I Tried Aldi’s New Plant-Based “Ground Beef” — Here’s How It Went
Do you ever feel like the universe is listening to you? Or that the stars sometimes magically align just right? I’m having that feeling RIGHT now, because here at Kitchn we’re doing a lot this month to cover the plant-based “ground beef” trend. And Aldi just so happens to be coming out with an Aldi Find that IS plant-based “ground beef!” Aldi’s version, Earth Grown Meatless Ground Plant Protein, will hit stores tomorrow (January 8) and will retail for $3.99 for 12 ounces. How perfect is that timing? (Okay, okay, I realize this has more to do with the trendiness of plant-based eating and the popularity of Beyond Beef/the Impossible Burger and less to do with the stars/our editorial calendar, but still!)
Anyway, Aldi’s meatless “ground beef” is an Aldi Find, which means it’s technically only supposed to be available for a limited time — unless it sells well and execs decide to bring it back for a longer or more permanent stay, which I imagine is pretty darn likely. I got my hands on a package one day early (I’ve got friends on the inside!) and gave it a try.
I decided to use the stuff to make my favorite meal: tacos. (When my now-husband and I were getting married, his answer during a bridal shower game for the thing he loves most about me was, “How excited she gets for taco night.”) Because we eat so many tacos, it just made sense. Plus, there are tacos on the front of the package (more kismet!). Here goes.
I oiled my pan and set it over medium-high heat, and plopped my “meat” in. (Plopped is such a terrible word to use on a food site; I apologize.) It went from brick to crumbles with just a few twists of my spoon. The package directions say to cook the meat until it reaches 165 degrees F, which it does relatively quickly, but I will say that the color change isn’t quite as dramatic with Aldi’s version as it is with Impossible’s. (If you don’t have a meat thermometer, it’s a little hard to tell when this stuff is done, but know that other brands say five to eight minutes.) I took a little taste before I added the taco seasoning: Definitely NOT meaty. I could almost certainly taste the pea protein and worried about it passing for meat. (Not really the goal here, but you know.)
When I make my ground beef tacos, I add the seasoning and a bit of water to make the meat extra saucy. Although I do drain some of the fat, I want my tacos to be juicy and I don’t hate it when I have to reach for extra napkins. It became very clear that Aldi’s meatless version would not be juicy/saucy. Nevertheless, I persisted … and built my taco!
Although I usually love lots of toppings, I kept this test taco simple, only adding cheese (because everything needs cheese). The verdict: I was surprised and impressed! With the seasoning and in the assembled taco, it tasted shockingly close to my usual taco. I could still tell that I wasn’t eating meat, but the taco flavors and the texture was totally there. Did I like this more than Impossible “ground beef” or Beyond Beef? I’d say no (because it’s less beef-like), but Beyond Beef costs me $9 at Target, whereas this stuff is $4 at Aldi.
To compare ingredients a bit, Aldi, Beyond Beef, and Impossible (and most other brands you find) are made mostly of pea protein and water, plus other things like starches, thickeners, and natural flavors. If you’re going to look, know that the ingredient lists for all three may be longer than you’d expect.
The (drastically) cheaper price alone makes this Aldi Find a good option for anyone who is curious about plant-based “ground beef” and wants to try out a few recipes. I fully plan to get another pack (tomorrow, when the new Aldi Finds come out) and try it in my famous chili.
Are you going to try Aldi’s meatless ground plant protein? Have you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!