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The Ultimate Veggie Burger Taste Test

The Ultimate Veggie Burger Taste Test

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Veggie burgers are one of those foods that are extremely hit-or-miss. There are some restaurants that pride themselves on the assortment of vegetables and grains that go into their house-made burger, and others that stick a frozen puck into the microwave and hope you’ll be none the wiser. But when it comes to frozen veggie burgers sold in supermarkets, there are some that are clearly superior to others. We put seven of the country’s leading brands to the test, and walked away with one clear winner.

Click Here for The Ultimate Veggie Burger Taste Test Slideshow

Veggie burgers share a crunchy reputation with granola and other “health foods” that hit the market in the 1960s and 70s, but you don’t need to be a vegetarian to see the benefit of eating these. They’re a great way to get your vegetables, they’re healthy, and we all know that everything tastes better when eaten on a bun with traditional burger toppings. And for all the love that beef burgers get, they’re not something that you really want to be eating with extreme regularity. If there’s an alternative that sends some of the same “happy burger place” signals to your brain, tastes pretty good, and has a fraction of the fat and calories, then why not do it?

There are dozens of meat-free burger options on the market, and the majority of them contain soy protein, wheat gluten, and other meat “alternatives” that usually form a tasteless base for a smattering of seasonings and a few token vegetable chunks. For today’s purposes, we’re not considering those for our taste test. The only burgers we tasted were the true veggie burgers, the ones that contain more vegetables than any other ingredient. And they needed to come in the freezer case, which excluded Whole Foods from the running (they only had frozen soy-based patties, with fresh veggie burgers in the prepared foods section). That said, we found a very solid assortment to choose from, with all the major brands represented: Boca, Amy’s, Morningstar Farms, Trader Joe’s, Gardenburger, Dr. Praeger’s, and Green Way. All were sold in packs of four.

We heated all of these burgers in the oven together and ate them unadorned, and judged them on the following criteria: taste, smell, texture, variety of identifiable vegetable flavors, aftertaste, and whether they held together as a patty. Some didn’t pass muster, some were middle of the road, and one was the clear winner.

Click here for the ultimate veggie burger taste test.

Taste Test: Veggie Burgers

For a quick meatless meal, veggie burgers are a convenient choice. Since there are only a handful of popular brands out there, we turned to our Facebook fans to tell us their preferred flavors — then we tasted and ranked them. See how they stacked up.

For this taste test, each burger was prepared according to the package directions, either on the stovetop or broiler. We focused on taste, texture and nutritional value and scored each burger on a 5-point scale (5 being highest). Price per patty was pretty consistent, ranging from $1.00 to $1.25.

Most burgers contained 3 to 4 grams of total fat and 4 to 5 grams of fiber. We focused on calories, protein and sodium. As you’ll see, many of the burgers contain as much protein as (and sometimes more than) an old-fashioned hamburger.

Nutrition Info: 100 Calories, 5 grams Protein, 390 milligrams Sodium

Our Take: This burger is made from wheat, soy, brown rice, black beans and corn. Most of the ingredients were recognizable, though it did contain some preservatives. The patty had a chewy texture and a deliciously spicy kick to it. Each serving also contains 10 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, one of the highest of all the choices.

Nutrition Info: 120 Calories, 11 grams Protein, 250 milligrams Sodium

Our Take: This burger is made from TVP (texturized vegetable protein) and a combo of soy protein, black beans, brown rice and roasted corn. It contains eggs and milk, so it's not vegan like some of the other options. The taste was a bit too bean-y with a spicy aftertaste. However, it was my 8-year-old's favorite of the bunch.

Nutrition Info: 110 Calories, 5 grams Protein, 250 milligrams Sodium

Our Take: This burger is made from oat bran and a variety of veggies (that you can actually see in the patty). It had a pleasant veggie-filled flavor and was the overall favorite for taste and consistency. The ingredient list was relatively short and most add-ins were recognizable. It had the highest amount of vitamin A with 50 percent of your daily recommended amounts.

Nutrition Info: 130 Calories, 12 grams Protein, 390 milligrams Sodium

Our Take: This burger was made with organic veggies and grains and without any bioengineered ingredients. The patty is created from a combo of wheat, soy, walnuts, bulgur, oats and veggies. There was an overly chewy consistency and you can subtly taste the “natural hickory smoke flavor” that is listed in the ingredients.

