How to Cook Ground Beef in a Slow Cooker

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Learn how to cook ground beef in the crock pot for easy meal prep. Add a few seasonings, then let your countertop appliance do all the work!

ground beef in a glass bowl

Recipes like How to Cook Ground Beef in a Slow Cooker

Save time in the kitchen by making big batches of this recipe to include in future meals!

Use leftover crockpot ground beef for this hearty chili recipe or adjust the seasonings to make Maid Rites, a type of loose meat sandwich.

Or, try my Crock Pot Italian Meatballs for an easy meal or party appetizer. They are made entirely from scratch and cook in a flavorful homemade marinara sauce.

How to Cook Ground Beef in a Slow Cooker

This recipe couldn’t be any easier. Just stir the meat and spices together inside the crock, then wait until it’s done!

I recommend stirring everything occasionally, but make sure the lid isn’t off for too long. Once it’s done, drain off any excess fat and portion out as needed.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

  • Prevent dry meat. If you’re using a leaner blend such as 93%, add about ½ cup of water for moisture.
  • Adjust amounts as needed. You can make up to 5 pounds at a time, but the more you make the longer it will take to cook. For smaller batches, use a 2 quart appliance so it can come to temperature.
  • Like to meal prep? Set aside some free time to make shredded chicken as well, or divide the meat and use different spice blends based on how you’ll be using it.

What happens if you don’t brown meat before slow cooking?

Typically, it can turn out dry or not as tender. However, this applies more to roasts or whole cuts of meat.

While you can certainly brown it partially on the stove first, that defeats the purpose of making it in the crockpot!

ground beef in a bowl and sandwich bags in the background

FAQ – Common Recipe Questions

Why is my crockpot ground beef tough? 

Leaner blends require more moisture, so make sure to add enough liquid. Water is fine, but beef stock can add extra flavor. Plus, it contains collagen which will keep everything tender.

If you’re using a fattier blend, it will do better on the Low setting for a longer period of time.

Also, make sure you’re using the appropriate size appliance. Small amounts in a larger sized pot will be done faster and tend to come out dry.

Can you overcook beef in a slow cooker?

Absolutely, which is why you should always adjust times and amounts as needed. Smaller amounts only need a few hours before they are done.

Don’t I need oil to cook ground beef?

Only if you are using a pan that isn’t non-stick. With this method, moisture builds up in the pot and combines with the natural fats that are released so there is no need to use any oil.

Enjoy!

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a bowl full of cooked ground beef

How to Cook Ground Beef in a Slow Cooker

Donna Elick
Learn how to cook ground beef in the crock pot for easy meal prep. Add a few seasonings, then let your countertop appliance do all the work!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 5 mins
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Slow Cooker
Servings 8

Ingredients
 

  • 2 pounds ground beef, I use 85% lean
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Combine ingredients in a crock pot. Stir and combine. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain if necessary.
  • Divide into portions, place in freezer safe resealable zip top bags. Freeze for several months.

Donna’s Notes

Cook up to 5 pounds at a time, adjust cooking time as necessary. I divide in half and freeze in 1 pound (pre-cook weight) portions, as that is the most common amount in the recipes I use.
I cook 2 pounds in a 2 quart crockpot.
If you are cooking super lean ground beef such as 93%, you will want to add 1/2 cup water so that it doesn’t dry out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 246cal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 366mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
A Bowl full of cooked ground beef

Originally published March 2015, updated and republished February 2021

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16 Comments

  1. You have listed garlic powder twice. Should there have been a different spice there? I just bought 2 pounds beef to do this very thing.

    1. Hi Lee. The Flautas should be baked at 425F. You can also make taquitos the same way (just use corn tortillas – warm them before rolling).

      Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  2. Not to be picky, but why not just say 2 tsp. garlic powder nstead of listing it twice? Or was that a mistake?

  3. Hi Donna, the garlic powder is listed twice. I am going to try this but thought I'd better check on this.
    Thank you and have a great day.
    Carrie

    1. Hi Cfrosty,

      It was an error in the recipe that has been corrected. Thank you so much for letting me know. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  4. Thank you for sharing you hint/tip on doing ground beef ahead — I had been boiling, then put into freezer bags — but this was so much easier. 🙂

  5. Oh, how very clever. Browning the meat in the crockpot makes it much easier instead of standing over the stove and stirring when I could be doing something else.

    I have 5 different size crockpots so I could really brown A lot of meat.
    Thanks for your great tip as well as the recipes.

  6. I COOK IT THIS WAY. TAKE A LARGE CLASS BOWL A PLASTIC COLANDER TO FIT IN IT.BREAK UP HAMBURGER, PUT IN COLANDER, MICROWAVE FOR 10 MIN. BREAK THE MEAT UP AGAIN. BACK TO MICRO UNTIL DONE. FAT IS IN BOTTOM OF BOWL.REFIRIG THE BOWL UNTIL HARD , SKIM OFF FAT, DISCARD AND USE THE REST FOR SOUP STOCK.FREEZE HAMBURGER TO USE LATER. I HAVE DONE IT THIS WAY FOR MANY YEARS.

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