The Ultimate Plant Based Burger Taste-Off!




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holding a plant based burger with all the fixings

The Ultimate Plant Based Burger Taste-Off!  We ate meatless burgers for a week to review the Beyond Burger and 12 other popular veggie burgers.  Vegan meat is the hottest trend this summer ~ and the only thing that separates you from a great plant based burger is a great taste test.  How do they all stack up?  Read on for the results!

 

The Beyond Burger at Carls Jr, an Impossible Whopper at Burger King… meatless burgers are finally catching on, in a big way.  I’ve been singing the praises of veggie burgers for years here on the blog, in fact one of my very earliest posts was about the soy burgers I learned to make while working in a restaurant in college.  I’ve been waiting for this for years…but you have to be careful what you wish for.

I adore veggie burgers, but what about ‘fake meat’?  There’s an important difference!

Vegan meat, or imitation meat that’s made to look, feel, and act like raw beef, is having a moment right now.  Investors are lining up, restaurants are racing to put it on their menus, and everybody’s talking about it.  But there are lots of other meatless burger options to explore besides the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat.  We taste tested different brands and types of veggie burgers that we shopped for locally here in Los Angles.  We’re going to delve into the specifics and hopefully come up with a surefire winner or two for all your summer grilling.  

Chickpea Veggie Burgers are simple to make, and you can keep a big stack of them in the freezer for healthy eating any time! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

There are 3 ways to enjoy veggie burgers ~

  • You can order one in a restaurant or fast food establishment, they’re popping up everywhere these days.
  • You can make your own, which is my preference.  I have several great veggie burger options on the blog.  My current favorite homemade veggie burger is my Chickpea Veggie Burger, yum!!
  • You can buy them from your favorite supermarket and cook them up at home, either on the stove or the grill.  Today we’re focussing on these meatless burgers that you can buy and grill up at home.  

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Veggie Burger on a wooden board

The plant based burger patties we tested ~

Note: Beyond Meat is sold fresh, the rest are sold frozen.  The photos below are of the uncooked burgers.

  • Beyond Meat the beyond burger
  • Engine 2 pinto habanero plant burger
  • Gardein ultimate beefless burger
  • Hilary’s world’s best veggie burger
  • Amy’s all American veggie burger
  • Amy’s black bean veggie burger
  • Amy’s California veggie burger
  • Boca all American veggie burger
  • Dr. Praeger’s super greens veggie burger
  • Morning Star Farms spicy black bean veggie burger
  • Trader Joe’s hi-protein veggie burger
  • Trader Joe’s Thai sweet chili veggie burger
  • Trader Joe’s vegetable masala burgers

Tasting highlights ~

The Beyond Burger, meatless burger

The Beyond Burger  (vegan, soy and gluten free)

Beyond Meat is not lab grown, it’s made entirely from plants, and it sure does look like red meat.  But I’m going to be honest and admit right up front that I have a prejudice against the whole idea of mimicking raw ground meat, so the fresh Beyond Meat patty didn’t appeal to me at all.  In fact, full disclosure, I couldn’t bring myself to taste it, that’s how visceral my reaction was.  Grant tasted this one for both of us.

Beyond Meat is made mostly of pea protein isolate and coconut oil.   The burger mimics the bleed of raw meet with beet juice, and is sometimes called the ‘bleeding burger’.  The package states that even when fully cooked the inside will remain pinkish-red.

Takeaway: I think it depends on how infatuated you are with red meat.  I found it off-putting   Grant said it had the perfect taste, texture, and ‘chew’ of a great burger.   We couldn’t be more split on this one, but if you’re a die hard carnivore, definitely try this one.

Pinto habanero veggie burger

Engine 2 Pinto Habanero Burger (vegan, cholesterol free)

This burger picked up points in the looks department.  For me it was the most appealing visually, even in its frozen state.  I liked that I could see different ingredients clearly, even some fresh herbs!  I like that it tells me what’s in it right in the name, and it looked the most like something I would make myself from scratch.

Takeaway: it was disappointing.  After I grilled this one up, added a slab of nice Swiss cheese, thinly sliced red onion, ripe tomato, and lettuce on a brioche bun, the burger itself was squishy and fell apart with each bite.  

Gardein ultimate beefless burger

Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger (vegan, dairy free, kosher)

Not much of a looker, that’s for sure, but then again, that’s not the point.  After we cooked it up in the cast iron skillet for about 4 minutes per side, it looked almost identical to a fast food burger.  It even had a juicy sheen to it.  We both agreed the flavor and texture was very ‘burger-y’ ~ and mimicked a fast food burger very well.  The flavor was surprisingly meaty without any artificial taste or identifiable added spice.  It actually tasted like it was grilled up on a barbecue.

