More than once, Delmonico’s in New York has made the history books. It was the first restaurant to serve groups of women without men present at their table, which, in 1800s America, was pretty groundbreaking.

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It was also reportedly the first to offer guests a printed-out menu to choose their food from. And, because of that, it is responsible for the oldest known document that refers to a “Hamburg steak,” a patty of ground beef that would set diners back 11 cents, an eye-watering price for the time.

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Over the decades, of course, the dish became more sought-after, and eventually, the Hamburg steak morphed into the “hamburger,” which was more fast food than fine dining. Today, burgers are still one of the most popular ways to consume ground beef. But there is no rule that says the latter has to be made from a cow.

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Now, there are more meatless ground beef options on the market than ever, and sure, they can also be used to make delicious patties. But they can also be used in lasagna, Bolognese, tacos, and more tasty vegan dishes.

Here’s what you need to know about meatless ground beef, including where to buy it, how to make it, and how to cook with it.

What is vegan ground beef?

Ground beef, which is also referred to as minced beef, beef mince, or simply “mince,” refers to beef that has been ground with a meat grinder or mincer, or finely chopped with a knife. It has a firm but flaky texture and can be used in a number of recipes.

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In Mexico, it’s a key part of picadillo, which is a type of beef hash that is often used in burritos, enchiladas, and tacos. Ground beef is also a staple in Italian cuisine, and forms a key part of spaghetti Bolognese and lasagna recipes. In England, it’s the basis of cottage pie, which is mince mixed with vegetables and sauce and topped with mashed potato.

Meatless versions of ground beef are made with plant-based ingredients, like soy or pea protein, and are designed to mimic the taste and texture of the real thing.

Is vegan beef healthier?

Beef is a type of red meat, and so it is, undeniably, rich in protein. One hundred grams of ground beef contain around 14 grams of protein. It also contains nutrients, like iron.

But research suggests that eating too much can be bad for your health. One reason for this is that it’s high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. Studies have also linked red meat with high levels of trimethylamine N-oxide, a toxin that also increases the risk of heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, red meat also falls into its Group 2 carcinogen category, which means it is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”


Meatless alternatives, however, taste similar, but research suggests they are better for our health than the traditional beef-based version. In fact, a paper published from Bath University in July 2022—which examined 43 prior studies into the health and environmental impact of plant-based foods—revealed that all “plant-based dietary alternatives to animal products are better for the environment and human health when compared with the animal products they are designed to replace.”

But meatless ground beef is still high in protein. One pound of Beyond Meat’s newly reformulated Beyond Beef made with avocado oil, for example, contains 21 grams of protein per serving, as well as 75 percent less saturated fat than 80/20 ground beef (the 80/20 ratio refers to the percent of lean meat and fat in ground beef).

Brands that make meatless ground beef

As the plant-based meat market grows, more vegan alternatives are hitting grocery store aisles all the time. So, if you’re after meatless ground beef, here are a few of the best products available right now.


1 Beyond Meat

California-based Beyond Meat has several ground beef options, all of which are made with pea protein. You can buy it in a one-pound block, or you can opt for its Beyond Beef Crumbles, which are ideal for cooking into a pasta dish. It also offers a Feisty flavor, which packs a little more heat and is perfect for filling up a burrito.


2 Gardein

Gardein’s beef alternative is called “B’ef.” It’s made with textured soy protein, and you can find it in a number of the Canadian brand’s products, like its Be’f Burgers. But if you want to make your own patties, or you feel like whipping up a spaghetti Bolognese, then there’s also Ground Be’f, too.

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3 Impossible Foods

Also based in California, Impossible Foods’ vegan meat is everywhere. You can even find it on the menu at Burger King. But if you want to create that signature Whopper taste at home with your own spin, you can buy the brand’s beef grounds, which feature 19 grams of protein. And, according to Impossible Foods, it also has 33 percent less saturated fat than traditional 80/20 ground beef.


4 Lightlife

Massachussetts-based brand Lightlife has not one, but two different types of ground beef on offer within its Smart range. Available in Original and Mexican flavors, the former packs 11 grams of protein while the latter packs 10. Both contain zero saturated fat. 



Abbot prides itself in creating plant-based meat alternatives free from soy, gluten, gums, artificial and natural flavors, canola oil, and methylcellulose. This means the brand prioritizes made quality, whole-food ingredients. Its Ground “Beef” product, for example, is made with pea protein, porcini mushrooms, and a medley of vegetables and spices. Plus, it packs 18 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving. 

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6 Future Farm

Future Farm, which is headquartered in Brazil, is known for its super realistic versions of traditional meat products. And just like the rest of its product portfolio, its Future Beef Plant-Based Ground, which is a source of fiber and protein, delivers a taste and texture that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

How to make your own vegan ground beef

If you’re in a rush or don’t have the energy to make your own meatless ground beef, that’s totally fair. That’s why the store-bought versions exist, after all. But if you’re in the mood to make your own, it’s also quite simple to pull some ground beef together at home, without turning to a packet. This recipe for vegan ground beef will walk you through how to make your own crumbles, using ingredients like walnuts, cauliflower, and tomato. Plus, unlike many options on the market, it’s soy-free.

How to use vegan grounds

Whether you’ve grabbed some from the grocery store or you’ve whipped it up from scratch, once you’ve got your ground beef, the next part is deciding just how, exactly, you’re going to enjoy it. If you’re looking for inspiration, good news: you’ve found it. Here are some of our top meatless ground beef recipes.

VegNews.Recipes.2Brian Watson

1 Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza is much-loved, but it’s not vegan. So don’t miss out, and make it from home! Grab some vegan ground beef, some beans, and your favorite type of tortillas for the ultimate crowd-pleasing fakeaway night.
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VegNews.CheeseburgerTotsDustin Harder

2 Cheeseburger Tater Tots With Cashew Cheddar Sauce

You could use your ground beef to make cheeseburgers, and that would undeniably be delicious. But you could also take it one step further and, instead, layer up some tater tots with the ground beef, and add your own creamy, cheesy vegan cheddar sauce. Divine.
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VegNews.SpaghettiBologneseChris Shoebridge

3 Spaghetti Bolognese

If it’s midweek comfort you’re after, classic spaghetti bolognese with meatless ground beef hits the spot every time. It’s so easy and quick to make. Pro tip: for extra comfort, serve with crunchy garlic bread.
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VegNews.NaanTacosCandice Hutchings

4 Crunchy Chalupa Naan Tacos With Avocado-Ranch

Chalupa naan tacos filled with vegan ground beef and topped with your favorite vegan cheese are already delicious. But if you want to take your recipe to the next level, you won’t regret adding this zesty avocado-ranch sauce.
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VegNews.BeefEmpanadasNico Vera

5 Beef Empanadas

The perfect portion size for a tasty, filling lunch, try these delicious vegan beefy empanadas with onions, garlic, and currants. And, for an extra spicy kick, serve with homemade aji verde.
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