Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef

Ground Turkey vs Ground Beef: Which One Is Healthier?

 Whether it is a spaghetti sauce or a meatball, most people would prefer to use beef instead of using other meats. Why is this so? Is beef the best meat to use for these types of dishes? Or are we all just conditioned to automatically pick beef as it’s the meat that has traditionally been used?

Have you ever tried swapping out your ground beef and using ground turkey instead? We’ve read reports from families who have done this and you might be surprised by the results! Most families reported they couldn’t taste the difference!

Of course this would depend on what and how you are cooking it but, for anything in which the ground meat is covered in a sauce, such as a classic spaghetti sauce, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between ground beef and ground turkey.

So, while for some dishes you could easily swap one meat for the other, the question remains, why would you want to? Is ground turkey healthier than ground beef?

There seems to be a common misconception that, because turkey is poultry and therefore light/white meat it is better for you. In actual fact it would depend on the fat content of the ground beef you are comparing it to.

There are many factors to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of both ground beef and ground turkey. Which one is best may depend on your personal taste, the recipe you are cooking and some of the factors below.

Beneficial Nutrients From Ground Turkey And Ground Beef 

In this section, we compared the availability of advantageous nutrients in Ground Turkey and Beef. This will, hopefully, help you choose the best meat for the job the next time you need to choose between ground beef and ground turkey.


Despite what most people would probably think, there’s not a huge difference between beef and turkey when it comes to calories. The 85/15 turkey is not as healthy as the 90/10 ground beef from a calorie and fat comparison.

A common misconception is that turkey contains less calories as it is a form of poultry. Ground beef can be lower in calories if you pick the correct cut.

In every three ounce of skinless turkey piece, you may get 110 to 140 cal. On the other hand, the same quantity of beef has a maximum of 280 cal.

But, if you choose a leaner cut of beef such as lean shoulder steak, the same quantity of meat would contain only about 140 calories which is the same or similar to the calories found in the turkey


As far as protein goes you can rest assured that there is no significant difference between ground turkey and ground beef – a patty of each type of meat contains approximately 22g of protein. So, if you’re looking for a protein hit in your diet, either ground beef or ground turkey will do the job for you.

If it’s iron your body needs though, the scales will tip favorably towards ground beef with 10-15% iron as opposed to ground turkey which will offer you 2-8% iron.

But then the scales tip the other way in terms of cholesterol. We need to limit our dietary intake of cholesterol, so 40 mg of cholesterol in turkey breast is preferable to 65-90 mg of cholesterol found in the same quantity of beef.

Our bodies need protein, especially if you’re looking to build muscle. Both turkey and beef can provide the protein that we need, so choose the type you prefer or, even better, mix it up a little and use both ground beef and ground turkey in your diet.

Fat Content

The argument in this section brings a huge difference between two meats. It’s important to have meat which contains the necessary amount of protein, but we want to minimize extra calories provided by a high fat content. Generally speaking beef will be fattier.

A good quality cut of lean beef can have only 4 grams of fat but some cuts, especially a lot commonly used to make ground beef can have up to 16 grams of fat.

Less fatty cuts incorporate the shoulder, sides, top round and lean of ground beef. Meanwhile, you will find 1-4 gram of fats in most pieces of turkey which is relatively very low.

Turkey lovers often seem satisfied with their choice of having a turkey burger rather than a beef burger. Perhaps they’re feeling smug that they’re having a burger with less fat, or maybe they just really like the taste!

It’s found that you can save yourself about 4% of fat if you switch to a turkey burger instead of a beef one.  This might not seem like much but every little bit helps in the challenge to lose weight and stay healthy.


It’s hard to establish how much cholesterol is found in ground beef and ground turkey as it will always depend on the cut of meat that is used.

An 85-percent lean turkey patty of 3 ½- ounce cooked will serve you 105mg of cholesterol. On the other hand the same 85-percent lean ground beef will get you 90mg of cholesterol.

In case of leaner ground beef, the amount of cholesterol will be reduced. A 95-percent-lean beef will bring down the number of cholesterol to 75 mg. whereas you will find no difference between an “85-percent-lean turkey” and a “93-percent-lean turkey”.

Amount of Sodium   

Daily consumption of sodium is recommended to be capped at 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

A maximum of 90mg of sodium can be collected from 3.5 ounces of broiled ground turkey. Whereas, the same amount of beef will serve you maximum of 72 mg.