Nutrition Info: 70 Calories 13 grams Protein, 280 milligrams Sodium

Our Take: Boca brand is known for their soy-based products, but it also contains wheat. It was the lowest in calories and total fat (0.5 grams) and tried a little too hard to taste like a real meaty burger (without all the juiciness). A fun fact on this burger — it’s worth only one Weight Watchers point.

While shopping at my local market, I came across a brown-rice-and-sunflower-seed veggie burger from Sunshine Burger. Although the brand is not widely distributed, it only contained five ingredients (compared to a laundry list of sometimes 20 or more in other varieties). It had a pleasant smell and taste, plus you could see and taste the sunflower seeds. Check out your grocery or local natural foods store for sunflower-based burgers from this company or a similar brand.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

The Ultimate Burger

Ask that question and you will ignite an enthusiastic debate about meats, cooking methods, degree of doneness, bun types, condiments, toppings, and accompaniments. The Ultimate Burger gives the best answer to all of these questions: The ultimate burger is what you want it to be. And America's Test Kitchen shows you how to get there.


There are plenty of classic, tried-and-true ground beef burgers, plus newer takes that have become classics. Sprinkled throughout are venerated regional treasures, and we introduce over-the-top soon-to-be-favorite burgers our burger-obsessed test cooks created.


We thoroughly tested ever cut of meat imaginable to create the ultimate Grind-Your-Own Deluxe Beef Burger Blend, but we also provide shopping and cooking tips to make simple store-bought meat taste its best. We share test kitchen secrets for burger success from how to properly set up your grill to how to shape a burger patty to prevent &ldquogolf ball syndrome.&rdquo


Learn to make every part of the burger from scratch, from grinding the burger mixture in the food processor to preparing homemade buns, condiments, and crispy toppings. We don&rsquot stop at the burger, learn to master classic sides like crispy fries, onion rings, and kettle chips, cool, creamy slaws and potato salads, thick and creamy milkshakes, and thirst-quenching sweet teas, and lemonades.

  • Grind-Your-Own Ultimate Beef, Turkey, and Veggie Burger Blends
  • Double-Decker Drive-Thru Burgers
  • Loaded Nacho Burgers
  • Grilled Crispy Onion-Ranch Burgers
  • Reuben Burgers
  • Bison Burgers with Piquillo Peppers and Crispy Serrano Ham
  • Brie-Stuffed Turkey Burgers with Red Pepper Relish
  • Ketchup
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  • Pub Burger Sauce
  • Caramelized Onion Jam
  • Black Pepper Candied Bacon
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  • Beer-Battered Onion Rings
  • Smoky Grilled Potato Salad

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Pages: 256
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The Ultimate Veggie Burger Taste Test - Recipes

Everyone in my family loves a grilled, juicy, craggy-edged beef burger (potato roll, ketchup, yellow mustard, extra pickles please), so once we started dialing back the meat a few years ago, it was challenging to fill that void. The few experiences we’d had with additive-laden veggie burgers from the freezer section were unsatisfying. But the arrival of Impossible Burgers and their refrigerator-section cohorts a few years ago have upped the ante, so we thought it was time to conduct an official Cup of Jo taste test…

Who better to enlist as our expert panelist than Cara Nicoletti, fourth-generation, NYC-based butcher and co-founder of the vegetable-forward Seemore sausages, which are loaded with fresh vegetables along with humanely raised meat. We asked Cara, who is quarantining in Boston with her family, to track down five of the most popular nationally-available brands in her neighborhood.

Here’s what she came up with: Impossible, Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger, Sweet Earth’s Awesome Grounds, Gardein’s Ultimate Plant Burger, and Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger. Whenever possible, she tried to find the pre-made patties, but wound up shaping two of the five herself. Because of quarantine, the rules were not quite as rigorous as they have been in the past. Unlike the other tests, her veggie burger tasting wasn’t blind, and there was no stenographer (read: me) scribbling notes in the corner. This time it was just Cara, her considerable expertise, and her notepad.

