The Best Veggie Burgers & Why We Love Them

Carnivores and vegetarians alike typically have turned up their noses to the thought of a veggie burger. With the taste and texture similar to a mesquite-flavored rubber mat, veggie burgers have been far from intriguing.  However, the recent plant-based food movement has increased the awareness of meat alternatives, and has even sparked some interest in meat-eaters looking for a new protein option! Now more than ever, meat alternatives are, for lack of a better description, more meaty, fooling the most palate diverse. Because of the abundance of veggie burger options these days, it can be difficult to know which is the best nutritive choice.  Check out our veggie burger breakdown and learn which alternative plant-based option is best for you.

Our Favorite Pick: Engine 2 Plant Strong Poblano Black Bean Plant Burger

Why we love it: When it comes to whole, plant-based ingredients, Engine 2 Plant-Strong Plant Burgers are definitely at the top of our list. Black Beans, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Pumpkin Kernels are combined in this simply satisfying veggie burger. With just 140 calories and a whopping 8 grams of fiber, this burger is a great filling choice. Better yet, these plant burgers had the least amount of sodium among those we investigated–just 130 mg/patty or 0.9 mg/kcal

What we don’t love: Though this veggie burger is full of plant-based ingredients and belly filling fiber, it is lowest in fat and protein among the veggie burgers we surveyed.  Though this may sound like a bonus, a meal lower in fat and protein may cause you looking for more. Try adding ½ of a sliced avocado to this veggie burger to make it feel like a more filling choice.

Next In Line: Amy’s Organic California Veggie Burger

Why we love it: This 100% plant-based burger is not only packed with organic ingredients including mushrooms, onions, celery and carrots, but it also contains natural protein sources such as walnuts and bulgur wheat. With 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber, this 150-calorie burger is a great choice to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Low in fat, and 21 g of healthy carbohydrates, this is a great go-to veggie burger.

What we don’t love: Unlike the others we compared, Amy’s California Veggie Burger was the highest in sodium – 3.6 mg/calorie or almost ¼ of our daily sodium requirements–in just one patty! While we love the macronutrient profile, and simple ingredient list, the sodium content of this burger may not be the best option for everyone.

In The Middle: Trader Joes Hi-Protein Veggie Burger

Why we love it: This simple-ingredient burger really packs a nutrient punch. With a whopping 26g of protein and 4g of dietary fiber, this pea-protein burger will keep you feeling full for hours!  The Trader Joe’s Hi-Protein Veggie Burger is a satisfying burger alternative with 260 calories and 13 grams of fat–a nutritional profile similar to 3 oz of ground beef (85% lean) which contains 213 calories and 13 grams of fat, however, this version is significantly lower in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol! (YAY!)

What we don’t love: Rather than whole-food ingredients such as vegetables, whole grains, and the like, the first ingredient in this burger is pea protein. Though it comes from peas, pea protein is made by isolating the protein from ground yellow peas, forming a powder. Natural? Yes. Unprocessed? No.

Not-So-Bad: Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger

Why we love it: This vegan burger has a texture oh-so-similar to beef. It is full of protein sources including textured wheat protein, soy, quinoa, and pea protein. The Gardein Ultimate Beefless Burger was the lowest calorie veggie burger on our list (130 calories), and also one of the lowest in carbohydrates (7g).

What we don’t love: Not a simple ingredient list here, though many nutrient-dense ingredients such as ancient grain flours (wheat, amaranth, millet, and quinoa). Among other, likely harmless, ingredients, such as modified vegetable gum, natural flavors, potato starch, and canola oil, this veggie burger also contains cane sugar.

Our Least Favorite: Beyond Meat Beyond Burger 

Why we love it: Definitely the veggie burger that has gotten the most attention recently, the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger is unquestionably the closest in taste to ground beef. With it’s texture, flavor, and moisture, it is pretty difficult to tell that this plant-based patty does not actually contain meat! With just 260 calories per patty, and 20 g of protein, this veggie burger will not leave you feeling dissatisfied.

What we don’t love: The ingredient list of this veggie burger is far from whole veggies. Like the Trader Joe’s version, the Beyond Burger’s top ingredient is pea protein, but next in line: Canola oil, Coconut Oil, and Rice Protein. For a plant-based alternative, it is a bit more processed in nature than the others we compared. But more than processed ingredients, this veggie burger goes way beyond in price. Most brands we compared were about $1.60 per burger, but the Beyond Burger hits the top of our price category at $2.42 per patty.

Which burger do we recommend?

Choose a plant-based veggie burger that not only appeals to your tastebuds, but also keeps you feeling full and focused. And, no need to stick to a bun! Break up one of these veggie burgers on top of a salad or a veggie sauté for a super simple swap to your typical meal. Want to make your own? Check out this recipe for our Hearty Homemade Veggie Burger

Lara Field MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Specialist in Pediatrics with over a decade of clinical and client experience. When she’s not actively working to keep her clients healthy, she’s a busy mother of two active boys and loves testing new recipes in her kitchen. Follow her on Instagram to see her recipe ideas, product suggestions, and see how she manages a healthy lifestyle @larafield.