We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Cooking on weeknights is rough. The days are often long, and commutes are usually challenging, so finding time to make a meal plan, then cook dinner sometimes feels like two steps too many. It's no wonder why most of us are such big fans of takeout orders and frozen options.
However, for those who eat meat, you'll be glad to know that beef is be a worthwhile staple in your weekly routine. Seeing as it can blend with a wide range of flavors and be equally delectable when cooked in minutes or over several hours, beef is the type of ingredient to keep on hand when your schedule is out of sorts. Not only will it bring comfort at the end of a long day, but it can also be part of a meal that lasts days.
We gathered 10 of our favorite beef recipes, from spicy sliders that feature ground beef to slow-cooker tacos made with barbacoa beef. Since these beef recipes are easy to accomplish, and each one invites you to sit back and relax as you eat, they can be exactly what you need to unwind after a hectic day.
Slow Cooker Vodka Bolognese
The Recipe: Slow Cooker Vodka Bolognese
Why We Love It: Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest uses ground beef in this decadent take on a pasta feast, which features chopped carrots, yellow onion, shallot, tomatoes, and herbs. Everything combines in a slow cooker—with some vodka poured in—and then the noodles are cooked afterward. When the ingredients are ready, they're layered into a bowl and topped with cheese and basil. We can't imagine anything more delicious on a cold, winter night.
Pro Tip: "You can make the sauce in the morning and slow cook it all day long," Gerard notes. "It's perfect for busy days and easy holiday entertaining."
Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls
The Recipe: Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls
Why We Love It: For a completely different flavor profile, Gerard serves up this Thai-inspired rice bowl, which combines ground beef with carrots, bell peppers, green onions, basil, fish sauce, chili sauce, and toasted sesame seeds. It takes all of 20 minutes to cook and serve this recipe, making it ideal for weeknights.
Pro Tip: "It is so quick, and the reason it is so delicious is due to all the fresh basil," Gerard adds.
Crockpot Beef Chili
The Recipe: Crockpot Beef Chili
Why We Love It: Our last recipe from Half Baked Harvest is a ground beef classic—and she makes it even easier by combining ingredients in a slow cooker. To make this chili, Gerard cooks seasoned beef and onions in a skillet and then drops them into a slow cooker with chicken broth, tomatoes, and maple syrup. Finally, you top finished bowls with cheddar cheese and avocado. Chili is a crowd-favorite and lasts for days, making it perfect for those times when we just don't feel like cooking.
Pro Tip: "The heat of the chili is balanced with just a touch of sweetness from the maple syrup and a pinch of cinnamon," Gerard notes.
Sliders With Sun-Dried Tomato Mayo
Why We Love It: When you're cooking for a crowd, keep this spicy and flavorful slider recipe from the team at The Modern Proper in mind. The ground beef is combined with garlic, blue cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper, and then formed into patties. After all, who doesn't love a mini, gourmet cheeseburger?
Pro Tip: "Serve sliders on the buns with spicy pickles, arugula, and sun-dried tomato mayo, and use a toothpick to hold together," Natalie Mortimer, recipe creator, notes.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos
Recipe: Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos
Why We Love It: As another slow cooker recipe, this option from Mortimer serves up barbacoa beef as part of a taco that features chipotle chilis, beef stock, garlic, onion, and herbs. The tacos are topped with onion, radish, and cilantro for a smooth yet textural bite. Make this on a Sunday for leftovers through the week.
Pro Tip: "After four hours have passed, just shred the oh-so-juicy barbacoa beef with a fork, and leave it to cook for another two hours," Mortimer says.
Recipe: Beef Bourguignon
Why We Love It: This beloved French recipe is easy to master thanks to this recipe from Heidi Larsen, founder of Foodie Crush, which combines beef with diced bacon, onion, carrots, celery, and mushroom. Cognac, red wine, herbs, beef stock, and brown sugar are added in, too, making for a rich and flavorful meal.
Pro Tip: "The alcohol evaporates as it cooks, and while you could skip the cognac, don't substitute for the red wine, or you'll truly miss what makes this stew special," Larsen adds.
Beef bourguignon’s flavors deepen over time, so try making it a day ahead, or even two, then rewarm to serve.
Beef With Broccoli
Recipe: Beef With Broccoli
Why We Love It: Haley Putnam at the Foodie Crush also recommends this recipe for cooking beef since it showcases the ingredient as part of this classic Asian combination of flavors. Plus, it's pretty healthy.
Pro Tip: "The marinade only takes 20 minutes to work into the flank steak, and with a quick sear in my wok, the beef still holds tons of flavor and is a really tender bite," Putnam says.
One-Pot Sloppy Joes
Recipe: One-Pot Sloppy Joes
Why We Love It: This last recipe from Foodie Crush is all about that delectably messy meal you remember as a kid. Larsen makes it all in one pot by combining ground beef with yellow onion, celery, mushrooms, tomato soup, and then letting it all cook down. What could be better? This one meal during which we're okay with getting covered in sauce.
Pro Tip: "Because this recipe is loaded with ground beef plus an equal amount of veggies, one pound of ground beef is enough to make eight to 10 sloppy joe sandwiches," Larsen says.
Slow-Cooker Chipotle Barbecue Meatballs
Why We Love It: Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats offers up this ground beef recipe for a slow-cooker meal, and it's worth the wait for a simple dinner. After they're cooked, the meatballs are slathered in a maple chipotle barbecue sauce. Need we say more?
Keep in Mind: "Add the meatballs in batches and cook just until golden on the outsides," Merchant explains.
Shredded Beef Enchiladas
Recipe: Shredded Beef Enchiladas
Why We Love It: Merchant serves up this shredded beef option by making them as part of cheesy enchiladas, complete with corn tortillas, onion, chicken stock, sour cream, and seasonings. Because it's cooked in a slow cooker, the meat is so tender and juicy, making this one of our favorite meals of all time.
Pro Tip: "I can usually fit six of the small tortillas in two separate rows in a 9- by 13-inch dish," Merchant adds.