OK, maybe she had a little help from her adorable nephew, Noah. (Here, he enjoys the winning burger.) And it wasn’t completely lawless. To make sure the playing field was even, each patty was prepared the same way: Grilled then served in a potato roll with ketchup, mustard and pickles. They were graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most satisfying experience for a meat eater. This last factor is important given that the new generation of plant-based burgers (the ones you’ll usually find near the ground beef in the refrigerated section) is geared towards meat-eaters, not vegetarians and vegans. The thinking goes, if plant-based alternatives caught on with meat-eaters, even if they ate one just some of the time, it would have an enormously positive impact on the environment, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water, energy, and land use. (Though some say the research is still young on their total environmental impact.) The brands are highly processed and loaded with ingredients that are not necessarily natural, or even pronounceable, but their goal is higher-level, i.e. to provide a sustainable option for meat eaters who want a burger that mimics beef.

While tasting, we asked Cara to address the following questions about each burger: Was the taste natural or artificial? What was the meatiness factor? Did it taste like beef? Vegetables? Chemicals? How about the consistency? Was it mushy? Did it get a good cragginess on the edges? And since, again, summer, did it do well on the grill? Lastly, of course: Which one was the winner? Here’s where she came down on each…

Beyond Burger/Beyond Grounds (Beyond Meat)
Price: About $6 for two 4-ounce patties
General Notes:
I really like Beyond Sausage patties, so I had high hopes for these. I was surprised when I opened the package that it had the a sweet chemical smell that I think was made worse by the reduced oxygen packaging. I tried looking at the ingredients of both to see what that smell could be, maybe it’s the pea protein? Giant flakes of what looks like coconut in there, which was kind of weird. I love coconut! But not in my burger.
Grilling Notes: Held together well on the grill and took on good char marks, but the pink color really bloomed while cooking, it almost looked like a salmon burger. I was really shocked by the taste when I bit into it, it let off a burst of chemical smell and flavor that I was not expecting — sort of like sweet acetone. Not a trace of beef flavor to be found. The texture was like a super hefty bistro burger that had been over-molded, bouncy and chewy, with no moisture. I’m sad about this one.
Score: 1/5

Awesome Grounds/Awesome Burger (Sweet Earth)
Price: About $6 for two 8-ounce patties or about $8 for 12-ounce grind
Tasting Notes: I had a really hard time getting this grind to mold into a patty, it was super sticky but dry at the same time, which seems like an impossible combination. The smell was really unpleasant when raw, sort of sweet and chemically, and I hoped it would go away once it was cooked, but it didn’t. Once it was cooked it was very dry, might be better as a crumble. Really very little flavor at all except for being super sweet and having a faint plastic aftertaste.
Grilling Notes: Stuck to the grill a little but got good grill marks and held together well. Would do well in a griddle and as a crumble. As far as mimicking beef flavor it’s a 0/5, I didn’t get even a hint of beef, but texture-wise could have been a very lean, very overcooked patty. I think this would do better as something like taco meat, with lots and lots of seasoning to hide the flavor.
Score: 1/5

Perfect Burger (Dr. Praeger’s)
Price: About $5 for two 4-ounce patties
Grilling Notes: This one stayed super compact and solid throughout the grilling process, no craggy edges but it did take on grill marks. When I cut it open it was very dry, which surprised me, it looked like it was going to be juicy, and it had more pink pockets on the inside.
Tasting Notes:
When I opened up the package, it had the same burst of sweet chemical smell as Beyond and Sweet Earth. Really compact and solid and heavy like a hockey puck, and really pink. It also had little bursts and pockets of what looked like beet juice dotted throughout, which added to the fake meat vibe. Reader, this was the worst of the bunch. When I bit into it, actual alarm bells rang in my head and told me this was not something that belonged in my body. It was the taste of danger, like a burst of formaldehyde on my taste buds, I had to spit it out. I’m sorry, Dr. Praeger.
Score: 0/5

