Thanks to improved taste and texture, it’s easier than ever to work alternative meat sources into meals.
A decade ago, this would have been a very different story.
Meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh were centuries old; frozen “veggie burgers” and the earliest plant-based meats had been on the scene for more than 20 years. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, now the industry’s biggest players, were in their infancies.
But the biggest strides in plant-based meats have been made in the past 10 years, and there’s no sign of a slowdown. Bloomberg estimates that plant-based proteins could make up nearly 8% of the global protein market by 2030. And in an article for the New York Times, award-winning chef and food writer J. Kenji López-Alt wrote that “modern vegan meat is among the most important technological leaps I’ve seen in my career.”
Siblings Kale and Aubry Walch opened the nation’s first vegan butcher shop in Minneapolis in 2016, and last year published a cookbook that made vegan meat accessible to home chefs. Chef and author Robin Asbell already had been down the DIY road; her “Plant-Based Meats” was published in 2018, furthering the era of meatless eating.
Now grocery freezers are filled with plant-based options, from premade sausages and chicken tenders to bulk packages of meat that look and cook similarly to ground beef. It’s easier than ever to add meat to your meatless meal, but not without recalibrating some kitchen habits.
We pored over cookbooks, articles and websites for the best information and advice for cooking with plant-based meats. Here are tips to get you started:
Mind over matter: Experts recommend thinking of plant-based meat not as “fake meat” but as a substitute for it. In addition to the long list of plant-based meat substitutes, don’t forget other foods that can pinch hit, such as tofu, tempeh, jackfruit and seitan. Think of meat as an accessory to the meal, not the main attraction.
A new normal: The makeup of uncooked plant-based meat makes it soft and sticky, so keep your fingers wet when working with it. If your recipe is hands-on, like meatballs, be sure the meat is chilled; keep rechilling so the meat holds the desired shape. Speaking of chilling, if you have leftover meat, refreezing it won’t change the taste and texture like it does animal meat. Keep it in airtight containers and it will last in the freezer for up to six months.
Easy on the salt: Salt is used in the production of plant-based meats, so if you’re following a standard recipe reduce the amount of salt by 1/4 teaspoon. (Cookbooks and recipes developed for plant-based meats already take salt content into account.) If you’re watching sodium intake, read labels — some brands have more sodium than others.
Flavor, flavor, flavor: Adding seasonings and marinades deepens the flavor and uses of plant-based meats. You can buy flavored meats, but creating your own seasonings allows you to control the ingredients. It’s also more practical and economical to buy unseasoned meat in bulk instead of several seasoned varieties.
Get saucy: An easy entry into using plant-based meats is by choosing recipes with flavorful sauces — spaghetti, chili, enchiladas, teriyaki — or where meat plays a supporting role, such as dips (see recipe below). Plant-based meats release less liquid than their animal counterparts, so expect to use more liquids during cooking.
Get smoky, too: Plant-based meats lend themselves to smoky flavors, although their quick cooking time doesn’t allow them to pick up the flavor they would get languishing on a grill or in a smoker.
Adding spices and seasonings such as smoked paprika, smoked salt and liquid smoke can fill the smoky gap. Once you’re ready to grill, make sure the grates are well-oiled; the fat makeup in plant-based meats makes them more susceptible to sticking. Which brings us to:
Fatten it up: Plant-based meats don’t release fats the way animal meats do, so keep heart-healthy oils on hand to help it along. This not only prevents sticking, but also gives the meat a caramelized edge, distributes flavors and helps set the shape — all things that make it taste and feel more familiar.
Don’t fear the sear: Plant-based meat is similar to regular meat in that it benefits from a good sear to caramelize the surfaces. Cast iron cookware works well for that grill-like taste (it retains and disperses heat the best); be sure it’s hot and well-seasoned to minimize sticking. For other uses, a nonstick pan will be your friend.
Don’t overcook the meat: Plant-based or not, that’s easier said than done. Visual cues help gauge doneness in traditional meats, but the color of plant-based versions varies by brand. Instead, check for doneness more often, and use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s cooked according to the package instructions. America’s Test Kitchen also offered a helpful tip: Reverse the cooking order. Start with longer-cooking vegetables and aromatics, and add the meat after they’re softened.
