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Whenever I try to drain the grease from the pan after I have browned ground beef, I always end up spilling a little here and there. I usually just take a spoon and "spoon out" the grease into a bowl.

Another technique my mother use to use, but only a few times, was to take a baster and remove the grease that way. But, the downside to this is that the grease is extremely hot and the rubber part of the baster would get really hot.

Is there an easier or better way to do this?

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Could I ask why you want to drain the fat? I usually just keep cooking with it still there. –  staticsan Mar 28 '12 at 1:37

12 Answers 12

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I use a baster and have never had a problem with the top part getting too hot, perhaps you could consider getting a bigger one so that the fat doesn't get near the top?

Another option to consider is putting a lid on the pan and tilting it, over a suitable receptacle, then cracking the lid open slightly to allow the fat to drain out without releasing any of the meat.

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I basically do the second option but I don't even bother with a lid, I just use a wooden spoon or something similar; it's normally not necessary to get rid of every last drop of fat. –  Aaronut Dec 19 '10 at 2:30
After many trial and errors, I decided to accept your answer for the bottom suggesting. This worked the best for me. –  duchessofstokesay May 3 '11 at 20:42

I have always found a glass bowl and a metal colander works best. I pour it in the sink to handle any splashes that occur.

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When I really want to get all the grease out, this is what I do. Especially if I'm working on other stuff at the same time and don't want to take the time to drain any other way. Most of the time I do what Rob suggested and use a lid as that's one less dish to clean. –  FoodTasted Dec 19 '10 at 5:25
I'm not against the colander, but I am against pouring grease down the sink -- some of my neighbors on the next street over had their basements flood when the sewer got clogged up. The culprit? Kitchen grease. Your best option is to pour it into a container you can let firm up in the fridge or let cool and seal, then throw away in the trash. –  Joe Oct 3 '12 at 0:20
I think the glass bowl mentioned (or a pan) goes under the metal colander, so the grease doesn't go down the drain, but it's performed in the sink. With the lid method you risk a steam burn or the lid slipping and causing a mess. –  Bratch Feb 1 '13 at 0:24

The best way I've found to get rid of the fat that renders out of beef while browning is using a paper towel. Tilt the pan (using biger makes this easier) a little to one side while holding the beef against the other with a wooden spoon, this should make most of the grease pool on the tilted side. Lower the pan till almost flat, the beef should stay to it's side and the fat on the other, so put down the wooden spoon and sop up that fat with a few paper towels.
If the beef is very fatty sometimes I may press on the beef with some paper towels to get out extra fat.

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You can also remove all of the beef from the pan onto a plate with a paper towel and press to sop from both sides. –  justkt Dec 20 '10 at 13:39
+1 for tilting the pan, but use a spoon to remove most of the fat so you don't waste several towels. –  Caleb Mar 27 '12 at 4:00
++1 Tilting the pan and using paper towels/napkins also solves the (how to dispose of the fat problem). I hate leaking garbage bags and extra dishes to wash. I also use tongs. –  Onepotmeals Feb 1 '13 at 1:34
The spoon method has it's issues as well. I had a pretty bad burn on my face after spooning out hot grease when my hand happened to touch the side of the pan - I jerked my hand back and flung a good bit of hot grease in my face. It healed just fine fortunately. –  Ryan Elkins May 14 '14 at 16:20

I cut the top of a soda can off, use a grease screen over the beef and drain it into the can. Let it sit and it will harden so you can throw it away. Grease in the sink is very bad for your pipes.

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+1 for the no grease down the sink alone. And for those who don't want to cut up a soda can, just save whatever other cans you might've opened. (with more places doing recycling these days, you have a chance to scrounge one up without digging through the trash) –  Joe Oct 3 '12 at 0:17

I used to drain off the grease when I was a student and we bought the cheapest ground beef available at the butchers. Now I'm earning a reasonable wage I buy ground lean beef so the problem doesn't arise.

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I buy the extra lean or lean ground beef just because that is all that is usually available, but it still tends to render off a good amount of fat. –  duchessofstokesay Dec 20 '10 at 15:49
@duchessofstokesay: Next time you do this, drain it into a clear container and let it set a few minutes. I suspect you'll see what you pour off separate into two layers. If you're getting a lot of "run off" from your ground meat even when it's lean, you might be pouring off juices that cook out of the meat along with the fat. Ideally you want to keep those and cook them down so that flavor stays with the meat. Next time, try cooking longer before draining, to reduce those juices, and see if the volume of what you thought was fat doesn't go way down. –  bikeboy389 Dec 20 '10 at 16:02

I use a "pot drainer", something like this, they run about 8 bucks and work for up to a 10" skillet. I prefer the metal ones over the plastic.

