer with the meat.
This step is important to make it easier for the food processor to grind the meat. When the meat is not firm, it may end up mushy, and that’s not the texture you’re going for. Thus, this step is essential to maintaining a nice texture to your ground meat.
As to the blade, we advise putting it inside the freezer because it helps maintain the cool temperature even as you are grinding. But this is not necessary if the blade on your food processor or blender is not removable.
- Once the 30-minute wait is done, gently remove the meat from the freezer. If you also placed the blade inside the freezer, then take it and put it back in the processor.
Now, take a handful of meat and place it inside your food processor. Don’t put too much because it may take a while to grind everything inside. Filling up about half of the food processor container would do.
- You can now proceed with grinding the meat. Simply do so by pulsing the beef ten times by pushing the button rapidly for about one second each.
Then, open the processor and see if you have already achieved your desired texture. If you have, then you can already proceed with the next step. If not, then you can continue pulsing the meat for another ten times until you reach your desired texture.
- After attaining your desired texture, you can now dump it in a bowl and set aside. Continue the same process with the remaining meat cubes until you have successfully ground everything.
From this, you can see that it is easier to grind meat using a food processor than doing it manually with a knife. Nevertheless, there is still another option that you might want to consider.
Visit Your Local Butcher
The last option that you might want to consider is to buy your fresh meat directly from your local butcher and ask them to grind it for you on the spot. This is the method that we advise if you’re a complete beginner at meat grinding.
Butchers are experts of anything that involves meat. If you are unsure of which cut you want to purchase, they can give you advice as to which one to get. They can even direct you to the best choice for your desired dish, and that knowledge can help you a lot when you’re finally ready to choose your own cuts.
Additionally, these local butchers are skilled with the knife and with grinding meat, so you know that they’re fully capable of what they’re doing.
Thus, we recommend this option if you’re new to meat grinding, not very handy with the knife, or if you don’t have a meat grinder at home and don’t know how to grind meat without a meat grinder, You can always turn to these experts for help.
Which is the Best Option For Grinding Meat
From everything that we have discussed, you can already see how important it is to grind meat on your own. With that said, nothing beats the convenience of your own meat grinder. If you have a meat grinder, you can try different meat grinder recipes too. But since not everyone can afford a meat grinder – and that not everyone would always have a use for it – then you have to be creative and look for other ways for grinding meat.
Among the three methods that we have discussed, we believe that the best option for grinding meat, if you don’t have a meat grinder at home, is by using a food processor or blender.
The food processor doesn’t require you to use dangerously sharp knives to mince the meat, and neither does it take a lot of your time. Thus, while we believe that nothing beats a good manual or electric meat grinder, a food processor or blender makes a good alternative.
Quick Tips for Meat Grinding
Now that you know how to grind meat without a grinder, here are some of the most useful tips that you would need when you’re grinding meat.
- The most important thing that you have to keep in mind is to make sure that everything you’re planning to use is perfectly clean. This includes your knives, chopping board, and even your food processor.
Bear in mind that one of the reasons you want to grind your own meat is because you can be assured of how clean and safe your food is prepared. But if you fail to keep all your tools clean, then the purpose is very much defeated.
- Another important tip is to make sure that the meat is properly chilled before grinding it. As previously mentioned, it’s easier to cut or process the meat if it stays firm and you can only do so if it is properly chilled for around half an hour.
When the meat is warm, it tends to sag. As a result, it produces a mushy texture once you’re done grinding it – especially if you use a food processor for that. This may also be harder to clean, and that can be such a headache.
Thus, make sure to keep the meat chilled in the freezer for about 15 to 30 minutes before grinding it.
- And finally, you have to know what dish you plan on making with the ground meat before buying the particular cut you need. As mentioned, the different cuts contain different fat contents, and that is essential when you have to prepare your meal.
The fat in the meat helps bring out the flavor, so that’s one of the reasons why. Another good reason is that fat also helps with the grinding process. When a slice of meat is too lean, it’s actually too dry to grind comfortably – especially if you’re not using a meat grinder.
With that in mind, we strongly advise making up your mind about the particular dish you want to cook first. Once you’ve decided, then that’s the time when you have to go out to look for the particular cut. This will save you a lot of time in searching for the different cuts available.
