Home Substitutes 10 Best Vegetarian Substitutes for Ground Beef (Plant-Based)

10 Best Vegetarian Substitutes for Ground Beef (Plant-Based)

Some of the best vegetarian substitutes for ground beef include lentils, mushrooms, tofu, and tempeh.

Beans, cauliflower, and walnuts also work well to bulk up your meals.

Raw Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef
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These alternatives are so hearty and good, you won’t even miss the meat! As a bonus, each substitute on this list is plant-based. So they’re ideal for vegan recipes as well.

Your favorite recipes will get a flavorful health kick without having to sacrifice taste with these swaps. 

Don’t be afraid to mix things up in the kitchen. Each of these ground beef alternatives adds something special to your meals.

Best Vegetarian Substitutes for Beef

Lentils in a Wooden Bowl

1. Lentils

Lentils have high levels of protein and dietary fiber. But they’re also a nutritious, all-around powerhouse. 

They mimic and absorb flavors while having the same texture as ground beef. This makes them one of the best “meatless meats” out there. 

Add some seasonings and your favorite ingredients to simulate a meatloaf or burger. You won’t even be able to tell the difference. 

They also work well in place of ground beef in soups and casseroles.

Amount: 1 cup of dried uncooked lentils is equivalent to 1 pound of beef.

Bunch of Cauliflower in a Wooden Bowl

2. Cauliflower

Cauliflower has a classic white appearance and mild flavor. So it might not seem like an obvious replacement for beef. But with its versatile preparation and nutritional value, it’s a great option for vegetarians. 

The delicate vegetable takes on the flavors of whatever spices you pair with it. It’s wondering in Indian curries or Mexican-style tacos. 

It also provides dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and B vitamins.

Exchanging beef for cauliflower is a tasty way to make a healthy dish without compromising on flavor.

Amount: Use 350 grams of cauliflower for 450 grams of beef.

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Four Slices of Tofu on a Plate

3. Tofu

Tofu is the “gateway meat” of vegetarianism, and for good reason. 

It offers a beef-like texture and taste. Plus, it’s low in calories and packed with nutrients. It’s also high in protein and rich in calcium, iron, and magnesium. 

Mix it with your favorite ingredients to make stir-fry recipes or substitute it for hamburgers or tacos. 

Amount: Use a 1:1 ratio of tofu to ground beef in recipes.

Bunch of Mushrooms on a Wooden Chopping Board

4. Mushrooms

Mushrooms often get overlooked when it comes to vegetarian dishes. They’re amazing, earthy little flavor bombs and can be used in a plethora of different recipes. 

They’re dark and mysterious, just like the beef they replace! Mushrooms are a great source of protein. They also have a wonderful umami flavor.

When cooked properly, mushrooms take on a texture similar to steak or ground beef.

Amount: Use 8 ounces of mushrooms for 1 pound of beef.

Slices of Tempeh on a Wooden Board

5. Tempeh

Tempeh is a favorite of vegetarians for its terrific texture, rich flavor, and remarkable resemblance to meat. 

It’s an ideal substitute in recipes where beef would typically be used.

Tempeh is protein-packed and contains essential vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s more environmentally friendly than beef in terms of carbon emissions. 

If you’re looking for a winning vegetarian replacement, try tempeh.

Amount: Use 8 oz tempeh for 1 pound of beef.

Slices of Seitan on a Wooden Cutting Board

6. Seitan

Seitan is the perfect substitute for many dishes traditionally made with beef. 

Often called ‘wheat meat,’ or ‘gluten meat,’ seitan has been enjoyed in various forms for centuries.

It looks and tastes like tender beef. But it’s made of fermented wheat gluten. It has a higher amount of protein, too.

Seitan’s texture and neutral flavor also make it easy to marinate. It’ll soak up whatever taste you’re after.

From stir-fries to burgers, you’ll never get bored with this plant-based alternative. 

Amount: Use a 1:1 ratio of seitan to beef.

A Heap of Bulgar Wheat on a Burlap Sack

7. Bulgar Wheat

This nutty, chewy wheat has been around since ancient times. It’s an easy swap for beef in your favorite recipes. 

It can be used as a substitute in tacos and burritos, to meatballs, chili, and stir-fries. 

It’s packed with protein, iron, and vitamins. So there’s no missing out on the nutrients you get with beef.

Bulgur wheat also comes together much faster than beef without any fancy tools required. 

Amount: Use one cup of uncooked bulgur wheat for every pound of ground beef.

A Sack of Pinto Beans on a Wooden Table

8. Beans

Beans are an incredible addition to a vegetarian diet for countless reasons. They provide a healthy dose of protein and fiber. They also act as an excellent beef substitute. 

They’re also extremely versatile. Beans easily take on other flavors in your recipes, so you can use them in just about anything. Get your burger fix by swapping meat out for beans. Bean burgers are just as good, if not better than the real deal!

The cost of beans is also low since you can buy them in bulk.

Amount: Replace one-third to half of the ground beef in a recipe with beans.

Whole and Slice Eggplant on a Wooden Cutting Board

9. Eggplant

Eggplant is a staple in vegetarian cooking and is considered one of the best meat substitutes out there. 

Juicy, flavourful eggplant has the perfect texture to mimic beef. It works in a variety of dishes without losing the savory beef taste. 

Try it in all your favorite classic beef recipes. You won’t believe how good it is in shepherd’s pie or stroganoff. 

Despite being so delicious, these meatless creations are also better for your waistline and wallet!

Amount: Use around 8 oz eggplant for 1 pound of beef.

Walnuts in a Wooden Bowl

10. Walnuts

Walnuts are a great vegetarian substitute for beef. They’re quite possibly one of nature’s most extraordinary gifts.

For starters, they have an impressive array of plant-based proteins. There are seven grams per handful! This makes them a good choice for vegetarian or vegan diets, which often lack sufficient protein sources. 

On top of that, walnuts provide essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates. They also contain minerals like phosphorous and potassium. 

Amount: Use as much as is needed to create a burger of the desired size.

10 Best Vegetarian Substitutes for Ground Beef (Plant-Based)

Tofu, beans, lentils, and mushrooms make wonderful vegetarian substitutes for ground beef. Try them all!


  • Lentils

  • Cauliflower

  • Tofu

  • Mushrooms

  • Tempeh

  • Seitan

  • Bulgur Wheat

  • Beans

  • Eggplant

  • Walnuts


  • Select your favorite vegetarian ground beef substitute.
  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Make your recipe and enjoy!
Vegetarian Substitutes for Ground Beef

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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