17 Spices And Sauces That Will Take Your Ground Beef To The Next Level

Are you tired of the same old ground beef dishes that lack the wow factor? Whether you're whipping up tacos, smash burgers, meatballs, or stir-fries, the key to transforming mundane meals into flavor-packed masterpieces is all in the seasoning. With the right combination of spices and sauces, it's super easy to upgrade your ground beef dishes into something totally delicious.

In this guide, we'll run you through the essential spices and sauces that are guaranteed to take your ground beef to the next level. From the aromatic goodness of garlic to the fiery kick of cayenne pepper, to lesser known add-ins like onion soup mix and balsamic vinegar, each ingredient brings its own unique flavor profile. With ground beef serving as the flavorful savory base, there's plenty of room for mixing and matching different seasonings to craft your perfect dish. So, read on and prepare to equip yourself with all the knowledge you need to master your ground beef game.


We're kicking things off with the hero of the kitchen — garlic. Whether minced, crushed, or thinly sliced, this aromatic ingredient is one of the most versatile and much-loved cooking staples, and of course it works wonderfully with ground beef. With its deliciously potent aroma and taste, garlic not only enhances the natural richness of ground beef but also infuses it with that signature savory punch that we know and love. 

From classic pasta Bolognese to a hearty meatloaf, adding garlic to your ground beef recipes is a no brainer if you want to amp up the flavor. If your recipe involves browning the beef in a skillet, the garlic can be added just after the beef is cooked through. It'll only take a few minutes to infuse the meat with its aromatic taste. If you're working with raw ground beef, perhaps shaping it into burgers or meatballs, it can help to first sauté the garlic in a little olive oil or butter before adding it to the beef. This helps to soften the garlic up and bring out its natural sweetness.


Warm, spicy, and slightly sweet, ginger packs a powerful punch. Incorporating this fragrant root into your ground beef dishes can add heaps of aromatic flavor. Ginger is typically best grated or minced. In this form, it will evenly infuse your ground beef with its warmth and zesty flavor. Ginger's unique blend of heat and sweetness adds a wonderful depth to ground beef dishes. 

Ginger pairs well with a variety of other seasonings and sauces too. We often see it added to Asian-inspired dishes like stir-fries, along with other ingredients like garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Starting with ginger as a warming base, it's easy to build a rich and complex flavor profile that will compliment your ground beef perfectly.

In addition to its flavor-enhancing properties, there are also many health benefits of eating ginger, including anti-inflammatory and digestive properties. Another excellent reason to be adding it to your homemade ground beef dishes! 

Soy sauce

Soy sauce — the secret weapon that can instantly transform the flavor profile of your ground beef dishes. This umami-rich condiment adds an amazing savory kick to everything it touches, making it a must-have ingredient for any home cook.

Made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce has a rich, salty flavor, with a little going a long way to enhance the natural taste of ground beef. Light soy sauce adds a delicate saltiness to dishes, while dark soy sauce brings a deeper, slightly sweeter flavor and a beautiful dark caramel color. And if you're looking to add a touch of umami without maxing out on your salt intake, low-sodium soy sauces that still deliver on flavor are also available in most large grocery stores.

Though it's a staple in Asian-inspired cooking, soy sauce can be used in all kinds of cuisines. It's an incredible versatile ingredient, with its saltiness perfectly balancing the sweetness of many other sauces and spices. So whether you're making burgers or beef bowls, give soy sauce a try and see how it transforms the final taste!


There are plenty of spices that can add flavor and heat to ground beef, but cumin has to be one of our favorites. It's warm, earthy, sweet, and slightly nutty, bringing an irresistible taste to a whole host of beef-based dishes. With cumin being used in a wide variety of cuisines, it's no surprise that Urban Cultivator deemed it the world's most popular spice.

Cumin will work wonderfully in Mexican-inspired dishes like chili, tacos, enchiladas, or quesadillas, where it's often paired with other herbs and spices like paprika, chili powder, and oregano. Its distinctive flavor profile works perfectly against the rich, savory taste of beef. After browning your ground beef, toss in the cumin alongside any other spices and seasonings, and let the warming aromas unfold. Cumin can also be used to bring depth and a hint of spice to dishes like meatballs, burgers, and even beef-stuffed peppers or eggplant.

Sesame oil

Next up is an oil that's loaded with delicious, nutty flavor. Sesame oil brings a fragrant taste like no other, and just a drizzle is all it takes to infuse your ground beef with a rich, toasty flavor. Whether you're sautéing or mixing up a sauce, sesame oil can add a touch of Asian-inspired deliciousness to your ground beef dishes.

One of our favorite ways to use sesame oil with ground beef is in a stir fry. Fry up your beef with some garlic, ginger, soy sauce, a little brown sugar, and of course the trusty sesame oil. Then, add some chicken broth to make things nice and saucy. The result is a flavor-packed meat dish that's amazing served over rice or noodles.

