11 Veal Substitutes [Vegan & Vegetarian]

I have often looked for veal substitutes. For some reason, I’m just not a veal person. However, I love cooking and trying new recipes so I frequently come across the need for veal. 

Just the other day I was trying to make a vegetarian version of veal parmesan. I wanted something tender and soft like veal but without the meat. 

Luckily, there are lots of delicious veal substitutes out there that work so well. In my personal opinion, many of the substitutes for veal are way better than veal itself!

Of course I know many people out there would argue this fact. There are some die-hard veal lovers, for sure! 

I ended up using pounded eggplant to replace veal and make a tasty parmesan. However, you should take a look at these delicious replacements for veal and choose the one that will work best for you. 

The best veal substitute is pork tenderloin. It has a similar light and sweet flavor and is also easy to find in most grocery stores. Sirloin steak can also work well in place of veal cutlets. Replace veal shank with short ribs and ground veal with ground chicken. Vegetable stock is a great vegetarian substitute for veal stock. It is flavorful and mild just like veal stock! 

Veal Substitutes

1. Beef 

Veal and beef are both meat from cattle. While veal is paler and lighter than beef, it does have many of the same flavors. 

Veal has a much more mild flavor than beef. Beef is meaty, strong and hearty while veal is light and sweet. Many people like the flavor of veal better than beef. 

Sirloin and filet cuts of beef are the most similar to veal cutlets. They are not as strong and meaty as other cuts of beef. They are also boneless which means they make a great substitute for veal cutlets. 

Use tender cuts of beef to replace veal cutlets in veal milanese and stuffed beef. Pound the beef cuts so they get more tender and thin. Then use them exactly as directed in your recipe. 

Beef has a very similar nutritional value to veal. They both have about 170 calories per 100 grams.

Beef has more vitamin B-12 than veal but less vitamin B-6. All in all, they are practically the same!


2. Pork 

The taste of veal is often compared to pork. They are both mildly sweet and juicy. Veal is typically more tender than pork but pork does come close!

Pound boneless pork cutlets to make them more tender. This also helps make the meat thin and ideal for rolling and stuffing. 

Pork tenderloin is comparable to veal in taste but has a much different nutritional profile.

Pork has about 3 times more calories than veal and significantly more protein per serving. Despite the nutritional differences, it is still a fantastic substitute for veal.


3. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is the top-selling meat in the United States. You can easily find chicken breast in any grocery store. This makes it a great, easy substitute for veal cutlets. 

I definitely recommend thinly slicing and pounding your chicken breasts. They are much thicker and more firm than veal cutlets. Once thinned, chicken breast can be used to replace veal cutlets in any recipe. 

Chicken is a healthy alternative to veal as well. It is much lower in calories but higher in protein. A 100 gram serving of chicken also has just 14 grams of fat, much less than veal. 

Chicken Breast

4. Short Ribs

Beef short ribs are large, meaty pieces of beef that are still on the bone. They are ideal for slow roasting just like veal shanks. 

Beef short ribs are a little more meaty tasting than veal shank. It is also smaller than a veal shank.

Yet they still work in place of veal to make osso bucco or other recipes requiring veal shank. 

Replace the veal shank with short ribs by weight rather than piece. This will give you the closest substitute for your recipes. 

Beef short rib

5. Oxtails

Oxtail comes from the tail beef of cattle. It is oval-shaped and has a bone in the center, just like veal shank. 

Oxtail needs to be slow-cooked to help it tenderize. Luckily, most veal shank recipes are slow-cooked as well! 

Oxtail is much smaller than veal shank so you may need several pieces to replace veal shank in a recipe. Replace veal shank with oxtail by weight rather than piece. 

Oxtail can be hard to find but it is much less expensive than veal shank. You can make delicious, slow cooked meat using oxtail rather than veal shank. 


6. Ground Chicken

Ground chicken has a nice mild flavor that is similar to veal. It can easily be found in almost any grocery store across the country. You may even have some in your fridge right now! 

Ground chicken can be drier than veal and a little less flavorful. Try adding more sauce to your recipe or increasing the liquid ingredients. A few extra herbs may help as well. 

Chicken has fewer calories than veal and is also lower in fat. It can be considered a healthier substitute for veal. 

7. Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is a wonderful replacement for ground veal. Just like ground chicken, it is a healthy substitute for veal. Ground turkey is also lower in calories and fat when compared to ground veal. 

Ground turkey is much cheaper than ground veal. It is an economical substitute as well as a tasty one.

Use ground turkey to replace ground veal in any recipe. You shouldn’t have to make any other adjustments to make this substitute work well! 

8. Beef Stock

Beef stock has a rich and hearty taste. It is a deep brown, giving it a signature look as well as a signature taste. 

Beef stock is much stronger than veal stock. Where veal stock is light and sweet, beef stock is heavy and strong.

However, they are both made from cattle which gives both stocks similar undertone flavors. 

Use half beef stock and half water to replace veal stock in any recipe. You may also want to add a ½ teaspoon of sugar for every cup of beef stock. This will give you the sweetness that is in veal stock. 

