I was tending the grill at a big block-party barbecue when someone asked me to cook some veggie dogs for them. Sure, I said, and then looked on in horror as this person plunked two Barbie doll-colored sticks on the grill. Dear readers, aside from the grill marks, the veggie dogs hardly changed color when they cooked. I felt like apologizing when I served them.
This got me wondering: do all fake-meat products suck? I've written off veggie dogs as a hopeless case, but I decided to survey the veggie burgers at my local grocery store to see if there are some palatable options.
Which veggie burgers made us reconsider our meat eating -- and which burgers just made us sad for vegetarians? We rated the most popular veggie burgers on a scale of 1 to 5.
There is no way a vegetarian product can come even close to approximating a real, juicy meat burger, so my standard of judgement isn't so much about how close the veggie burger comes to tasting like a real hamburger. It's more about how tasty the veggie patty is, period.
In fact, I think there's a lot of potential deliciousness in a veggie burger if it's loaded with vegetables and the right grains. As our next-door neighbor (also out grilling last night) remarked, "If I'm having a veggie burger, I'd kind of like there to be some veggies in there, you know?"
On a scale of 1-5 (5 being most delicious), here's how the burgers rated. None of the burgers contain GMO soy.
Best Vegetarian Burger
Gardenburger Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger: 4.5 With whole black beans and kernels of corn in these brown-rice-based patties, we felt like we were eating real food. The chipotle adds a lot of flavor with just a bit of heat. Patties weren't terribly moist, but they had varied texture, which we liked.
MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Patties: 4 This was a very moist burger loaded with grated carrots, minced green onions, and a fresh veggie flavor. FYI, this is not a vegan burger; it does have egg whites.
Portobello mushroom: 4 We threw this one into the mix -- simply brushed with olive oil and grilled. Toothsome, great flavor, juicy, and loaded with umami. My husband pointed out the mushroom's one drawback: It has a more uniform (therefore less exciting) texture than the veggie burgers.
Passable Vegetarian Burgers (can survive on these if stranded on a deserted island)
Sunshine Burgers Garden Herb Veggie Burger: 3.5 These are loaded with real vegetables and have a pretty good flavor.
Ashera's Gourmet Vegan Burgers, Original: 3 Actually, my husband and I liked these almost as much as the top two, but our son hated them and brought the average score down quite a bit. These thick patties are loaded with quinoa, something people either love or hate.
Amy's California Veggie Burger: 2.5 I had higher hopes for this burger, but it was just okay.
I'll Totally Pass, Thanks, Burgers
Boca Vegan Burger: 2 A vegetarian friend predicted that these would be our favorite, but alas Boca's charms were lost on us. There's just not much going on here, mostly soy protein and onion powder. For some strange reason, our son really liked them, though.
Moophrey Vegan-Vegetarian Burgers: 2 Pretty much the same as the Boca burger.
What veggie burgers do you recommend?
Image via SweetOnVeg/Flickr