The summer barbeque is one of the greatest joys of the season, but for the plant-based among us, a cookout is often lacking the main course. Or that was then. Now, the choices in vegan burgers are growing faster than ever, and the products nearing perfection. Sales of vegan burgers are outpacing most other food categories and what is interesting is that 93 percent of people buying Beyond Burgers are meat-eaters. So add some vegan burgers to your grill and watch everyone fight over the chance to try them!
Now you can stand at the grocery frozen foods section and find an impressive selection of vegan burgers made from everything from pea protein to kelp. Several companies, most notably Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, have gotten so close to replicating the taste and texture of conventional beef burgers that even your most die-hard meat eaters will have trouble telling the difference. Several of the burgers even “bleed” like real beef, by using heme or beet juice to mimic the juice of a real meat burger.
Most consumers who are seeking healthier and more environmentally friendly foods seek out these, meat-alternatives because the companies tout them as better for the planet – and due to the fact that they contain fiber and no saturated fat, better for you. But that debate rages on as the number of ingredients in vegan burgers can be higher than 15, giving critics the ammo they need to argue that processed food is never as good as the real thing.
Most of the burgers on this list are considered highly processed foods and whether they are manufactured in a way that is less damaging to the environment as raising beef, which is a known environmental polluter, has yet to be proven. (The SEC recently passed a rule that publically traded companies that claim to be “climate-friendly” will soon have to prove it with transparent disclosures of how they make their products.) Beyond, Impossible and others have staked their reputations on climate benefits as well as the fact that no animals are killed in the creation of their burgers.
So whatever your reason for choosing a plant-based burger, the final analysis of how environmentally friendly or how healthy they are is still up for grabs. If you are looking for a more “whole food” veggie burger, check out The Best Veggie Burgers to Buy That Are Actually Healthy.
This taste test used 10 criteria for health (such as whether it contains more than 3 grams of protein) and 10 attributes relating to taste (including would we buy it again) to determine a score for each burger. To see the entire list of attributes used in the ratings (each checkmark is worth half a beet on our Beet Meter review), take a look at the full set of requirements. One health attribute is that the first ingredient on the label should be a whole food. Almost none of these burgers do, since they are made from things like “protein isolate”
As for the price, many consumers balk at paying more for a meat-alternative vegan burger than the real thing. But with the cost of food going up, the price of vegan meat may reach price parity as soon as 2023 and eventually become even cheaper than beef. For example, Impossible Foods’ vegan burger has an MSRP of $6.99 for a package with 2 patties, as compared with a pound of 96% All Natural Lean Beef from Walmart which is selling for $6.48 a pound.
Vegan Burgers Are No Longer a Novelty
Designed to taste and look like conventional meat products, the vegan burger, once a novelty has earned its rightful place on the grill. With robust, beef-like flavors, several of the most popular vegan burgers are virtually indistinguishable from meat. As for their nutrition value, over the years, these vegan meat-alternative makers have made sure to pack their products with protein, fiber, iron, and other essential nutrients.
We taste-tested the best-selling vegan burgers available at retail nationwide, just in time for grilling season. What distinguishes a lot of these burgers from traditional veggie burgers (such as black bean or lentil burgers) is that these meat alternatives are trying to taste just like meat, while a black bean or beat or mushroom burger is not, and has its own plant-based integrity as a different tasting patty. Here is our guide to the best vegan burgers on the market.
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
Beyond Meat’s vegan patty cooks beautifully and replicates everything you’d want from a classic grilled burger. Even more impressive, Beyond’s plant-based burger packs in 20 grams of protein per patty with a new reduced-fat recipe designed to excite anyone’s taste buds.
The biggest drawback of this burger is the unappetizing smell before it’s cooked (don’t let the dog too close since it smells a bit like your best friend’s dinner). Despite that, the Beyond Burger is a tasty and hearty meat alternative.
Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 5g
Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger
Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger lives up to its name by getting closer to the real thing than the more hyped competitors that have bigger marketing budgets. This plant-based burger is the underdog champion in our estimation. It sears perfectly on the grill and retains a juicy, mouthwatering texture and beef-like flavor. Plus there is no risk of the thicker patty falling apart. If you prefer a thicker patty, this is the choice for you. But add a minute or two to your cooking time to compensate. With 20 grams of protein per 230 calories, this delicious, allergy-friendly burger is indeed perfect.
Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 2g
Field Roast Chef’s Signature Plant-Based Burger
Unlike the others in this category, Field Roast uses a panoply of vegetables and they are all in full evidence with every bite. So if you prefer a more veggie-centric burger, this is your best option. The Chef’s Signature burger contains a blend of carrots, garlic, celery, and other vegetables, resulting in a dynamically flavored and juicy burger. However, if you’re looking for a plant-based burger that closely replicates the real taste of beef, this is not the choice for you. This vegan patty is easily cooked on the grill or on the stove, and can also be crumbled up for chili. This is also a low-fat option with only 12 grams of fat per 240 calories.
Total Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 4g
Impossible Foods Impossible Burger
Everyone will show up to the cookout when this mouthwatering plant-based burger is on the grill. Famous for its heme-iron content that when heated makes the burger look like it’s actually bleeding, the Impossible Burger is good enough to trick any die-hard meat-eater. Packed with 19 grams of protein, this plant-based burger sets the standards for how a vegan patty should taste.
Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 8g
Future Farm Future Burger
Future Farm is newer to the scene, but it offers a bolder flavor than some of its competitors and the texture is more appealing for anyone who is not a fan of the “bleeding” heme burgers since this one uses beetroot powder to give it its realistic pink hue. Both meat-eaters and vegans will like the meaty taste of this soy- and pea-based burger. Nutritionally speaking it’s straight down the middle, with 16 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 11g of saturated fat. This fat content means the burger cooks up just like a real burger, providing a delectable crispy sear.
Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 11g
Lightlife Plant-Based Burgers
Lightlife’s Plant-Based Burgers remain one of the most consistently affordable options at the grocery store. For only $4.48 per two burgers package, Lightlife is the best bet for a big vegan cookout. Lightlife made a big fuss over the fact that its formula uses 11 ingredients, as compared to Beyond’s 19 listed on the label, to say to consumers: We’re the cleaner, less processed choice. That may be true but it’s also the least flavorful, and you may want to spice it up before serving your guests. Lightlife’s plant-based patty makes up for it with its impressive nutritionals. Each patty is packed with 20 grams of protein and delivers 25 percent of your daily iron. Free of both soy and gluten, this burger is also a safe option for everyone at the BBQ who may have food allergies or sensitivities.
Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 5g
Meatless Farm Plant-Based Burgers
Need a meal on a tight schedule? Meatless Farm’s slim plant-based burger is a perfect quick lunch option. Despite some lacking flavor, the Meatless Farm burger is one of the healthier options available, containing only 11.9 grams of fat and 5.1 grams of fiber. The burger is also one of the most protein-heavy with 24.7 grams of protein per patty. However, the ingredient list is oil-heavy, which is definitely a drawback.
Total Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 5g
MorningStar Farms Incogmeato Plant-Based Burger Patties
Morningstar Farms’ cleverly named Incogmeato patties are served in 3,000 universities and hospitals all over the country; since kids are picky, if they like it, you know you will too. This plant-based burger made from soy protein is firm and guaranteed not to crumble on the grill. The Incogemeato burger sears and sizzles even better than the Beyond Burger. MorningStar has several products with eggs so watch out if you are trying to avoid all dairy and check the labels. These Incogmeato burgers contain 21 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Though the flavoring is a little bland, add your own for a tasty, protein-packed vegan burger.
Total Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 5g
Ozo Plant-Based Burgers
Ozo’s Plant-Based Burgers taste more like super lean meat, almost like bison if you have ever tried that. Despite a thicker consistency and relative density, these patties are ready for you to add your own flavoring and spice it up a bit before they go on the grill. The good news: the Ozo burger is a low-calorie option with the highest protein of any we have found, with 22 grams of protein per 210 calories. Ozo works best when crumbled and added to sauces and tacos when combined with spices, tomato sauce, and vegetables. Keep Ozo on hand for your next occasion or taco night.
Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 2g