What is 80/20 Ground Beef in Canada? A Guide to This Popular Blend

Take a stroll through the meat section at any Canadian grocery store and you’ll likely spot various ratios printed on ground beef packaging – 85/15, 90/10, 73/27, etc. But arguably the most common ground beef ratio you’ll see is 80/20.

This popular blend can be found in meat cases across the country But what exactly does 80/20 mean? And what are the benefits of choosing this ratio for burgers and other recipes?

In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about 80/20 ground beef in Canada. Let’s dive in!

What is 80/20 Ground Beef?

The 80/20 label refers to the lean meat to fat ratio in ground beef. Specifically, 80/20 ground beef contains:

  • 80% lean meat
  • 20% fat

This breakdown means that for every 100 grams of 80/20 ground beef, there are approximately:

  • 80 grams lean beef
  • 20 grams beef fat

The 20% fat content may seem high. But it’s important to note that a portion of the fat cooks off during preparation. This leaves just enough to keep the ground beef moist and juicy while adding tons of flavor.

Why is it Called 80/20?

The 80/20 ratio tells us the percentages of the two main components of ground beef:

  • Lean meat – This includes muscle, connective tissue, etc. that contributes protein, vitamins, and minerals.

  • Fat – This refers to beef fat only, not added oils or other ingredients. The fat provides moisture, flavor, and calories.

Naming ground beef by percentages of lean meat vs. fat is standard practice for retailers across Canada. Common ratios include 85/15, 90/10, and 93/7 for leaner blends.

For burgers and most recipes, 80/20 strikes an ideal balance between fat and lean. It’s the quintessential mix for flavorful, juicy ground beef. The 20% fat content prevents dryness without being excessive.

Where to Find 80/20 Ground Beef

The good news is 80/20 ground beef is easy to find at any major grocery store in Canada. Here’s what to look for:

  • Meat case – Check styrofoam trays wrapped in plastic, often found in a refrigerated meat case. This indicates freshly ground beef.

  • Butcher counter – Ask your butcher to grind 80/20 beef for you on the spot for the freshest meat.

  • Labeling – Packages should clearly state “80% lean / 20% fat”.

  • Color – Opt for bright red ground beef with visible specks of fat. Avoid brown or gray hues.

For optimal freshness and food safety, try to buy 80/20 ground beef that was ground in-store that day. Pre-packaged tubes may sit longer before purchase.

Benefits of 80/20 Ground Beef

There are some clear advantages to cooking with 80/20 ground beef:

  • Juiciness – The 20% fat content keeps burgers and meatloaf tender and moist, preventing dryness.

  • Flavor – The beef fat provides big, bold beefy flavor you can’t get from leaner blends.

  • Ideal for burgers – The 80/20 ratio holds together well for grilling burgers that won’t fall apart.

  • Budget-friendly – It’s more affordable than leaner ratios like 90/10 or 95/5 ground beef.

For most home cooks, 80/20 offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to both taste and cost.

How to Cook with 80/20 Ground Beef

Cooking with 80/20 ground beef is easy. Here are a few tips:

  • Burgers – Form into 1/2 inch thick patties and grill to 160°F, 4 minutes per side. Avoid pressing burgers down while cooking.

  • Meatballs/meatloaf – Mix beef with eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasoning and bake in oven until 160°F.

  • Tacos – Brown beef in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain fat and add taco seasoning.

  • Chili – Brown ground beef with aromatics like onion and garlic. Mix with beans and chili seasoning.

  • Pasta sauces – Cook beef in a skillet for bolognese, ragu, or lasagne filling.

Always use a food thermometer to confirm ground beef reaches a safe internal temperature of 160°F.

Ground Beef Safety Tips

To safely handle 80/20 ground beef:

  • Refrigerate promptly after purchase and use within 2 days.

  • Freeze for 3-4 months if you won’t use within 2 days.

  • Thaw frozen beef overnight in the fridge before cooking.

  • Wash hands, utensils, surfaces after contact with raw beef.

  • Cook fully to 160°F temperature as measured by a food thermometer.

Following basic food safety guidelines ensures you safely enjoy the great taste of 80/20 ground beef.

FAQ About 80/20 Ground Beef

Still have some questions about 80/20 ground beef? Here are answers to some common queries:

Is 80/20 too fatty for burgers?

No, 80/20 is actually ideal for juicy, flavorful burgers. Much of the fat renders away while cooking, so burgers won’t be greasy. Going leaner often makes burgers dry.

Is 85/15 healthier than 80/20 ground beef?

There’s not a major nutritional difference between 80/20 and 85/15 beef. 85/15 has slightly less fat and calories, but 80/20 provides more flavor.

Can you substitute 80/20 beef in a recipe calling for 90/10?

Yes, you can safely swap 80/20 ground beef in recipes calling for 90/10. The dish may have a bit more fat flavor, but it won’t significantly alter the recipe.

Is 80/20 good for meatballs and meatloaf?

Yes, 80/20 is an ideal fat ratio for meatballs and meatloaf. The fat ensures these oven-baked dishes stay tender and juicy throughout cooking.

What’s the leanest ground beef ratio sold?

The leanest ratios typically seen are 96/4 or 97/3 ground beef. But these ultra-lean blends can lead to dry, bland flavor. Stick to 80/20 or 85/15 for best results.

Enjoy Flavorful, Juicy 80/20 Ground Beef

For most home cooks, 80/20 ground beef hits the sweet spot between leanness and fat content. This versatile blend lends juiciness, robust flavor, and ideal texture to burgers, tacos, pasta sauce, and endless everyday recipes. Just remember proper handling and cooking to enjoy quality ground beef safely.

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