15 Healthy Ground Beef Recipes for Quick and Easy Dinners

If you’re looking for easy dinner ideas that area also healthy for you and your family, chances are red meat — especially beef — doesn’t exactly come to mind immediately. That’s the main ingredient in cheeseburgers, after all. But just because beef has been taboo in many health conversations doesn’t mean it should be shunned from your pantry completely. If you make smart selections, beef recipes can be part of a perfectly healthy diet.

Choosing the correct kind of ground beef at the grocery store makes this especially easy. Registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil tells Men’s Fitness that you can have beef in your meals up to twice a week and still have a healthy diet. Just make sure the beef is 90% lean or higher, which ensures that the fat content stays in check while still supplying a ton of vitamins and minerals your body needs. As Men’s Fitness reports, a 3-ounce serving of 95% lean beef contains just 164 calories and 4.5 grams of fat, but 24 grams of protein. It’s also rich in iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and other nutrients.

Using ground beef is also a great way to save money on dinner ideas. You’ll pay a bit more for the leaner versions of the beef, but in the end you’ll have a variety of easy, tasty dinner ideas that are also healthy. Take a look at these recipes for some inspiration.

1. Cheesy Meat Loaf Minis

Source: iStock

Mini meatloaves | iStock.com

You don’t need to completely get rid of classic recipes using ground beef in order to have a healthy diet; perhaps a few just need some updating. That might be the case with these mini meatloaves. Using lean beef keeps the fat content lower than normal, but adding in a bit of cheese makes them seem more indulgent than they really are. Plus, the individual-size loaves in this recipe from Cooking Light are not only fun; they keep your portions in check.

Despite seeming like a calorie bomb, each loaf is just 254 calories with 11 grams of fat. However, the serving size contains 28 grams of protein.


  • 1 ounce fresh breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup ketchup, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces white cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.

While breadcrumbs cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, ¼ cup ketchup, and remaining ingredients. Shape into 6 (4-by-2-inch) loaves on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; spread 2 teaspoons ketchup over each. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes or until done.

2. Beef and Bean Chile Verde

green chilis on a wooden background

Green peppers | iStock.com

By traditional standards, chile verde is a labor of love that takes hours to make, cooking pork until it’s tender. By swapping the pork with ground beef and using a store-bought green sauce of your choosing, this becomes a riff on the classic recipe that also means you’ll be able to make this for any weeknight dinner you choose.

Eating Well’s recipe contains 307 calories per 1½-cup serving, with 8 grams of fat. It’s packed with good-for-you items, including 27 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, plus a full day’s worth of vitamin C and a heap of vitamin A and zinc to boot. The publication suggests serving it with fresh cilantro, red onion, a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese, and hot sauce if you want it.


  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 (16-ounce) jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce, or taco sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed

Directions: Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

3. Southwestern Chili

bowl of chili

Chili | iStock.com

If you’d rather stick to traditional chile verde but are still looking for some kick in your weeknight meals, try this Southwestern chili recipe from Health. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list; despite being long it’s relatively simple to prepare. You’ll need to make the time to allow this to simmer for a while, but making this on a lazy weekend could be perfect — plus leave you with leftovers to take for lunch.

Salsa verde and masa harina (used to thicken the chili) are both on the ingredients list, which Health says you’re likely to find in the Latin foods section of your grocery store. Otherwise, it’s packed full of classic chili ingredients that are sure to satisfy — along with a little bit of a punch from the spices.

A serving size contains about 410 calories with 15 grams of fat (likely because of the sausage that’s added in with the lean ground beef). You’ll also get 20 grams of protein and a huge 12 grams of fiber, making for a filling meal.


  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound chili-style ground sirloin
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • ⅓ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ pound Cajun smoked sausage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can yellow hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (7-ounce) can salsa verde
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina

Directions: Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add salt and beef to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring gently. Remove from pan.

Add onion, green onions, bell pepper, and sausage to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until sausage is lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return beef to pan. Stir in chili powder and next 8 ingredients (through salsa verde); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in masa; cook 30 minutes.

4. Homemade Stuffed Peppers Estia

Source: iStock

Stuffed peppers | iStock.com

Not many recipes are easy like this one for classic stuffed peppers, and not many are so satisfying thanks to a heaping portion of protein and other nutrients from the beef and added vegetables. Men’s Fitness says this recipe contains 24 grams of protein, along with vitamin C and iron.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice for filling
  • 1 large zucchini, cubed
  • 6 yellow or red bell peppers, with tops, seeds and membranes removed
  • 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rice and 1 cup water in saucepan; cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook beef until it loses its color. Remove to a plate, then sauté zucchini until golden.

