Vegans and vegetarians have it pretty good in 2022. Long gone are the days when the only options for plant-based grill fare was that same, dense and not-so-tasty token veggie burger. Let me be clear: I still adore a well-made black bean burger or crunchy mushroom or chickpea patty, but if you're craving a more meat-like version of a plant-based grill staple, you are absolutely living in the golden age.
Innovative vegan producers including Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and Before the Butcher have plant-based meat trickery down to a science -- quite literally. You can find everything from faux plant-based beef burgers to wannabe chicken cutlets and even faux frankfurters and fishcakes that taste a whole lot like the real thing. All of this makes plant-based grilling more exciting than ever.
Here's our round-up of the best plant-based patties, burgers, sausages and dogs to sizzle this summer.
Best veggie burgers and plant-based burger substitutes
Impossible was the first producer to really nail that beef burger taste and texture and it's still your best option for a plant-based burger that mimics the real thing. At long last, its namesake product is available for shipping nationwide. You can buy Impossible plant-based meat, including preformed burger patties and breakfast sausage, directly through Impossible's website or from many online retailers.
The Beyond Burger is another top option for meat-like taste and texture. Touted as "the world's first plant-based burger patty that looks, cooks and satisfies like fresh ground beef," the Beyond Burger goes from the fridge to plate with just a few minutes of grilling per side. Pea protein, coconut oil and beets create a patty with 20 grams of protein, plus a texture and look not too far from that of a beef burger (though it may have a somewhat coconut-y aftertaste).
Other "meaty" frozen patty options include the likes of MorningStar Farms' products. Made from soy and wheat gluten, the MorningStar Farms Grillers Prime Burger is smaller, weighing in at 71 grams per patty compared with the beefier 113-gram Beyond and Lightlife patties. It is also generally less expensive -- prices vary from store to store, but a sample search online at Target yields about a dollar per patty for MorningStar and $3 per patty for Beyond Meat.
While you can't yet order these fish burgers online, you can find them in major retailers like Giant and Hannaford. For the vegetarian or vegan who is missing that salty, seafood summer, the fish burger and the Thai fish burger -- both plant-based -- are as good a substitute as any. The brand also makes a solid plant-based tuna with oil and herbs which you can purchase online.
Before the Butcher is based out in California and poised to be one of the best new plant-based food companies in the game, and for good reason. Its Uncut line of "chicken," "beef" and "turkey" burgers and cutlets are surprisingly hard to differentiate from the real thing.
Before the Butcher's products were previously only available at brick-and-mortar locations on the west coast but are now also available online and ship nationally. Everything I've tried from BTB is excellent but can be hard to find in stores so your best bet is to order online.
This concoction is no longer unique, though, as Lightlife recently launched its own contender with similar ingredients, appearance, mouthfeel and grill-ability. The new Lightlife Plant-Based Burger includes pea protein, coconut oil and beets as well, and lists BBQ instructions on its packaging as the top prep method. Whichever product you choose, you'll have a patty to please the vegan or vegetarian crowd, and it might just entice some carnivores too! Serve it as you would a beef burger on a bun with your preferred condiments, or get inspired by some of Beyond Meat's recipes.
If you're looking for a happy medium, MorningStar also offers the larger Meat Lovers Vegan Burgers. This one aims for a more meatlike flavor than some of the brand's other offerings.
The MorningStar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers and the Garden Veggie Burgers are two more (of many) varieties that are worthy of a trip to the grill grates. The key with these, and any other veggie patties you're considering at the grocery store, is to read the prep instructions and look for instructions that specify grilling. If these are absent, likely the patties are best prepared via skillet or oven, and they might not be the best choice for bringing to a barbecue.
The best vegan sausages and hotdogs
Field Roast has a line of its own veggie-forward sausages and they are, in my opinion, the best in the category. The smoked apple sage, bratwurst, frankfurter and Mexican chipotle all deliver unique-yet-familiar flavor profiles all perfect for the grill. The Italian version is fabulous too but perhaps best diced up into a vegan bolognese. Unlike its competitors, these contain no soy -- made mostly from vegetables and grains -- making them a good choice for folks with soy allergies.
For truly authentic tasting sausages, Beyond makes a really good version of the classic and cased grilling food. With a hefty dose of vegetable fat (mostly from coconut oil) and a plant-based casing, this is the brand of sausage that just might fool some meat-loving friends. Grab the Original Brat variety and top with mustard and sauerkraut, or the Sweet Italian or Hot Italian options and add grilled onions and peppers.
These are best purchased when an Italian sausage option is called for. Some melted cheese or sauteed onions and peppers will complete the Itailan street fare fantasy.
Field Roast Frankfurters offer a bit more in the way of taste, but won't be fooling anyone without a lot of help from condiments. With all of these, you need only to provide a brief visit to the grill for light heating and grill-mark purposes. Like many of the products on this list, they're not gluten-free, but Field Roast uses all natural ingredients you know and can pronounce.
More meatless munchies
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.