Recipes You Can Use Ground Meat
With all these tips on how to grind meat without a grinder, we’re sure you’re already curious as to the dishes you can use your ground meat in. Fortunately, ground meat is incredibly versatile, and you can use it for a variety of dishes.
So before ending this article, we are sharing with you some of the most popular recipes that you can try to make the most of your ground meat.
To make juicy burgers with your ground meat, you would need the following ingredients:
- 2 pounds of ground beef
- Chili sauce
- Finely chopped onion
- Worcestershire sauce
- Ground black pepper
- Burger buns of your choice
- Sliced pickles
- Sliced lettuce
- Sliced tomato
- Cheddar cheese
For this recipe, simply follow the following steps:
- Mix the ground beef, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, onion salt, and pepper until all the ingredients are fully combined.
- Then, proceed to heat the grill to medium heat to prepare it for cooking.
- While waiting for the grill to heat, divide the meat into 6 equal piles and flatten into 1-inch thick patties.
- Once you’re done shaping the meat into patties, you can now proceed with grilling them. How you want them done will depend on your preference.
- While waiting for your patties to cook, prepare the buns by piling up the lettuce, tomato, cheese, and pickles. Once your patties are cooked, you can simply add it on top of the cheese and vegetables and top off with the upper half of the bun.
Another easy recipe is the meatloaf. Here are the ingredients that you have to prepare for this recipe:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 small onion
- Crushed soda crackers
- Chopped fresh mint
- 5 tablespoons of gochujang or Korean chili paste
- 1 large egg
This is one of the easiest recipes to make with ground meat. The instructions to make it is as follows:
- In a bowl, mix the ground beef, ground pork, grated onion, crushed soda crackers, egg, salt, and 3 tablespoons of gochujang. Make sure that they are completely combined before proceeding with the next step.
- Once everything is combined, transfer it onto a foil-lined baking sheet and mold it into a loaf. Place it inside the oven and bake in 42 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.
- While waiting for the meatloaf to cook, combine ketchup and 2 tablespoons of gochujang once the 25-minute timer is up, brush this sauce mixture all over the meatloaf and bake for another 30 minutes at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After cooking, take it out of the oven and serve in slices.
To make delicious nachos, simply gather the following ingredients first:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- ¼ thinly-sliced red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic, already pressed
- Finely chopped yellow onion
- 8 ounces of coarsely-grated cheese
- Sliced scallions
- Diced avocado
- Tortilla chips
- Barbecue sauce
- Olive oil
- Tomato sauce
- Lime juice
Once you’ve gathered all these ingredients, simply follow these steps to prepare your nachos.
- Turn the oven on and heat it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take a bowl and mix in the sliced red onions, lime juice, and salt. Let it stand for a while.
- In a large skillet, set the heat to medium and pour in the olive oil. Throw in the yellow onion and salt. Cook the onion until it’s tender, then add in the garlic. Continue stirring for another minute.
- Now, add in the beef and cook it for about 5 minutes. Try to break the ground beef into small pieces as you cook.
- After 5 minutes, mix in the barbecue sauce and the tomato sauce. Once they’re mixed in thoroughly, and adjusted to your taste, allow it to simmer for around 4 to 5 minutes.
- Now, prepare the rimmed baking sheet and add in the tortilla chips and a portion of the cheese. Pour in your beefy sauce on top of the chips and cheese. Then, add another layer of cheese on top of the sauce and bake for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- After you’re done baking, you can add in the red onion you previously prepared, avocados, and other toppings you wish to add-in.
You don’t need a high-powered grinder to get freshly ground meat. All you need is a few tips and tricks about how to grind meat without a grinder, and you’re good to go.
From everything that we’ve discussed, you can see that there are several ways to enjoy ground meat. If you’re adept with using the knife, then you can do it manually. If you have a food processor lying around in your kitchen, then you can also take advantage of that.
Or alternatively, you can visit your local butcher, buy fresh meat from him, and ask him to grind the meat right in front of you.
All of these tips come in handy if you don’t want to buy factory ground meat that doesn’t guarantee its freshness. These are also more economic options if you don’t want to buy a meat grinder.