Arrange peppers in a baking dish with hollow sides facing upward. In a bowl mix beef, cooked rice, zucchini, 1 can tomato sauce, Worcestershire, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stuff peppers, dividing mixture evenly among peppers.

Mix remaining can tomato sauce and Italian seasoning in a bowl and pour over stuffed peppers. Place pepper tops on stuffed peppers. Bake for 1 hour, basting with sauce every 15 minutes, until peppers are tender.

5. Spicy Sloppy Joes

two sloppy joe sandwiches on buns with a pile of french fries

Sloppy Joes | iStock.com

Aside from a classic burger, there’s not another sandwich that is a centerpiece for ground beef quite like a sloppy joe. This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens relies on a slow cooker to really bring the flavors together, taken up a notch with salsa instead of regular sauce. Convincing yourself to wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to precook some of the ingredients means you’ll have a delicious simple dinner ready and waiting for you when you’re finished with your work day.

You’ll notice the ingredients list yields a huge amount of sloppy joe mix. Better Homes and Gardens suggests refrigerating or freezing the leftovers for a spicy beef taco salad — or you can simply freeze them for another round of sloppy joes later on. No matter what, it’s a healthy base for any meal. Each serving contains just 294 calories and 8 grams of fat, but 3 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein.


  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (16-ounce) jars salsa
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1½ cups shredded carrots
  • 1½ cups finely chopped red or green sweet peppers
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 kaiser rolls, split and toasted

Directions: In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until brown, stirring to break meat into small pieces. Drain off fat. In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine cooked beef, salsa, mushrooms, carrots, sweet peppers, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic.

Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Serve mixture on toasted kaiser rolls.

6. Bolognese sauce

Source: iStock

Meat sauce | iStock.com

We don’t fault you for making classic pasta by warming a jar of sauce, browning beef, and tossing it together in five minutes in a pinch. We’ve done it far too many times to count, too. But for those dinners when you want to put in a bit more effort for loads more flavor, this bolognese sauce from The Kitchn is a great option. You’ll need to cook down the ingredients at the beginning, but then allow your slow cooker to do most of the heavy lifting.

At 464 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving, this is testing the limits of what we’d actually consider “healthy.” Using lean beef and low-fat milk will cut down on the fat content, plus you still get 26 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1½ to 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1 cup white or red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions: Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Add onion, celery, and carrot; cook until onion is translucent and the vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste, cooking for about 30 seconds. If your skillet isn’t large enough, transfer mixture to slow cooker before browning beef.

Cook the beef, breaking it apart and cooking it until it is just browned. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the thyme, oregano, pepper, and nutmeg.

Stir in the milk and bring it to a rapid simmer. Simmer until the milk has completely reduced and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and again reduce until almost gone, about 10 minutes. Transfer mixture to your slow cooker (at least 6 quarts or larger).

Open canned tomatoes and strain, keeping the juices. Add tomatoes to the slow cooker, breaking apart into chunks as desired. Add the bay leaf and stir to combine all the ingredients. “The mixture should have a thick, saucy consistency, neither overly soupy or too dry. If it looks dry, mix in a little of the reserved tomato juices until it looks sauce-like. If it looks too soupy, don’t worry about it right now — you can let excess liquid evaporate at the end of cooking,” The Kitchn instructs.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

In the last half hour of cooking, check the sauce. If it looks soupy, remove the lid to allow excess liquid to evaporate and reduce the sauce. If it looks a little dry, stir in some of the reserved tomato juices. The finished sauce should be thick and creamy.

Serve the sauce over pasta with Parmesan sprinkled on top, or layer it into a lasagna.

7. Shepherd’s Pie

close up of beef shepherds pie

Shepherd’s pie | iStock.com

This is another classic recipe that often gets a bad rap for its high-fat content. But if you’re looking for a new way to create this comfort food, Skinny Taste offers a revamped recipe that is nutritious.

Each serving has just 275 calories and 7 grams of fat, but has 5 grams of fiber and 22 grams of protein thanks to the meat and veggies nestled under a layer of mashed potatoes.


  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 10 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup fat free beef broth
  • 2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and pepper

For potatoes

  • 1½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced
  • ¾ cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover potatoes with cold water in a pot and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender. Drain well, then mash with broth, sour cream, and ½ tsp salt and pepper.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook meat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until well browned. Season with ½ tsp salt and a bit of pepper. Remove to a plate and wipe out skillet. Add oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and celery to same pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until vegetables are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the flour, frozen vegetables, beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme, cooked meat and mix well to combine. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.

