Monthly Burger Series: Plant-Based Burger
In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, we tried something brand-new for our October Featured Burger: a patty made of plant-based meat! This meat alternative burger, which looks and tastes similar to real ground beef, is a great protein option for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
Plant-based proteins have been gaining a lot of traction over the past few years, with more and more brands coming out with their own unique concepts. Popular brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have been cropping up in response to consumers’ desires for more sustainable food sources that may have certain health or environmental benefits. (Read more on these and other brands, below.)
Such plant-based protein options aim to mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of real meat, even down to the marbling and reddish color of the raw product, and the characteristic browning appearance when cooked. Because of their similarity to beef (in contrast to traditional “veggie burgers” and the like), this new category of food is perfect for first-time vegetarians craving a juicy burger, meat-eaters looking for occasional protein alternatives, or “flexitarians” – a newer diet trend among semi-vegetarians who focus mainly on plant-based foods but still enjoy meat and fish in moderation.
So whether you’re interested in trying a new type of diet or are just curious about these plant-based burgers you’ve been hearing about, why not give this recipe a try and see if you can taste the difference!
Plant-Based Burger with Smoky Chipotle Ketchup
The star focus of this burger is the patty itself—made from a ground plant-based mixture—almost indistinguishable from real ground beef. We kept the toppings simple to highlight the burger, with the exception of a special chipotle ketchup spread, for a bit of extra smoky flavor.
Learn more about some of the top plant-based burger brands below!
About This Recipe: The Burger
As we mentioned, there are many different brands of plant-based burgers—and many differences between them. This means that your burger recipe will look and taste different depending on which option you choose and what is available for purchase in your local grocery store.
For our test recipe (pictured above) we chose Beyond Meat’s “Beyond Burger” ground plant-based mixture, which we formed into regular 4-ounce patties and cooked just as we would a regular burger: 4-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat, as is recommended on the brand’s website. As an aside, many of the plant-based meat brands (Beyond Meat included) pride themselves in the fact that their products not only taste very similar to real meat, but also require little to no changes in the cooking and preparation process.
About Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based burgers are unique from the typical “veggie burgers” that have been around for many years, primarily in their ingredients and attempt to replicate the exact qualities of traditional ground meat. In other words, a black bean burger or an orange-and-green-speckled veggie burger is not attempting to taste like something other than it seems. By contrast, plant-based burgers usually start with a high-protein alternative such as soy or pea protein, which is then combined with other plant-based ingredients to create the illusion of ground meat.
Many plant-based proteins seek to look, feel, and taste as close to “the real thing” as possible. One reason for this is to be able to appeal to a wider audience. Many self-proclaimed “carnivores” or meat-eaters would never go near a “veggie burger,” but perhaps they might be intrigued by a meat-tasting, plant-derived product.
Another reason for this new category of food is a focus on environmental sustainability. Many of the brands in this category have corporate missions to address ethical concerns such as human and environmental health, limited natural resources, and animal welfare.
Plant Based Burger Brands
The two industry leaders that have gained a lot of publicity recently are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. While both have a similar mission and vision, their methods are actually quite different. Take a closer look at some of the similarities and differences below.
Image from www.popsugar.com
Beyond Meat produces several plant-based meat alternatives including the Beyond Burger (preformed burger patties), Beyond Beef (plant-based ground meat), Beyond Sausage in several flavor varieties, and Beyond Beef Crumbles. Their products are currently sold in a number of grocery stores and also used at many food service locations including Dunkin’, Subway, TGI Fridays, and Carl’s Jr.
The company seeks to “rebuild meat from plants” by sourcing the building blocks of meat (protein, fat, trace minerals, carbohydrates, and water) from plant-based sources.
Their Beyond Beef blend is made from pea, mung bean, and rice proteins with white specks of coconut oil and cocoa butter (to mirror beef’s marbling), and even incorporates beet juice for coloring and apple extract to reproduce meat’s browning process.
Learn more at: https://www.beyondmeat.com
Image from: www.barrons.com
Impossible Foods’ Impossible Burger is in the process of being rolled out to grocery stores, but is available in a number of restaurants including Burger King, Red Robin, and White Castle.
Similar to Beyond Meat, they set out to “reconstruct” meat from plants, but their methods take a more scientific approach.
Their burger blend uses soy and potato as the protein base, plant-based heme to create the slightly iron-like flavor of meat, coconut and sunflower oil as the fat, and plant-based binders to help keep the mixture together.
Learn more at: https://impossiblefoods.com
Top Plant-Based Burger Brands:
Image from SeriousEats
But these aren’t the only two brands producing plant-derived meat substitutes. Check out this list of some of the top plant-based burger options, then try them out for yourself!
- Beyond Meat – Beyond Burger
- Impossible Foods – Impossible Burger
- Lightlife – Plant-Based Burger
- MorningStar Farms – Meat Lovers Vegan Burger
- Before The Butcher – UNCUT™ Plant-Based Burger
- Gardein – Beefless Burger
- Amy’s – Veggie Burgers (several varieties)
- Boca – All-American Veggie Burgers
- Quorn – Meatless Gourmet Burgers
- Tyson Foods – Raised & Rooted™ Patties Blended with Angus Beef
If you’re curious how some of these main brands stack up against one another, check out this taste test from Serious Eats. (Bonus: they used Martin’s Potato Rolls—their preferred burger buns—in the experiment, so you know they’re taking it seriously.)
More new products are coming out every day, so why not host a taste test of your own and determine for yourself which brand you like best?
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