Use Your Potato Masher To Break Up Ground Meat in the Skillet

The potato masher is the best tool for crumbling browning meat in a skillet. . J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

Whether it's sausage for Classic Sage and Sausage Stuffing, ground lamb and pork for No Holds Barred Lasagna Bolognese, or even some ground turkey or beef for my homemade dog food, crumbling ground meat in a saucepan is the first step to many recipes.

For years I used to do it the way you're probably doing it now: by painstakingly trying to cut big chunks of meat into smaller pieces with the aid of a wooden spoon. It's tedious, time consuming work that doesn't even deliver the best results.

These days, I turn to a different tool: the potato masher. By pressing on the ground meat in the skillet with a potato masher as it cooks, you quickly and evenly break it into small, homogenous chunks which incorporate more smoothly into sauces.


As you mash, you'll see bits of meat pressing up through the back of the potato masher. Use your flat-headed wooden spoon to scrape and cut these bits off. They'll drop right back into the pan.

And here you were, feeling guilty because you thought you had one of Alton Brown's dreaded uni-taskers in your kitchen drawer!