Whether you’re a seasoned vegan, newbie vegan, or simply looking for ways to reduce your meat intake, it can be overwhelming to try and choose from the seemingly never-ending options for mock meats. Being an amatuer mock meat afficionado myself (and proud semi-seasoned vegan), I put together this list of what I believe to be the five best plant-based burger patties that truly satisfy when those indulgent cravings hit. Let’s dive in.
The Beyond Meat burger patty is without a doubt a winner for me. Part of the reason is that it looks incredibly realistic — it even “bleeds”, thanks to the beet juice. That part honestly kind of weirds me out, and it’s why I found real meat to be unappetizing. But I know it’s really important to those who are trying to find that perfect replacement, and let me tell you: this is as perfect as it gets right now. (That is until 3D-printed meat makes it to the mainstream market.)
The best features of it, though, and what gets higher remarks in my books is the taste and texture. For taste, Beyond Meat has such an interesting blend of spices. It’s smoky, incredibly flavorful (you don’t have to add any seasoning), and meaty. Some people complain about the smell because of the mix of spices you use, but the newer burger (see below) took note and reduced the off-putting smell. The texture is quite real too because it has a slight bounce to it, but when you fry it up and get the patty crispy, the Beyond Meat burger becomes even meatier. So I highly recommend making your burgers with Beyond!
And, they just released their Even-Better Beyond Burger that has all the flavor, but less saturated fat — I haven’t been able to try it yet, but if you have, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!
I know this can be a point of controversy, but the Impossible Foods burger comes in a very close second to the Beyond Meat patty. Just like its biggest competition, they seemed to nail attention to detail, including little white pieces of “animal fat,” the bleeding, and the color. Where Impossible Burger takes the cake over Beyond is that they made the patty look like one cohesive piece, rather than it looking like the elements were all pieced together, like its competition. It was so strange watching the Impossible patty cook on the stove because it sizzled and naturally greased the pan, just like real meat.
So where does Beyond beat Impossible?
It comes down to the taste and texture. Beyond meat is much more flavorful and also resembles more of the bounciness of meat. Impossible, while super tasty and realistic as well, it just falls a little short of what Beyond is bringing to the table. I found the patty to be a little crispier and drier than I wanted, and the flavor was a little too gamey because they use heme, an iron compound found in actual meat that gives it a slightly metallic (and gamey) taste. I also found the bits of fat in there to be too large and distracting from the patty.
While there are a ton of vegan burger patty options to choose from that are made from veggies and beans, there aren’t many at all that rival the genius product of Beyond and Impossible. But Nestle’s Sweet Earth Awesome Burger is probably the closest rival because it has almost all the elements found in Beyond and Impossible patties.
The texture is honestly impressive because I wasn’t sure if there were going to be any other meat-like burgers on the market that would give that same chewy-ness and bounciness like Beyond and Impossible achieved. Nestle even got the color detail down, the inside being reddish-pink.
My only criticism though is that I could tell this burger wasn’t cow meat. It more resembles a turkey burger because it’s not as chewy, umami, and juicy as meat or even like its rivals, Impossible and Beyond. While this isn’t necessarily bothersome to me, I know it could be for some people who crave the richness that a burger brings. However, that being said, this is still a very awesome (pun totally intended) option.
The Trader Joe’s plant-based protein patties are… very similar to Beyond Meat burger patties. In fact, I have a strong hunch that these patties are the less perfect Beyond Meat patties that are handed off to Trader Joe’s. So that’s also why they earn the 4th place spot — because they’re similar, but just not there in terms of believability. They taste great and have that smoky flavor still, but they just don’t cook as realistically as Beyond and Impossible. They also burn more easily instead of crisping up and they don’t have that bouncy texture you get with the other two patties. Not to mention, it looks a lot more like a plant-based beet patty than a real meat burger.
A quick disclaimer: I’ve read some reviews that Trader Joe’s plant-based protein patties are almost uneatable. While I didn’t have this experience, it’s possible their patties don’t go through any robust approving system (like the two mock meat giants), so it could be a real toss-up on the quality that you get. So just be warned and prepared!
With all that said though, this patty is the cheapest out of the three main mock meats (about half the price of Beyond and Impossible), so it’s still a great alternative for people who want to reduce their meat intake and crave a meaty burger. Especially with all the accouterments, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference!
While Beyond, Impossible, Trader Joe’s, and Sweet Earth are all trying to mimic and blend in with all the other meats in the meat section, Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger is different. They offer frozen patties that come in a zipped package that you can find in the veggie section of a grocery store, even though they look like they belong in the real meat section with their “colleagues.”
Gardein is really very close in giving that burger experience, complete with the juiciness, color, texture, flavor, and smell. The main complaint I have is that they can get mushy if you don’t thaw and cook them properly. This takes away from an important characteristic, which is the bounciness that you can find in Beyond and Impossible.
It’s important to note that the main complaint I’ve heard and read from other people is that these patties can give people stomach aches. So proceed with caution and check for any allergens, like gluten.
Food For Thought
Is there a plant-based burger you love that we missed on this list? Let us know what it is in the comments below and why you love it!