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If you once gave veggie burgers a try but wrote them off as rubbery or bland, think again. Thanks to the rise of plant-forward diets, flavorless hockey pucks are a thing of the past.
Even if you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, a plant-forward diet — which emphasizes plant foods but incorporates small amounts of meat — can increase your overall fiber intake, which lowers your risk of obesity and weight gain (1).
A great veggie burger can be substantive, as well as bursting with flavor, vegetables, and legumes. Some can also be mistaken for beef patties.
Whether you’re looking for a veggie-based or imitation meat burger, you’re bound to hit a winner in this list.
Here are the 8 best veggie burgers based on their nutritional profile, ingredients, texture, appearance, and taste.
Veggie- and legume-based burgers are nutritious and fiber-filled — as well as versatile. You can put them on a bed of greens, sandwich them in a hamburger bun, or crumble them into a grain bowl.
Keep in mind that the burgers below are not trying to imitate meat, so don’t expect them to have the look, taste, or consistency of animal-based products.
Veggie- and legume-based burgers are typically lower in protein than imitation meat burgers.
The downside of frozen and store-bought veggie burgers is that they can heap on the sodium.
Excess sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease. Most people should get less than 2,400 mg (2.4 grams) of sodium per day — that’s the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt (
The best veggie burgers have 440 mg of sodium or less.
This is an old stand-by. Dr. Praeger’s carries a range of plant-based products, but this is touted as their most popular burger — with good reason. Their California burger blends peas, carrots, broccoli, soy protein, and spinach to satisfaction.
Each 2.5-ounce (71-gram) patty packs 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for fiber, 25% of the DV for vitamin A, and 5 grams of protein, with 240 mg sodium, or 10% of the DV (5).
Fiber helps keep your digestive tract healthy, while vitamin A is important for eye health (
The only drawback is that these can get a little mushy if not toasted or browned on a stovetop (
However, Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers are milk-free, peanut-free, shellfish-free, and tree-nut-free, making them a good choice for anyone with these food allergies or sensitivities.
They work particularly well when topped with avocados.
This burger combines millet, adzuki beans, and quinoa. Adzuki beans are a sweet Japanese red bean, complemented here with spice and sweet potato. Quinoa is considered a whole grain and delivers all nine essential amino acids (
These all come together with peppery notes and a spicy kick.
Every 3.2-ounce (91-gram) burger packs 10% of the folate, magnesium, and iron DV into 180 calories. It only supplies a moderate amount of sodium, at 270 mg, or 11% of the DV (
While it provides 15% of the DV for fiber, it only has 4 grams of protein — so you may want to pair it with another source of protein like cheese, yogurt, tahini, legumes, or milk to round it out into a full meal (
What’s more, all of Hilary’s products are vegan and free of the 12 most common food allergens.
If you’re after a bold, bean-packed flavor, look no further than the Quinoa Cowboy burger.
It combines tricolor quinoa, black beans, and a kick of Southwestern flare in ingredients like jalapeño, corn, and bell peppers. Egg white powder adds a bit more protein.
Every 3.2-ounce (91-gram) patty packs 5 grams of protein, 280 grams of sodium, and 6 grams of fiber, which is 25% of the DV (11).
Toast these or heat these on a nonstick pan on your stovetop to get a crispy exterior and creamy center.
Veggie- and legume-based burgers generally aren’t trying to imitate beef. Instead, they pack chunks of veggies, whole grains, legumes, and other protein sources into a convenient patty. The better ones have less than 440 mg of sodium per patty.
When you’re craving a meaty burger, there are many outstanding meat-free options that taste like the real thing.
Here are excellent imitation meat burgers with a stellar nutrition profile.
A whopping 28 grams of protein packs into each of these 4-ounce (113-gram) patties, sourced from pea protein and a 4-veggie mix that includes butternut squash and sweet potato.
What’s more, these soy-free, gluten-free, vegan burgers contain 0 grams of saturated fat, as well as 30% of the DV for iron (13).
Iron is important for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport in your body. You need more of this mineral if you eat a plant-based diet (
As delicious as they are, these veggie burgers are a little high in sodium, with 460 mg of sodium per patty. Enjoy these as you would a regular burger, but consider holding off on salty condiments like pickles.
Like the Impossible Burger, the Beyond Burger has found its way into some fast-food chains and restaurants. Both are designed to mimic a charbroiled ground beef patty.
It beats out the more ubiquitous Impossible Burger for its more balanced nutritional profile.
For instance, each 4-ounce (113-gram) Beyond Burger patty has 6 grams of saturated fat, while an 80% lean beef patty of the same size packs nearly 9 grams and an Impossible Burger 8 grams (
Yet, it’s worth noting that each Beyond Burger patty contains 390 mg of sodium — though it boasts 20 grams of pea-based protein.
What’s more, its beet juice makes the burger “bleed” to drive home the meat-like effect. For best taste, throw these on the grill.
Imitation meat products are increasingly sophisticated. The All-American Veggie Burger and the Beyond Burger stand out for their taste, flavor, and more balanced nutritional profile.
Not all veggie burgers are vegan.
Vegan veggie burgers steer clear of egg and dairy products, as well as any animal byproducts.
Field Roast’s vegan FieldBurger stands out as an umami bomb, packed with shiitake and porcini mushrooms.
