By Erik Marcus
Vegan burgers are rapidly overtaking hamburgers in popularity, and for good reason.
Back in the 1950s, before the emergence of Taco Bell and Subway, hamburgers defined the American fast food meal. Today, thanks to pink slime and animal welfare concerns, Americans increasingly gravitate towards veggieburgers. Dozens of large and small companies make them.
If you’re new to veggieburgers, they offer a much greater diversity of flavors than your typical hamburger. That’s because hamburgers are typically all-beef, which limits the possible texture and flavor variations. Veggieburgers suffer no such constraints and can take on a much wider assortment of possibilities.
Some products do everything possible to replicate the colors, textures, and flavors of ground beef. In particular, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger can and do fool meat eaters. If you recoil at the idea of giving up hamburgers, you’ll be amazed by how faithfully these products capture the experience you crave.
Other veggieburgers take the opposite approach. They seek to deliver unique flavors unlike anything meat can offer. After all, who’s to say that ground beef offers the ultimate in satisfying flavors?
So whether you love or hate red meat, there’s a veggieburger that perfectly suits your tastes. The key is to try as many brands as possible to see which you like best.
Vegan Burger Brands
A minority of veggieburger brands contain animal ingredients, but you’ll have no trouble finding vegan brands. All of these popular products are vegan:
- Amy’s: Veggie Burgers (Seven varieties at last count, all of which are vegan)
- Beyond Meat: Beyond Burger and Beyond Beef
- Boca: Vegan Veggie Burgers Original and Chick’n (Some varieties contain animal products)
- Dr. Prager’s: Veggie Burgers (Seventeen varieties, all vegan)
- Field Roast: Chef’s Signature
- Foodies: Artichoke Burgers (Five varities)
- Gardein: Ultimate Burgers & Sliders (Seven varieties)
- Gardenburger: Black Bean Chipotle
- Hilary’s: Veggie Burgers (Eight varieties)
- Impossible Foods: Burger Patties, Frozen Patties, and Ground-Style
- Meatless Farm: Plant-Based Quarter Pounders and Chicken Burgers
- Strong Roots: Kale & Quinoa and Beetroot & Bean Burgers
- Tofurky: Plant-Based Burgers
- Yves: Gluten-Free and Kale & Root
- 365 (Whole Foods Market): Meatless Plant-Based Burgers
You can find most of these products in the frozen section of your favorite grocery or natural foods store. Some brands are sold in the refrigerated section, next to deli-style slices. Beyond Meat’s products are usually sold in the meat case right next to the hamburgers.
Also, many natural food stores carry a dried veggieburger mix in their bulk department. It’s super cheap and surprisingly tasty, although it’s certainly on the grainy and not-remotely-like-meat end of the veggieburger spectrum. Preparation is quick and easy. Just mix with some boiling water, allow to cool, form into patties, and pan-fry. These burgers go beautifully with barbecue sauce.
If you want to make a veggieburger from scratch, you can find hundreds of easy vegan recipes.
This the perfect project for a novice vegan cook. Many homemade vegan burger recipes call for a food processor, so you may want to have one on hand. The nice thing about making veggieburgers from scratch is that you can choose a recipe featuring your favorite ingredients. Whether it’s beans or cauliflower or tofu—whatever it is it’s easy to create a veggieburger recipe that has the flavors you love.
Want to find the perfect recipe? Just do an internet search for veggieburger recipe plus whatever main ingredient you’d like it to contain. There are countless veggieburger recipes online, so you’ll surely find one based on the ingredients you’d like to use.
Common veggieburger ingredients include:
- Finely-chopped vegetables
- Black beans, red beans, or lentils (cooked or canned)
If you know your way around the kitchen, you can easily whip up something from the above list that’ll favorably compare with any recipe you can find online.
As always, a good cookbook typically features recipes that are more clearly written and better tested than freebies published online. Any general-interest vegan cookbook is practically obligated to offer at least one veggieburger recipe. If you want to deeply explore veggieburgers and other meaty vegan foods, the book to get is Robin Asbell’s Plant-Based Meats.
Garnishing Your Vegan Burger
- Pickle slices
- Grilled chopped yellow onions
- Thinly sliced fresh red or Vidalia onions
- Sliced tomato
Cheese may be off limits to vegans, but vegan cheese certainly isn’t. Many companies make spectacularly good vegan cheeses that are perfect for vegan cheeseburgers. Violife in particular makes excellent vegan cheese slices.
If you like mayonnaise on your burgers, vegan mayonnaise is sold everywhere. Thousand Island dressing is another popular hamburger garnish. Follow Your Heart makes a vegan version, and you can also make your own using one of the dozens of recipes published online.
Want to change things up from your usual veggieburger? Don’t forget about fried portobello mushroom caps. Just fry each side for a few minutes in a bit of oil, and serve along with some condiments just like you would a regular veggieburger.
Marinated tempeh also makes a wonderful burger-style sandwich. I like to cut tempeh across its width so it’ll soak up more seasonings. For the marinade, use soy sauce plus some minced garlic and ginger plus your favorite spices. Then just fry a few minutes on each side at low-medium temperature.
You can also make a veggieburger using your favorite falafel recipe. Just shape the falafel into a hamburger-sized patty rather than the traditional balls. Keep the patty on the thin side so it’ll properly cook through. Then fry it on both sides.
Veggieburgers at Restaurant and Fast Food Chains
Veggieburgers have become one of the most popular menu items in the restaurant business. Most fast food and casual dining restaurants use one of the brands listed on this page. Independently owned vegan restaurants often make their veggieburger patties from scratch.
Unfortunately, some restaurants serve their vegan burgers on a non-vegan bun. However, you can order a vegan veggieburger at Denny’s, Burger King, and White Castle. See our vegan fast food guide for details on what to request to order vegan. No matter what chain you patronize, always request no mayo or cheese, since many restaurants will add it to their otherwise-vegan offering.
If you love veggieburgers, you need to know that no restaurant can match the all-vegan chain Veggie Grill. They devote an entire section of their menu to an assortment of veggieburger possibilities that will blow your mind.