21 Meat Alternatives You Should Be Cooking With

And 84 ideas on how to use them!

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

1. Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad

Cookie and Kate / cookieandkate.com

General Tsao’s Cauliflower

Rachel Carr / rachelcarr.com

 

Curry Roasted Cauliflower

Julia Jolliff / acedarspoon.com

Christmas Cauliflower Steaks

Selva W. / poppiesandpapayas.blogspot.co.uk

 

Why use it: Cauliflower is fibrous and provides a complex texture to give a dish substance, and soaks up marinades and spices to give your meal a full and hearty flavour.

What to do with it: Grill it, bake it, or sauté it in curry spices and marinades. You can opt to leave it in its original shape or mash it into a patty.

Get the recipes:
Roasted Cauliflower and Farro Salad
General Tsao’s Cauliflower
Curry Roasted Cauliflower
Christmas Cauliflower Steaks

2. Wild rice

Naosop Wild Rice Meatballs

Ella / pureella.com

Naosap Wild Rice Burgers

Ella / pureella.com

 

Wild Rice No-Meat Loaf

Ella / pureella.com

Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Why use it: A serving of Naosap wild rice offers 7g of protein and 12% of your daily fibre, and when used as stuffing or to create meat-like cakes adds a filling consistency to your meal.

What do with it: Create fillings for casseroles, stuffed vegetables, and wraps, or use it as the base for a dough to create burger patties, balls for pastas and subs, and loaves.

Get the recipes:
No-Meat Balls
Naosap Burgers
Wild Rice No-Meat Loaf
Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pistachio Stuffing

3. Beetroot

Goat Cheese and Beet Pizza

Matthew Ivan / platingpixels.com

Veggie Sliders

Sarah Yates / ahouseinthehills.com

 

Beet Tartare

Rachel Carr / rachelcarr.com

Golden Beet and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

Port and Fin / portandfin.com

 

Why use it: It’s high in fibre and detoxifying – the benefits of using a beetroot-based sandwich filling will provide rich nutrients for your system.

What to do with it: Use slices on pizzas and sandwiches, combine with other veg into patties, or create elegant Beet Tartare appetisers. Combine your beetroot with a serving of protein to get the most out of your meal.

Get the recipes:
Goat Cheese and Beet Pizza
Veggie Sliders
Beet Tartare
Golden Beet and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

4. Avocado

Open-Faced Power Breakfast Sandwich

Monique / ambitiouskitchen.com

Vegetable Sushi Bowl

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Avacado Veggie Panini

A Pinch of Yum / pinchofyum.com

30-Minute Avacado Skillet Pizza Bread

Averie Sunshine / averiecooks.com

 

Why use it: Avocados are rich in the proteins, fats, and enzymes supplied by meat, and will satisfy your cravings and your tastebuds.

What to do with it: Use large bites in salads, and slice or spread for sandwiches. They also make great additions to chilli, pizza, and savoury pies.

Get the recipes:
Open-Faced Power Breakfast Sandwich
Veggie Sushi Bowl
Avocado Veggie Panini
30-Minute Avocado Skillet Pizza

5. Nuts

Spicy Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

Vegetarian Nut Loaf

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Raw Vegan Walnut-Chorizo Tacos

Rachel Carr / rachelcarr.com

Peanut Noodles with Napa Cabbage

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Why use it: With a variety of textures and flavours to choose from, nuts provide many beneficial nutrients comparable to meat, including proteins and healthy fats.

What to do with them: Marinate them overnight in sauce for a soft and meaty texture in stir fries and stews, grind them into mince for tacos, crush and pack them into loaves, or roast and use them to top soups and salads.

Get the recipes:
Spicy Cashew Lettuce Wraps
Vegetarian Nut Loaves
Raw Vegan Walnut-Chorizo Tacos
Peanut Noodles with Napa Cabbage

6. Aubergine

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Roasted Eggplant

Dana Shultz / minimalistbaker.com

Crispy Eggplant Parmensan Subs

Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson / abeautifulmess.com

 

BLT with Eggplant Bacon

Kiersten / ohmyveggies.com

Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Miso Sauce

Caroline Phelps / pickledplum.com

 

Why use it: Aubergine aka eggplant has a consistency that has seen it used as a convincing an natural meat substitute for centuries.

