Ground Chuck vs Ground Beef: Differences Explained!

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Odette Modified: September 23, 2022
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Ground chuck vs ground beef, how exactly are they different? While they are both a kind of ground meat that comes from cows, they have significant differences that make them flavorful and delicious. Both are perfect for making beef sauerkraut burgers! Now, if they all look very raw and red on the deli counter and you can’t figure out the beef cut to use for recipes, that’s okay. Telling them apart does get confusing. Continue reading and learn how ground beef vs ground chuck differ, and which ground meat is best for burgers, tacos, and more!  

What Is the Difference Between Ground Chuck vs Ground Beef?

Ground chuck is just a type of ground beef. The only difference is where the cow meat comes from. Ground chuck comes from a specific cut of beef (front part of a cow’s shoulders). Meanwhile, ground beef is a combination of all the cuts of beef

To explain, ground chuck is a beef cut that uses the meat located at the front part of the cow’s shoulders. It sits just right below its neck and at the front of its ribs. Now, these parts are moderately fatty and full of connective tissues because it’s well-exercised from grazing. That means these parts are full of sinewy, tough meat. 

But how about ground beef, is it the same as ground chuck? Regular ground beef comes from different parts of the cow’s body. It often comes from leftover beef trimmings. Still, there are different types of ground beef, ground chuck being one of them. Others include ground sirloin, round, brisket, shank, and more! Now, after all the different cuts of steaks and roasts are taken, the leftover pieces are gathered and made into regular ground beef. 

To further distinguish between the two, here’s a breakdown of the differences between ground chuck vs ground beef:

Ground Chuck Is Leaner Than Ground Beef

Though you might not notice it right away because it’s already been ground, ground chuck has the perfect lean-to-fat ratio. It’s made up of 80 percent lean meat and only 20 percent fat which is why it’s sometimes marketed as “extra lean ground beef” in the deli. Or sometimes, 80/20 ground beef.

In terms of fat content, ground chuck sits just right below ground sirloin (90 percent lean and 10 percent fat) and ground round (85 percent lean and 15 percent fat).

raw ground beef on white background

Ground Chuck Burger Patty
Flickr | Team Freshop

raw ground beef in a bowl

Regular Ground Beef
Flickr | Ernesto Andrade

In comparison, regular ground beef contains about 70 percent lean meat and 30 percent fat. It has the highest amount of fat among all types of ground meat especially when taken from fatty areas. Specifically, ground beef with trimmings from brisket or shank is fatty due to the large amount of fat marbled throughout the meat. Still, leaner ratios are also available in grocery stores labeled as “lean ground beef”.

Many people look after ground beef to add flavor to their dishes because the fattiness greatly affects the flavors of your dishes. That said, ground beef yields delicious flavor to your cheesy beef casseroles and other ground beef recipes. 

Ground Chuck Is More Flavorful Than Ground Beef

In the previous section, we mentioned that fat renders more flavor to your dishes. That’s true! Still, you have to consider the perfect lean-to-fat ratio. Again, ground chuck is leaner which means it’s richer and more flavorful. Meanwhile, ground beef is juicier thanks to the additional fat

In a way, both are flavorful but in different ways. Ground chuck is flavorful because it has a richer, more beefy flavor. On the other hand, ground beef is delicious because it has more fat which gives it a creamier, more buttery taste. This also makes it juicier than the former. Although, both types of ground meat shouldn’t be overcooked as they dry fast; they can lose their fat, making them dry and tough.

Ground Chuck vs Ground Beef: How They’re Used in Cooking

Mexican Meatball Stew Recipe, crockpot meatball stew

When it comes to ground chuck vs ground beef, there is a clear distinction as to how you’re going to use them in the kitchen.

Ground chuck has the perfect lean-to-fat ratio. This means the meat coheres and holds together better because it’s leaner and contains less fat than regular ground beef. Meanwhile, the right amount of fat prevents it from drying out, keeping it juicy and flavorful!

