Here's Why You Should Really Be Ditching Store-Bought Ground Beef

Ground beef is one of the most affordable, versatile, and foundational proteins in many of our kitchens. But where and how that beef is ground is critical – and those looking for the best taste and texture should be ditching the store-bought ground beef for good.

Within beef is a protein called myosin, which helps compose the meat's fibers. When you grind and process meat, you release more myosin from the fibers as a result. Store-bought ground beef generally has more myosin than meat you grind yourself, due to it being more processed. So why should you care about how much myosin is in your next ground beef recipe? Well, the greater the percentage of myosin, the more likely it is for your meat to be hard to chew when cooked. 

Myosin gets tough and buckles when cooked, creating misshapen meals with less than ideal texture. Food expert Michael Chu told NPR that, scientifically, this is caused by a cross-linking and gelling effect of the proteins. He said, "In particular, myosin, which, when denatured, will cross-link with each other to form a gel, like a meat glue. Too much myosin cross-linking will result in noticeable shrinkage and a rubbery texture." Naturally, this tastes about as good as it sounds — not very!

Great ground meat at home

Beyond just taste and texture, there are other reasons you may want to avoid that pre-ground pack from the supermarket. For one, data compiled by Consumer Reports shows that, between 2018 and 2023, eight of 11 raw meat-related food poisoning incidents in the United States were due to ground meat. In addition, store-bought ground beef offers you no control over preservatives, additives, and other substances mixed into your meat.

Fortunately, making your own ground beef or other protein at home is easy. Many home chefs use a dedicated meat grinder or food processor, the latter of which can reduce cuts of meat to the perfect size and texture with a few dozen pulses. Others opt for a hand-cranked grinder or you can go old school and hand-chop your meat with a large knife.

It's undoubtedly true that store-bought ground beef is convenient. Still, those looking to step up their next meal should take the extra time and see the amazing benefits home-ground meat can provide for flavor, texture, and more.