Ground beef is a great base for many delicious meals. Whether you’re making burgers, meatballs, chili, or casserole, using fresh ground beef makes it taste even better. When you plan ahead and cook more than you need for one meal, reheating the leftovers doesn’t have to be a hassle.
The microwave is the best appliance for this task, but it requires a few special steps to ensure your ground beef is safe and tasty. In this article, I’ll cover how to properly heat ground beef in the microwave.
Can You Reheat Ground Beef in a Microwave?
In general, you can reheat cooked ground beef in the microwave as long as you do it properly.
Here’s a short guide on how to reheat ground beef in a microwave:
Reheating ground beef in the microwave is fairly simple. All you need to do is put your leftover meat on a microwave-safe dish, splash it with a little water, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and heat it for 2 minutes at half power.
Don’t forget to rotate or stir the meat halfway through to make sure it heats evenly. This should be enough to reheat your ground beef to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius).
A little amount of water or olive oil is added to the ground beef before heating it in the microwave to keep the meat moist.
A lid or plastic wrap is used to lock in the steam and heat to ensure a more consistent temperature throughout the meat. If you don’t have either of these, you can use a wet paper towel or microwaveable plastic wrap to cover your dish.
Is it Safe to Reheat Ground Beef in the Microwave?
Yes, it’s safe to reheat cooked ground beef in the microwave as long as you have cooked and stored it properly.
You’ll need to cook your ground beef to a minimum internal temperature of 160° Fahrenheit (71° Celsius) to ensure it’s safe for consumption. If you undercooked the meat, harmful bacteria could still be alive inside, which is why reheating it using the microwave or any other method is only recommended if you have cooked it thoroughly before storing it.
If the meat you’re reheating has already been cooked to this temperature, you don’t need to worry too much about your food being contaminated with foodborne bacteria such as Salmonella.
Most of these types of bacteria should have been eliminated during the cooking process, but they can be reintroduced if you let the food sit out at room temperature for an extended period of time. This is why you shouldn’t allow your cooked ground beef to sit at room temperature for more than four hours.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the cooked ground beef is safe for you to reheat in the microwave if its internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius).
How Long Does it Take to Reheat Ground Beef in a Microwave?
About 2 minutes at half power is enough for your ground beef to reheat in the microwave, provided you let it rest for a minute after heating it.
How to Reheat Ground Beef in the Microwave
You can quickly reheat your ground beef in the microwave using these steps:
- Prepare a microwave-safe dish and place your ground beef on it.
- Add moisture to the ground beef before microwaving.
- Take a microwave-safe plastic wrap and cover the dish.
- Set your microwave on medium and microwave in one-minute increments.
- Check for doneness and remove from the microwave.
1. Place Your Ground Beef on a Microwave-Safe Dish
Glass or ceramic dishes are the safest options for reheating foods in the microwave regardless of what types of foods you’re heating up. Feel free to use a plate or bowl. It doesn’t matter which one you use.
2. Add Moisture
The second step is to add moisture to keep the ground beef from drying out. There are several ways you can do this, but the easiest way is to just splash a little bit of water over your meat. If you want, you can also use olive oil, broth, or your favorite sauce if you want to add some extra flavor.
3. Cover the Dish
Covering your foods while reheating them in the microwave is necessary to lock in the steam and retain the food’s juice. You can use a lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, but a wet paper towel works just as well.
Another thing to remember is to slightly vent the top of your dish with a small opening. This will allow some steam to escape from underneath.
4. Microwave in Short Bursts Until Fully Reheated
Set your microwave to half power and nuke the ground beef for one minute.
After the minute is up, check and stir the meat. If it needs another one minute, give it that much time and then check again until the beef is hot throughout. You can also use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius).
5. Take It Out of the Microwave and Use It To Cook
Let it sit for a minute before digging in to let the temperature even out throughout the meat. Use mitts when taking the dish out of the microwave. Now, you can use your ground beef to make tacos, burritos, or whatever you want!
Some More Tips for Reheating Ground Beef in the Microwave
Here are some more tips to keep in mind if you’d like to reheat ground beef in the microwave.
- Use immediately after reheating.
- You can speed up the cooking and reheating process by putting your ground beef in a circular microwaveable container.
- Use a colander set in a microwaveable dish so the fat will drain off.
How Do You Know When Ground Beef is Reheated in the Microwave?
How do you know when ground beef is adequately heated in the microwave? A food thermometer can tell you.
Ground beef should be reheated to 165° Fahrenheit (74° Celsius) to ensure it’s safe for consumption. Once your meat has reached this temperature, you can remove it from the heat and enjoy it right away.
If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can use the ‘spoon test’ as another method of checking if your meat is hot enough. If it’s steaming hot and there’s steam rising off of it, it’s ready to eat.
How to Safely Handle Cooked Ground Beef
As mentioned before, knowing how to handle cooked ground beef is the key to avoiding contamination. Here are a few safety tips:
- Refrigerate or freeze your ground beef as soon as you can after cooking it or within two hours of cooking it. Don’t let your cooked ground beef sit at room temperature for more than four hours.
- Use an airtight storage container or freezer bag to store your meat.
- Keep it on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator to prevent its juices from dripping on other foods. You can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and then store it in a container.
- Ground beef can be safely stored in the fridge for up to three days and in the freezer for up to three months.
- Check the color and smell of your ground beef before reheating it. If it smells sour or looks slimy, don’t taste it. Just throw it away and start over.
1. Why is my ground beef so dry?
Ground beef is one of those foods that can easily become dry. This is especially true if you overcook. Fortunately, there is a simple tip for ensuring your ground beef doesn’t end up too dry while reheating it in the microwave.
To prevent your ground beef from drying out, you can simply add a little bit of moisture to it when reheating it in the microwave. Splash a little water, olive oil, broth, or your favorite sauce. Stir it every so often to keep the heat evenly distributed and to tenderize your meat.
2. Why do we have to cook it on medium power?
Ground beef has a rather dry consistency even though it’s made from beef. It’s also extremely lean. This makes it difficult for microwaves to cook without them ending up dry.
One of the tricks that can prevent ground beef from drying out is using medium power when reheating it in the microwave. If you use high power instead, your dish can end up getting too brown on the outside while the inside isn’t yet cooked.