What to do with it: Mash it, fry it, sauté it, bake it; it makes an excellent filler for pastas, can be mashed for patties and balls, served up on its own, or sliced and fried to a crisp for a veggie BLT.

Get the recipes:
Vegan Stuffed Shells with Roasted Eggplant
Crispy Eggplant Parmesan Subs
BLT with Eggplant Bacon
Sauteed Eggplant with Spicy Miso Sauce

7. Beans

Black Bean Burger Patties

Caroline Phelps / pickledplum.com

Broccoli and White Bean Lasagna

Lindsay / pinchofyum.com

 

Miso Kale and Black Bean Burritos

Katie Henry / produceonparade.com

Spicy Edamame Burgers

Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson / abeautifulmess.com

 

Why use it: Beans give a grounding heartiness to your meal, are high in protein, and provide many different varieties, tastes, and textures to play with.

What to do with it: Mash them into veggie-burger patties, use them to fill burritos, sandwiches, salads, and pasta, turn them into a mean soup, or enjoy all on their own!

Get the recipes:
Black Bean Burger Patties
Broccoli and White Bean Lasagna
Miso Kale and Black Bean Burritos
Spicy Edamame Burgers

8. Cheese

Grilled Cheese Chop Salad

Sommer and Dan Collier / aspicyperspective.com

Mushroom and Brie Sausages

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

Grilled Halloumi Tacos

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

Indian Style Paneer Pizza

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

Why use it: With protein, calcium, and healthy fats, cheese provides needed nutrients while also filling density to your meal.

What to do with it: Fry cutlets to go with your salad or use thick cheeses like halloumi or paneer to fill out any wrap or sandwich. Get creative by making cheese-based veggie sausages, or go more classic by using cheese as the main topping on pizzas and flatbreads.

Get the recipes:
Grilled Cheese Chop Salad
Mushroom and Brie Sausages
Grilled Halloumi Tacos
Indian Style Paneer Pizza

9. Quinoa

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan

Jessica DaSilva / portuguesegirlcooks.com

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Rachel Gurk / rachelcooks.com

 

One Skillet Southwestern Quinoa

Julia Jolliff / acedarspoon.com

Mexican Quinoa Bake

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

Why use it:Quinoa is protein-rich and crazy-easy to cook. A versatile texture allows it to “beef” up any meal.

What to do with it: Make cakes to eat over salads or in wraps and burgers, combine it with your tomato sauce for a more textured and hearty spaghetti, or use it to add density to your veggie minces and casseroles.

Get the recipes:
Quinoa Cakes with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan
Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
One Skillet Southwestern Quinoa
Mexican Quinoa Bake

10. Lentils

Ultimate Green Taco Wrap with Lentil-Walnut Taco Meat

Angela Liddon / ohsheglows.com

Protein Packed Vegan Sloppy Joes

Katie Henry / produceonparade.com

 

BBQ Lentil Boazi

Katie Henry / produceonparade.com

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Ella / pureella.com

 

Why use it: Lentils are a strong alternative protein source, and are also virtually fat-free, making them a great meat alternative for lean eaters. Texturally they can sub in well for minces.

What to do with it: Use lentils to create juicy fillings for tacos, pot pies, and dumpling, or use them to thicken up veggie chili.

Get the recipes:
Ultimate Green Taco Wrap
Protein Packed Vegan Sloppy Joes
BBQ Lentil Boazi
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

11. Tofu

Chipotle Tofu Chilaquiles

Dana Shultz / minimalistbaker.com

Superfood Green Collard Wraps

Ella / pureella.com

 

Sesame Tempura Tofu Stirfry

Ella / pureella.com

Zucchini Wrapped Mini Vegan Quiches

Ella / pureella.com

 

Why use it: Protein-rich, and with a mild natural flavour and absorbent texture, tofu soaks up all the good flavours of your dish and adds some filling bulk.

