Taste Test: Best Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers make a quick and healthy meal. But which ones taste best?

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Veggie burgers have come a long way, baby! They've definitely graduated from the lackluster vegetarian burgers I used to buy back in Berkeley, circa 1985. I still love to have meatless meals, and veggie burgers make a quick, convenient entree. Of course, not all veggie burgers are created equal. So below, you'll find my picks for the best veggie burgers you can buy (along with a recipe for a dressed-up version).

But first, a few words for people who aren't sure they're ready to go veggie when it comes to burgers. Being a longtime veggie burger consumer, I developed five sure-fire tips to make you a veggie burger lover for life.

Veggie Burger Tip No. 1: Trial and Error

Everyone has different tastes, and you may need to try several brands of burgers before you find one that works for you personally. My husband and I both like the Vegetable Masala Burger with Indian spices from Trader Joe's, and I also like the Garden Burgers at my regular supermarket. My husband? Not so much.

Veggie Burger Tip No. 2: Very Veggie or Beef Burger Look-a-Like?

Decide whether you're looking for a burger that is trying to pose as beef or one that is unapologetic about featuring vegetables. Both types are available in most supermarkets these days. Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers are literally green, and contain chunks of vegetables. This burger is undeniably all about veggies, and I rather like that. But if you aren't into the "green burger scene," you may want to choose another.

Veggie Burger Tip No. 3: Use a Spritz of Cooking Spray

Some veggie burgers -- like Amy's Chicago Veggie Burger -- benefit from a light coat of olive or canola oil cooking spray before you put them in a nonstick skillet or on the grill. This helps them to brown up and appear less dry.

Veggie Burger Tip No. 4: Dress Them Up

Throw some cheese or condiments on top of your veggie burger for extra fun and flavor. Check out the Indian Blue Veggie Burger recipe below for one example. Keep your sandwich low in fat by using condiments like mustard, honey mustard, catsup, BBQ sauce, and balsamic vinegar. If you like cheese, use a small amount of a high-flavor cheese, or try a reduced-fat type. Other high-flavor toppings include avocado, pesto made with olive or canola oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs like basil or salsa.

Veggie Burger Tip No. 5: The Ultimate Quick Meal Option

Veggie burgers can be a simple weekday lunch for one or two, or they can be a quick dinner for harried weeknights. They keep in the freezer, usually in individual wrappers, and you can heat up one or two in five minutes.

The Best Veggie Burgers

Have I met a veggie burger I didn't like? Definitely. Are there plenty of great-tasting veggie burgers worth buying again and again? Absolutely. Check out the table below and see which ones sound like they would interest you.

1. Amy's Chicago Veggie Burger
Ingredients: The first 10 ingredients on the label are organic mushrooms, organic onions, organic brown rice, filtered water, organic celery, organic carrots, organic oats, wheat gluten, organic bulgur wheat, and cheddar cheese.
Nutrition facts: One burger has 160 calories, 10 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, and 390 mg sodium. It contains 30% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, 4% for vitamin C, 8% calcium, and10% iron.
Comments: I liked this burger best when it wasn't by itself but was on a toasted bun with condiments. The taste is halfway between a beef burger and a veggie burger.

2. Amy's All American Veggie Burger
First 10 ingredients: Organic onions, organic mushrooms, filtered water, wheat gluten, textured soy protein concentrate, organic bulgur wheat, organic celery, organic carrots, organic walnuts, and organic oats.
Nutrition facts: 1 burger = 120 calories, 10 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 g carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, and 390 mg sodium. It contains 15% of the recommended Daily Value for vitamin A, 6% vitamin C, 4% calcium, and 10% iron.
Comments: This veggie burger had a pleasant texture and taste and would go nicely with several different condiments or toppings.

3. Boca Garden Vegetable Meatless Burgers
Ingredients: First 10 ingredients are water, organic textured soy flour, organic zucchini, organic red bell peppers, organic textured wheat, gluten, wheat gluten, contains less than 2% of organic soy protein concentrate, red bell pepper puree, organic expeller pressed canola oil, and konjac gum.
Nutrition facts: 1 burger = 130 calories, 15 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 0 gram saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 400 mg sodium; 0% Daily Value for vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 10% calcium, and 10% iron.
Comments: This veggie burger has a mild flavor that works well with stronger flavored toppings and condiments, like stone-ground mustard or spicy BBQ sauce.



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