Takeaway: this one is definitely worth a try if you love a classic fast food burger.

Hilary's World's Best Veggie Burger

Hilary’s World’s Best Veggie Burger (vegan, allergen free)

This was the palest of the burgers, with a somewhat spongy texture.  The flavor wasn’t there.  This was a pass for both of us.

Takeaway: skip this one!

Amy's All American Veggie Burger

Amy’s All American Veggie Burger (vegan, dairy free, contains wheat, soy, and nuts)

Amy’s is a favorite brand of mine, I trust the quality of their ingredients, so I was interested to test their veggie burgers.  The All American burger had a good firm texture, and a hint of chili spice.

Takeaway: a good firm textured veggie burger that held together well, with a definite Southwestern spice.

 


Amy's Black Bean Veggie Burger

Amy’s Black Bean Veggie Burger (vegan, dairy and nut free, contains wheat and soy)

This one was nice, but sort of run of the mill.  It had too many competing flavors for me.  If you like a spicy burger, with clear chunks of mushroom, black bean and corn, you might prefer it.  The flavors are pleasant, but definitely more assertive than a regular burger would be.

Takeaway: Amy’s is known for recipes with this flavor profile, and they do it well.  This burger had a looser, chunkier texture than the other two Amy’s that I tested.  I’d consider it more of a vegetable fritter.

 


Amy's California Veggie Burger

Amy’s California Veggie Burger (organic, vegan, dairy and soy free, does contain wheat and nuts)

Grant and I agreed that this burger as the closest to tasting and feeling like a regular burger among the Amy’s selection.  It didn’t have any overwhelming spice or flavor to compete with the ‘burger’ vibe, and had the shortest ingredient list of the 3 other Amy’s products, which I like.  The texture was relatively firm and the exterior crisped up nicely.  

Takeaway: a nice all around meatless burger made with simple natural ingredients.  The texture was firm and ‘meaty’ and held together well while cooking.  No strong flavors to detract from the ‘burger’ vibe.  This was the most like a beef burger of all the Amy’s.

 


Boca All American Veggie Burger

Boca All American Veggie Burger (soy protein)

Boca is the original and probably the most recognizable name in veggie burgers previous to this new wave.  After it cooked up it had the look of a beef burger.  It had good flavor, but for me the texture was just a little bit more grainy than the similar Gardein burger.  Still good though, for sure.  We both liked it a lot. 

Takeaway: this is a good one to try if you like fast food style beef burgers.  It had a meat vibe rather than a veggie vibe.

Dr. Praeger's Super Greens Burger

Dr. Praeger’s Super Greens Veggie Burger (vegan, gluten and soy free)

I have to admit, the mossy green exterior did put me off a bit…not sure that’s what I’m looking for in a burger.  We were both taken aback by how soft and squishy this patty was after it cooked…it had a creamed spinach type of consistency.  It did have nice flavor, though, and was an appealing bright green inside.  The ingredient list was clean and all natural.  I could see using it as a base for eggs.   

Takeaway: Nice green flavor, and super healthy, just not a burger.

Morning Star Farms veggie burger

Morning Star Farms Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger (contains soy, wheat, egg and milk)

This one was interesting…it had a nice spicy Southwest type of flavor, and lots of texture with the beans and corn.  It doesn’t mimic beef, but it’s an interesting patty.  It wasn’t mushy, which is good.  

Takeaway: if you aren’t looking for imitation beef, this makes a good spicy veggie burger with a south of the border vibe.  Not mushy.

Trader Joe's Protein Burger

Trader Joe’s Hi Protein Veggie Burger (pea protein, vegan)

This burger had nice flavor, and seemed very burger-ish.  The only drawback?  The dreaded mushy interior.  Not terrible, though, and it bothered my husband more than it did me.  I liked that it developed a little bit of a crisp crust as it cooked.  

Takeaway: in the running as a good all around meatless burger, but a little mushy.  Helps to cook it thoroughly so it crisps on the outside.

 


Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Veggie Burger

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger (vegan, contains wheat)

This got thumbs up from us, but interestingly, not as a burger.  We think they’d be great for breakfast, with an egg on top.  The flavor had a nice hit of curry, and lots of nice texture, but we thought it was a little too potato-heavy to be good on a bun.   

Takeaway: flavor and texture was excellent, but better for breakfast or brinner with eggs.

