Why Your Lean Ground Meat Needs A Spoonful Of Mayo

Lean ground meat can be great when you do not want to introduce too much rendered fat to a dish, and certain dietary considerations and preferences may make you inclined to purchase the leaner stuff. However, less fat means less flavor and moisture, so lean ground meat can also sometimes end up dry and tasteless once cooked.

The good news is that you have a secret weapon right on your refrigerator door. A spoonful of mayonnaise in your ground meat mixture can introduce the right amount of richness, and you have control over exactly how much fat you are adding. If the mayo haters are sounding the alarm, do not fret. You will not actually be able to taste the mayo. Mayo is essentially oil and eggs with a few seasonings and just a touch of vinegar or lemon juice, but the taste is so mild that it will fade right into the background. All you will be left with is the bit of oomph your lean ground meat needed. If you are making something like burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs that require cohesion, the mayo has the bonus quality of acting as a binder.

How to add fat back to ground meat

Add a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise per pound of raw ground beef. Just take care not to overmix the meat. Handling it too much makes the texture tough. Using your hands will give you the most control so you can quickly and efficiently incorporate the mayo. Do not squeeze or punch, though. Just gently toss, and then form into patties, balls, or a loaf. Pro tip: if you are making hamburgers or a classic patty melt, slather the buns or bread in mayo before griddling to get the most golden delicious toast.

If you really are not down for the mayo, it is not the only option at your disposal to make your lean ground meat just a little less lean. The obvious choice is to use a little bit of fat — this could be in the form of oil, lard, beef tallow, bacon grease, or even grated butter. Cheese, uncooked sausage, fresh chorizo, or ground meat with a higher percentage of fat will also work.

What is lean ground meat anyways?

When it comes to beef, the percentage labels on the packaging refer to the proportion of lean meat to fat. The amount of fat in ground beef is dictated by which cut of meat is being ground up. To be considered truly lean from a regulation standpoint, the mix must contain 93 percent lean meat. These minces come from cuts like sirloin, and slightly less lean (but still considered extra lean) products come from the round. To put that in perspective, ground chuck, which comes from the well-marbled shoulder of the cow, is the gold standard for juicy burgers and is only 80 percent lean.

Other lean ground meats, like turkey, tend to range from seven percent to as low as one percent fat if made only from turkey breast. The amount of fat in ground chicken will similarly vary depending on how much dark meat and white meat are in the blend. Do not be afraid to snatch up some extra lean ground meat when it goes on sale because you will be able to amp it up with no problem via the simple addition of mayonnaise.