Ground Turkey Vs. Ground Beef: BBQ Showdown

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Ground turkey has been marketed as being healthier than ground beef for a while now. As we will see this is not always the case. Below, we will look at the ways in which ground turkey differs from ground beef as well as the best ways to use each meat. Let’s break it all down in another BBQ Showdown.

How does ground turkey differ from ground beef?

Turkey has a reputation for being dry and flavorless when compared to beef. This is somewhat unfair comparison as both dryness and flavor have a lot to do with the part of the turkey used as well as the type of beef. For example, ground turkey breast will be about as dry as ground beef made from leaner cuts of beef. Ground dark meat will be about as moist and flavorful as 80/20 ground beef.

The real differences between the two come from the flavor. Turkey has a relatively bland flavor when compared to beef, which has a more robust flavor. The benefit of its blandness is that it tends to take on the flavors of herbs and spices a little better than beef does. When it comes to nutrition, beef contains more vitamin B-12 and more vitamin E but turkey contains more vitamin D and vitamin B-6. Overall, they balance out pretty equally in terms of their nutritional values.

Is one easier to grill than the other?

When it comes to putting them on the grill, one key area where the two types of meat differ has to do with food safety. Turkey has been associated with salmonella outbreaks in the past, which means that you will have to be more mindful about temperature when grilling turkey burgers than with beef burgers; however, ground meat in general has a higher risk of contamination from bacteria. Be careful when grilling either, but be especially careful with turkey. Cook turkey burgers to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit and beef to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

When grilling burgers made from turkey breast or lean beef, note that there is a strong likelihood of them drying out and becoming tough. To minimize this, it is important to handle them as little as possible when forming them into patties. With the turkey, you will want to stick to a medium heat for the length of the cooking process. Limiting how much you handle them keeps the patties from becoming too compact, which can increase their toughness; medium heat allows you to cook them more thoroughly while limiting the risk of burning them.

Does one cost more than the other?

The cost of either option depends on the fat content, but ground turkey is usually more expensive per pound when compared to ground beef with a similar lean-to-fat ratio. More fat content usually indicates lower cost.

When should you use ground turkey and when should you use ground beef?

While ground turkey can be cooked on the grill, it is better in wet dishes like pasta sauces. Those dishes allow it to absorb some of the flavors from the sauce. While ground turkey can be cooked on the grill, it is best to do so when you have enough time to let it get to a safe temperature. Use ground beef when you need something that cooks relatively quickly. Ground beef does not have to be cooked for as long, which means that you can get a meal on the table in less time. Beef is also more flavorful than turkey, so it is a better bet if you do not want to get all of your flavors from spices.