What to do with it: Mince it, crumble it, or use cubes or rods to add a melt-in-your-mouth element to any meal.

Get the recipes:
Simple Tofu Chilaquiles
Superfood Green Collard Wraps
Sesame Tempura Tofu Stir Fry
Zucchini Wrapped Mini Vegan Quiches

12. Sweet potato

Sweet Potato and Asparagus Cakes

Livvy Zimmerman / 86lemons.com

Sweet Potato and Feta Dinner Skillet

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Sweet Potato and Feta Galette

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

Curried Sweet Potato Farro Salad

Alejandra Ramos / alwaysorderdessert.com

 

Why use it: Fibrous, hearty, and flavourful, sweet potato can save any flimsy dish.

What to do with it: Mash and bake it into savoury cakes, or use cubes or disks in scrambles, pies, and salads to add texture and substance.

Get the recipes:
Sweet Potato and Asparagus Cakes
Sweet Potato and Feta Dinner Skillet
Sweet Potato and Feta Galette
Curried Sweet Potato and Farro Salad

13. Egg

Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

Egg Fu Yung

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

White Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions, and Egg

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

Asparagus Spaghetti with a Fried Egg

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

Why use it: An egg or two adds a protein boost, calcium, healthy fats, and a juicy, savoury flavour to any dish.

What to do with it: An egg is good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Serve a fried egg over grains or in tacos and sandwiches; alternatively, boil and chop into salad or scramble them up for a filling meal.

Get the recipes:
Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
Egg Fu Yung
White Pizza with Pecorino, Scallions, and Egg
Asparagus Spaghetti with a Fried Egg

14. Tempeh

Lentil and Tempeh Lettuce Wrap

Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson / abeautifulmess.com

Buffalo Tempeh Wings

Lisa / alimentageuse.com

 

Vegan BLT

Lisa / alimentageuse.com

Tempeh Fricase

Lauren Rea / adashofsoul.com

 

Why use it: Tempeh is a patty made from cooked and fermented soy beans, making it protein-rich and a slightly denser option than its relative tofu.

What to do with it: Fill wraps or sandwiches, or marinate, fry, bake, or sauté larger portions for a hearty skillet meal or finger food.

Get the recipes:
Lentil and Tempeh Lettuce Wrap
Buffalo Tempeh Wings
Vegan BLT
Tempeh Fricase

15. Polenta

Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad

Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson / abeautifulmess.com

Grilled Polenta with White Beans and Tomato

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

 

Mini Polenta Pizzas

Sarah Yates / ahouseinthehills.com

Peppered Polenta Stacks

Meg / beardandbonnet.com

 

Why use it: Polenta’s main strength is its texture and versatility. It can sate cravings for meat or fill the hole on a plate where a steak might go.

What to do with it: Commonly served as a creamy mash, polenta can also be grilled, fried, or baked into a more solid form to create cutlets and rich bite-sized morsels to make your meal unique and hearty. Serve with protein-rich sides, like avocados, cheese, or eggs for a balanced plate, or use it as the main ingredient in savoury appetisers.

Get the recipes:
Baked Polenta and Tomato Salad
Grilled Polenta with White Beans and Tomatoes
Mini Polenta Pizzas
Peppered Polenta Stacks

16. Artichokes

Artichoke and Green Olive Sausages

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

Artichoke Gratinata

Kiersten / ohmyveggies.com

 

Spring Pizza with Artichoke, Leek, and Fennel

Cara Eisenpress / biggirlssmallkitchen.com

Quick Linguini with Artichoke

Jen Nikolaus / yummyhealthyeasy.com

 

Why use it: Fibrous and flavour-packed, artichokes are a great main ingredient to sub in where some recipes call for chicken or pork.

What to do with it: Add roughly cut chunks to casseroles, pizzas, and pasta, or crush and create unique sausages and patties.

