Home » Ingredient Substitutes » Ground Beef Substitute: 11 Flavorful Ingredients to Choose From.

Ground Beef Substitute: 11 Flavorful Ingredients to Choose From.

Looking for a tasty ground beef substitute? This article will introduce you to delicious options that are easy to try in your favorite recipes.

Whether you’re a vegetarian, health-conscious, or just curious, explore these simple and satisfying substitutes for a delightful twist on your meals.

Skillet with cooked ground beef.

What Is Ground Beef?

Ground beef is sometimes referred to as minced beef or hamburger meat.

It is a widely consumed and versatile form of meat that comes from the meat of the cow.

People often use the cow’s chuck, round, and sirloin regions as prime sources for this ground meat. Of course, they trim excess fat and connective tissues for a lean version.

This meat is incredibly versatile. It is a staple ingredient in burgers, meatballs, and chili. You may also use it for meatloaf, tacos, and pasta sauces.

This ground meat absorbs flavors and seasonings well, so it is ideal for frying, grilling, or baking.

Ground beef also packs a nutritional punch. It has high-quality proteins, essential vitamins, and valuable minerals. That said, it makes a great addition to a well-rounded diet.

Do note that proper handling and cooking of ground meat is necessary to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses you can get by consuming raw or undercooked meat.

Top Substitutes For Ground Beef

In the list below, we will explore the top substitutes for ground beef.

These alternatives offer various options for those seeking alternatives for dietary, cultural, or personal reasons.

Here are the best ground beef substitutes for you.

1. Ground Pork

Among the best ground beef substitutes is pork. Ground pork undergoes a similar process; the only difference is that the meat comes from the pig.

There is a difference in taste, as pork tends to have a milder and sweeter flavor. Plus, it usually has more fat.

That said, people watching their fat intake might find this unsuitable. However, those seeking a more affordable alternative will find it a great option.


Use the same amount of pork as the ground beef your recipe calls for.

2. Ground Chicken

Another option you have is ground chicken. Chicken is the choice of meat for many people because of its mild taste and versatility.

It is a decent choice in many recipes, as it pairs well with rice and vegetables. The biggest difference is that your dish won’t have as much fat. That said, the taste won’t be as rich.

This less-rich flavor is perfect, though, if you find beef a bit overwhelming.


Use a 1:1 substitution ratio when using chicken as a swap. The results won’t taste the same, but it will be pleasant and healthier as it won’t have as much cholesterol.

3. Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is also a decent option. It has less protein and less fat but is still a good alternative. It has a great texture, not the same as beef, but it’ll do.

Turkey has become widely available, and you can buy it fresh or frozen. That said, it won’t be difficult to find.

Do note that ground turkey can be bland compared to other meats. Plus, it won’t have the same mouthfeel due to lesser fat.


Add oil or butter to your dish to compensate for your recipe’s lesser fat. Doing so will make the swapping more seamless.

4. Ground Lamb

Packaged ground lamb at the grocery store.

If you are feeling adventurous, use ground lamb. Many people describe lamb as having a grassy, gamey taste. That said, it is not everyone’s favorite.

However, if you’re one of those people who love lamb, then it is a good option. The great thing is that it is a healthier choice, too. It has high protein and low fat, making it perfect for people with strict diets.

Ground lamb has a similar texture, which makes it suitable for most recipes that call for ground beef.


Use ground lamb in any way you would use ground beef. Make burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf with it. Add it to pasta sauces for a twist.

5. Eggplant

Three whole eggplants on the table.

If you want a vegan substitute, look no further than the trusty eggplant. It has a meaty taste that can replace the protein in your dish.

Sure, it does not taste as rich. However, it does have notes of umami that can give you a sense of meatiness.

It’s also incredibly versatile, so you can cook it differently. You may grill, bake, or stir-fry this vegetable just like you would for ground beef.


Smaller eggplants are best for stir-frying, and larger ones are best for roasting and baking. If you’re cooking eggplants whole, poke holes in their skin so they won’t burst after cooking.

6. Cauliflower

If you’re following a vegan diet, you probably already know that cauliflower is a great meat substitute. For this reason, there is no way you cannot use it as a swap.

Unlike eggplant, though, cauliflower does not have a natural umami content. For it to be a worthy meat alternative, you must season it heavily.

This vegetable has great texture, though, which is what makes it an ideal swap. Some people even use thick slices of cauliflower to make vegan steaks.


To give cauliflower the same appearance, pulse it in a food processor. For better texture and taste, it is best to throw in some walnuts as you process cauliflower.

7. Firm Tofu

Dish with cubed firm tofu topped with herbs.

Tofu (bean curd) comes from soy and is among your best options. Like most items on this list, tofu does a great job of absorbing seasonings.

That said, it makes a worthy meat replacement even when it does not have a flavor in itself. Its neutral taste is actually an advantage, as you can make it taste like anything, given the proper seasonings. For example, you can use soy sauce to give it a touch of umami.

