Minced beef forms the backbone of countless dishes across various cuisines. From classic British cottage pie to Italian bolognese and American sloppy joes, minced beef is a core ingredient. Most mince is ground to give an even texture and is sold in this form, but it can also be finely chopped to give slightly more texture. Fat ratios vary in minced beef, most packs are labelled with the fat content which is regulated by law. ‘Lean’ mince must have a fat content of 7% or less, pure minced beef must have a fat content of 20% or less. Choose a percentage that suits what you are cooking, lower fat contents tend to give the mince a pastier, drier texture while higher fat contents will give off more fat while cooked. Some mince may also be more coarsely ground, this will give a coarser texture when cooked, which you may want for your recipe.


Basic recipe for frying mince

Raw minced beef on a board


  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 tbsp oil, optional

1. Frying: Place a large frying pan on the hob, add the oil and turn on the heat to medium. (If you aren't using oil, tip in the minced beef right away.) Once the oil is hot tip in the minced beef, breaking it apart with a spatula, wooden spoon or back of a fork. You want to break it up as much as possible or you will end up with lumps of meat that have fused together as they cook.

2. Season: Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper. You can also add other seasonings depending on your recipe needs, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or a blend of herbs.

3. Brown the mince: Cook the mince, stirring and breaking up any large chunks for about 6-8 minutes, or until it is fully browned.

4. Drain (optional): If there's a lot of fat rendered out, you might want to drain if off the mince before using it in your recipe. If you are adding onion, garlic or other vegetables you may want to use this fat rather than adding more oil for cooking.

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5. Use or store: Use the cooked mince immediately in your dish or allow it to cool and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Frequently asked questions

How should minced beef be cooked before it is eaten?

Minced beef should be cooked until it is no longer pink before eating. Cooking times may vary depending on the quantity and the heat source, but generally, mince will be thoroughly cooked after browning for 6-8 minutes. If you intend to cook it further in a recipe then you can fry it more quickly or add it to a recipe without browning it first.

Do you cook mince in a saucepan or frying pan?

Minced beef being fried in a frying pan

It’s quicker to cook mince in a frying pan because the wider base allows the mince to cook evenly and it’s easier to break up any lumps. A large saucepan can be used, but it might take a little longer.

Do you have to boil mince before frying?

No, you do not need to boil mince before frying. Frying gives a good texture and flavour, as it allows the meat juices to concentrate, and provided you scrape up all the browned bits to enhance its taste.

How do you cook mince so it's tender?

To cook tender minced beef make sure it has enough fat content to stop it drying out, and then use it in dishes that allow it to cook for long enough to become tender. Even in very simple dishes like this classic mince and tatties the meat is cooked for long enough to tenderise it.

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