Tired of boring ground beef recipes? This Thai ground beef recipe is a quick and easy dinner idea, and super kid friendly. It’s also gluten free and simple to make paleo.
A CREATIVE GROUND BEEF RECIPE
Our family goes through a lot of ground beef. So I’m always looking new ways to cook with it. While there are the typical weeknight meal ground beef recipes like tacos, spaghetti, meatballs, sloppy joes, and burgers, I like to try and be creative from time to time.
There is something addicting and enchanting about the amazing blend of complex flavors in traditional Thai food.
We love eating out at Thai restaurants, but I also love being able to recreate Thai recipes in my own kitchen. This Thai ground beef recipe is my version of Laab (basically a Thai meat salad), and the secret flavor ingredient is homemade toasted rice powder.
WHAT IS TOASTED RICE POWDER?
So what is this toasted rice powder the recipe calls for? Toasted rice powder adds an earthy, nutty flavor to Thai dishes. It’s one of those ingredients that can have you eagerly taking bite after bite in a restaurant as you try to determine what it is you’re tasting.
The taste is complex, yet toasted rice powder is actually a very simple ingredient. You could pay a whole lot of money to buy toasted rice powderYours Kitchen – Toasted Rice or Thai Sticky Rice Powder – Flavor To Dishes Like Laab And Other Yum Dishes (2.80 Ounce), but why would you when it takes only ten minutes or so to make it yourself?
HOW TO MAKE TOASTED RICE POWDER
You can make a large batch if you think want a little extra, but I usually just toast what I need that day to get the strongest flavor. Here’s a quick video to show you how easy it is to make, and step by step photos and instructions as well. Click the video or just scroll past it for it to stop repeating.
- Start by measuring out uncooked rice into a dry skillet. I use 2 tablespoons for the recipe below.
- Turn the heat to high and toast the rice, shaking occasionally, until it turns golden, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the rice to a small bowl or plate to cool. This is a good time to chop the veggies and herbs for your Thai ground beef recipe.
- Once the toasted rice has cooled, you can grind it with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
TIPS FOR MAKING TOASTED RICE POWDER
- Don’t be alarmed if the rice starts smoking, that’s completely normal. Just make sure to give the skillet a few shakes so the rice doesn’t burn.
- In traditional Thai cuisine the rice is ground with a mortar and pestle. Because I’m a working mom with two little kids, I’d rather use a spice grinder. It takes about 10 seconds! Oh, and my spice grinder is actually a coffee grinder that I got for a couple bucks at Goodwill and have dedicated to spices, seeds, etc. Great way to save money!
- I also like the texture of the rice powder to be grainy so that it actually adds texture to the dish as well as flavor. But you can grind yours to a fine powder if you want.
MAKE THIS THAI GROUND BEEF RECIPE EVEN MORE BUDGET FRIENDLY
So you’re already saving money by making our own toasted rice powder, but there are several more ways to cut down on costs in this recipe.
We have an abundance of mint in our backyard during the summer, but it’s also incredibly cheap at an Asian grocery store. I got a big bunch of mint for $1 in the produce section. I just keep it in the window sill in a glass of water along with my green onions.
Did you know that you can regrow cut green onions over and over again?
Fresh ginger and garlic are often cheaper at Asian markets too. Oh, and in case you haven’t grated fresh ginger before, I highly recommend this microplane zester. I love it so much that we own two!
Another thing to buy at an Asian grocery store is your sauces. If you don’t have one near you, it’s still typically cheaper to buy a large bottle of each sauce online than to buy small ones in the International aisle of a regular grocery store.
For the bell peppers, the mini bell peppers were on sale at the grocery store, so were cheaper than the large ones. They look really pretty, but the large red peppers taste just the same so go with what’s the cheapest.
BUYING BEEF IN BULK
Finally, your ground beef. You can buy ground beef in bulk when it’s on sale, but grocery store ground beef is often artificially weighted with water so you tend to get a lot less than what you pay for. A pound of ground beef ends up weighing just ¾ of a pound!
Local grass fed beef also has GREAT flavor. We buy a whole cow once a year and split it with friends and family. It comes out to just about $3/lb, and that’s for ground beef, ribs, roasts, and fancy cuts like tenderloin steaks.
You can work with the butcher to get it cut or ground the way you like, and it’s SUCH a good deal! Basically we pay about $200 once a year and then never buy beef in the store.
MAKE YOUR THAI GROUND BEEF RECIPE PALEO
To make this ground beef recipe Paleo, toast some sesame seeds instead of the rice and mix them with the ground beef. The flavor will be different, but it still tastes great.
Feel free to serve your Thai ground beef in lettuce cups, instead of over rice, for a completely grain free option.
CAN I SUBSTITUTE GROUND BEEF WITH GROUND TURKEY?
You can definitely substitute ground turkey for the beef! In fact you can use ground turkey in any of our ground beef recipes listed below.
This is a great starter recipe if you’re new to Thai cooking because it’s fast, flavorful, and easy on your budget. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
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MORE CREATIVE GROUND BEEF RECIPES
Here are some more of our favorite creative ground beef recipes.
- SOUTHWESTERN BEEF AND RICE
- SLOW COOKER TACO SOUP
- ZUCCHINI GROUND BEEF SKILLET
- CHINESE MEATBALLS
- GROUND BEEF STUFFED PUMPKIN
- BEEF POTSTICKERS
- 2 tablespoons uncooked white rice
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- 4 mini red bell peppers, seeded and sliced (or 1 large)
- 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 5 green onions, chopped (green parts only)
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 4 cups cooked rice, or 3-4 large lettuce leaves per person
- leaves whole mint to garnish
- Place the uncooked rice in a dry skillet on high heat. Toast it for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the rice is golden and starting to smoke. Remove from the pan to cool. (If you haven't prepped your veggies and herbs yet, now is a great time)
- Place the cooled, toasted rice in grinder, and pulse until they're the texture of coarse bread crumbs. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix the beef, 3 tablespoons of lime juice, fish sauce, sliced onion, grated ginger, and chopped garlic.
- Dump the meat mix into a large skillet and cook on high heat, breaking the meat apart and stirring, for about 7 minutes, until the meat is just starting to brown.
- Add the grated carrots and sliced bell pepper. Stir another 3 minutes, until the peppers just start to soften.
- Stir in the sweet chili sauce and remaining tablespoon of lime juice.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the toasted rice powder, chopped green onions, and mint.
- Serve over rice (or in lettuce cups for a Paleo option), and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Nutrition estimates do not include rice if you choose to serve some with your ground beef.
Approximate cost/serving: This ended up costing me under $5 to make, about $5 with the rice, so we'll call it $1 per serving.
Gluten Free: Yes, no substitutes needed.
Serving Size:5 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Saturated Fat: 1.92gCholesterol: 54.4mgSodium: 196.18mgCarbohydrates: 10.31gFiber: 1.56gSugar: 7.46gProtein: 20.25g
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.