Do You Season Ground Beef Before or After Cooking? Weighing the Pros and Cons

As a home cook, one of the eternal debates I find myself having is whether to season ground beef before or after cooking. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve wondered “Should I add the salt and pepper now or wait until the beef is browned?” I’d have enough money to buy a lifetime supply of burger patties!

It seems like such a simple question, but it’s one that has passionate arguments on both sides. So I decided to dig into this seasoning dilemma myself and get to the bottom of it once and for all Here’s what I discovered about the best timing for seasoning ground beef

The Case for Seasoning Ground Beef Before Cooking

First, let’s examine why some cooks strongly prefer to season ground beef prior to cooking:

  • Allows seasonings to be evenly distributed and fully absorbed into the meat.

  • Creates a flavorful crust on burgers or meatloaf. This seals in juices.

  • Gives time for flavors like garlic, onion, spices to permeate the beef.

  • Dissolves salt, helping it tenderize and enhance flavor of the meat.

  • No risk of seasoning being poured off when draining grease after cooking.

  • If cooking large batch, portioning out is easier when already seasoned.

So for even flavor and juicy, seasoned crust, pre-cooking seasoning makes sense. The spices have time to mingle with the meat.

Reasons to Season Ground Beef After Cooking

However, there are also some good arguments in favor of post-cook seasoning:

  • Allows you to taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences.

  • Avoids moisture loss that can happen when salting meat before cooking.

  • No risk of burning spices or herbs during cooking process.

  • Works well for dishes where beef is further cooked in sauce or gravy.

  • Allows you to add fresh herbs at the end for a flavor pop.

For the flexibility of custom seasoning and less dry meat, there’s a solid case to add seasonings after cooking. It really depends on your goals.

Tips for Seasoning Prior to Cooking

If you opt to season ground beef before cooking, here are some tips:

  • For even distribution, season just before cooking while beef is still cold.

  • Use your hands to mix seasonings in rather than tools which can overwork meat.

  • Add a little flour or breadcrumbs if meat seems too wet – this helps seasonings adhere.

  • Pat out patties and season just one side if worried about moisture loss.

  • For salt, use fine-grained varieties like table salt which dissolve quickly.

With these tricks, you can get full flavor infusion without dehydrating your beef.

My Personal Seasoning Approach

So after plenty of trial and error burgers, my own approach looks something like this:

  • For burgers, meatballs, meatloaf: Season just before cooking. This gives time for flavors to penetrate and creates a tasty sear.

  • For crumbled beef for tacos, chili, pasta sauce: Season after cooking. More flexibility to tweak flavors.

  • In general use light hand with salt before cooking – just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per pound of beef.

  • After cooking, taste and add more salt, pepper, herbs if needed.

Basically, seasoning ground beef is situational – depending on the dish, timing varies. With experimentation, you’ll find your own perfect timing and method.

The most important thing is having a properly seasoned result, so you can devour your crave-worthy ground beef creations with absolute satisfaction. However you get there – before or after hitting the stove – embrace what works for you!

Now if you’ll excuse me, all this seasoning talk has made me hungry. I think I’ll whip up a batch of perfectly seared, seasoned burgers. Want one? I’ll gladly fire up the grill and share!

How To Cook Ground Beef


Is it better to season before or after cooking?

We recommend seasoning your meat a bit before cooking to allow it to settle and absorb for a tastier outcome. You can also add some seasoning towards the end of the cooking to subtly enhance the taste. Take note that this is only to enhance the flavor and not the initial seasoning.

Do you add seasoning before or after browning meat?

However, you do NOT need to add other seasonings before searing. You’re going to be cooking the exterior of your meat at very high temperatures, and the other seasonings will simply burn on the surface.

How long to season beef before cooking?

The whole process from salting to reabsorption takes around 40-45 minutes. And you want the steak to pull that moisture back in before cooking so it’s not dried out. Therefore, the optimal amount of time to give your steak after seasoning and before cooking it on the grill is 40-45 minutes.

What do you season beef with before cooking?

Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, and Bay leaves are the best dried herbs to use when cooking beef. To use dried herbs with beef, you should consider which ones you want to include in your recipe and when you should add them.

Should you season ground beef before cooking?

When making burgers, we season the beef beforehand. Otherwise, they won’t stick to the meat. You can also add salt and pepper to ground beef during browning when you’re making a batch for the freezer. Recipes for ground beef tacos and meat sauces, meanwhile, often recommend adding the seasoning after the meat is cooked.

Should you season meat after cooking?

After the meat is browned and the vegetables are tender, drain the excess grease from the pan, then add tomato sauce and seasonings. Seasoning the meat after cooking works in this case because you’re going to be simmering the mixture for a long time over low heat.

How do you cook ground beef well?

The trick to cooking ground beef well is to not move it around a lot until it’s finished cooking and nicely browned. This helps create a crust on the meat which is delicious. I sauté it in cooking oil. I usually use olive oil because that’s my go-to, but your favorite cooking oil will work too. It’s important to use a nice big pan.

Should steak be seasoned before cooking?

On one side you have New York City chefs Tom Colicchio, of Craft and Top Chef fame, and Jean François Bruel of Daniel, both of whom assert that meat should never be seasoned until just before cooking. (Bruel goes even further with steaks, which he finishes seasoning only after they have been seared or grilled.)

Leave a Comment