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The Best Plant Based Burger: A Nutreats Taste Test

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The Best Plant Based Burger: A Nutreats Taste Test

Zissy Lewin
The Best Plant Based Burger: A Nutreats Taste Test

According to this report, the global plant based burger patty market is posed to grow by 41% between 2020 and 2024. Out of the plant based “meats”, burger patties are the most popular.

 

The plant based burger patty of today is a lot different to the plant based burger a decade ago. It’s no longer beans and vegetables pulsed together to form the OG veggie burgers. Plant based burgers are now being made to mimic the look, taste and feel of meat burgers.

 

Plant based burgers are not just for vegans and vegetarians, they’re also targeted towards reductionists – meat eaters who want to reduce their consumption of meat – too. For ethical vegans or vegetarians who may miss the taste and texture of a meat burger, plant based burgers fill that void. They’re also a convenient meal that you can keep in the freezer to remove as needed and grill up in minutes.

 

In LA last year we tried the Impossible Burger, one of the first plant based burgers to mimic meat. It’s not available here and so we went on a search to find the best plant based burger available locally in South Africa. When picking patties to test, the criteria was that it was marketed as a plant-based burger not a veggie burger. We tested four, of which three are locally made (arguably the better option when it comes to being environmentally conscious).

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test

 

Each plant based burger was scored on the following four categories:

Price: Looking at the cost per patty. All patties were almost identical in size regardless of the brand. Price scoring was determined relative to the others.

Ingredients: Looking at both the number of ingredients, how many were identifiable and how many we would have in our kitchen. Scoring was determined by the percentage of ingredients recognised and we agreed that anything over 50% was decent.

Taste: Taste is personal and we scored them on personal preference, not necessarily how close to a meat patty it tasted like.

Texture: Looking at how closely it mimicked the look and feel of a meat burger. Both in raw form and once cooked and eaten.

 

We scored each category from 1-3. 1 being bad, 2 neutral and 3 being good.

 

The best way to see how each fares as a burger, is to eat them as a burger is eaten. Thus, each burger patty was prepared in the same way – on a grill and served in a roll with a shmear of tomato sauce, mustard, some lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and pickled onion. The burger with the highest score out of 12 was deemed the winner. It’s all very official.

 

Herbivore Plant Based Burger Patties

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Herbivore 1
Ingredients

Soya protein (63%), Vegetable oil (sunflower), Soya protein isolate, Coconut oil, Cellulose, Molasses, Flavouring, Himalayan salt, Onion, Vinegar, Spices, Beetroot, Antioxidant (Vitamin C), Potassuim sorbate (E202).

 

There are a total of 15 ingredients that make up a Herbivore plant based burger patty. Of those 15, 9 we would be able to identify if looking at them individually and have 8 of them sitting in our pantry or fridge. The only allergen they contain is soya; but they are also made in a factory that uses tree nuts.

 

Score: 2

 

Taste

It has a meaty taste, which we put down to the spice mix used. It does taste better as a burger ie. in a roll with condiments and add-ins than it does alone. Eaten alone, it has a slight aftertaste and powdery feel. While it has a decent meaty taste, you can’t really identify the ingredients you’re eating.

Score: 2

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Herbivore 3

Texture

Raw, it looks like a beef patty and cooks up like one too. Once cooked, it still has the beef patty look and texturally feels like you’re eating beef, right down to that chewiness you get when eating meat. For those who want a plant based patty that has that meaty feel, this is a great option.

 

Score: 3

 

Price

R34.99 for 2 patties (available here) which work out to R17.50 per patty. This is the second-best price per patty from the ones tested and a perfectly reasonable price.

 

Score: 3

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Herbivore 3

Total score: 10/12

 

Frys Family Traditional Burger

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Frys Family Burger 1
Ingredients

Vegetable protein (16%) (contains Soya · Wheat), Vegetable oil (Sunflower seed), Potato starch, Maize Starch, Wheat fibre, Flavourings, Wheat flour (Gluten), Spices (Contains: Sulphites), Sea salt, Thickener (Cellulose extract), Onion, Mustard Powder, Natural Colour (Caramel IV).

 

There are a total of 13 ingredients that make up a Frys Family Traditional burger patty. Of those 13, 7 we  would be able to identify if looking at them individually and have 6 of them sitting in our pantry or fridge. In terms of allergens, they do contain soya, wheat and gluten. Out of the plant based burger patties tried they had the shortest list of ingredients.

 

Score: 2

 

Taste

Frys products have a distinct soy taste and that is exactly what their traditional burger patty tastes like. Blindfolded we wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s their sausage, nugget or burger. It’s not a bad taste, we liked it – if you’re a fan of Frys frozen plant-based sausages, nuggets and sausages you’ll like this too. It does however, have an after taste, which lingers for hours after. If you’re looking for a meat alternative that has that meaty taste, this won’t satisfy you. They have recently launched the Big Fry Burger, which they’ve marketed as the Frys impossible/ beyond meat burger and you’ll notice those ingredients are similar to the Impossible Burger/ Beyond Meat ingredients, so that would most likely have a meatier taste. We were not able to find it when purchasing patties for this article and have not tasted it so cannot vouch for it.

