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The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Beef

Have you ever been making a meal and used ground beef as one of the main parts, but you don’t have any on hand?

Ground beef is a staple in many households because it can be used as a substitute for ground turkey or pork, and it goes great with spaghetti, tacos, soups, sandwiches, and more.

In terms of texture, it goes well with vegetables because of its coarse ground meat.

But what if you don’t have any ground beef? What could you use instead?

There are many alternatives, but the five best substitutes for ground beef are here.

Keep on reading to find out more.

What is Ground Beef?

what is ground beef

Like many beef products, ground beef is a food made from the meat of cattle.

The difference between ground beef and other types of beef is that it consists of both meat and fat and can include any part of the slaughtered animal.

It also doesn’t contain bones or tendons, so it’s very versatile to use – it can be used in a wide range of recipes.

It’s usually made from the leaner cuts, but some versions include more fat – these are generally considered better quality.

Ground beef can be cooked in a huge range of ways, including frying, grilling, and barbecuing.

It’s an especially popular choice for making hamburgers, meatballs, and spaghetti bolognese, and it’s also commonly used in the preparation of chili.

There are both fresh and frozen versions available, so you can choose between having to thaw out your meat before cooking it, which is something you’ll need to do if you opt for the frozen variety or not having to wait at all.

While beef is traditionally considered a winter food, ground beef is eaten year-round.

You can buy it from almost any supermarket, and you’ll find it in the meat section.

It’s very versatile and easy to use, but there are surprisingly few details about what is actually involved in its production for such a popular type of meat.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Beef

Although there are many benefits to cooking with ground beef, it’s not the only option – there are other types of meat that can be used instead, and these have some specific benefits.

Of course, some substitutions might be more useful than others in certain recipes, so here are some alternatives for you to choose between if you’d rather eat something else.

1 – Ground Chicken

ground chicken

Ground chicken has many of the benefits associated with ground beef.

However, it is not as flavorful. For this reason, it is most often used in Asian recipes.

Furthermore, this product contains less fat than ground beef.

This form of ground meat works well in dishes such as curry, with vegetables and rice.

It also lends an Asian flavor to the final product.

The flavor of ground chicken is also complemented by garlic, ginger, and other spices.

In addition, this form of poultry has a healthier profile than beef due to its lower cholesterol content.

Ground chicken works well in meatballs or with pasta sauce.

2 – Ground Lamb

ground lamb

Ground lamb is popular in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

This form of ground meat is much healthier than beef due to its lower fat content and high protein profile.

It also has a much stronger flavor than that of chicken or turkey.

The difference between lamb and mutton is that the latter comes from an adult sheep.

Ground lamb can enhance several dishes, especially those with a strong flavor profile.

In addition, this ground meat is commonly found in Greek recipes for moussaka and souvlaki.

Ground lamb works well with vegetables such as tomatoes and potatoes.

It can also be combined with rice, particularly basmati rice or Arborio rice.

3 – Ground Turkey

ground turkey

Ground turkey meat is a popular option for people trying to lose weight or eat healthier.

Although it has less protein than ground beef, this meat’s low-fat content makes it an excellent substitute for poultry in terms of health benefits.

This form of ground meat can be bought fresh or frozen, so you can buy it or opt for fresh ground chicken instead.

Ground turkey contains less saturated fat than beef, making it a good option for people trying to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease.

For this reason, many individuals with high cholesterol prefer this form of meat over all others.

Ground turkey works well in dishes with a strong flavor, such as chili.

It also works well with potatoes and rice.

Because it has a milder flavor than beef, it isn’t as versatile.

4 – Ground Veal

ground veal

Ground veal is another popular meat used in place of beef.

It has significant health benefits, with lower fat content than beef and high levels of high-quality protein.

This form of ground meat is generally considered more expensive than other types, but it may still work for certain dishes.

Ground veal can be used in any recipe containing ground beef, such as lasagna or tacos.

This is beneficial for those trying to cut back on their meat intake but still, enjoy a hearty meal.

Ground veal works well with ricotta cheese and other cheeses with strong flavors, such as Parmesan.

For this reason, many people recommend cooking it with mozzarella and other cheeses that provide a rich flavor.

5 – Firm Tofu

firm tofu

Firm tofu has significant health benefits and can be used in place of ground beef.

For one thing, it is a lower-fat food while being high in protein, making it a great alternative for people who have diabetes or are trying to lose weight.

Moreover, this type of tofu typically contains less sodium than other types, so it can replace meat in recipes that need to be low in sodium while still enjoying a hearty meal.

As for the taste, tofu naturally has little flavor of its own.

It can take on any desired flavor when used as an ingredient in another dish.

This makes it easy to replace ground beef with firm tofu without impacting the dish’s taste.

Tofu works well in dishes with strong flavors, such as Mediterranean foods.

It also works well with sauces and spices.


Ground beef is one of the most versatile ingredients used in cooking, but it’s also high in fat content and low in nutritional value.

Fortunately, there are several different substitutes you can use for this ingredient.

These include ground chicken, ground lamb, ground turkey, ground veal, and firm tofu.

Each of these has its own benefits to bring to the table, so feel free to experiment with them and see what works best with your desired dish.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Beef

The 5 Best Substitutes for Ground Beef
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Ground Chicken
  • Ground Lamb
  • Ground Turkey
  • Ground Veal
  • Firm Tofu


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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