How Long Does it Take to Cook Beef?

How Long Does it Take to Cook Beef? (Image: GMVozd/E+/GettyImages)

Cooking time is a crucial calculation if you want your burgers juicy, your roast beef tender and your ground beef pathogen free. A dish that might take eight hours in a slow cooker could be finished in as little as 10 minutes in the microwave.

Roasting and Baking Beef

Most cuts of beef roast at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes a pound. Tri-tip and tenderloin, cuts that cook at 425 F, are exceptions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking roasts to an internal temperature of 145 F with a three-minute resting time after the meat is finished.

A timer and a kitchen thermometer are essential tools when you're cooking your beef roast in the oven. Set the timer for the recommended roasting time and start checking the internal temperature about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Ground beef should cook to an internal temperature of 160 F. Meatloaf takes about an hour to cook. Baked meatballs take about 20 minutes. Precook ground beef that's part of a baked dish like shepherd's pie.

Grilling Steak

Grilling steak is one of the simpler parts of a backyard barbecue. Start with a hot grill, brush the steak with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place it on the grill and cook on one side for 4 to 5 minutes or until it's golden brown. Turn the steak over and grill an additional 3 to 5 minutes for medium rare, 5 to 7 minutes for medium or 8 to 10 for medium well. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Beef kabobs take about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how well done you want the beef. Test the internal temperature and look for 135 F for medium rare, 140 F for medium and 150 F for medium well. Close the grill when you're cooking kabobs and baste every few minutes.

Frying and Sautéing Beef

Cook ground beef crumbles for 8 to 10 minutes if you're using them in a sauce or making tacos or sloppy Joes.

Unless you have a source for irradiated meat that doesn't contain pathogens, cook your burgers to an internal temperature of 160 F. How long this takes depends on the size of the burger, the density of the patty and the heat of the pan, but plan on at least 10 minutes. Make well-done burgers more moist by using a fattier grind or adding chopped bacon or small pieces of butter to the patty. Check the temperature in the center of the patty.

Sear beef cubes before adding to stew or steaks that will finish in the oven in a hot skillet for 3 to 4 minutes on all sides.

Slow Cooking Beef

Fifteen to 30 minutes in the oven equals 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours in a slow cooker on the high setting or 4 to 8 hours on low. It takes about 4 hours longer to cook something on the low setting rather than high.

Always thaw the beef before putting it in the slow cooker. Meat that is cut up rather than whole cooks more evenly. Add enough liquid — the slow cooker should be 1/2 to 3/4 full. Only take the lid off to stir the food or check for doneness. Cook beef to an internal temperature of 145 F.

It's a myth that the longer you cook beef, the more tender it gets. For instance, if you cook a chuck roast for too long, the individual muscle fibers in the meat break down and become tasteless and tough.

Microwaving Beef

Most cuts of beef can be cooked in the microwave, and the length of time it takes depends on the cut and the power of the microwave. For instance, a roast in a cooking bag takes about 10 minutes a pound, but ground beef can take as little as 5 minutes. Cook large cuts of beef at medium power.

Thaw and debone the beef before microwaving it. Add liquid to the cooking bag or the dish in which you're cooking the beef. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and cook to an internal temperature of 145 F for whole cuts or 160 F for ground beef.

Let the beef stand for a few minutes before serving.

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