The 5 best substitutes for beef for your recipes
Veal is a rather unique type of meat that cannot be easily substituted, and even when it is, it is at the cost of sacrificing the original flavor. However, some people cannot or do not want to eat beef for various reasons and would be happy to use an alternative.
Several of the most common types of meat available in grocery stores and butcher shops, such as pork, beef, and turkey, can be a good substitute for beefalthough it is important to take into account the recipe before choosing the best alternative to beef.
The best substitutes for beef
Veal is known for its intense flavor and for being quite expensive compared to other types of meat. It is also often considered controversial because of its origin.
In fact, veal is the meat of calves, which are young bovines. Calves may only have a few hours to live when they are slaughtered for veal.
This is because beef remains tender and pink only up to 12 months of age. Later, it acquires a red color and becomes what we know as beef. Most calves are slaughtered at around 6-8 months of age.
The veal has a fine-grained texture, is very tender, and is easy to digest. It also helps lower cholesterol and is a good source of vitamins (B1, D), minerals, protein, and iron.
Since the veal opportunity is so small and it is such a high quality meat, it is not surprising that veal is more expensive than beef and also more sought after.
In some countries, veal may be hard to find or even unavailable. Many restaurants also substitute other types of meat for veal in veal-focused recipes, because they are cheaper and easier to find.
We have compiled the most popular alternatives to veal in the following list, ordered from best to worst, to help you find the most suitable veal substitute for your tastes and recipes.
Pork is considered the best substitute for beef, despite coming from a completely different species. The reason is that when looking for the taste of veal, pork is probably the closest thing to what real veal tastes like.
Pork has a mild but interesting flavor, is juicy and tender, and is generally closer to veal than beef. Although veal is definitely more tender overall, the similar cuts of both animals are surprisingly comparable.
As pork is much cheaper than beef, it has become a very popular alternative to beef even in restaurants. Some cuts of pork are more similar to beef than others, including
- pork loin
- pork belly
- Pork loin chops
- pork tenderloin
- Pork tenderloin chops
In contrast, pork shoulder chops and pork rib chops are relatively tougher than veal.
Beef is leaner than pork, but both beef and pork are generally lower in fat compared to beef, despite being part of the red meat family.
Since beef has less fat than pork, it also has fewer calories. For comparison, 100 g of beef contains about 172 kcal, while 100 g of pork contains about 242 kcal. However, both share a similar protein load, despite the fact that pork is slightly higher.
Depending on the recipe, you can reduce the amount of fat in the pork by trimming the edges. For example, when cooking Wiener schnitzel, which often calls for veal, you can easily swap out the pork by pounding the chop until the texture is similar to veal.
Pork tends to have a stronger and typically “porcine” flavor than beef, so you can’t expect a perfect substitute. However, keep in mind that most recipes call for sauces and other dressings, which are often enough to smooth out the difference.
2. Chicken or turkey
White meat is generally considered healthier than red, so even if beef isn’t entirely red meat, if you want to upgrade your diet or cut out red meat, chicken and turkey are the best options to substitute for beef in your diet. the recipes.
Chicken and turkey are often confused or mistaken for each other, but in terms of nutritional values, there are some notable differences. Let’s consider the same amount (100 g) of beef, turkey and chicken and their main nutrients:
- fats: There are 7.56 g of fat in beef, very similar to 7.43 g in turkey, while chicken only has 1.65 g of fat per 100 g.
- proteins: Veal takes the top spot at 24.38g, closely followed by chicken at 23.2g, while turkey is slightly less protein-rich at “only” 21.96g.
- calories: the 172 kcal of beef is similar to the 161 kcal of turkey, while chicken turns out to be the low-calorie option with only 114 kcal.
- carbohydrates: If you’re looking for low-carb meals, these three options are perfect because beef, chicken, and turkey contain 0 carbs (of course, this refers to the raw cut and doesn’t account for batter, seasonings, and other additives).