Generally, the more fat in the mix, the looser it becomes as fat melts while it cooks. So with its perfect ratio, ground chuck is ideal for making burger patties, sliders, and meatball recipes such as this Olive Garden-inspired meatballs

Also, making burgers is challenging, so you need meat that sticks together better. Don’t attempt to make burgers and meatballs using ground beef with more than 20 percent fat as it will easily break up as fat melts. Instead, regular ground beef suits crispy tacos, casseroles, sloppy joes, and this cheesy classic lasagna. It doesn’t bind well but it adapts to dishes better than ground chuck.

Ground Chuck Is More Expensive Than Ground Beef

When you look at their price tags, you will find that ground beef chuck is more expensive than ground beef because it costs more beef cuts to produce it. On the other hand, regular ground beef is made with leftover meat or trimmings that can’t be sold. That’s why it’s cheaper. To be exact, it comes from all the other beef cuts, preferably from cheaper cuts like shank and brisket. 

How to Cook Ground Chuck and Ground Beef

Soft Tacos Recipe, soft tacos made with flour tortillas and filled with ground beef, taco seasoning, cheddar cheese, and refried beans

Even when they are both ground meat, ground chuck and ground beef are each cooked differently. Now before we tell you how to, one thing you should know is that you don’t need to wash both before cooking them. 

Now, both types of meat are like blank canvasses, so you can season them depending on your preferences. You can season beef chuck directly with hamburger seasoning. You then form them into patties or meatballs before grilling or frying. 

To use ground beef, you usually crumble it first on the pan and let it cook until brown. Of course, different dishes use different seasonings. Tacos use taco seasoning. If you want Asian flavors, you can try this Korean ground beef stir fry. You can also go for the crowd-favorite sloppy joes. Vegetable soup is also often a choice for this meat. As long as you don’t use it to form shaped beef, then it’s okay to use it in most ground beef recipes. 

Which Is Better: Ground Chuck or Ground Beef?

travis scott burger with meat, cheese and bacon on the board

Now that you know how they differ, we are now on to one important question: ground beef vs ground chuck, which is better? 

By now you probably guessed that ground chuck has the upper hand with its perfect lean-to-fat ratio. This quality makes it more versatile than ground beef. You’ll often find it used for shaped beef dishes like hamburger patties or meatballs. But that shouldn’t stop you from using it for lasagna, chili, and stroganoff with noodles, especially if are cutting on calories. You see, regular ground beef has more calories because it has more fat.

Fat means a more juicy flavor. Lean meat means a more beefy taste. Since it has the ideal ratio, ground chuck doesn’t lack in both departments. That’s why it’s more flavorful, especially when pitted against regular ground beef taken from a combination of leaner, less fatty cuts such as sirloin and shank. 

Still, the best ground meat depends on the dish, your budget, and of course, your preference or diet.

READ ALSO: 37 Chili Toppings for the Best Chili Bar

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 80/20 ground beef the same as ground chuck?

Yes! At first, 80/20 does not make much sense when you spot it in the grocery store. What you’re seeing is its lean-to-fat ratio: 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat. Typically ground beef with this ratio is ground chuck.

Is ground chuck good for burgers?

Yes. Ground chuck is ideal for burgers because it has the right amount of lean meat that helps retain its shape as it cooks. It doesn’t crumble as easily as regular ground beef. It also has enough fat to lend flavor to the burger.

Is ground beef healthy?

Ground beef is actually considered healthy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ground beef is an excellent source of protein, vitamin B, zinc, and iron. Still, it’s recommended to consume more lean ground beef than ground beef from fatty cuts to reduce calorie consumption.

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Odette

Odette is a content writer and proofreader by day, and living her inner artist as a poet and singer by night. She's also a former member of a publication who she now mentors from time to time. She likes how sharing a tiny bit of her life and her journey can help others in return. And because she is a curl embassador, she finds joy in empowering fellow curlies to embrace their natural curls. She also loves doing random acts of service to people she loves by cooking for them during her free time. This girl loves anything pasta and French cuisine though she just went through her Japanese and Korean cuisine phase.