Impossible Burger (Impossible)
Price: About $9 for 12 ounces ground
Tasting Notes:
I was doubtful about this one when I went to form it into a patty. The texture of the grind is so so soft, almost dogfood-like, which worried me, but if I put this aside, it did look the most like ground beef of the bunch. There were striations of fiber and fat throughout, and the color was the most believable. The smell of the raw grind was also the most believable, umami and a slight coppery blood smell (I can’t think of a more appealing way to say this).
Grilling Notes: Once formed into a patty, it was very sticky and soft, and immediately stuck to the grill grates pretty badly even though they were oiled. BUT! It sizzled so beautifully! And took on the color of actual cooking ground beef—a sort of grey-brown. The edges got beautifully craggy like a real smash burger. The taste of this one is the closest to beef I’ve ever had. It almost tastes like straight MSG, and I mean that as a compliment. Really deep mushroomy beefy umami taste, and texturally very believable too. It wouldn’t be able to fool me, but I can understand why people are so excited about it! Believe the hype.
Score: 5/5

Ultimate Plant-Based Burger (Gardein)
Price: About $4 for 2 4-ounce patties
Tasting Notes:
This one smelled good when I opened it, which was a nice relief! Kind of garlicky, so not like ground beef exactly, but savory in a familiar way. This one had a more realistic brown-ish pink color, and striations of white fat throughout that might have been solidified coconut oil, but looked kind of realistic.
Grilling Notes: Held together really nicely on the grill and took on good char marks and kind of craggy edges, which is the best part of a real burger. When cooked and cut in half it let out some nice juice and had a fibrous-looking inside that mimicked real beef. I really liked this one! Had a nice umami beefy flavor that mimicked a real burger. Texture-wise, it was definitely the bounciest of the bunch, felt very much like seitan, which makes sense since there is vital wheat gluten in there. Would eat again!
Score: 4/5

The Secret to a Great Veggie Burger

Here's the trick - no bun. I'm going to argue that when you put a bean or lentil patty on a bun, you run the risk of building a burger that is too dry and bready. The ratio is all out of whack, with not enough ooey-gooeyness to balance the bread and mashed beans. It wasn't until I sat down to write this recipe for the book that I had the revelation I needed: Turn the patty into the bun and stuff that with all sorts of good stuff. Problem solved.

The Original Gardenburger Veggie Burger

Made with brown rice, mushrooms, oats, bulgur wheat, onions, and a whole lot of cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), these burgers were praised for their great texture ("Tender!" and, "It's actually cohesive") with large chunks of real grains and mushrooms.

When griddled, the edges get nice and crisp, and pockets of cheese ensure that the interior stays moist and satisfying as you eat it. "Sweet, oniony, earthy flavor," that "tastes like the sum of its parts." This is a patty that most of us would happily put between our buns, with or without extra cheese and bacon.

Taste Test: Which Frozen Veggie Burger Brand Is The Best?

When it comes to meat-free burgers, there have never been more options to choose from.

While more and more people have expressed interest in reducing their meat intake, more companies have embraced the trend, joining trailblazing brands like Boca, Morningstar and Gardenburger in offering their own spin on plant-based protein.

But as more competitors have taken over your freezer aisle's ever-growing vegetarian section, it can be overwhelming to pick out a meat-free bun-filler. With that in mind, we got our hands on an array of veggie burgers and threw them on the grill in an attempt to separate the merely edible from the undeniably delectable.

To keep it interesting, we selected only one randomly-chosen variety per brand, including both vegetable-centric flavors and burgers that market themselves as approximating the flavor of beef. Further, our panel of tasters included both vegetarians and devoted meat-eaters who blindly evaluated each entry for its flavor, texture and overall satisfaction level. The results might surprise you.

As always, the brands included did not in any way influence the outcome of this taste test. Prices may vary. Click on each burger brand for more detailed nutritional information and an ingredients list.

The contenders!

Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger, Beyond Meat Beast Burger, Boca non-GMO vegan burger, Dr. Praeger’s kale veggie burger, Engine 2 poblano black bean burger, Gardein ultimate beefless burger, Gardenburger original veggie burger, Hilary’s Eat Well "World’s Best" veggie burger, Morningstar garden veggie patty, Qrunch original qrunch burger and Sol Cuisine spicy black bean burger.