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What is a "pot drainer"? –  TFD May 14 '14 at 8:46
@TFD It's the thing you see when you google "pot drainer." I'll admit the answer would be improved by a description/picture/link; added one. –  Jefromi May 14 '14 at 15:21

Surprised not to have seen what I do here:

I spoon the beef into a bowl using a slotted spoon. Then I pour the fat into another bowl, leaving the pan empty. Then I put the beef back in.

If I'm doing a typical mince/onion sauce, I might take the opportunity to brown the onions before returning the browned meat to the pan. You can leave enough fat behind to do this.

If you leave the poured-off juices for a few minutes, the fat will float to the top, meaning you can skim it off and return the flavourful juices to the pan.

Whatever you end up doing, let the fat cool. Don't throw it in the sink - either bin it, use it in cooking, or feed it to the birds.

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I use a large funnel and a jar so that I can pour from a higher distance so that there is less dripping and a more steady stream of fat but this is mostly when I'm actually trying to render fat to keep but I don't see why it wouldn't be applicable to this situation.

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And if you don't have a large funnel, just cut the top off of any large bottle. (gallon jug, 2L, etc.). Also comes in handy when you have to change the oil in your car but you've got one of those annoying horizontal oil plugs. ... but I don't see how this answers the question about draining ground beef. –  Joe Jan 31 '13 at 20:30
well the question asked how to drain the grease and this is how i recommend doing it without making a huge mess which is what the original question was concerned with. –  Brendan Jan 31 '13 at 20:42
... but the problem with the task in the question, although not specifically stated, is in removing the fat with minimal loss of the ground meat. Although the funnel helps to reduce spills when pouring, it doesn't answer the main problem; this would've been a great comment attached to TML's response. –  Joe Feb 1 '13 at 11:26
well the OP doesn't state whether they're removing the beef from the pan before removing the oil or just removing the oil while the beef is still in the pan. Plus if you throw a strainer in the funnel you don't lose anything then. I fail to see why your arguing a moot point. –  Brendan Feb 1 '13 at 17:02

I've used the lid method and the colander method. To help with messes, I always use a grease resistant paper plate under the jar I use to collect the grease. Safer than risking grease down the drain and it works.

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I use a strainer. I pour the whole skillet into the strainer and bounce it a bit to make sure it's all out. I do drain mine down the sink while running hot water, but I've also drained it into a container and threw it out after it cooled.

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Ouch. That might make your plumber a rich man, once the fat has clogged up the drains. And the hot water will only help to keep the top part free, further down both fat and water cool and voilá: grease buildup. If your pipes can handle it, fine, but this won't work everywhere. Guys, stick with pouring the fat into a container. –  Stephie Mar 1 at 22:34

I needed to drain grease from beef tonight, and the best thing, since there was only one and half pounds of meat, was to cook it, and pour onto a lot of paper towels, and then put it back into the pan. Worked well for me.

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I tilt the pan over the sink, press the hamburger up with the spoon, let the grease drain to the bottom of the pan, then keep flicking the grease out of the pan with the spoon into the sink. No extra dishes to dirty.

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This, while functional, is a bad idea as you could very easily eventually clog your plumbing badly. I realize this is an old post, but thought I'd post this in case anyone else sees this. –  talon8 Jan 31 '13 at 17:23
You can do the same thing and drain it into a bowl, but yeah, please don't pour grease down your sink. –  Jefromi Feb 1 '13 at 1:58
Not a problem. If you are worried about grease, run hot water, which melts grease. Not only that, but there is also foaming drain opener. I've never had any problems. This worry is an old wives' tale. You'd have to cook for an army and drain it all at once, then let it sit overnight. –  Chloe Feb 6 '13 at 16:43
@chloe - Disagree, the pipes are definitely a valid concern. Even if you run the hot water for a long while, after traveling a distance in pipes, once the hot water cools, you're still leaving a trail coating of coagulated fats, which will build up increasingly over time with other food particles from garbage disposal, etc. Especially for septic tanks, this is a bad idea. –  zanlok Jun 26 '13 at 20:51
Yeah, have to agree with zanlok here: once that greasy water hits the main sewer pipe, exactly how hot do you think it'll stay? (Answer: not hot at all.) And that's assuming it even gets that far before cooling down to the point where the fat coagulates and starts coating your pipes. –  Marti Aug 26 '13 at 21:23

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