I Tried 5 Plant-Based “Ground Beef” Options, and There’s Only 1 I’ll Buy Again

published Jan 10, 2020
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Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The fact that this article can even exist is proof that the plant-based meat industry is booming. And despite knowing that, I was still shocked that so many plant-based “ground beef” options exist. I mean, I found five different brands at grocery stores all within a mile from my apartment (and every grocery store I went to had at least one option — I live in Brooklyn, but still). And based on my research, I know that there are even more brands out there that I couldn’t get my hands on. (Looking at you, Impossible!)

To determine my favorite, I cooked each alt meat in a skillet, according to the directions on its packaging. Two brands came pre-crumbled and were cooked from frozen, while the other three more closely resembled raw ground beef and had to be thawed in the refrigerator first. All of them had a cook time of less than 10 minutes (with many including a warning about overcooking). 

Once I’d prepared them all, I tasted each side by side. Then I tried them all mixed with a little bit of marinara to see what they were like mixed with sauce. And while of course everyone has different preferences when it comes to their meat (real or fake), to me there was one clear winner.

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The Favorite: Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground 

I’ll admit that this one surprised me. I expected to prefer one of the not-beefs that mimicked raw meat, but this pre-crumbled stuff beat out the rest in terms of both flavor and texture. It tastes meaty in a subtle way, while some others have a much stronger taste (and not in a good way, in my opinion), and another tasted like absolutely nothing. The texture was similar to well-cooked ground beef, while some of the others which were, um, pretty mushy. Plus, once I combined the Beefless Ground with marinara, it totally passed for the real thing.

Buy: Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground, $4 for 13.7-ounce bag at Walmart

Sure, this one is obviously NOT meat when you take it out of the freezer bag and cook it for four minutes in a skillet, but I appreciated that it was super easy to handle and didn’t stick to the pan at all (meanwhile, I had to soak my skillet for 10 minutes after cooking one of the competitors). While many people will argue about who plant-based “ground beef” is actually for, I will tell you that I’m a meat eater and I can see myself buying this Gardein alt meat again (although probably not any of the others).

What’s your favorite meatless “ground meat”? Let us know in the comments!