 


Trader Joe's Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger

Trader Joe’s Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger (vegan, rice based, contains soy and wheat)

This one had the same problem as the previous TJs patty: delicious, just not as a burger on a bun.  It would make a lovely breakfast or brinner with eggs, which is how I’m going to finish out the box.  Think of it as super seasoned and crispy hash browns.  

Takeaway: potato is not an ideal ingredient for a burger meant to be eaten on a bun, this was too starchy to be a burger.  

 


 

 

holding a plant based burger with all the fixings

She said: Gardein, Ultimate Beefless Burger

If you’re craving a McDonald’s style burger but don’t want the meat and all the baggage that comes with it, this one is a great substitute.  Definitely stock up for your next barbecue to share it with friends.  The more we can all embrace meatless meals, at least some of the time, the better :)

Gardein veggie burger package

 

He said:  Beyond Meat, The Beyond Burger 

The first words out of his mouth after one bite “I don’t ever need to have another beef burger again, I love this!”  He loved the texture, the flavor, and everything about this burger.  He asked me to buy it from now on.

Beyond Meat package

Where to find Beyond Meat and Gardein burgers ~

  • Beyond Meat is sold in grocery chains, Target, and you can order it from Amazon Fresh.  It’s set to launch in the UK this summer.  They also make Beyond Sausage  Look for it next to the regular ground beef.  It’s sometimes in the freezer section.  Here’s a store locator for your area.
  • Gardein is sold in grocery stores, Walmart, Target, and you can always get it on Instacart or Amazon Fresh.  In fact there are pages and pages of veggie burgers on Amazon Fresh, so stock up for the summer and do your own taste test.  Happy grilling, and be sure to leave me your favorite meatless burgers in the comments below :)

 

 

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48 Comments

  • Reply
    Beth Walters
    June 7, 2019 at 6:11 pm

    TBH, I am not a fan of things pretending to be something they are not.
    I have tried the Beyond meat burger and don’t understand the hype. The texture is close to meat, but it isn’t quite there and I still had that metallic aftertaste that hangs in the back of your throat that is common to so many non-meat burgers. It is also quite pricey. While some of my friends love it, it was a definite no for me.
    The best meatless burgers I have found are still homemade, but ultimately, if I’m going to have a burger, I want a BURGER, not something masquerading as a burger.
    As an aside, I made a fantastic chicken burger last night. Baby steps…

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 7, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      Baby steps are great…I love salmon burgers :)

  • Reply
    Anon
    June 3, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t understand why you’d do a burger review only not to taste one of the contenders. It’s like giving a restaurant a bad review just because you walked past and didn’t like the aesthetic. I get you might not like the idea of plant based foods mimicking meat, but then just don’t include it.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 3, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      I wanted to include it because it’s such an important contender in the world of meatless burgers, and I did make a point to include my husband’s impressions of it. I think it’s important to be honest about my feelings :)

  • Reply
    Maggie
    June 2, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    As a vegan, I have to say I’m glad more restaurants are carrying BB and Impossible burgers. It makes easier to eat when we’re out. A lot of veggie burgers aren’t vegan (eggs as binder). Nothing pains me more than paying $8 for a salad. Not to mention the weird looks we get when I whip out my Follow Your Heart salad dressing from my bag lol.
    Great post, will look into some of the other brands you mentioned.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 2, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      Hey Maggie, thanks for your support ~ and that’s a good point about veggie burgers often not being vegan, there are so many variables to keep straight!

  • Reply
    Friday Faves | foodiecrush
    May 24, 2019 at 5:00 am

    […] Plant burgers are everywhere right now, here’s a taste test showdown of which is best. […]

  • Reply
    Joy Massa
    May 23, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Hi Sue! First…I LOVE the stacked veggie burger photo! So great! And you caught me LOLing when you said; ,,,we’ll put an egg on it”! At our house, we say that after every dinner, where there’s just a bit leftover, & not enough to have another meal!
    As complete as your taste test is; I love the Organic Sunshine burgers. Sunflower seed/brown rice based with great flavor choices…..just sayin’ they are worth including. I’ve had so many specific requirements, from family & friends, looking for a good veggie burger. Sometimes with all the special conditions, homemade is complicated, and a good, clean commercial source is an important go-to,

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 23, 2019 at 12:01 pm

      I’ll definitely look for the Sunshine burgers, you’ve got me curious. And you’re so right about all the special dietary restrictions/preferences of people now, it helps to have a couple of different types of veggie burgers in the freezer. Thanks for stopping by Joy :)

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 23, 2019 at 4:23 am

    As an add on to my comment above what is the sodium content on the various burgers ?! What is in the burger that has 18 g of fat what is it that’s making it so high in fat?

