It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy


Ask Dr. Gourmet

If I saute ground beef and pour off the fat, how much fat am I removing?

Your column on fat levels in ground turkey and ground beef, raised a question in my mind. When cooking with these products, I will often sauté the meat and pour off the accumulated fat and juice. For example, I did this the other day when preparing a spaghetti sauce made with ground turkey. How much of the fat in the raw meat can you get rid of using this method?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

uncooked ground beef on a wooden board

The amount of fat in ground beef is listed as a percentage. When you see ground beef labelled 80/20 in the butcher's case that means that it has a 20% fat content. This is the most common version of ground beef sold. You can also easily find 90/10 (10% fat) and 95/5 (5% fat). Sometimes these are referred to as 90% lean or 95% lean.

It is possible to reduce the fat content of any ground beef by cooking it and then draining off the fat as you are doing. I can't tell you precisely how much fat you are getting rid of using that method, but as a (rough) rule of thumb, one teaspoon of fat contains 5 grams of fat and about 50 calories. With a pound of 80/20 beef it would be easy to drain off as much as 1/4 cup or more. That 1/4 cup represents as much as 600 calories and 60 grams of fat which works out to 150 calories per portion.

The same would apply to the ground turkey. Depending on how much fat is in the turkey to begin with, you might find that as much or more than the 1/4 cup of fat will drain away after cooking.

Here are some recipes to use your ground beef in:

Bacon Cheeseburger Mac
Beef & Mushroom Lasagna
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Stuffed Peppers | Coumadin Safe Version
Tuscan Meatloaf
White Bolognese

Thanks for writing.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet