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 game plan, then cook a meal 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, beef can 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—and leftovers are essential to making it to Friday.
We gathered 10 of our favorite beef recipes, from spicy sliders that feature ground beef to slow-cooker tacos made with barbacoa beef. No matter which one you choose to make, consider this a task that can bring some much-needed satisfaction to your schedule, too. 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
Recipe: Slow Cooker Vodka Bolognese
What Makes It Good: Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest uses ground beef in this decadent take on a pasta feast, which includes 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.
Keep in Mind: "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
What Makes It Good: For a completely different flavor profile, Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest 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.
Keep in Mind: "It is so quick, and the reason it is so delicious is due to all the fresh basil," Gerard says.
Crockpot Beef Chili
Recipe: Crockpot Beef Chili
What Makes It Good: 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.
Keep in Mind: "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
What Makes It Good: 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. Cooked patties are then sandwiched into mini brioche buns.
Keep in Mind: "Serve sliders on the buns with spicy pickles, arugula, and sun-dried tomato mayo, and use a toothpick to hold together," the recipe notes.
Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos
Recipe: Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef Tacos
What Makes It Good: As another slow-cooker recipe, this option from Natalie Mortimer at The Modern Proper 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.
Keep in Mind: "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
What Makes It Good: This beloved French recipe is easy to master thanks to this recipe from Heidi Larsen at 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.
Keep in Mind: "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 notes.
Beef With Broccoli
Recipe: Beef With Broccoli
What Makes It Good: 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. As the thinly-cut beef marinades, the broccoli is cooked and a sauce is whipped up using rice vinegar, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Then the meat is seared, the broccoli is added in, and everything is mixed with a layer of sauce.
Keep in Mind: "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
What Makes It Good: This last recipe from Foodie Crush features 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, and tomato soup, and then letting it all cook down. When the hamburger buns are toasted, the sloppy joe mixture is layered on with cheddar cheese.
Keep in Mind: "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
What Makes It Good: 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. The beef is combined with a large egg, minced garlic, panko, green onions, and paprika to make meatballs. After they're cooked, the meatballs are slathered in a maple chipotle barbecue sauce made with ketchup, onion powder, and paprika.
Keep in Mind: "Add the meatballs in batches and cook just until golden on the outsides," Merchant says.
Shredded Beef Enchiladas
Recipe: Shredded Beef Enchiladas
What Makes It Good: Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats 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. The meat is prepared in a slow cooker for eight to 10 hours, and when it's ready, it's placed inside the tortillas and carried out with avocado, limes, and chips.
Keep in Mind: "I can usually fit six of the small tortillas in two separate rows in a 9x13 dish," Merchant adds.