 

Score: 2

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Frys Family Burger 3

Texture

It has the same colour as the Frys sausages and cannot be mistaken for beef. Texture wise it feels closer to soy than beef. It was the firmest of all the patties we tried.

 

Score: 1

 

Price

R47.99 for 4 patties (available here), which works out to just R11.99 per patty. These are the most affordable option. They’re also the easiest to find, making them readily accessible.

 

Score: 3

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test -Frys Family Burger 2

 

Total score: 8/12

 

Beyond Meat Beyond Burger

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Beyond Burger 1
Ingredients

Water, pea protein isolate, canola oil, coconut oil, rice protein, flavouring, cocoa butter, mung bean protein, emulsifiers, potato starch, apple extract, salt, preservative: potassium chloride, vinegar, concentrated lemon juice, lecithin (sunflower), pomegranate extract, concentrated beet juice.

 

There are a total of 19 ingredients that make up a Beyond Meat Beyond Burger Patty. Of those 19, 12 we would be able to identify if looking at them individually and have 6 of them sitting in our pantry or fridge. In terms of allergens, they’re made in a factory which uses nuts and peanuts. Out of all the plant based burger patties tested they had the longest list of ingredients and the least amount of ingredients we recognise.

 

Score: 2

 

Taste

It tastes like a burger cooked on a braai – it has a braai taste even though it was grilled on an electric grill with not a coal in sight. It has a slight fatty oiliness to it (like beef) and is the meatiest tasting. Out of the ones tried, it is the closest to a beef burger taste.

 

Score: 3

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Beyond Burger 1

Texture

Raw it looks like beef and it cooks like beef, down to juices oozing out of it. It has the chewiness of a beef burger. If you want something that really feels like beef, this had the best texture.

 

Score: 3

 

Price

R129.99 for two patties (available here), which is R64.99 per patty. These were the most expensive plant-based burger – almost 4 times more expensive than the others. At their current price, they’re not an option we would go for as to us that price is exorbitant. They are the only imported patty, which most likely also contributes to the price tag.

 

Score: 1

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Beyond Burger 2

 

Total score: 9/12

 

Irene’s Deluxe Burger Patty

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Irenes 1
Ingredients

Mushrooms, beetroot, carrot, gluten free oats, flaxseed, brown rice, lentils, sunflower oil, olive oil, chickpea flour, salt, nutritional yeast, water, herbs and spices.

 

There are a total of 15 ingredients that make up an Irene’s Deluxe Burger Patty. Of those 15, we would be able to identify all 15 if looking at them individually and have all 15 of them sitting in our pantry or fridge. They are also allergen free. Out of the plant-based burger patties tried, these were the only ones with a fully identifiable ingredient list, so much so, you would be able to recreate them at home.

 

Score: 3

Taste

It tastes like a veggie burger. You can taste the beets and lentils and spicing, and we really liked the flavour of it. We also enjoyed being able to identify what we were eating. However, it tastes like a veggie burger not a plant-based meat alternative burger. If you want a good veggie burger, this is great. If you want something meaty, you’ll be disappointed.

Score: 3

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Irenes 3

Texture

Raw it looked like a veggie burger and cooked up crisper and less juicy than the others. The ingredients are visible in the burger and it has the same texture of a lentil burger.

 

Score: 1

 

Price

R75 for four patties, which works it to R18.75 per patty. These come in third price wise, but not by much and are still a reasonable price to pay.

 

Score: 3

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test - Irenes 3

 

Total score: 10/12

 

The overall winners were Herbivore and Irene’s which tied at 10 points. The difference between them comes down to whether you want something that mimics a meat burger or not. If you want something that looks and feels like meat, go for Herbivore. If you want something that is a substantial veggie burger and that you’ll recognise every ingredient go for Irene’s.

 

Taste is personal and so are the criteria when making a food purchase. You may want the most affordable option, a local option or the one that most closely resembles beef. That is why we rated them both in terms of likeness to beef (texture) and taste (which flavour we enjoyed best, not necessarily which one tastes most like beef).

 

In terms of likeness to the texture of Beef the order from best is:

1 – Beyond Meat

2 – Herbivore

3 – Frys

4 – Irenes.

 

When it came down to our personal taste preference the order from best is:

1 – Irenes

2 – Beyond Meat

3 – Herbivore

4 – Frys

 

When it came down to the closest to tasting like a beef burger, both Beyond Meat and Herbivore were almost equal in their appearance, texture and taste mimicking meat.

 

The Best Plant Based Burger A Nutreats Taste Test 2

 

Don’t agree with us? Tell us in the comments.

View Comments (2)
  • Great review and photographs. I’ve always puzzled at why veggie burgers try so hard to mimic meat. I love the taste of lentil / bean burgers . Irene’s would be the one on my shopping list. I’ll look out for them.

    • Thank you Lisa! I think they’re targeting those who miss/want a meat feel/texture? If you love veggie burgers for being veggie burgers then Irene’s are your top choice from these!

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