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Sticky Sweet Ground Beef and Broccoli

Ground beef and broccoli sounds a little boring, but this sticky sweet BBQ beef with broccoli is far from it. We’re talking charred broccoli cooked in rendered bacon fat, crispy browned ground beef, and a sweet yet umami black pepper BBQ sauce.

Every serving has 18 grams of protein with only 160 calories. It’s perfect for serving with rice or cauliflower rice and packing up for meal prep. And you’ll only need 6 ingredients and about 20 minutes to make it. So let’s get after it!

Sticky Sweet Ground Beef and Broccoli Ingredients

Even with a short ingredient list, there are lots of possible modifications. I’ll run you through every ingredient with ideas for alternatives so you can take this recipe and run with it. You’re one sauce or veggie swap away from an entirely different recipe (that’s still super simple).

diced bacon, ground beef, BBQ sauce, and broccoli florets


If you’re revisiting this recipe since it was first published in 2018, you may notice it calls for center cut bacon as opposed to pre-cooked chicken bacon.

In the original recipe I recommended using real bacon for more flavor and using the rendered fat to cook the ground beef and broccoli like in my bacon cheddar ground beef and potatoes skillet. So that’s exactly what I did for the updated version.

You can still use the chicken bacon, adding it at the end with the sauce.

cooking diced bacon in a cast iron skillet


Another change with this updated recipe is the switch from frozen broccoli to fresh. Using fresh allows you to add some char to the broccoli while also keeping some crunch and texture.

If you still wanted to use frozen broccoli, simply microwave a steamable bag according to its directions and stir in at the end up of the cook with the sauced ground beef.

sautéed broccoli in bacon fat

Broccoli Alternatives

If you wanted to swap broccoli for something else, you could try brussels sprouts, green beans, bell peppers, or just about anything. Though you may want to consider a different sauce pairing for certain vegetables. Here’s a handful of ideas:

Ground Beef

The recipe calls for 96% lean ground beef, which is my go-to for all my macro friendly ground beef recipes. With a minimal recipe like this, it’s even more important to maximize on flavor everywhere you can. So make sure you get some actual browning on your beef.

For optimal browning, you need a hot and dry environment. Turning up the heat under the skillet and patting the ground beef dry with a paper towel should help. Check out my high protein taco soup post for more in-depth tips on browning ground beef.

browning ground beef in a cast iron skillet

Feel free to use ground turkey or chicken like in my sweet and spicy ground chicken and broccoli or chipotle ground turkey and sweet potato skillet.

Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce

Inspiring the title, Sticky Sweet Ground Beef and Broccoli, Stubb’s Sticky Sweet barbecue sauce was my sauce of choice for this recipe. Stubb’s makes great barbecue sauces that are relatively low calorie. This is the same sauce I used in my pressure cooker BBQ pulled pork and Sriracha BBQ Ground Beef and Green Beans recipes.

broccoli with sticky sweet ground beef and bacon

For an even lower carb option, check out G Hughes sugar free BBQ sauce like I used for my air fryer chipotle BBQ chicken tacos. The Trader Joe’s sriracha garlic BBQ sauce I used for my BBQ chicken meatballs and smoked pork tenderloin is also a great option.

And for a slightly different flavor profile, you could use a blend of chili garlic sauce and honey like in my air fried chicken and broccoli recipe or my homemade Japanese barbecue sauce.

Serving Your Ground Beef and Broccoli

Rice or a blend of rice and cauliflower rice are the no-brainer pairings for this recipe. I like to make rice bowls for meal prep with about 2/3 cup basmati rice and 2/3 cup cauliflower rice per serving. You can easily adjust the amount of rice to fit your calorie needs.

Non-rice pairings might include anything else that goes with BBQ flavors. Similar to my ground beef and cabbage recipe, potatoes come to mind, whether that’s a stuffed air fried baked potato or on a bed of low fat mashed potatoes. (If you’re short on carbs, check out my low carb potato substitutes guide.)

I’m curious to see what you can come up with. Let me know how you serve your sticky sweet ground beef with broccoli in the comments or in a recipe review. And if you have any questions about the recipe or ingredient swaps, leave them in the comments as well.

ground beef and broccoli on top of rice garnished with sesame seeds and chili flakes

Sticky Sweet Ground Beef and Broccoli

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A one-pan recipe for ground beef with broccoli and bacon in a sticky sweet black pepper BBQ sauce.


  • 4 slices Center Cut Bacon, diced
  • 12 oz Broccoli Florets, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 pound Extra Lean Ground Beef (96/4)

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (140g) Stubb's Sticky Sweet Barbecue Sauce (or your choice of BBQ sauce)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper


  1. Add the diced bacon to a cold skillet over medium heat. Fully cook the bacon and transfer to a paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet.
  2. Add the broccoli to the skillet and sauté until vibrant green and browned in spots, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Increase to a medium-high heat and add the ground beef. Brown one side for 2-3 minutes before breaking apart and fully cooking.
  4. Once fully cooked, add the sauce ingredients and stir together until thick, about 30-60 seconds.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the cooked bacon and broccoli to the skillet with the ground beef.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice or cauliflower rice and garnish with chili flakes and sesame seeds, if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: about 5 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gProtein: 18g

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Thursday 9th of June 2022

Ok that was seriously yummy. Only thing I did differently was to add hot water while the broccoli cooked to soften it (then let it evaporate) and make sure to drain the beef before adding the rest of the ingredients back in. We really like the Organicville BBQ sauce!


Thursday 19th of August 2021

This is a favorite in our family.


Monday 16th of August 2021

I always keep an extra jar of Stubb’s sauce on hand for this. I didn’t have any bacon so I went without and it still tasted great. I also enjoy having something crispy or crunchy with my dinners so I used 1/4 of Joseph’s Lavash Flatbread and a pizza cutter to cut very thin strips. I then air fried it and used them as a topping.


Saturday 17th of April 2021

My husband LOVED this recipe. He's a huge fan of ground beef but never knows how to prepare it and he used this to make dinner. It worked well!


Friday 26th of February 2021

Do you drain the ground beef?

Mason Woodruff

Friday 26th of February 2021

No need as long as you're using a leaner cut of ground beef.

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