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Food & Recipes

This Kitchen Staple Makes Browned Ground Beef Extra Tasty

Crank up the flavor on your queso con carne and all your Super Bowl snacks.


Learning how to cook ground beef isn’t exactly rocket science — but do you know the best way to get all the delicious flavor you can from the meaty goodness? If your go-to method doesn’t involve grabbing baking soda, the answer is “nope.”

The experts at Cook’s Illustrated shared the simple tip: Dissolve a pinch of baking soda with a little water, then mix that into your ground beef and let it sit for at least 15 minutes (but no more than 45 minutes) before cooking. 

For a more specific example of measurements, they recommend 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda and a couple tablespoons of water for their chili recipe, which uses three and a half pounds of beef. You might need to adjust it based on how much meat you’re making, but this can give you a good idea of how big or small a “pinch” you need. 

The baking soda treatment works by raising the pH balance on the surface of the beef, which helps it not only retain its moisture, but also cook faster — meaning you’ll get juicy brown meat rather than a pile of greasy, gray mush.

Their sister site, America’s Test Kitchen, called this “better browning through chemistry” and shared a helpful visual to prove just how big a difference the small cooking tweak can make: 

On top of a less soupy result, baking soda can also slow down the protein in meat from bonding “excessively” as it heats up and prevent a tough, chewy texture most people like to avoid. 

We can’t think of a better time to give this a try than with any meaty recipes you’re prepping for a Super Bowl spread. Whether you’re tossing browned beef in with queso or serving up bowls of chili, it’s a totally easy way to step up your cooking game!

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