How To Season Ground Beef for Spaghetti

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Choosing the right spices is arguably one of the most important steps when you’re making spaghetti sauce.

In this article, I’ll show you how to easily season ground beef for spaghetti along with a recipe for the meat itself.

Close-up of cooked ground beef in a pan

How to season ground beef for your spaghetti?

Seasoning ground beef for spaghetti is quite easy as long as you know when to add your spices.

The most common mistake people make is that they mix their spices into the ground beef before it is cooked.

This draws out some of the moisture from the meat and dilutes the flavor and aroma of the herbs.

To prevent this, you should add salt and pepper only after the meat starts to brown. This will decrease the loss of moisture and prevent the meat from drying.

Once the meat is fully cooked, you should proceed by seasoning it with your spice mix. If you add any spices beforehand, you’ll lose some of them when you drain the fat.

Having said that, the most important part when you’re making ground beef for spaghetti sauce is to use the right spices.

Even though there’s a large variety of spice blends, I’ve found that it’s best to make your own seasoning mix.

Here’s a list of the spices I typically use to season my ground beef:

  • black pepper
  • oregano
  • basil
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • Cumin

Ingredients and seasonings for ground beef set on a table

How to cook ground beef for spaghetti sauce?

Check out the recipe card at the end of this article for detailed, step-by-step instructions and a list with all of the ingredients.

Start by heating a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. In the meantime, break the ground beef using a wooden spatula.

Transfer the ground beef into the heated oil and cook until the bottom turns brown.

Ground beef being cooked in a pan with olive oilContinue by breaking the meat into pieces and seasoning it with salt and pepper.

Once this is done, stir the meat with a wooden spatula and cook until there are no pink spots left.

Finish by draining the excess fat and seasoning the meat with the spice mix.

A pan with fully cooked ground beef

Tips and Tricks

  • Choose the right kind of beef – Stick to ground beef that contains 80% meat and 20% fats. This will prevent the meat from getting too dry during cooking. In case you get a grind with less fat, you should add a tablespoon of oil to offset the difference.
  • Check if the oil is heated – Make sure your oil is heated before you add the ground beef to the pan. If you add the meat too soon, it will soak up some of the oil and may stick to the pan. The easiest way to tell if oil is hot enough is to slightly tilt the pan and check if it’s shimmering.
  • Don’t stir constantly – Stirring the meat before it has browned, will cause it to dry out and give it a tough texture. Wait until the bottom gets a good sear before you start stirring.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pan – If you overcrowd your pan the meat won’t cook uniformly. Make sure you use a pan with a diameter of at least 10 inches so the heat is distributed evenly.

    Browned ground beef in a pan

Storage

The best way to store cooked ground beef for pasta is to place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.

In case the meat is still hot, you’ll need to let it cool down before refrigerating. This will prevent the buildup of moisture and help it last longer.

A dish with spaghetti and bolognese sauce on top

Cooked ground beef can be stored for 3 days in the fridge before it spoils.

If you want to keep it for a longer period of time, you should place it in a freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer.

close up of cooked and seasoned ground beef in a pan
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How To Season Ground Beef For Spaghetti

A few simple spices and proper timing are all you need to cook ground beef like a pro. Once done, you can incorporate the meat into bolognese sauce and serve it with a bowl of spaghetti.
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
by: Aya
Servings: 4
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g 1 lb/16 oz ground beef (80/20 - 80% lean, 20% fat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

Instructions

  • Break the ground beef using a wooden spatula or spoon.
  • Mix all of the dry ingredients except the salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat in a deep frying pan.
  • Transfer the ground beef to the pan and let it brown. This should take you roughly 5 minutes. Remember to check if the oil is heated before adding the beef.
  • Once the beef browns, use a wooden spatula to break it apart and season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir the ground beef so it cooks evenly on all sides. You'll know the beef is ready when there aren't any pink spots.
  • Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove.
  • Leave a tablespoon of the fat in the pan and drain the rest with a spoon.
  • Add the dry seasoning mix and stir everything together with a wooden spatula.
  • Mix the ground beef with spaghetti sauce and serve.

Video

Notes

  • The pan I'm using in the video is 10.2 inches in diameter (26 cm).
  • Your pan must be non-stick or cast iron for this to work properly. 
  • The oil must already be heated when you pour in the ground beef.  
  • If your ground beef is leaner than what I've listed (so over 80% lean), then you should use a bit more oil -- 2 tbsp.
  • It has been my experience that you don't need to constantly stir the beef. If there are somewhat larger pieces left as I show in the photos, the taste is more pronounced.
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Nutrition

Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 302mg | Potassium: 342mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.01g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 3mg

I do my best to provide you with the nutritional information for recipes but I'm not a certified nutritionist. The nutritional information provided should only be treated as an estimate since it will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

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How To Season Ground Beef for Spaghetti

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