Browning mince is a crucial part of cooking, and a common step in recipes that use mince of any kind. Lamb, pork and beef mince are very often browned as the first step in the recipe they are used in. This guide will teach you how to brown mince, so that you can safely and confidently cook with mince.
What is mince supposed to look like?
Mince is typically bright pink in color. Sometimes it can look pale, especially minced chicken and pork, which can look light pink or almost white. It’s common for mince to have spots that may appear more gray, red or brown in colour.
Raw mince typically looks like long strings of mushy meat pressed into a shape. Browned mince often looks white (turkey, chicken, pork) or brown (lamb, beef), and looks like crumpled pieces of meat
What is mince supposed to smell like?
Mince can either be odourless, or it can simply smell of raw meat. Sometimes there can be a strong smell present immediately after opening the package of mince. This smell shoulf fade rather quickly.
Avoid eating mince that has a strong, unpleasant smell, as this can be a sign that it’s gone off.
Is mince good for you?
Mince is considered processed meat, and should be eaten in moderation. The NHS has recommended that you eat no more than 70 g processed meat daily.
That being said, mince can absolutely be a part of a varied, healthy diet. It’s highly versatile, and can be used in a range of various dishes.
What can you use mince for
Mince can be used for a variety of foods. It’s often cooked with some seasoning or sauce to be enjoyed as part of a dish. For example, you could use seasoned mince for tacos or pizza.
Sometimes it’s added to more complex dishes like soups, stews, or pasta bakes.
Recipes like these usually require you to brown the mince first.
Raw mince can also be used to form burger patties, meatballs, meatloaf and sausages.
Why should you brown mince?
Although not always strictly necessary, I always recommend that you brown mince before using it in recipes. The only exception is when the recipe specifies to use raw mince, for example in burgers or meatballs.
Browning the mince will ensure that the meat is cooked through and safe to eat. It also gives the meat a better flavour due to the Maillard reaction. Although recipes like lasagna soup could be made using raw mince, you will find that the dish tastes a lot better if the mince is browned beforehand.
How to brown mince
Mince vs ground meat
Minced meat and ground meat is exactly the same. American English typically used the term “ground meat”, whereas British English tends to use “minced meat”. There are no differences between the two, and the terms can be used together.
Lean mince vs regular mince
Lean mince is different to regular mince in that it contains less fat. The fat percentage is usually listed on the packaging, but regular mince can often contain 3-4 times the amount of fat compared to the lean version.
When browning lean mince, you will find that there is less fat extracted from the meat, and your pan will be less greasy. When you brown full fat mince there will be more visible fat. Some people prefer the flavour of full fat mince, while others prefer the leaner version.
Recipes using browned mince
I have many popular recipes that include minced meat on the blog. Here are some of my most popular ones:
How long to brown mince
You want to brown the mince until it’s all brown all over. This varies depending on the amount of mince you’re using, and how hot your pan is. In general, estimate between 3-10 minutes for the mince to be completely browned.
How to safely store browned mince
Browned mince will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Move the mince to an airtight container, and place it in the fridge as soon as it cools down. You can also freeze browned mince for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat it until piping hot.
How to brown mince
- 500 g mince (beef, pork, chicken, turkey or other)
- 1 teaspoon oil (optional, to prevent sticking)
- Heat the oil in a large pot or pan.
- Add your mince to the pan, and use a spoon, fork or spatula to break it apart whle stirring it around.
- Once the mince is broken into the consistency you want, you can leave it to cook, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Allow it to cook until the meat turns brown. The exact appearance varies based on what type of meat you are using, but there should not be any hint of red or pink when the mince is browned. This process takes about 3-10 minutes.
Thank you for this tutorial! It seems easy to brown mince (actually, it is), but you explain why and how. I am collecting all the how-to recipes for my nieces.
It's easy to forget that new cooks don't automatically know this stuff. Collecting them for your nieces is such a nice thing to do, I'm sure they will appreciate that!
So many great tips in this post. This is totally awesome for a beginner cook.
Thanks for this awesome foolproof tutorial!
I'm glad you like it, Katherine.
Thank you for these tips. They are really helpful. I didn't know I can store browned mince to use it later. It's a win for busy mum like me.
I love browning a big batch to use through the week, it's such a time saver.
This is such a useful post, we'll definitely refer back to it!
Thanks, Amy! I appreciate that!
Brilliant tip about browning mince for freezer. Did not know could do that. Will be to freeze in portions and use exact amount needed for particular dish. Thank you.
That's exactly what I do! It's such a time saver. Happy to help!
Thank you, very helpful. Did already know browned mince can be frozen. My Mum always used water instead of oil to cook the mince in.