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 23, 2019 at 7:06 am

      I’ll have to do a follow up post on the healthiest veggie burger! Most of them are high in sodium to boost their flavor. The Beyond Burger’s stats are:

      Calories: 290

      Total fat (g): 22

      Saturated fat (g): 5

      Cholesterol (mg): 0

      Sodium (mg): 450

      Protein (g): 20

      Iron (Daily Value %): 25%

      The fat comes from the coconut oil that is its second largest ingredient.

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 23, 2019 at 4:15 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but haven’t been cooking much for a year I became vegetarian and October and I’ve stuck with it but haven’t ventured into this venue !! You did all the hard work for me ! I love the reviews that you gave me and I can’t wait to buy them !

  • Reply
    Tricia | Saving Room for Dessert
    May 22, 2019 at 10:28 pm

    I must be living under a rock because I’ve never heard of the Beyond Burger. We used to eat Boca burgers all the time and loved them. We need to get back to a veggie burger occasionally, especially since we eat less meat these days. Great reviews – what a wonderful resource of information!

  • Reply
    Lauri
    May 22, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve been following you for quite a while and love your recipes and posts. I was looking forward to reading your thoughts on veggie burgers but found the number of ads and the continual pictures of the woman with the light so off-putting that I couldn’t enjoy the article. I get that you need sponsors to do what you do, but it’s getting so invasive that i’m Done with trying to follow you and others. Bums me out because it’s been a really enjoyable thing for me but this is why I avoid so much social media. I just want to read the good things that talented people have to share.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      I hear you, and I agree with you, but I don’t know what I can do about it, Lauri. The thing about online businesses is that they run on ads. You should know that I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make it more user friendly. I hope you’ll stick with me!!

  • Reply
    Frank Mosher
    May 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Just another thought Sue: Could it be possible that you like your burgers well done, and thus revolted at the “pretend beet juice” colour of the Beyond Burger? Just a thought.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      I do like my meat relatively well done, but it’s not so much that, as the ‘fake’ aspect. I’m put off by food that is too manipulated or removed from nature. Lab created meat is the ultimate turn off for me!

  • Reply
    Frank Mosher
    May 22, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    The “Beyond Burger” could not taste any more like a “real” burger, not possible! Sensational taste, texture, and the beet juice gives it that rare to medium red color-HOWEVER, as great a substitute for red meat as it should be, it fails in one major regard: 18 GRAMS OF FAT in one veggie burger!!!! Inexcusable!! Might just as well go to your favourite burger joint and chomp down on something with the same fat content. No access to the other brands here in Canada, so can’t comment on same. Great blog!!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Thanks Frank, that’s an interesting point.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Rothman
    May 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Great article! I’ve tried many veggie burgers over the years and I agree with you 100%, the Gardein Beefless Burger is the BEST! So funny, I also can’t bring myself to try the Beyond Meat Burger either, I’ve made them for others, they just aren’t appealing to me.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      We’re two peas in a pod :)

  • Reply
    Eileen
    May 22, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    We have tried the Beyond Burgers a few times and my family loves them. We have never had them look like they are bleeding. Not burger related but at Del Taco you can also get the Beyond Taco or the Beyond Avacado Taco, they are yummy. You need to try a FieldBurger by Field Roast they are delicious. We personally do not like Morningstar Farms because most of there products are not non-GMO. The package is very misleading where it says in big letters on the front made with non-GMO soy, other ingredients apparently are GMO. or as they label it GE (genetically engineered).

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      I noticed the misleading labeling on a few different veggie burgers, Eileen, it is annoying.

  • Reply
    sassygirl
    May 22, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    i’ve been vegan for 7 years and absolutely love the beyond meat burger. grilled, it’s fantastic. i don’t care about eating faux foods, but its taste is great. i am so looking forward to trying an impossible
    burger (burger king, i think now has it?) but the rest of your testing group burgers are all meh to me.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      I think that’s why it’s so critical to the meatless movement that there are lots of options, people really do respond differently to the different variations. I believe Burger King has an Impossible Whopper on the menu now, so you can try that.

  • Reply
    Amy
    May 22, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Sue — As with everything you do, what a great job! Thank you so much!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 11:26 am

      I appreciate that <3

  • Reply
    Margaret
    May 22, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for this post. My husband needs to cut back on red meat so I’ve been exploring veggie burgers. I tried the Trader Joe’s Thai sweet chili and it tasted good but is not what I would classify as a burger. I live near where the Impossible Burger is produced so am going to try it at one of our local restaurants and I just used the store locator to see where I can get the Beyond Burger products where I shop. I’m also going to look for a recipe to make my own.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 11:17 am

      I have several good veggie burger recipes here on the blog Margaret, so be sure to check those out. My husband was told to cut back on red meat, too, which is part of what spurred this post.