#11: Beyond Meat Beast Burger

Score: 2.5 (out of 10)
Price: $5.99 for 2 ($3 each)
Comments: “Literally yelled out in disgust. Like a burger re-constituted from stinky Asian mushrooms.” “Yuck. Like cafeteria meat.” “Could not make it beyond the first bite. Completely grossed out by this.”
1 patty = 260 calories, 16g fat, 480mg sodium

#10: Boca non-GMO vegan burger

Score: 4.0
Price: $4.99 for 4 ($1.24 each)
Comments: “Has a meaty texture.” “Bland.” “Very generic and chemical-y.” “Tastes smoky like meat, like an overcooked meat patty.” “Not tasteless, but like plastic.”
1 patty = 100 calories, 2.5g fat, 470mg sodium

#9: Amy’s Sonoma veggie burger

Score: 4.9
Price: $6.49 for 4 ($1.62 each)
Comments: “Really nice seasoning on this one.” “A bit too crunchy but decent flavor.” “Salty.” “Conjures all the flavors and textures of that one sad, lonely veggie burger leftover at the BBQ.”
1 patty = 140 calories, 5g fat, 450mg sodium

#8: Engine 2 poblano black bean burger

Score: 5.3
Price: $4.99 for 3 ($1.63 each)
Comments: “Good flavor but the black beans were a bit overpowering.” “This tastes like something I’d make at home when my heart is only half into it.” “No seasoning.” “Meh.”
1 patty = 130 calories, 2.5g fat, 100mg sodium

#7: Sol Cuisine spicy black bean burger

Score: 5.8
Price: $4.99 for 4 ($1.24 each)
Comments: “Weird texture but pleasantly surprising taste! Dry though.” “Weird aftertaste.” “The texture reminded me of chicken.” “Could be tasty with fixings.”
1 patty = 90 calories, 1.5g fat, 360mg sodium

#6: Qrunch original qrunch burger

Score: 5.9
Price: $6.39 for 4 ($1.60 each)
Comments: “So good! Like chicken!” “Really fresh and unusual tasting. Refreshing.” “Tasted a little like hush puppies, which was a surprise.” “Flavorless and dull.”
1 patty = 190 calories, 11g fat, 150mg sodium

#5: Dr. Praeger’s kale veggie burger

Score: 6.0
Price: $4.69 for 4 ($1.17 each)
Comments: “Delicious and very healthy tasting, lots of depth here.” “Loved the flavor.” “Super delicious and love the transparency of seeing lots of veggies in it.” “Overpowering spinach flavor.”
1 patty = 130 calories, 7g fat, 250mg sodium

#3 (tie): Gardein ultimate beefless burger

Score: 6.1
Price: $4.99 for 4 ($1.25 each)
Comments: “Tastes like my mom’s meat loaf in a really great way. Love.” “Most burger-like in texture and flavor. Heavy Worcestershire sauce. I’d go for round 2.” “The most realistic!”
1 patty = 130 calories, 4.5g fat, 320mg sodium

#3 (tie): Hilary’s Eat Well World’s Best veggie burger

Score: 6.1
Price: $3.69 for 2 ($1.89 each)
Comments: “Like crushed, reconstituted popcorn, the texture of fried fish.” “Popcorn-y but in a good way! I’d devour this.” “I like the flavor but a crunchy texture that I don’t prefer.”
1 patty = 210 calories, 9g fat, 340mg sodium

#2: Gardenburger original veggie burger

Score: 6.8
Price: $4.49 for 4 ($1.12 each)
Comments: “Cheesy and tasty! First burger that didn’t seem dry and mealy.” “A little bit greasy but satisfying the way greasy food — i.e. burgers — should. Overall, I’d have another.” “The texture was slimy.” “It smelled great cooking!”
1 patty = 110 calories, 3g fat, 490mg sodium

#1: Morningstar garden veggie patty

Score: 7.1
Price: $3.99 for 4 ($1 each)
Comments: “Very deep flavor, you can actually taste the vegetables.” “A vague hint of soy flavor.” “Very satisfying!” ”It does not stir a fire in my tastebuds. Umami? More like umam-meh.”
1 patty = 110 calories, 3.5g fat, 350mg sodium

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5 HEALTHY Things I love about BUBBA burger® Veggie Burgers:

  1. Made with whole vegetables
  2. Vegan-friendly
  3. Gluten free
  4. Non-GMO
  5. Excellent source of vitamin A & C

For a super healthy-burger (vegetarian or meat based), serve them up with a wide assortment of veggie toppers, like pickled red onions, sliced jalapeños and avocado in addition to the standard burger toppers of lettuce, pickle and tomato.

