I found a great looking recipe that calls for ground veal. What other meats would be a reasonable substitute for flavor and texture for ground veal besides the obvious ground beef? Lamb?

  • 2
    I think you should take out the whole ethical part of the question and make it just what are the best substitutes for veal in terms of flavor and texture.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 16:41
  • @Jay \I'm not opposed to eating calf meat, just the way it's inhumanely raised in the U.S. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 16:44
  • @JeffAxelrod The beef ain't treated so nice either. At least the calf gets put out of misery earlier (j/k). Drive out of town for 1hr and find a nice farmer. see the book Omnivore’s Dilemma.
    – MandoMando
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 16:55
  • @MandoMando There were really two questions embedded, and I ended up splitting off another question if your answer is recvoverable: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/32679/… Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 18:24
  • @MandoMando most calves used to make veal are bull calves, they're not treated any different from any other calf that's then raised to adulthood. A more important reason to want substitutes would be unavailability (see that here, just can't get any veal, it's all exported to where the price is better) or high price (could special order it, paying 2-3 times the price of already expensive beef).
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 11:41

2 Answers 2


The original recipe calls for a total of 2 lbs of ground meat, 1/2 beef and 1/2 veal.

I would suggest a close approximation to the effect can be had by using either (in decreasing order of preference):

  • 50% ground pork, 50% ground beef -- Some of the mild flavor of veal, with tenderness and flavor from the pork
  • 100% ground beef -- It won't be as tender or as subtle, but still will be good

I would avoid trying to use as part of your substitution mixture:

  • Ground lamb, goat, ox, and so on -- flavor is too strong
  • Ground chicken or turkey -- these are extremely low in fat, likely to toughen your overall mixture, and likely to make it taste more poultryesque

Personally, I would also switch from whole eggs to just the yolks, which will bring the binding and tenderizing qualities of the yolk, without the slightly rubber-like texture of albumin based white, to more closely approximate the qualities the veal would have brought to the dish.

  • Before seeing your answer, I made it to the grocery store; I briefly considered lamb but ended up going with ground pork because that's what I found Cooks Illustrated used in their recent meatloaf recipe. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 17:50

I have used ground turkey as a substitute in several receipes with ground beef . I have never had a poultryesque (did I spell that right) taste, especially when you are using quite a bit of seasoning (and stout in this receipe.) Ground turkey is low fat, readily available and tasty. I recommend it heartily!

  • I made up the word poulreyesque, so you can spell it any way you want :-)
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 21:22

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