  • Reply
    Rob
    May 22, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Sorry – they are good but I like my meat too and will continue to enjoy both.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 10:56 am

      Me too :)

  • Reply
    Julie Menghini
    May 22, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I appreciate this list. I’ve thought about trying veggie burgers but wasn’t sure which one.. Now I know.

  • Reply
    Beth
    May 22, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I’ve never had a veggie burger but with this helpful post, I can now pick something really tasty!! I think I’ll go with your recommendation to start with – YUM!

  • Reply
    Vicky
    May 22, 2019 at 10:02 am

    Thank you for this! Now I don’t have to go out and taste test a bunch of plant based burgers. You have done the work for me. These are great options for a meatless Monday.

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Debono
    May 22, 2019 at 9:50 am

    This is a great post! So interesting. We don’t have such a good choice of veggie burgers here in Italy, so I normally make my own when I want one. Would love to try the Beyond Meat one!

  • Reply
    Scott Citron
    May 22, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Although I haven’t tried all 13 burgers you tested, I have had one from Amy’s, Beyond Burger, Trader Joe’s, and Gardein. I completely agree with Sue that, hands down, the Gardein burger is best. Plus they only cost little more than $2 a piece.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:55 am

      Oh yay! Not that I’m not keeping score, but… ;)

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    May 22, 2019 at 8:25 am

    I too prefer a homemade burger, but sometimes it’s just convenient to eat a veggie burger when you are out or to buy them so it’s good to have a guide. I don’t think the bleeding one is for me though. Sharing!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:28 am

      Nope, def not into the ‘bleed’ ;)

  • Reply
    Louise Gray
    May 22, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Having been a vegetarian since 1974 and lately vegan since 2002, I have tried my share of veggie burgers and other “fake meat” products. I did try the Beyond Meat burgers and other products in their line. I was not greatly impressed. To me they seemed to be a little on the expensive side and as far as the burgers go-I do not need the meat resemblance. It is more about taste. Actually I confess that I do like the Morningstar Grillers, which were not mentioned. They have a nice nubby texture and a good flavor that I pair with onions, pickles, mayo (vegan-Hellman’s), ketchup, and mustard. It sure tastes good going down,

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:18 am

      Thanks for the Mornignstar recommendation, I’ll try them. And we feel the same way about not needing the resemblance to meat in our burgers, it really is all about the taste :)

  • Reply
    Jordan
    May 22, 2019 at 8:09 am

    I’m speechless, Sue! This is amazing. I’ve been loving veggie burgers (are they now called plant based?) since the 70s, but all I ever really buy is Any’s. I can’t wait to branch out and try some of these, THANK YOU for all your hard work!

  • Reply
    Ellen
    May 22, 2019 at 8:00 am

    The Beyond Burger is our absolute favorite. I’m cutting back on red met for health reasons, and my daughter has problems digesting all meats. We like the taste of meat, though, so the Beyond Burger is a hit with us. The problem we’ve found with many black bean burgers is that they’re too spicy. Other veggie burgers are good, but when you want the taste of a true backyard grillout, the Beyond fits the bill at our house.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:04 am

      Hey Ellen ~ I think the BB is really perfect for people who do have to cut back on red meat, (which is pretty much all of us!) And I agree about some of the other veggie burgers, I normally love spiced food, but somehow it detracts in the case of a burger. I love all the fixings, and don’t want the burger to overpower :)

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    May 22, 2019 at 7:54 am

    I haven’t actually had a Beyond Burger yet for reasons that are similar to yours: Why? I don’t see the point — I generally don’t like food that tries to mimic other foods. Be yourself! Anyway, this is a wonderful post — SO informative. And a lot of work on your part — thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

      They say it’s not really for ‘foodies’ like us, but more for people of are confirmed carnivores who either need or want to change their habits for health, the environment, or whatever. I think that’s accurate. Thanks for stopping by John :)

  • Reply
    Terry Covington
    May 22, 2019 at 3:20 am

    I appreciate the work that went into this – a lot. I’m with you that it’s been taking far too long for a really great veggie-based burger that’s good for the planet, and that many of them turn me off with the texture and/or flavor. I don’t have a food processor, but I think that the best options seem to be homemade recipes like the ones you have on your blog. Thank you for this post!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 22, 2019 at 7:24 am

      I agree with you there Terry, the best I’ve had are the homemade, for sure :)

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