Supermarket Veggie Burgers

Published July 1, 2005. From Cook's Illustrated.

All the brands we tasted won high marks for convenience, but what about taste?

Overview:

Chopping, simmering, draining, shaping, chilling—are homemade veggie burgers really worth the effort? Not if there was something decent to be had at the supermarket, we reasoned. So we tasted seven products, all fully cooked frozen patties that required just two kitchen skills: heating and plopping onto a bun.

All brands won high marks for convenience, but that's about it. Veggie-burger veterans and first-timers alike agreed that the flavors and textures were dreadful across the board. Even more perplexing, hardly any of these burgers tasted of vegetables. The problem is that most seemed to be trying to replicate an all-beef burger in texture and taste, but no combination of soy protein, wheat gluten, or smoke flavor pulled that off convincingly. Our “winner” won only faint praise at best.

Chopping, simmering, draining, shaping, chilling—are homemade veggie burgers really worth the effort? Not if there was something decent to be had at the supermarket, we reasoned. So we tasted seven products, all fully cooked frozen patties that required just two kitchen skills: heating and plopping onto a bun.

All brands won high marks for convenience, but that's about it. Veggie-burger veterans and first-timers alike agreed that the flavors and textures were dreadful across the board. Even more perplexing, hardly any of these burgers tasted of vegetables. The problem is that most seemed to be trying to replicate an all-beef burger in texture and taste, but no combination of soy protein, wheat gluten, or smoke flavor pulled that off convincingly. Our “winner” won only faint praise at best.

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