The Art of Preserving Ground Beef

Have you ever wondered how to preserve ground beef without the need for a pressure canner or freeze-dryer? Well, look no further! Dehydrating ground beef is a fantastic method to stock your pantry, prepare for hiking and camping trips, and create quick and delicious meals in a jar that your entire family will adore. Let’s explore the world of dehydrated ground beef and discover the endless possibilities it offers!

Bowl of raw ground beef (left) and one of dehydrated ground beef (right)

It’s time to bid farewell to freezer space concerns and elevate your food preservation game. With lean ground meats such as beef, chicken, turkey, and even sausage (with some extra care and storage), you can achieve shelf-stable meat without any hassle. Affectionately referred to as dried beef nuggets, hamburger gravel, beef crumbles, and more, dehydrated ground beef is a brilliant way to preserve this versatile ingredient.

Whenever you come across ground beef on sale or clearance, seize the opportunity to stock up and explore alternative storage methods beyond freezing and canning. Dehydrating ground beef opens up a world of culinary possibilities while ensuring you always have a backup plan for those moments when you need food on hand.

The Safety of Dehydrating Raw Hamburger Meat

Rest assured, dehydrating ground beef is perfectly safe! By following the proper procedures listed below, you can achieve wonderfully dry dried ground beef that can be used in a variety of ways. The key lies in reaching the right temperatures to eliminate bacteria and removing as much fat as possible from the meat to prevent rancidity.

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Mastering the Process of Dehydrating Ground Beef

If you’re cooking ground beef for dinner tonight, why not brown up some extra? The process is simple, just make sure not to add any additional fats during cooking to reduce the fat content in the final product. These hamburger rocks or nuggets will become your secret weapon for various culinary endeavors, including backpacking meals, convenient weeknight dinners, or even as a kind gesture to friends and family in need.


When dehydrating ground beef, opt for lean cuts. Personally, I prefer using 93/7 lean ground beef, but the leaner the better. If possible, select the leanest beef available, or have your local butcher grind some ground sirloin, ground round, or ground chuck for you. Alternatively, if you have a kitchen aid grinding attachment or a manual meat grinder, you can grind your own meat. Remember, this process can also be applied to ground chicken, turkey, or even sausage. However, keep in mind that sausage tends to be fattier, so it requires extra diligence in removing the fat and storing it in the freezer for optimal results.


To successfully dehydrate ground beef, you will need the following equipment:

  • Skillet or frying pan
  • A trusty stirring tool, such as wooden spurtles, reminiscent of your grandmother’s utensils
  • Food dehydrator
  • Mesh silicone sheets or parchment paper
  • Colander
  • Bowl
  • Paper towels or newspaper (Scott blue shop towels work best in this scenario)

The step-by-step process of dehydrating ground beef from lean beef to cooking, weighing, dehydrating, and storing.

Alternatively, you have the option to try a slightly different method by boiling ground beef in larger quantities instead of browning it in a skillet. This method helps to process more meat at once, reduces the fat content, and creates a flavorsome beef broth that can be utilized later.

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The Backpacker’s Secret to Dehydrating Ground Beef

Though I’ve always dehydrated ground beef in my own way, the Backpacking Chef has a brilliant trick up his sleeve to enhance the texture and rehydration speed of dried ground beef. Naturally, I had to put his method to the test! Trust me, he is an excellent resource for all things related to dehydrating trail meals.

Adding breadcrumbs to a bowl of ground beef, kneading it in, then cooking to prepare them for dehydrating.

Not only does this technique alter the texture of the ground beef, making it similar to meatloaf, but it also speeds up the rehydration process. During my own experiment, I didn’t find a significant difference in taste, but the faster rehydration time made it worth considering. While I might skip this step for home use, I highly recommend including it when preparing dehydrated ground beef for hiking or camping trips to ensure quick and efficient meal preparation.

If you’re intrigued by the Backpacking Chef’s method and want to witness it in action, head over to my YouTube channel to watch the video of me testing his technique alongside my usual process.

Proper Storage Procedures

To ensure the longevity and quality of your dehydrated ground beef, it’s crucial to store it properly. Place the dried ground beef in an airtight container that is either vacuum-sealed or sealed with a heat-sealed mylar bag (with or without oxygen absorbers). When stored correctly, dehydrated ground beef can last up to a year or two.

Now, here’s a small caveat to keep in mind. While it’s possible to store dried meats on the shelf, it’s recommended to store them in the freezer for ultimate reliability. However, don’t worry, you can still take your dehydrated ground beef out of the freezer for short-term hiking and camping trips or to use in meals in a jar. Just remember that like all fats, any residual fat in the dried meat can turn rancid if stored in a warmer pantry environment. Keep a close eye on your supply and make sure to rotate it quickly. If you don’t anticipate using any portion for an extended period, it’s best to store it in the freezer for added safety.

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Raw beef in a roll and dried ground beef were measured on a scale in a measuring cup.

The measurements of raw beef versus dried ground beef determine the amount of water you’ll need for rehydration. Speaking of rehydration, why not try using broth to maximize flavor when rehydrating your dehydrated ground beef?

Using broth to rehydrate dried ground beef

Unleash Your Creativity with Dehydrated Ground Beef

Now that you have mastered the art of dehydrating ground beef, it’s time to put your culinary skills to the test. Here are a few fantastic recipes you can try using your prized supply of dried ground beef:

  1. Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ

With dehydrated ground beef at your disposal, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy the convenience, flexibility, and long shelf life that this preservation technique offers. So, roll up your sleeves, stock up on lean ground beef, and embark on a culinary adventure like never before!