Crumbled tofu is great for a taco meat recipe. It also makes an excellent addition to pasta sauce. You may want to try this vegan ground beef recipe which uses tofu as the main ingredient.


It is best to freeze tofu first to get the best texture out of tofu. Then, defrost it and crumble the whole block to mimic raw ground beef.

8. Chopped Mushrooms

Close up image of mushrooms on top of chopping board.

Mushrooms are also one of your best options for a replacement. After all, they are among the top food items that have a high umami content. They can give you the same meaty taste even if they are meat-free.

You’ll find them perfect for making hamburger patties or meatballs. They’re great for anything that calls for ground meat, including traditional ground beef.


For them to work as a substitute, you should chop them finely. Use a food processor to get the job done more easily.

9. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

TVP is a meat-free alternative that people make especially to replace meat. It is a great protein source that uses defatted soy flour.

You can find it in many health food stores, either in chunks or granules. When you rehydrate TVP granules, you’ll get something that looks exactly like ground meat.

If you season it properly, you won’t notice its difference from the real thing. In fact, most manufacturers of processed foods use these as fillers to stretch their products.


Use broth or any other flavorful liquid to rehydrate and give flavor to TVP.

10. Tempeh

Block of Tempeh on top of parchment paper.

Another excellent vegan ground beef substitute is tempeh. Tempeh is a block of fermented soybeans. It is like tofu but has more fiber because it is not as processed.

Tempeh is as absorbent as tofu, though. So all it takes is the right amount and mix of seasoning to become a worthy alternative.


If the color of beef is important to your dish, brown the tempeh a bit by sauteeing it with some oil.

You can also opt to steam it for a better texture match.

11. Seitan

Seitan is a high-protein meat substitute that comes from wheat gluten. It closely mimics the texture of chicken and does not have much taste.

That said, just like the other meat-free alternatives, you must go all-out on the seasonings when using this alternative.

This swap is best for people who have soy allergies. Unlike tofu and tempeh, this is a soy-free option. However, you should note that it does contain wheat, which is among the most common allergens.


If you’re making homemade seitan, you can shape it however you like. For instance, you can mold it into a meatball or a burger patty.

If you have store-bought seitan, you must chop the seitan in small pieces to mimic ground beef’s shape.

How To Choose The Best Substitute For Ground Beef

Picking the best alternative can take time and effort. This task may especially be difficult, given the wide variety of options we have presented above.

To help you, here is a quick guide you can follow:

1. Consider The Flavor

Take into account the substitute’s flavor profile if you want to maintain your recipe’s original taste. Various alternatives offer distinct flavors. For instance, pork has a mild and sweet taste. Mushrooms, on the other hand, have a rich umami content. They can provide you with the closest flavor match.

2. Look Out For The Fat Content

Ground beef owes much of its taste and texture to its fat content. However, people watching their fat and cholesterol intake might look for better alternatives. Ground turkey or chicken might be better choices if you need a leaner option. Conversely, consider pork or lamb if you’re after a fattier kind of meat.

3. Assess The Texture

Ground beef possesses a unique texture. Therefore, finding a substitute with a comparable texture can make or break your dish. Ground turkey and chicken offer a texture somewhat close to ground beef. Crumbled tofu or chopped mushrooms do not quite provide the same texture. Still, they offer a satisfying mouthfeel.

4. Pay Attention To Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

Do not forget any allergies or dietary restrictions you or your guests may have. If soy allergy is a concern, options like tofu or TVP would not be suitable. Similarly, seitan won’t work for people with gluten sensitivity. Prioritize substitutes that accommodate everyone’s dietary needs.

What Can I Use Instead Of Ground Beef For Tacos?

Ground turkey, ground chicken, and crumbled tofu are popular beef alternatives that can be delightful and fulfilling taco fillings. Feel free to experiment with these substitutes to discover the one that aligns with your taste preferences and dietary requirements.

Can I Substitute Chicken For Ground Beef?

Certainly! Ground chicken is a top substitute for ground beef. With its milder taste, it offers a flexible alternative. The taste may be less robust, but ground chicken is perfect for tacos, meatballs, or pasta sauces. You may need to adjust cooking times and seasonings to achieve similar results.

What Makes Up Ground Beef?

Ground beef is minced or finely ground meat from cows. It typically uses various cuts, such as chuck, round, or sirloin. People may also trim the meat to remove excess fat and connective tissues for a leaner version.


Finding a suitable ground beef substitute is easier than you think it is. You may use other types of meat, like pork and chicken, in its place. Ground pork offers a milder and sweeter taste, while ground chicken provides a leaner swap. Ground lamb can be a great choice for those seeking a more adventurous option.

Vegan options include eggplant, cauliflower, tofu, mushrooms, TVP, tempeh, and seitan. If you’re making a patty, try the one from Impossible Foods. When selecting a substitute, consider flavor, fat content, texture, and dietary restrictions.

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
pinterest instagram instagram

Get new recipes and tips via email
when you subscribe!

Have a comment? I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

As seen in:

Eating WellmashededibleWomans WorldTasting TableHomes and Gardens
Back to the Top