A Must Read: Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef?

Ground beef vs ground turkey? I can still remember standing in the meat department looking at the reportedly healthier choice ground turkey. I had been buying ground beef for years and loved everything about red meat. But, I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be a better mom by feeding my kids better food, but the ground turkey didn’t look appealing nor did it sound tasty. A ground turkey burger? The old-fashioned ground beef burger cooked medium well over a charcoal grill is what I grew up on! It isn’t always easy to put the ground turkey in my grocery cart…do we have to?

ground turkey nutrition and calories in ground beef chart


Wait! Don’t give up on that ground beef just yet!

Making the choice between ground turkey and ground beef is a matter of personal preference and reading the labels!

How many calories in ground turkey?

USDA  reports 4 oz of Ground Turkey has 170 calories, 9 grams of fat.

Butterball Turkey has 230 calories, 17 grams of fat, which is 65% of calories from fat.

Surprised? I sure was.

So this is the deal…you have to read the labels. Not all ground turkey is created equally.

How many calories in ground beef?

Ground beef that is 93% lean, 7% fat has 162 calories for a 3 oz serving. That is actually less calories than ground turkey that is 93% lean and 7% fat!

I know, it is pretty surprising. Maybe that ground beef burger isn’t as bad after all?

Is Ground Turkey Considered Red or White Meat?

package of ground turkey


It depends on the product. That’s where you have to be really careful in choosing the ground turkey. For the most lean ground turkey, it should be all white meat or the leanest dark meat.

You are probably thinking what I thought….ohhh yeah, of course, there is dark meat and fat, even on turkey. We can’t assume the ground turkey is from the leanest part of the turkey.

Whole Foods grinds their own turkey for great quality of 85 calories, less than 1 gram of fat by using white meat and/or lean dark meat.

Another option to consider is grinding your own turkey breasts in a food processor. It only takes a couple of pulses and viola` — lean ground turkey. You should add about a tablespoon of olive oil per pound or it will be very dry once cooked. By adding the olive oil, you will only be adding 4 grams of fat per serving.

How many calories in ground beef?

4 ounces of ground beef at 80/20 has 284 calories with 22 grams of fat.

4 ounces of ground beef at 90/10 is at 197 calories with 22.4 grams of fat, 4.5 saturated fat.

Let’s compare 93/7 ground turkey vs 93/7 ground beef.

beef vs turkey comparison

Is Ground Turkey Healthy?

Protein in ground turkey is 22.3 grams compared to protein in ground beef is 22 grams.

As you can see, ground beef is not as evil as it is often portrayed. Ground beef has a place in your diet when needed, just as ground turkey is beneficial also.

Imagine my joy when I found out I did not have to give up on the summer taste of the perfectly grilled ground beef cheeseburger!

So, when do I choose ground turkey over ground beef? I like using ground turkey in dishes such as spaghetti, tacos, and one of my favorite recipes, Seasoned Turkey Burgers (recipe below). I will always love ground beef burgers, but on occasion will also eat a turkey burger. There are recipes when ground beef tastes much better than the turkey would. Such as homemade Sloppy Joes and Chili. We usually only eat ground beef on occasion – maybe once a month. Moderation is the key. Eating ground beef every meal or every day isn’t a good choice.

As long as you choose the leanest ground beef, and have it sparingly, there is no need for guilt! The healthier you can still enjoy your charcoal grilled beef burger!

ground beef being ground

Can you substitute ground turkey for ground beef?

I will often substitute ground turkey for ground beef in a recipe. For picky kids or teenagers who think they don’t like ground turkey, there are a lot of recipes you can substitute ground turkey for ground beef and they won’t even realize it. Foods like meatballs, spaghetti, stuffed peppers, tacos, sloppy joes to name a few. Foods with a lot of seasoning make it easy to disguise ground turkey for ground beef.

Can you cook ground turkey and ground beef together?

For those who are a little more taste conscious, you can cook ground turkey and ground beef together. Maybe a half and half mixture would help the picky eater in your life a little happier to eat the recipe.

My Favorite Seasoned Turkey Burgers

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
2 teas paprika
2 teas chili powder (can adjust for preference)
2 Tab dried chopped parsley
2 teas ground cumin

ground turkey burger for dinner


Mix all together and cook until done. Top with favorite condiments.

This is my favorite recipe for ground turkey burgers…or ground beef. Such a quick and easy recipe with so much flavor! It is great with or without a bun!

So which is the victor? Ground turkey or ground beef? Both have a place at your table when appropriate!

Which do you like cooking with?

Check out these additional Fit Found Me Recipes using lean Ground Beef or Ground Turkey:

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs Recipe – A healthy, quick recipe using homemade meatballs

Quick & Healthy Beef Recipes

10 Best Ground Turkey Recipes 


turkey ground beef



photo credit: Turkey and cranberry burger from Ingrid’s in Whistler via photopin (license)

photo credit: Poultry labels – to understand what’s in our food 19433 via photopin (license)

Do you know which you should be using? What is healthier, ground beef or ground turkey? You might be surprised by what I found out when I looked into it.  via @fitfoundme
about stephanie

About Stephanie

Just an everyday stay at home mom who one day decided I didn’t want to become the stereotypical overweight, middle-aged, out of breath, mom anymore. One day at a time, one meal at a time, one workout at a time and I became the athlete I never knew existed. Read more...

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Considering the ingredients you need to add to ground Turkey in order for it to taste good seems to pack on a lot more calories. ex: eggs, bread, oil, etc. I also noticed the amount of cholesterol in ground turkey. People keep raving about it being such a better substitute… maybe in it’s native form, but it’s so bland it’s like drinking black coffee until we add in all the cream & sugar. What are your thoughts?

My husband completely doesn’t like the turkey, I always say it’s so much better for us and the granddaughter. Now looks like he’s right. I’m from west Texas we love our red meats, but I once in while enjoyed the turkey too. Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

I have low iron. My doctor tells me to eat red meat. Imagine that. I am a happy girl,.

Wow! Thank you for sharing. These facts are things I never would of guessed! I will be looking more closely at the labels from now on

We used to eat ground turkey but I agree in moderation red meat is actually a better choice. Great read!

I agree – red meat can definitely have a place in your diet, as long as you don’t overdo it. I always go for the leanest cuts possible. Everything in moderation!

We raise our own beef…so what do we eat…beef. My husband doesn’t feel like he has had a real meal without it. We use to give meat to our grown kids and the daughter in law would snub it preferring ground turkey. She constantly was sickly, constantly had blood sugar issues and constantly was dieting. I in no way am saying her lack of beef was to blame…I have no idea what else in her crazy dieting could have been the culprit. I just know for a fact that when I work in the yard, work cattle, put in a full, long, hard day I crave beef and I am sure my body knows I need the protein and the iron. Thank you for sharing this….I have shared it on to my social media. People need to know.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x