You may appreciate ground turkey in this case, but people with high blood pressure should be watchful while having turkey in excessive amounts. A person taking too much sodium in their everyday diet could get a stroke or a heart attack due to high blood pressure.

Amount of Selenium 

Generally, selenium is very well-known for its antioxidant work. It plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system.

Though the amount of selenium will differ in the variation of cut, you can expect to find approximately 18 mcg from ground beef, while a 100gm turkey patty would have approximately 27.5 mcg of selenium. So, as far as selenium content goes, ground turkey is the superior meat. 


As far as micronutrients go there is not really a big difference between ground turkey and ground beef – they can both offer similar benefits so don’t base your purchasing of one over the other on this!

To think one meat healthier than the other is not appropriate, as both turkey’s and beef’s fatty meat will differ in fat with their lean parts. So, if someone compares one’s lean part with the other’s fatty part then it’s not really a fair comparison.

Dark meat of turkey and beef will give you more fat than light meat of turkey. And, you will find lighter meat leaner in comparing the darker one and beef.

Amino Acids

Our bodies need amino acids to prevent and control diseases, and both turkey and beef can provide us with amino acids as they contain an adequate amount of protein.

If you’re a bit of a gym junkie, or just want to build some muscle mass, beef is the way to go – it’s a natural muscle builder.

You may have heard that turkey makes you sleepy. This is, somewhat, true. Turkey contains tryptophan which can cause drowsiness, however, researchers have found that the tryptophan in turkey does not cause excessive drowsiness but rather provides benefits for good sleep regulation.

So, eating turkey regularly can help if you suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders. Excessive consumption of turkey could probably make you more drowsy than desired which could be why we might feel tired after a big Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner.

Nutrients Comparison of Ground Turkey and Ground Beef both (93%lean and 7% fat)

Here, we have compiled an information chart of nutrients and daily value both for ground beef and ground turkey. For both Turkey and Beef, read on and calculate your choice to pick one over the other.

Calories: 162kcal (8%) on Beef & 176kcal (9%) on Turkey

Total Fat: 7.5g (11%) on Beef & 9.7g (15%) on Turkey

Saturated Fat: 3.1g (16%) on Beef & 2.5g (13%) on Turkey

Cholesterol: 68mg (23%) on Beef & 90mg (30%) on Turkey

Protein: 22.3g (45%) on Beef & 22g (44%) on Turkey

Iron: 2.4mg (13%) on Beef & 1.5mg (8%) on Turkey

Zinc: 5.5mg (36%) on Beef & 3.2mg (21%) on Turkey

Vitamin B6: 0.3mg (17%) on Beef & 0.4mg (20%) on Turkey

Vitamin B12: 2.1mcg (36%) on Beef & 1.5mcg (26%) on Turkey

Selenium: 18.4mcg (26%) on Beef & 19.0mcg (27%) on turkey

Taste and Some Basic Factors

You will find many beef lovers will not budge from their position that beef is best. As they believe that using turkey in their favorite meal or recipe may make it less tasty. Actually, this is just their misconception and nothing else.

Dishes like tacos, sauces, soups etc. are equally tasty with turkey. The vital fact you should keep in mind is seasoning the meat in the right manner. Taste will get a huge variation if you are not seasoning it properly.

While most beef lovers will never even consider changing their favorite meals by swapping out their favorite meat, if you’re looking to change things up a little or maybe want to lose a few pounds, swapping your ground beef for ground turkey would certainly be an option.​​​​

In many recipes, you will find ground turkey is tastier than using beef. You’ll need to experiment and play around with different meats – some meals might work, for others you might want to stick with beef.

Both ground beef and ground turkey are good for your health. They almost serve the same purpose in nutrients except some exceptions. Hence, both could be found bad for health if taken in excessive amounts. 

So, think about it next time you’re about to cook something with ground beef – could you swap it out for ground turkey? Whichever way you go you can’t really go wrong as both ground beef and ground turkey are tasty and nutritious!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for this post. I’ve always believed that chicken had to be cooked to 180 using an instant read thermometer to be safe. Always dry. I do more grilling outdoors, but I’ll definitely have to look for one of those pans. Should be good for any type of meat.

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