Get the recipes:
Artichoke and Green Olive Sausages
Artichoke Gratinata
Spring Pizza with Artichoke, Leek, and Fennel
Quick Linguini with Artichoke

17. Chickpeas

Tomato, Olive and Chickpea Quesadillas

Cookie and Kate / cookieandkate.com

Curried Chickpea Pot Pie

Becca John / amuse-your-bouche.com

 

Zucchini Noodles with Arrabiata Chickpeas

Cookie and Kate / cookieandkate.com

Chickpea Ratatouille

Livvy Zimmerman / 86lemons.com

 

Why use it: Chickpeas are high in protein and have a full, meaty texture that makes them an easy substitute in almost any recipe.

What to do with it: Serve them cold in salads and wraps, or sauté or bake them for pastas, casseroles, curries, and pot pies. Get creative and pop them into quesadillas or breakfast scrambles, or go classic with a falafel or hummus spread for sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

Get the recipes:
Tomato, Olive and Chickpea Quesadillas with Dill Yogurt Dip
Curried Chickpea Pot Pie
Zucchini Noodles with Arrabatia Chickpeas
Chickpea Ratatoulli

18. Squash

Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili

Cookie and Kate / cookieandkate.com

Savory Squash Crepes

Susan / rawmazing.com

 

Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad

Sarah Yates / ahouseinthehills.com

Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Tart

Meg / beardandbonnet.com

 

Why use it: With a fibrous texture and juicy flavour, squash adds a punch and is a good textural sub for meat in most cases.

What to do with it: Chop into cubes, disks, or rings to complete any salad, casserole, or stew.

Get the recipes:
Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili
Savoury Squash Crepes
Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad
Grilled Vegetable and Hummus Tart

19. Cabbage

Kohlrabi Scallops

Rachel Carr / rachelcarr.com

Kimchi Grilled Cheese

Jennifer Jenner / 84thand3rd.com

 

Simple Vegetable Paella

Alex Overhiser / acouplecooks.com

Haluski

Molly Sheridan / wonderlandkitchen.com

 

Why use it: Tender and flavourful, cabbage will fibre and heartiness to your plate. And can be subbed where recipes call for chicken, pork, and fish.

What to do with it: Use kohlrabi for ingenious veggie scallops, shred and dress for a pulled-veggie sandwich, or roughly chop cabbage heads to add substantive bites to veggie paella or pasta.

Get the recipes:
Kohlrabi Scallops
Kimchi Grilled Cheese
Simple Vegetable Paella
Haluski

20. Mushrooms

Vegan Portobello Pizza

Dana Shulz / minimalistbaker.com

Mushroom Spring Rolls

Caroline Phelps / pickledplum.com

 

Shittake Bacon

Jennifer Jenner / 84thand3rd.com

Mushroom Tacos

Adrianna Adarme / acozykitchen.com

 

Why use it: Mushrooms take flavour with ease and provide a tender and hearty texture, plus a healthy dose of protein to sate your cravings.

What to do with it: Sauté or bake them for pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps. They can also be fried crisp and used for veggie BLTs and breakfast plates!

Get the recipes:
Vegan Portobello Pizza
Mushroom Spring Rolls
Shittake Bacon
Mushroom Tacos

21. Jackfruit

BBQ Pulled “Pork”

Ashley Melillo / blissfulbasil.com

BBQQ Jackfruit Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Shannon Cebron / yupitsvegan.com

 

Buffalo “Chicken” Salad

Ashley Melillo / blissfulbasil.com

Chipotle Jackfruit Carnitas

Shannon Cebron / yupitsvegan.com

 

Why use it: Jackfruit is a fibrous miracle fruit from India that offers a shredded, tender consistency to give any dish fantastic texture.

What to do with it: Slow cook or toss it in your favourite sauces and seasonings and add to salads, sandwiches, and pastas, and be happy.

Get the recipes:
BBQ Pulled “Pork”
BBQ Jackfruit Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese
Buffalo “Chicken” Salad
Chipotle Jackfruit Carnitas

PRO TIP 1: Combine any number of these hearty meal-fillers to create your own unique patties, sausages, and loaves!

PRO TIP 2: It’s not as versatile as the ingredients on our list, but coconut does make a mean bacon for salad and soup toppings.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

Chelsey Pippin is commissioning editor for features at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
 
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