There can be many reasons why you’d want to substitute ground pork in a recipe- maybe you’re out of ground pork and can’t find it at your nearest store.
Maybe you’re allergic to pig or boar’s meat, or want to try a vegan option instead. Or it could simply be the case of you wanting to experiment while cooking by switching up the ingredients in your recipes.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to note that substituting meats for other options can be tricky. In some cases, the substitutes work great and complement all other ingredients, but in others, they may ruin the entire recipe.
Ground Pork Substitutes
Regular ground pork (70% lean) has nearly half the fat content of beef, making it excellent for recipes ranging from simple sausages to burgers to large pies. Mixed with the right seasonings and herbs, ground pork can elaborate any dish.
Ground pork also has a higher mineral and vitamin content which makes it extremely healthy, which is why it’s a staple part of breakfast in the form of sausages.
Because of its versatility, ground pork isn’t hard to substitute and alternative options will give similar texture and flavor. However, note that different recipes work better with different alternatives.
1. Loose Sausage
This is the first pick, and to be honest, it’s really the perfect substitute for ground pork. Loose sausage is essentially just a pork sausage that’s not in a casing. And it’s not just perfect for making delicious and fresh sausages yourself- it gives a lot of versatility.
Loose sausage can be broken up for sauteeing to be added to pies, pasta, and lasagne. It can be browned for adding to burritos or making breakfast patties.
Cooked loose sausages also make the tasty sandwich filling- you can fry it up to make the meat portion, add veggies like iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber, and use sauces like mustard or ranch with cheese.
The loose sausage is usually made with a combination of sea salt, vinegar, cane syrup, natural flavorings, spices, and water with pork. Besides the added spices, the flavor and textures are pretty much spot-on as substitutes. It’s rich and has the ideal lean-to-fat ratio.
2. Ground Beef
In addition to loose sausages, you can opt for ground beef (also called minced beef). There are two varieties of ground beef you can purchase- one is made by chopping beef with a knife, while the other is ground through a machine or using a meat grinder.
Since regular beef has a higher fat content, you’ll need to use less butter or oil when cooking. Other than that, the texture will be very similar.
Beef will have a meatier flavor, though it’s not noticeable in recipes that use heavy tomato or cream sauces, or require tons of spices. A pro tip is to swap pork for low-fat beef instead of regular as the fat content of the two is similar.
The best recipe for substituting ground pork with ground beef is meatballs. There won’t be any difference in binding. Beef can replace the ground pork in spaghetti and hamburgers too.
Beef sausages, pepperoni, pasties, and cottage pies are pretty popular too and substitute pork options really well. Your tacos and lasagne will turn out great as well. Some people also use ground beef with boiled or mashed potatoes.
However, if you’re looking for something that cuts down on the richness of your dish, beef won’t be a viable option. It’s best to try ground turkey.
3. Ground Chicken
If you don’t want to eat beef or pork, you can opt for ground or minced chicken. It’s much leaner and bland as compared to beef, so you can add a variety of smoky spices to give it a more pork-like taste. Ground chicken can be made from dark or white chicken- dark chicken is richer and has a more distinct flavor profile.
An important thing to keep in mind is that chicken can form clumps upon cooking, so you will need to break them up. The ground chicken will also have a white color, so you’ll need to change it by adding tomato paste or Worcestershire sauce and make it more presentable.
It can be made into patties for sandwiches and burgers, while minced form can be used for tacos or spaghetti. However, the burgers will be much milder and less rich.
4. Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is a mixture of light and dark turkey meat. It is minced with fats and skin when processed, but the fat content is still relatively low. It does have a non-crumbly texture and non-pink color, but when cooked with the correct spices, it will give a smoky flavor similar to pork.
If you want texture closer to pork, you can get ground turkey meat exclusively taken from the thigh or leg region, which will be slightly tougher and more crumbly. Much like chicken, turkey can be used in everything from sandwiches to pies.
Although surprising, tofu can be a suitable substitute for ground pork. It’s made from condensed soy milk (a mixture of fresh soy milk and nigari) and is minimally processed, making it a healthy source of protein.
Generally, tofu is available in solid white blocks, so you’ll have to break it up to meet the texture of ground pork. Some variants might have beige and yellowish colors as well. It’s arguably the best vegan substitute for a lot of meats, not just pork.
Flavor-wise, tofu has a mild flavor which means it can be added to savory as well as sweet dishes. Tofu can be seasoned with herbs, and the spongy texture will absorb the flavors. Above all, it is extremely healthy.
Tofu is available in different forms, such as firm, extra firm, silky, and soft forms. Silky tofu is good for ramen and traditional Asian cuisine. Firm and extra-firm tofu are the best kinds when it comes to producing a meat-like texture in your food.
To execute the mastery of disguising vegan alternatives like tofu as meat, you just have to crumble the extra-firm tofu and brown it by stir-frying.
In addition to this, to get the best texture out of your tofu, drain it properly and wrap it with a paper towel. Put a heavy object on top and let it sit for 30 minutes.
It’s also important to note that tofu can’t be used in sausages and will likely crumble. Tofu can be made into burger patties and sandwich filings, but it mostly shines in soups, noodles, and salads.
6. Ground Mushrooms
Various kinds of mushrooms are coveted for their earthy flavor and meaty texture, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ground-up mushrooms can replace pork.
Once you add the right seasonings and veggies, the mixture of mushrooms gets an umami flavor that replicates pork. You can use ground mushrooms in pretty much any recipe that calls for ground pork, and mushrooms can be stir-fried, sauteed, pan-seared, and grilled.
The mushroom closest to ground pork is the pink oyster– it’s described as having a meaty, slight bacon-like flavor. It even has a light pink color that perfectly replicates the color of pork sausage.
Seitan is the first choice as a meat substitute when it comes to steaks, but it can be a great replacement for ground pork too. You can ground seitan after making it at home. You can also get this gluten-based product in most supermarkets and grocery stores.
The best quality of seitan is its ability to absorb flavors from other ingredients, stocks, sauces, and spices. Since seitan is usually bland, the flavors will be spot-on if you’ve added the right seasonings. However, it may not produce the same texture as pork (seitan’s a little softer).
In short, there are many different substitutes you can use to replace ground pork in a recipe. Each option has a unique flavor, though the right seasonings and herbs will make it taste close to pork. When it comes to texture, the deciding factor is your cooking style.
So with all that aside, which substitute are you going to use for ground pork?