Sesame oil has the added bonus of being a nutritious choice for your cooking, rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and help to regulate blood sugar.

Ground coriander

Another ingredient that's ready to revolutionize your ground beef creations is ground coriander. Derived from the seeds of the coriander plant, ground coriander is a versatile spice with a bright, citrusy flavor. It's perfect for adding a burst of freshness to your beef dishes.

From Indian curries to Mexican tacos, ground coriander has long been a staple in many much-loved recipes, thanks to its ability to enhance the natural flavors of other ingredients while bringing its own unique twist. When added to ground beef, it gives a subtle yet distinctive aromatic taste. 

Ground coriander would be an excellent addition to a curried ground beef dish, perhaps alongside some curry powder, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. To bulk out the beef base and add some extra nutrients, you can also throw in some veggies like onion, peas, or carrots. 

You can also use whole coriander seeds in place of ground coriander, which should be toasted in the skillet with some oil until fragrant, before adding the beef and other ingredients.

Fish sauce

Now for a sauce that may not currently be considered a staple in your cooking repertoire. Fish sauce is an umami-rich condiment, made from fermented fish and salt. As you might assume, it adds a fishy flavor and a savory punch to your cooking.

The thought of fish sauce might seem unconventional, but its rich, salty flavor is the secret weapon behind many popular Southeast Asian-inspired dishes, including Thai green curry and Vietnamese pho. When added to ground beef, fish sauce infuses the meat with a briny element and depth of flavor that can act as a wonderful balancer against other sweet and salty ingredients.

Fish sauce is also incredibly versatile, working well alongside other seasonings and sauces in beef stir-fries and beyond. You can even use fish sauce to elevate homemade burgers. Simply add about 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to the hamburger meat with any other add-ins of choice, and the result will be a juicy burger with a wonderful, savory depth of flavor.


Paprika is another versatile ingredient that can spice up your ground beef recipes with its vibrant flavor. Made from dried and ground peppers, paprika adds a little sweetness and a gentle heat that can make your beef taste extra special.

This spice comes in various forms, from sweet and mild to hot and smoky, meaning you can customize the flavor profile of your dishes to suit your taste. You might prefer the gentle warmth of sweet paprika with ground beef, the bold intensity of smoked paprika, or the fiery heat that hot paprika brings.

Add paprika to your ground beef, and it will not only enhance the natural richness of the meat, but also infuse it with a beautiful color. The depth of flavor it imparts can make dishes feel extra hearty and satisfying, especially in chilis and other Mexican-inspired beef dishes like tacos and enchiladas. Paprika pairs well with other spices such as cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.

Cayenne pepper

If you love adding a spicy kick to your cooking, cayenne pepper is your friend. A wonderful addition to ground beef, cayenne pepper is a potent spice, with a little going a long way to bring some fiery heat.

Cayenne pepper is made from ground chili peppers, which give it that warm, bold flavor. This spice is a favorite amongst many home cooks as it's such a quick and convenient way to add a pretty decent level of heat to dishes (no chopping chiles required!). In ground beef dishes like chili or meatballs, a pinch of cayenne pepper is all you need to infuse the meat with a subtle spice. You can of course add more and taste as you go, depending on your spice tolerance. 

Our quick and easy chili dog recipe is a firm favorite, featuring ground beef that's seasoned with cayenne pepper alongside a medley of other spices and sauces, such as chili powder, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce.

Lime juice

To brighten up your ground beef recipes, lime juice is the perfect way to add some zesty goodness. This citrusy juice can add a refreshing burst of acidity that cuts through the richness of the meat, enhances its flavor, and balances brilliantly with other savory elements of the dish.

As well as bringing its tangy freshness, lime juice can also help to balance out any excess saltiness in the dish, or even tone down spiciness. It works brilliantly squeezed over tacos, beef soups, and beef noodle dishes, with it's bright acidity the perfect way to make the final dish that extra bit delicious. Lime juice is best added at the end of cooking, right before serving, as cooking it can diminish those wonderful flavors.

And lime juice isn't just about taste — it also brings a range of health benefits to the table. Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, lime juice is known for its immune-boosting properties and ability to promote healthy skin.

Worcestershire sauce

Incorporating Worcestershire sauce into your ground beef dishes is a fantastic way to amp up the savory flavor profile. It's a versatile ingredient that brings depth, richness, and a slight tanginess that can take your cooking to the next level.

Worcestershire sauce is made from a blend of ingredients including vinegar, molasses, anchovies, and various spices, giving it a distinctive umami-loaded flavor profile. Add it to ground beef and it will enhance the meat's natural richness for a super comforting and satisfying result.

This sauce is a fantastic one to add when making dishes like meatloaf, shepherd's pie, or Sloppy Joe. Or why not try this unique yet totally delicious hamburger casserole? Worcestershire sauce pairs well with aromatics like onion and garlic, as well as other savory condiments like mustard and tomato paste. However you decide to use it, a splash is all it takes to transform the ground beef, adding moreish layers of richness and depth.