Spread the meat and vegetable mixture on the bottom of casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes, then dust with paprika. Bake 20 to 25 minute. Turn on broiler and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until topping has nicely browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

8. Ground Beef Over Zoodles

spaghetti with stainless steel kitchen serving tongs

Using zucchini noodles instead of spaghetti adds health benefits | iStock.com/rosn123

Paleo enthusiasts, rejoice. Though you might have given up grains and pasta, you get to keep your ground beef. And with a small investment for a spiralizer, you can have “noodles” made with yellow squash and zucchini. The end result closely resembles a healthy take on the pasta you’re missing without the added calories. The Healthy Foodie provides this recipe, which focuses on spices to add flavor to the beef and vegetable spirals.

Despite the bold flavors, this dish has just 371 calories per serving and 12.8 grams of fat. And it’s filled with a whopping 52 grams of protein, making it perfect for a post-workout meal.


  • 1 pound grass-fed lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped, some set aside for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup bone broth
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped, some set aside for garnish
For the zoodles
  • 2 large zucchini, made into strands with a vegetable spiralizer
  • ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions: Using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef, salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon. Stir occasionally until the beef becomes brown and crispy, about 8 minutes.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeño pepper and continue cooking until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add water and spices and continue cooking until the water has evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato and set aside on a plate.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the spiralized squash to the pan. Sprinkle with spices and stir gently to distribute the seasoning; cook for about 30 seconds, until the zoodles are just barely softened.Top with beef and sprinkle with reserved tomatoes and jalapeño peppers to serve.

9. Hash and Eggs

Potato hash with sausage and fried egg

Potato hash with beef and fried egg | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

Whether you’re looking for a protein-rich breakfast or a lean post-workout meal, this hash is a great way to have a satisfying dinner without an abundance of fat and fillers. The blogger from South Your Mouth has the details, and Legion Athletics even highlights it as a great healthy ground beef recipe. According to the athletic site, one serving of this breakfast-for-dinner dish has around 216 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 21 grams of protein.


  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2½ cups diced potatoes
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 6 large eggs

Directions: Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, onion, potatoes, salt, and pepper to cook, stirring frequently, until the ground beef is no longer pink. Add garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and parsley and continue cooking until potatoes are tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reduce the stovetop heat to medium-low, then make 6 indentations in the hash, being careful not to go all the way to the bottom of the pan.

Break one egg into each indentation. Season eggs with salt and pepper, then cook on stove until whites are mostly set and only partially translucent. Carefully place the skillet in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 4-7 minutes or until whites are cooked through and yolks are cooked the desired amount.

10. Spiced Mini Burgers with Spinach and Couscous

metal tray full of roasted buns, grilled miniature patties, sliced tomatoes

Platter of mini burgers | iStock.com/DebbiSmirnoff

Yes, you can still have beef patties without totally derailing any healthy eating goals you have. The trick is to use lean ground beef, and choose portion sizes that will help you keep your eating in check. These mini burgers do the trick, relying on Mediterranean flavors for extra zing and a bed of couscous and spinach to round out the healthy meal. Woman’s Day shares this recipe, which yields 4 mini burgers per person.


  • 1 each red and yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 11⁄2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions: Heat broiler. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Place peppers on baking sheet, toss with oil and broil until tender and lightly charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beef, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, oregano, and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Form into 16 small patties. Transfer to baking sheet and broil until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Place couscous in a large bowl and add 1¼ cups boiling water. Cover and let sit until all the water is absorbed, 10 minutes. Fold in spinach, peppers, lemon juice, and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; serve with the mini burgers.

11. Healthy Mongolian Ground Beef

Ground beef over a bed of lettuce

Mongolian ground beef over a bed of lettuce | iStock.com

If you love Asian flavors, then you won’t want to miss this Mongolian ground beef recipe from Slender Kitchen. This dish couldn’t be simpler to pull together, and it’s completely versatile, too — try serving it over rice, a salad, or on a sandwich for a quick and easy dinner. The flavors of soy sauce, chili garlic paste, ginger, and garlic come together for a flavorful punch. Plus, there are only 250 calories per serving.


  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian chili garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⅓ pounds 95% lean ground beef
  • 12 green onions

Directions: Mix soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili garlic paste, ginger, and cloves together to form the sauce.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the beef and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook the beef all the way through, and then add green onions and sauce. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens and the green onions are tender. Top with extra green onions for garnish, and serve.

12. Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffed acorn squash

Stuffed acorn squash | iStock.com

Acorn squash is full of vitamins and minerals, but it can be tough to know how to incorporate the vegetable into dinner. This recipe for stuffed squash from Spiced shows you how. Wild rice and navy beans turn this wholesome dish into a hearty feast that has plenty of healthy carbs and protein.


  • 3 (1- to 1¼-pound) acorn squash
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for roasting squash
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, plus more for roasting squash
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the acorn squash in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Remove seeds.

Place the squash on a baking sheet cut-side up, and brush the tops and inside with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper the squash. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the flesh is fork-tender.

While the squash is cooking, add wild rice and chicken stock to a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and then immediately reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer without stirring the rice for 30-40 minutes, or until it has absorbed the stock.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, add onions, garlic, and celery, and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. To the skillet, add the ground beef, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook mixture until beef is fully cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes. Once the rice and beef has cooked, mix the rice, beef mixture, and navy beans together in a bowl.

Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill the squash halves with the ground beef and rice filling and roast for another 15-18 minutes at the reduced temperature. About 1 cup of filling should fit into each halve of the squash. Garnish with Parmesan, and serve.

13. Easy Ground Beef Tacos

taco with chili con carne

Tacos with chips and salsa on the side | iStock.com

Tacos are delicious and easy to throw together any night of the week, but the packets of seasoning mix and fatty toppings can sabotage an otherwise healthful meal. This recipe from As Easy As Apple Pie is everything you want in a quick and easy dinner. Ground beef is the star in this taco dish, and the homemade seasoning adds a unique smoky flavor. One taco without any toppings only contains 233 calories. If you’re cutting carbs, try serving the beef in lettuce cups instead.


Taco seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, finely chopped

To assemble

  • 8 tortillas
  • Romaine lettuce, shredded
  • Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Any other toppings desired

Directions: Make the taco seasoning by mixing all spices together. Set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Add the onion to the pan when the oil is hot and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté with onions for another 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the ground beef to the pan, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook it all the way through, about 5 minutes.

Add taco seasoning and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and jalapeño. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure everything is well incorporated.

In a dry skillet over medium heat, add one tortilla at a time to warm, about 30 seconds on each side. Fill tortillas with beef mixture and toppings of choice. Garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge if desired.

14. Beef and Sweet Potato Turnovers

Samosas with fresh herbs

Beef turnovers | iStock.com

Beef and sweet potatoes make a delicious pair, and these turnovers from Real Simple marry them perfectly. Ground beef, garlic, cheddar cheese, and sweet potato are baked together in puff pastry for a tasty meal that you can take on the road. Whether you’re just cooking for yourself or for a crowd, these turnovers are sure to be a hit. This recipe serves 4, so double it for a crowd.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, grated
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed and halved
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Add beef and break it apart with a spoon while it cooks. Cook until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic.

Add sweet potato, spinach, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the pan. Toss ingredients together. Spoon the beef mixture onto one side of each piece of puff pastry and leave a ¼-inch border to ensure turnovers are not overfilled. Divide the mixture evenly among all turnovers.

Top the beef mixture with cheese and fold dough over the filling. Press firmly to seal. Place turnovers on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

15. Korean Beef and Kimchi Quesadillas

Simple quesadilla with salsa

Quesadillas with ground beef | iStock.com

You may be used to throwing two tortillas and a slice of cheese on a skillet and calling it a quesadilla, but this elevated version of this classic Mexican dish from The Missing Lokness incorporates Asian flavors. Soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil flavor the ground beef, and the kimchi adds unexpected brightness to the dish. Make sure to add extra kimchi on the side when serving.


  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ¾ pound lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (10-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup kimchi, cut into bite-size pieces, plus more for serving
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped

Directions: Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes to a small bowl. Combine and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add sesame oil and set to medium heat. Add beef and garlic and cook through. Drain excess liquid through a sieve and return to pan. Stir in the brown sugar mixture and turn heat down to medium-low and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, add tortilla and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Add ¼ cup cheese to half of the tortilla. Then, add ¼ cup ground beef, 2 tablespoons green onions, and 1½ tablespoons kimchi. Top this with another ¼ cup cheese. Fold tortilla in half so the ingredients are covered and tortilla is in a half-moon shape. Keep cooking until both sides are browned, flipping tortilla as needed. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 4 pieces and serve extra kimchi alongside. Repeat these steps with remaining tortillas.

Lauren Weiler also contributed to this article.

Follow Nikelle on Twitter @Nikelle_CS