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Ground Turkey vs. Ground Beef: What’s the Difference?

Ground turkey is generally leaner and considered more heart-healthy but has slightly more calories and less protein than ground beef. In terms of flavor, turkey is milder, while beef has a more robust taste. Both meats are versatile, but turkey is generally less expensive and has a lower environmental impact.

By Cookist

When it comes to choosing a ground meat for your next meal, you may find yourself puzzled between ground turkey and ground beef. Both are versatile options that can be used in a variety of dishes, from tacos and meatloaf to spaghetti sauce and burgers. So, what sets them apart? Here's a closer look at the differences between ground turkey and ground beef.

Nutritional Content

Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is often praised for being a lean source of protein. It is lower in saturated fat compared to ground beef, making it a heart-healthy option. Additionally, ground turkey is rich in essential nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, and selenium.

Per ounce, ground turkey tends to have slightly more calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium compared to its ground beef counterpart. On the other hand, ground beef takes the lead in terms of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. The notable difference comes in the form of saturated fats, where ground turkey generally edges out ground beef, garnering more "healthy" points as a result.

Ground Beef

Ground beef is also a good source of protein but is usually higher in saturated fats. It does contain iron, which is vital for oxygen transport in the blood, and it's also rich in other nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.

Flavor Profile

Ground Turkey

Ground turkey has a milder taste compared to ground beef, making it a more neutral base for dishes that require a subtler flavor. It can take on the taste of the spices and sauces it's cooked with.

Ground Beef

Ground beef has a stronger, more robust flavor that can dominate a dish. This makes it a popular choice for meals where the meat is the star of the show, such as in a juicy burger or a meaty spaghetti sauce.



Both ground turkey and ground beef are incredibly versatile and can be used interchangeably in most recipes. However, because ground turkey has a lighter flavor, it may not provide the same depth of flavor as ground beef in certain dishes.

Environmental Impact

Ground turkey is generally considered to have a lower environmental impact than ground beef. The production of turkey meat requires fewer resources and emits fewer greenhouse gases compared to beef production.


Ground turkey is often less expensive than ground beef, making it an economical choice for those on a budget.

Both ground turkey and ground beef have their merits. Your choice will depend on what you prioritize—whether it's flavor, nutrition, environmental impact, or cost. The next time you find yourself pondering which to choose, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision.

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