How to Pre-Cook Beef

Updated February 21, 2017

Many recipes call for precooking beef, which is referred to as browning, and it is sometimes performed before freezing beef for later use. Beef used in crock pots require browning because the pot cooks at low temperatures that aren't hot enough to contact cook the beef. Pre-cooking beef for freezing provides cooks with ready-to-serve meat in about half the time it would take to cook the beef and then add it to the dish.

Remove the beef from the packaging. Rinse it under room temperature tap water. Dry the beef with paper towels.

Place your skillet on the stove. According to the Soul Food and Southern Cooking website, use an aluminium or iron skillet with a heavy bottom to distribute heat evenly.

Pour cooking oil into the skillet until it is about ½- to 1-inch deep over the pan's bottom. Set your burner to medium-high. Cook the oil until it is hot. If you're precooking hamburger, no oil is necessary.

Add the beef to the skillet. Allow the beef to cook for about two minutes. Spear it with the fork, or slide the spatula beneath, and flip it over. If you're precooking hamburger or beef sausage, use the spatula to stir.

Continue cooking for about two minutes on each side until brown on all sides. Pre-cooking or browning meat, according to Soul Food and Southern Cooking, locks in the meat's juices, making the beef more appetizing.

Cover a plate with a paper towel. Remove the meat and put it onto the towel-covered plate to drain. If precooking hamburger, cover the skillet with the lid, turn on the hot water at your sink, and allow the grease to drain from the pan by tilting it slightly over the drain. Some people prefer draining grease into an empty can.

Heat oil in a skillet, as in Section 1. If you're precooking hamburger, oil isn't necessary. When precooking beef sausage, some cooks prefer to add about 1 tbsp of oil.

Cook the beef as you would if you were going to eat it once it was finished cooking. There is no difference in cooking time, but some cooks avoid seasoning the beef so it can be used in a wider variety of dishes when the need arises.

Place the beef on a paper towel-covered plate, as in Section 1, Step 6. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. For hamburger or sausage, place on a towel-covered plate and cover with another paper towel. Press to absorb excess grease.

Allow the beef to cool for about 5 minutes. Cut the beef into smaller sections or slices. Hamburger and other beef cuts can be divided 0.454kg. per bag for quick use in future recipes. Use a kitchen scale to weigh the portions.

Put beef slices/pieces or hamburger into quart- or gallon-sized zipper freezer bags. Don't cram the beef into the bag and allow about 1 inch of headroom near the zipper closure. Place the bags of pre-cooked beef into the freezer. According to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Department, you can safely freeze cooked beef for up to four months.

Things You'll Need

  • Sink
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Skillet with lid
  • Cooking oil
  • Meat fork or spatula
  • Stove
  • Plate
  • Empty can (optional)
  • Freezer zip bags, gallon or quart size
  • Tablespoon (optional)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Cooking scale
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About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.