Healthy Eating: Can Draining Grease From Meat Make It Leaner?

Many people wonder if meat can become leaner by draining the fat present in it but now that you are here, you will no longer wonder. Keep reading to find out what the experts think of this question.

By Cookist

If you cook a pound of 80 % lean ground beef and drain the grease, will you get the more expensive 90% lean ground beef without having to pay extra? This is a question many have wondered about and now there is an answer.

According to Dr Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, from North Dakota State University, the answer is a resounding yes. However, there are some factors you need to be conscious of as well.

“Cooking and draining ground beef significantly reduces fat and calorie content,” Dr. Garden-Robinson said.

The fat content in an 80% lean patty reduces from 22.6 grams of fat to 15 grams after cooking, according to research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The research was spearheaded by USDA’s Nutrient Database and Iowa State University.

“During cooking, both moisture and fat content decrease within the meat. On average, 4 ounces of lean raw ground beef becomes 3 ounces (about 85 grams) of cooked meat,” Dr Garden-Robinson also said.


Different cooking methods have different effects on calorie and fat content. Pan-broiling means meat is cooked in a skillet without adding fat. By pan-broiling 80% lean ground beef crumbles and then removing excess liquid with a paper towel, the end product will have calorie and fat content similar to 90% lean pan-broiled crumbles.

The calories can be reduced even more by pan-broiling, blotting with a paper towel, then also placing it in a strainer and rinsing the cooked product with hot water.

“Be sure to remember that fat usually carries the flavor in meat, so you will see decreases in flavor along with decreases in fat,” Dr. Garden-Robinson said.

She also emphasized how important it was to handle the food safely all through the process. In her words: “Regardless of the type of ground beef, defrost it in the refrigerator and clean all work surfaces and utensils that come in contact with meat – either raw or cooked. Finally, be sure to cook beef to an internal temperature of 160F and until the juices run clear.”

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