What Is Ground Veal?

Angela Farrer

Ground veal is a type of beef made from calf meat rather than from fully-grown cattle meat. It is known for its tender texture, mild flavor, and low amounts of saturated fat. Just as with other veal cuts, the meat for ground veal comes only from the meat of male calves that have normally been bred on dairy farms. Trimmings from larger cuts of veal are usually placed in a grinder and formed into veal patties before packaging, freezing, and shipping. The meat is a staple ingredient in popular veal dishes such as meat loaf, veal Bolognese, and veal tourtiere.

Ground veal has a mild flavor.
Ground veal has a mild flavor.

Since male dairy calves are unable to produce milk or bear more calves, they are often designated for veal butchering as the most cost-effective option for dairy farmers. Standard veal calves are raised until they are about 16 weeks old before this process takes place. Just as with other kinds of ground meat, batches of minced veal can contain meat from the edges of various sections of the animal such as the flanks or short loins.

Until recently, the standard production of veal involved removing a newborn calf from its mother within 24-48 hours.
Until recently, the standard production of veal involved removing a newborn calf from its mother within 24-48 hours.

Many cooks like using ground veal because it is a lean meat that still has a good amount of flavoring. Although some recipes may call for veal to be tenderized with a kitchen mallet, this step can be overdone rather easily. Most good quality veal patties can be thinned out by hand as long as they are thawed completely. As with any type of ground meat, veal generally needs to be frozen if the cook does not plan on cooking it soon after purchase. Veal can be thawed safely in a microwave, in cold water, or in the refrigerator overnight.

Some of the simplest and most popular dishes with ground veal include veal meatballs and veal meatloaf. Many cooks mix small amounts of veal in with ground chicken or ground turkey to make healthier meatballs that still have a rich taste. Veal meatballs are usually served over pasta with marinara sauce, or they can also be served alone as an appetizer dish. Veal meatloaf is often prepared by mixing a larger volume of veal with ground beef and a variety of seasonings before baking it in the oven.

Another popular veal dish is veal Bolognese, which consists of crumbled ground veal that has been browned in a skillet with fresh garlic and onions. It is then mixed with tomato sauce before being poured over pasta. Veal tourtiere is a dish consisting of cooked ground veal inside a baked pie shell.

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Discussion Comments


The only time I buy veal is when I feel like making authentic veal parm. That requires veal cutlets, though. I've never bought ground veal, although it might work out well as a substitute for the cutlets sometime. I pound out the cutlets so much that they might as well have been put through a grinder.

I like to work with veal, but I find it doesn't have a very strong flavor on its own. I usually end up adding a lot of Italian spices to the breading in order to get past the blandness of the meat.


My mother used to make her meatloaf with a blend of ground beef, ground veal and ground pork. I can't remember the exact ratio, but it seems like she didn't use as much veal as she did pork and beef. She said it was too expensive, for one thing. I've since had meatloaf made with and without veal, and I have to say that ground veal does bring something good to the plate. I can't always find it in stores, but when I do, the next meal I make will be veal meatballs or meatloaf with veal.

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