White pepper

If you're someone who always reaches for black pepper when it comes to seasoning, don't let yourself miss out on the delicate spice that white pepper can add to your cooking (and yes, there is a difference between white and black pepper). It has a subtle yet distinctive flavor and finely ground texture that will incorporate seamlessly into any ground beef dish.

Salt and pepper are of course staples in pretty much any savory dish, but white pepper can bring some unique qualities to the flavor profile. Derived from the same berries as black pepper, white pepper undergoes a different processing method that removes the outer skin, resulting in a milder flavor profile with hints of earthiness and floral notes. White pepper will add a subtle warmth to ground beef, enhancing the flavors of your other ingredients without overpowering them.

Add a sprinkle of white pepper to burgers, meatloaf, or beef bowls and you'll be amazed at how it helps the flavors shine.

Onion soup mix

Now, this one might seem a little rogue, but trust us here. Dried soup mix is the seasoning you didn't know you needed, and onion soup mix in particular can be the key to savory perfection, enhancing ground beef with its delicious blend of dried onions, herbs, and spices.

Not only does store-bought onion soup mix pack plenty of flavor, it's incredibly convenient too. Toss a sachet into your ground beef and after a quick stir your dish will be completely transformed. There's no need to chop up onions or measure out individual spices! Onion soup mix is super versatile too, working well in a variety of dishes. In a Reddit thread where members discussed their favorite ways to season ground beef, one person stated, "I add in a pack of onion soup mix whenever making hamburgers, meatballs, or really most things ground beef." We think it's a super smart way to maximise those savory flavors and create a ground beef dish that's quick, easy, and comforting.


Oregano is a well-used herb in both Mediterranean and Mexican-inspired cooking, and for good reason. This delicious ingredients has a pungent, warm flavor with a hint of bitterness, and it can add depth and complexity to a range of ground beef dishes.

The signature herby taste of oregano is a perfect addition to everything from pasta sauces to salads. When added to ground beef, it infuses the meat with its fragrant flavor profile, making it even more delicious. Oregano is a great one to opt for if you're making spaghetti Bolognese, Greek-style meatballs, or perhaps even a homemade pizza with ground beef. It also features in our lean yet juicy taco meat recipe.

We also often see oregano combined with other ingredients in spice and seasoning mixes, particularly when it comes to Mexican dishes. For example, in our homemade taco seasoning, which is perfect for adding to ground beef, oregano is accompanied by cumin, paprika, chilli powder, onion powder, and salt.

Onion powder

Onion powder is a pantry staple that can work wonders in a range of dishes, and cooking with ground beef is no exception. Made from dehydrated and ground onions, this seasoning adds depth, sweetness, and a touch of umami to your recipes.

If you're not in the mood for chopping onions, onion powder is the perfect solution. It's prized for its convenience and ability to infuse dishes with the savory taste of fresh onions without the hassle of prep. You'll find that onion powder enhances the meat's natural sweetness and creates a deeper, more well-rounded flavor.

Pair your onion powder with fresh garlic or garlic powder for the ultimate dynamic duo. You can also use it alongside fresh onion to really max out on the aromatic flavor. It'll work fantastically in just about any ground beef-based dish, from meatloaf to taco meat. These irresistible bacon cheeseburger loaded fries are also infused with onion powder, and well worth a try.

Beef bouillon powder

An incredible way to achieve the ultimate savory flavor profile in your ground beef recipes is adding beef bouillon. This concentrated broth is made from simmering beef and vegetables, before drying it into a solid form. Beef bouillon adds extra umami and meaty richness, and it's the perfect match for your fresh ground beef.

We most typically see this concentrated broth used in soups, stews, and gravies, but it can work its magic in a variety of different beef-based dishes. The deep savory flavor is brings results in a super comforting and satisfying dish. Try scattering it over a Bolognese to enrich the sauce, or perhaps in a shepherd's pie, where in can give the same richness as beef broth without overwhelming the meaty base with too much liquid.

Keep in mind that beef bouillon can be high in salt, so you might need to add less salt than usual if using this in your recipe.

Balsamic vinegar

When concocting savory dishes, it's important to add a some balance with a little tang, and balsamic vinegar does just that. Slightly sweeter than other types of vinegar, balsamic is made from pressed grapes, and it's sure to upgrade your ground beef.

Balsamic vinegar has the ability to enhance a wide range of flavors, but it works particularly well with ground beef. It adds a subtle sweetness and acidity — an amazing pairing against the rich, savory meat. It also helps to tenderize the protein in the meat, resulting in a juicy and succulent final dish. Balsamic vinegar is also part of this handy trick for tenderizing meat as it defrosts.

Whether you're making an umami-rich beef stir fry, or a hearty sauce for meatballs, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar is always a good idea. If you feel like your dish is lacking something flavor-wise but can't quite put your finger on what, the tang of balsamic might be exactly what it needs!