Chicken is clearly the “diet” choice, as it contains less fat and fewer calories than the other two, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing if you’re not looking for that kind of discount.
Results when substituting chicken or turkey for beef may vary based on recipe and personal taste. However, many people find ground chicken and turkey to be good substitutes for ground beef.
You may be surprised to find beef in third place. After all, this type of meat comes from bovines, which are nothing more than adult calves and it is not uncommon to think that they share many similarities.
Beef and veal share similar nutrients and also in similar amounts:
- Calories per 100g: 179 g for veal, 170 g for beef.
- Vitamin B6 per 100 g: 0.306 mg for veal, 0.238 mg for beef.
- Vitamin B12 per 100 g: 0.99 mg for veal, 2.28 mg for veal.
- Zinc per 100 g: 3.37 mg for veal, 3.83 mg for veal.
However, compared to pork, chicken, and turkey, beef isn’t always the ideal substitute for veal. This is because the flavor of beef varies greatly depending on the cut.
The texture of the veal can also be very different from cut to cut. Veal is usually tender, while beef can be quite tough because a bovine’s muscles have developed much more than those of a calf.
However, you can swap the veal for cuts of beef that have a strong meaty flavor and a tough texture, cooking them slowly until they are as close to veal as possible.
When you’re considering substituting beef for veal, it all comes down to which cut of meat the recipe calls for. The cuts of meat that most resemble the taste of beef are sirloin and fillet, especially the latter.
4. Mixed minced meat
When it comes to ground meat, the rules of the game change drastically. In fact, ground meat doesn’t taste the same anymore, so it’s all about finding the type of ground meat that tastes close to veal.
As we’ve already said, ground turkey and chicken are good substitutes for ground beef. However, you can also mix more than one type of meat and get good results.
It’s not uncommon to mix 50:50 pork and beef when you need to use ground meat for broth or other recipes. The same formula can work when you need to substitute ground beef.
In fact, the minced pork maintains the tender texture of the veal, while the minced beef gives the mixture the typical meaty flavor. You’ll notice how this combination tastes incredibly close to ground beef.
5. Lamb, goat, ox
In some countries, it is customary to substitute veal for lamb. However, lamb, goat, and beef are often considered second-rate substitutes for beef.
These cuts are often less tender than veal and have a strong flavor that can overwhelm the outcome of your dish. However, you can try to spruce up the recipe by adding spicy ingredients or other seasonings.
As always, personal taste comes first and some people may find that they prefer a stronger flavor to the milder veal. Substituting lamb, goat, or beef for beef is normally not recommended if other options are available.
How to choose a veal substitute.
When choosing a veal substitute, it is essential to keep two things in mind
- The recipe: is what will guide you in the jungle of veal substitutes. Not all cuts of meat are the same, even if they come from the same animal. In some cases, an animal may have some cuts that are perfect substitutes for veal and others that should not be considered. Also, different cuts suit different recipes. When choosing your veal substitute, always start with the recipe you have in mind.
- The preference of your diners: There have been cases of restaurants being sued for substituting other animals for beef and hiding the information from customers. In some religions, certain animals, such as pigs or cattle, are considered sacred and cannot be eaten. Some people may also avoid certain types of meat for moral reasons or other personal preferences. When cooking for someone else, be sure to ask beforehand if there are any types of meat that they cannot eat.
Tips for buying and preserving fresh meat
When buying meat, always prefer your local butcher shop to the big grocery stores, because the butcher usually has the freshest meat and can also give you helpful advice.
If you must buy at the store, be sure to check the meat for firmness, color, keeping, and packaging. Don’t buy meat that isn’t a normal pink/red hue or has a slimy coating, because it means it’s not fresh.
Meat must be eaten quickly or stored properly. If you plan to cook it the same day you bought it, you can put it in the fridge, where it can last between 3 and 5 days.
If not, remember to keep it in the freezer, but keep in mind that the quality of the meat will nonetheless decrease over time, so don’t wait too long before cooking it.