If you were to take a ribeye steak and feed it through the meat grinder, would it make a good burger? What about meat loaf or tacos? Let’s find out whether ground ribeye is a revelation or an abomination.
Since ribeye has a tender texture to begin with, it makes exceptional burgers. Ground chuck and ground sirloin are more common, though, as ribeye is considered a prime grilling steak when it’s left whole. If you want to try ground ribeye, you’ll probably have to make it yourself.
Ground Beef: The Basics
To make ground beef, butchers take a cut of beef and put it through a grinder. This gives it a soft, malleable texture that can be easily formed into patties or meatballs. In fact, ground meat is a versatile product found in many recipes.
You can make ground beef at home if you have a meat grinder or food processor. If you use a food processor, the meat will have a paste-like texture before it’s cooked, but it will still taste delicious.
Most of the time, the ground beef you’ll find in the supermarket is made from the chuck or the sirloin. Ground chuck generally has a meat-to-fat ratio of 80 to 20 or 85 to 15, whereas ground sirloin is usually leaner.
All About Ribeye
The ribeye comes from the rib primal, which is located in the upper central portion of the cow. As you may know, the steaks are cut from the actual ribcage, a section that doesn’t get much exercise. As such, the meat is nice and tender.
Ribeye has a decent amount of fat, too, which gives it plenty of flavor and a lovely juicy texture. The “eye” in the ribeye is at the center of the steak, and the source of most of the marbling, though the cap of the steak should be well-marbled too.
You can buy ribeye steak either boneless or bone-in. The former is more popular, but bone-in steak has its own advantages. Since the bone allows the steak to retain more moisture, a bone-in ribeye will be even juicier once it’s cooked.
Though ribeye isn’t as pricey as tenderloin (also known as filet mignon), it isn’t exactly cheap. You can expect to pay $10 to $20 per pound for ribeye when you visit your local grocery store or butcher counter. Some online retailers might offer a better deal, but we prefer to see what we’re getting.
What About Ground Ribeye?
A whole ribeye is a beautiful steak, and a cut that many pitmasters consider the king of the grill. So is it worth it to put this work of art through the grinder?
Some folks would say no, and that’s their prerogative. If you’ve spent a lot of money on a ribeye steak, you might not want to “waste” it by grinding it up. It’s hard to argue with this perspective, as a perfectly grilled ribeye makes an excellent meal.
On the other hand, if you’re a burger aficionado, ground ribeye might be worth a try. The meat is delicious, after all, and grinding it won’t alter the flavor—only the texture.
Our advice would be to grind the ribeye yourself. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and you’ll have control over the meat-to-fat ratio. 85-to-15 makes a superb burger, but feel free to use 80-to-20 if you prefer yours a little bit juicier.
Why Grind Your Own Beef?
There are multiple benefits to making your own ground beef. Aside from the aforementioned control over the fat content, you’ll know exactly what cuts of meat are going into the mixture.
It’s also cheaper to grind your own beef. When the butcher does it for you, the extra labor is reflected in the cost. Buying a steak or roast and putting it through the grinder will be easier on your wallet, especially if you do it on a regular basis.
There’s one other key benefit to grinding the meat yourself: You can cook the burger to rare or medium-rare if you prefer. You’ll just have to trim the meat away from the surface, where any hazardous bacteria might reside, before the beef hits the grinder.
How To Grind Your Own Ribeye
If you don’t yet own a meat grinder, we would recommend that you invest in one before attempting to make your own ground meat products. It will streamline the process and result in ground meat that resembles the stuff you’re used to getting from the store.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for grinding your own ribeye.
1. Put the grinding mechanisms in the freezer for at least 1 hour, or overnight. This includes the shaft, plates, tube, die, and screw. If these components are too warm, they’ll jam up while you’re working.
2. Assemble the ribeye. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need about 1-1/2 pounds to make 4 burgers. Freeze the meat for about 30 minutes prior to cutting it into cubes or strips. Once you’ve cut it, return it to the freezer for another 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Fill a large bowl with ice and a splash of cold water, then set another large bowl inside that one. Set the bowls underneath the grinder to catch the meat as it falls out of the attachment.
4. If the ribeye doesn’t have enough fat for your liking, you’ll have to add any beef fat trimmings that you have on hand. This is one reason why we prefer to freeze our trimmings instead of discarding them.
5. Start by running the meat through using the coarse grinding plate. Then feed the mixture through the grinder a second time, this time using the medium plate. This should give the meat the ideal texture for making burgers.
6. If the grinder becomes too warm while you’re working, take a break and put the components back into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. This shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re working with several pounds of meat.
7. The ground beef is now ready to use in your favorite recipe.
How to Store Ground Ribeye
Once the beef is ground, it will have a shorter shelf life than whole muscle cuts. That’s because more of the surface area will be exposed to potential bacteria.
Keep your ground beef stored in an airtight container. A zip-top bag works well, though if you’ve made enough to fill an entire sealed container, that’s another option.
Store the meat in the coldest part of the fridge for up to 2 days. If you don’t plan on using it within that time frame, freeze the meat instead.
For optimum results, form the meat into patties before adding it to the freezer. That way, you can defrost only as much as you need at one time. It will also make your prep work easier if you’re planning on grilling burgers.
Weigh the portions using a kitchen scale to ensure that they’re of uniform size, then form the patties. Set them on a single layer on a sheet pan lined with wax paper, then transfer the pan to the freezer for about 1 hour.
As soon as the patties have frozen solid, wrap them in plastic wrap, then add a layer of aluminum foil. Before putting them back in the freezer, label each package with the contents and the date so that you’ll know how long they’ve been in storage.
When stored in this manner, the ground beef should keep for 3 to 4 months. Try not to wait any longer before defrosting the meat, or it will start to lose moisture. That would be a shame when you’ve gone to the trouble of making your own ground beef.
It’s best to allow ground beef to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re pressed for time, though, you can use cold water.
Place the wrapped patties in an airtight zip-top bag and submerge in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes, or until fully defrosted. If they’re still frozen, change the cold water and continue to do so every half hour until the meat is thawed.
The Bottom Line
Ground ribeye makes a tasty burger, but only you can decide whether it’s worth the money and effort. Since it’s difficult to find ground ribeye in supermarkets, you’ll probably have to take the time to grind the steak yourself if you want to try it.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!