Known for making headlines as the world's first "bleeding" veggie burger, the Beyond Burger sold out nationwide during its first release in select Whole Foods stores. With vegetarians, vegans, and even meat-eaters alike all chomping at the bit to get a bite, we took the plunge and did a taste test ourselves.
Before it made headlines because of a five percent investment from Tyson (the world's biggest meat producer), the Beyond Meat brand was growing at an astonishing rate—and still is. This growth is, in part at least, because of their meat-free burger that promises to replicate the real hamburger patty: the Beyond Burger.
Made mainly with pea protein, yeast extract, and coconut oil, the Beyond Burger gets its reddish tint thanks to the addition of beet juice. When compared side-by-side to the nutrition of a similar sized beef patty, the plant-based burger comes out on top nutritionally. With more protein and iron, less saturated fat, and zero cholesterol, it's still a healthier alternative to your traditional burger. While it's not something to include in your everyday diet (it still has just as many calories and almost as much overall fat as a beef burger), it's a product that can be a healthier choice for those burger cravings—and especially for vegans and vegetarians.
We managed to get our hands on a singular patty, despite not residing in one of the eight states where Beyond Burgers are currently available. Four Cooking Light staffers took the challenge to see if the hype really held up for this latest and greatest meat alternative.
Tasked with cooking the patty, I opened the package to find a pink-ish, soft patty that was slightly horrifying (to this vegan) due to how similar to meat it looked and felt. I cooked the patty over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan. Immediately, the burger sizzled on the hot pan, releasing a pleasant, but not easily placed, aroma. When flipping, there was a moment of fear that it would stick, but the burger's oil content made for an easy turn. When cut apart, it didn't exactly bleed, but it did look tender and slightly pink inside, very similar to a medium-well burger.
We ate the burger on a whole wheat bun with tomatoes, onion, and pickles, with no condiments to mask the Beyond Burger flavor. Here's what our quartet of tasters thought:
Taste Tester Comments
"It was shockingly real. As a frequent red meat eater, I was wholly skeptical, but the texture, smell, and flavor were as close to the real thing as I could imagine any product could get. You could serve me this at a barbecue, and I just might not know the difference." — Kimberly, Editor CookingLight.com
"The burger didn’t taste like a typical veggie burger where you can identify black beans, rice, cheese, or whatever components make up the patty. At the same time, the burger didn’t have a similar flavor to a beef patty, so the taste was slightly off-putting. It was extremely oily and almost had a creamy texture on the inside, which I didn’t really like. All in all, the flavor wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy these, as I think other veggie burgers that taste like identifiable foods are much tastier." — Sara, Editorial Fellow Cooking Light
"I'm a vegan, so this is probably going to be viewed as biased. But good grief, this is the Holy Grail of veggie burgers. Chewy, kind of greasy, and very flavorful. I love a good bean-based patty, but sometimes you just want something reminiscent of a splurge-worthy burger. I would keep this as an 'every once in a while' treat, like for cookouts or when company comes over." — Hayley, Assistant Editor CookingLight.com
"It was juicy like a burger from the beets, but I would still choose a real meat burger over this, even though I love veggie burgers." — Katherine, Editorial Fellow Cooking Light
For the curious carnivore or the vegetable-only eater who still has a craving for a greasy burger from time to time, Beyond Burger may be worth a try—if you can get your hands on a patty, that is.