Beef Stock

9. Vegetable Stock

Veal stock does have a very light taste. Vegetable stock also has a light taste and color. It is the perfect substitute for veal stock. 

Replace your veal stock with the exact quantity of vegetable stock. Not only does this keep the mild, saccharine flavor of veal stock, but it is also a fantastic vegetarian option! Skip any other meats in your recipe to make a true vegetarian meal. 

10. Eggplant

Eggplant is a very mild vegetable that can work well to replace veal cutlets. Eggplant can be sliced into thin pieces then breaded and fried or rolled and stuffed. You can use eggplant in place of any thinly sliced veal cutlet recipe you may have!

Sprinkle the raw sliced eggplant with salt to help tenderize the veggie. This will draw out the water from the eggplant and make it juicier when it starts to cook. 

You can easily find eggplant in any grocery store. The purple peel is edible but your food will be much more tender if you peel the eggplant. 

11. Vegan Ground Beef

Use vegan ground beef to replace ground veal. Vegan ground beef is made with vegetable proteins such as pea protein and soybeans. It has the same texture as ground veal and can be used interchangeably in ground veal recipes. 

Vegan ground beef can have a strong plant flavor. You may want to increase the seasonings in your veal recipe to help compensate for this taste.

Look for a vegan ground beef that is unseasoned so you can add your own spices as needed. 

What is Veal?

Veal is the tender meat that comes from baby calves. Most veal comes from young male calves but it can be from females as well. A veal calf is typically between six and eight months old. 

Flavor of Veal

Veal is very lean and tender. It has a meatier taste than regular beef. It has a slight sweetness and many people compare the flavor of veal to pork, rather than beef. 

Veal cooks quickly since it is not quite as tough as other cuts of beef. It is always better to undercook veal rather than over cook it. 

You will find veal in many Italian and French recipes. Dishes like veal milanese and schnitzel are among the most popular. 

Is Veal Healthy?

Veal is very high in protein. It has about 24 grams of protein per 100 gram serving of veal meat. 

Veal is a lean meat which makes it healthier than other, similar meats. However, veal is a red meat.

Red meats have been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels. 

The argument over whether or not veal is healthy could go on for quite a while. You can read a little more about veal here on the USDA website. You will find all the facts you need! 

Types of Veal

Veal can be cut and prepared in many different ways. It is good to know the different types of veal cuts so you know how to prepare the meat. This is also essential when finding the correct veal substitute. 

There are many, many different cuts of veal. Almost every part of the calf can be utilized. Even the less desirable cuts can be used to make veal stock or ground veal. 

However, some veal cuts are more popular than others. Here are a few of the most common veal cuts that you will come across in everyday recipes. These are likely the types of veal you will need substitutes for. 

Veal Shank

Veal shank is best when slow cooked for hours. This helps the meat tenderize around the center bone.

Veal shank is most often used to make Osso Bucco, an Italian dish. Try this tasty recipe for osso bucco from The Kitchen Magpie

Veal Cutlets

Veal cutlets may be the most common type of veal in the grocery store. The thinly sliced meat can be used to make breaded veal cutlets, veal milanese, veal scallopini or stuffed veal.  

Rib Roast

Veal rib roast is tender and juicy. Since the meat is slow cooked on the bone, it stays very moist as it cooks. A veal rib roast looks fancy and has an incredible taste. 

Loin Chops

Loin chops are thick cuts of veal still attached to the bone. They are often oven baked or pan seared. 

Stew Meat

Veal stew meat is tougher and has lots of marbling. It is best when cooked in a stew or soup where it can tenderize for hours. It is also a cheaper piece of meat but still very flavorful. 

Lamb vs Veal

Are lamb and veal the same thing? This is a question I have received a lot! However, lamb and veal are quite different. 

Lamb comes from young sheep while veal comes from younger cattle. They are two completely different animals!

Both meats are very tender. I know many chefs who use them interchangeably since they both have mild, sweet flavors. But they are not the same! 

Yummy Veal Parmesan Recipe

Veal parmesan may be my all time favorite veal dish. If I am going to eat veal, it will only be in this recipe. Take a look and give it a try. Use one of the veal cutlet substitutes from the section above if needed!

  • 4 veal cutlets
  • 1 cup Italian Breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups marinara sauce

Easy To Follow Steps

1.Add oil to a large frying pan, making it about 1 inch deep. Heat the oil over medium heat until about 175 degrees F.

2.While the oil heats, prepare the veal. 

3.In a shallow bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. 

4.In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the heavy cream. 

5.Dip the veal cutlets into the egg mix and then into the breadcrumb mix. Coat the veal completely in the breadcrumbs. 

6.Place the breaded veal in the hot fryer oil and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. The breadcrumbs should be golden brown. 

7.Pour the marinara sauce over the veal and serve hot alongside pasta. 

Final Considerations

I hope one of these veal substitutes works well for you. I have used many of them and always had great success. 

Let me know your favorite veal substitutes and maybe even pass along your favorite veal recipes. I may not always use veal, but I do love an exciting new recipe idea! 

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