And if gluten is an issue, no problem! Ditch the bun and serve their vegetarian burgers in a healthy burger-bowl, since the burgers are gluten free on their own!

For dinner we enjoyed a meatless Monday, featuring Bubba Burger Veggie Burgers with grilled pineapple, pickled red onions, sliced jalapeños, cilantro, pepper jack cheese and roasted pepitas ontop of a bowl of lettuce!

Then drizzled it all with my Homemade Ranch with a little of my BBQ sauce mixed in for our dressing, it was so much yum!

Follow BUBBA Burgers on Facebook

Yes, Veggie Burgers Can Taste Good

Veggie burgers have suffered a seriously bad reputation in the past. And with good reason: They're far too-often frozen hockey pucks of stabilizers and fillers (maybe a corn kernel or two, if you're lucky). That's a shame, because when they're done right veggie burgers exemplify all of the things we love. Think about it: The best meatless burgers have chewy, hearty grains, a meaty (in texture, if not taste) note from mushrooms, and, duh, colorful, fresh vegetables. Sounds like the making of an incredible meal to us.

So we were psyched when, inspired by writer Rosie Schapp's love of a good veggie burger, our test kitchen created one from scratch. This version is exactly what we're talking about: Chewy, hearty, and filling without trying to be something it's not. We talked with Bon Appétit senior food editor Dawn Perry about the test kitchen's recipe creation process—and how they created what we're pretty sure is the ultimate veggie burger.

First up, the classic vegetarian burger needed a flavor overhaul. "Packaged veggie burgers don't taste like meat, and they don't taste like veggies," says Perry. "It tastes so processed. What's the point? We wanted to make a veggie burger with real ingredients."

The veggie burger of our dreams also needed a textural makeover because, as Perry points out, a totally uniform consistency is boring. The big workhorse here is found in chewy, nutty wheat berries—if you want to experiment with another grain, definitely keep the focus on a hearty one, like farro or barley. Chickpeas also add texture, as well as bulk. Using canned beans is fine, and cuts down on cooking time.

Mushrooms are also a must, and Perry used dried porcinis here—plus their soaking liquid, which adds even more rich, round flavor. Also featured are shiitakes and Bragg liquid aminos for an umami hit. Besides, points out Perry, "What's more veggie burger-friendly than liquid aminos?" The Bragg line of products and company has traditionally been a favorite among eco-conscious eaters, having, "campaigned for a diet and lifestyle that focused on natural live foods and a healthy regime for a vital and long life." Liquid aminos taste similar to soy sauce, but have less sodium, and are made from non GMO-soybeans.

It's not a veggie burger without vegetables, and for that Perry folds in finely grated carrots after everything else is combined. This gives the patty some good texture, but anything larger than fine shavings will be like eating raw baby carrots stuck in your burger.

Perry finished the number with sharp Cheddar cheese, avocado, sprouts, and tomato. While you can definitely tweak the toppings to your heart's desire, keep the focus on soft, delicate ingredients (that goes double for the bun). Anything too hefty, like a baguette, will overwhelm the tender patty. Says Perry, "There's nothing worse than a structurally unsound burger—veggie or not." Which reminds us of our favorite part about this recipe: It isn't just a delicious veggie burger—it's a great burger, period.

Field Roast Hand-formed FieldBurger – $11.99 for 4

These burgers were hands down my favourite. Given my maniacal love for the Field Roast sausages, I was not at all surprised. These burgers are thicker and juicier than the Gardein, and despite the fact that you can identify whole foods (carrots!) in the burger patty, the texture was uniform and beefy. The flavour is not as ‘beefy’ as the Gardein, but it is delicious–complex, meaty, and umami-ish. They taste more like real food in their own right than something pretending to be beef. The main drawback of these burgers is that they have more than twice the calories of any other (340 vs 120-130), and waaaaay more fat, but again it’s not like we’re eating burgers as a health food, right? Trust me, they’re worth it.

Have you tried all these? Tell me what you think. What’s your favourite?


  1. Zulkijinn

    What excellent phrase

  2. Gabal

    I can't take part in the discussion right now - I'm very busy. I will definitely express my opinion very soon.

  3. Ralph

    Yes, really. I agree with told all above.

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