Find these hand-formed vegan patties in the refrigerated aisle. One 3.25-ounce (92-gram) burger delivers 8% of the DV for fiber thanks to ingredients like barley, celery, and other veggies (
What’s more, each serving provides 10% of your iron needs. Plus, carrots and tomato paste drive up the vitamin A content to 15% of the DV (
This well rounded, flavorful vegan burger is delicious on a bun, as well as crumbled into a salad or bowl of chili. Keep in mind that some research has linked its ingredient carrageenan to digestive symptoms (19).
Not all veggie burgers are vegan. Vegan varieties are free of dairy, eggs, and animal byproducts. Among these, Field Roast’s FieldBurgers are commendable for their nutrient-dense, hand-formed, flavor-packed patties.
Making your own veggie burgers at home is easy.
Generally, you need a cooked grain like quinoa or brown rice, a binder like egg, flour, or flaxseed meal, a cooked legume like beans or chickpeas, and dry and/or fresh spices.
You can experiment folding in sautéed veggies, such as finely diced onion, minced garlic, or mushrooms.
Blend these ingredients with a food processor or mash by hand, working them into a dough. If your dough is too sticky, add more flaxseed meal or flour — or if it’s too dry, add a small amount of water or broth.
Once you’ve reached a workable consistency, roll the dough into balls and flatten into individual patties. Place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake them until crispy and dry on the outside.
Homemade vegan chickpea burger
For this chickpea burger, you need:
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- a 15-ounce (425-gram) can of chickpeas, drained
- 4–6 cloves of garlic, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, and ground coriander
- 1.5 teaspoons (3 grams) each of salt and pepper
- 2–3 tablespoons (13–20 grams) of flaxseed meal
- 2–3 tablespoons (30–45 ml) of canola or avocado oil
First, add cumin, coriander, paprika, and pepper to a large saucepan. Dry toast for 1–2 minutes, until fragrant.
Dice and sauté the onion. Add to the pan with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of oil. Once fragrant and translucent, add garlic, chickpeas, and salt.
Add the mixture to a food processor until blended to your desired consistency.
Next, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Add flaxseed meal to the batter until you can work the dough into a ball. Form into 3–4 flat disks, all roughly the same size. Place them in the freezer for 30 minutes on the lined cookie sheet.
Heat oil in a saucepan, then add all the burger patties to the hot oil. Turn after 5–6 minutes, or when browned. Repeat on the other side.
Serve the burgers with a salad or in hamburger buns with your favorite toppings.
Homemade black bean burger
Here’s what you need:
- 1 cup (200 grams) of cooked brown rice
- 1 cup (125 grams) of walnuts
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin, paprika, and chili powder
- a 15-ounce (425-gram) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup (20 grams) of panko breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) of BBQ sauce
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of canola oil
- 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar
Toast the walnuts on a skillet for 5 minutes. Add spices and continue to toast for 1 additional minute. Set aside.
Sauté the diced onion with salt and canola oil until fragrant and translucent. Set aside.
Add the cooled walnuts and brown sugar to a blender or food processor. Pulse to a fine meal.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the black beans with a fork. To this, add the cooked rice, beaten egg, sautéed onions, walnut-spice meal, BBQ sauce, and breadcrumbs. Blend until a workable dough forms.
If the dough feels too dry, add canola oil, small amounts at a time. If it’s too wet, add more breadcrumbs.
Shape into 5–6 balls and flatten into disks. Add to a skillet with a thin layer of hot oil and flip after 3–4 minutes. Cook the other side for an additional 3–4 minutes, until browned. Serve and enjoy.
It’s fairly easy to make your own veggie burgers at home. You generally need a grain, a legume, a binder, and seasonings. If you desire, experiment with flavors and sautéed veggies.
When shopping for veggie burgers, you’ll want to consider several factors, such as price point, ingredients, and taste.
If you’re transitioning to vegetarianism or hankering for a meatier flavor, imitation meat burgers are the way to go. They taste remarkably similar to beef patties, with all the juiciness and protein you’re used to. Still, keep in mind that some of these pack a lot of sodium.
On the other hand, traditional veggie burgers honor the flavors of their primary ingredients, which could be peas, adzuki beans, quinoa, black beans, soy protein, or other beans and grains.
Choose these if you prefer an earthier patty or are simply looking for something a little on the cheaper side.
If you follow a vegan or gluten-free diet, be sure to look for appropriate labels on the packaging to identify a burger that suits your needs.
In addition, examine the ingredient list — especially if you prefer your burger made from whole foods. Highly processed burgers, particularly imitation meat ones, may have preservatives and other additives that you would rather avoid.
If you want to exercise strict control over the ingredients used, you’re better off using the recipes above to make homemade veggie burgers.
Veggie burgers typically use meat substitutes or are veggie- or legume-based. They may be vegan depending on whether they contain eggs, dairy, or animal byproducts.
They’re not only great served on a bun with your favorite fixings but also make versatile additions to salads, chilis, and grain bowls.
When shopping, look for veggie burgers with 440 mg of sodium or less and a simple, understandable ingredient list. Alternatively, you can easily make your own at home.
Toss those flavorless patties of yesteryear aside. It’s a golden age for veggie burgers.