Make your own: They say homemade is always best, and one could argue the same holds true for plant-based meat. Cookbooks from both the Herbivorous Butcher and Asbell give blueprints for creating everything from bacon and bologna to turkey rolls and taco meat. This isn’t a grab-and-go venture; do your research, scout ingredient sources and grab your sense of adventure before digging in. Then invite us over for dinner.
MEATLESS MEATBALLS IN MARINARA SAUCE
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves and tender stems
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1 1/2 pounds plant-based vegan ground beef (such as Beyond Meat)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
3 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
Parmesan, for optional garnish
In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, tamari, salt, pepper, oregano and red-pepper flakes, if using, and mix well. Add plant-based beef, and blend with your hands until well mixed. Cover mixture and chill for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
Heat the broiler. Form 28 meatballs, each about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Transfer meatballs to one or two rimmed baking sheets, and drizzle with olive oil.
Broil meatballs until golden and firm, 7 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat marinara sauce in a pot. Serve meatballs with sauce on top, sprinkle with cheese, if using, and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
MEATY NACHO DIP
You wouldn’t think potatoes and carrots would yield such a creamy dip, but they do. The potatoes are whipped in a blender to release all of their starches, providing a very cheese-like texture that really is a crowd-pleaser. It’s also a great dip to keep on hand if you’re cooking for anyone with a dairy allergy. Nutritional yeast is widely available at supermarkets and co-ops. Plant-based meats come “raw” in bricks or as frozen, cooked crumbles. Either will work in this recipe. Adapted from “The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen.
12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice, about 1/3 cup
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see Note)
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce, divided
1 1/8 teaspoons table salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, finely chopped, divided
1/3 cup red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
4 ounces plant-based beef (see Note)
2 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add potatoes and carrots and cook until tender, about 12 minutes; drain well. Combine cooked vegetables, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, nutritional yeast, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon chipotle, 1 teaspoon salt and mustard powder in a blender. Pulse until chopped and combined, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of the blender as needed. Then process mixture on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add two-thirds of onion, red pepper and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add plant-based beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer dip to serving bowl and top with plant-based beef mixture. Sprinkle with tomatoes, cilantro and remaining onion. Serve with tortilla chips.
BURGERS WITH BROCCOLI RABE AND RED PEPPERS
Broccoli rabe probably isn’t the first (or even the 10th) vegetable that comes to mind when you picture your favorite burger toppings. That’s about to change. Tempered by a quick sauté in a hot pan and a drizzle of sweet agave syrup (or honey if you don’t follow a vegan diet), this assertive bitter green becomes a delectable counterpoint to the rich flavors of these Italian sausage– inspired burgers. From “Cooking With Plant-Based Meat,” from America’s Test Kitchen.
For the Lemon Mayonnaise:
1/2 cup plant-based or egg-based mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced to paste
For the burgers:
12 ounces plant-based ground meat
1 small shallot, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning (see below)
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
4 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon plusI 1/8 teaspoon table salt, divided
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons light agave syrup or honey
4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired
To prepare the lemon mayonnaise: Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, and garlic in bowl. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 days.
To prepare the burgers: Break ground meat into small pieces in large bowl. Add shallot and Italian sausage seasoning and gently knead with your hands until well combined. Using your moistened hands, divide meat mixture into 4 equal portions, then gently shape each portion into a 3 1/2-inch-wide patty. Transfer patties to plate and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil and garlic in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until garlic is golden brown and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Add broccoli rabe, peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until broccoli rabe is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in agave syrup. Transfer to bowl and cover to keep warm. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Spread mayonnaise mixture on bun tops; set aside. Sprinkle patties with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Transfer patties to skillet and cook until well browned on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until browned on second side and meat registers 130 to 135 degrees, about 2 minutes longer. Serve burgers on buns, topped with broccoli rabe mixture.
Sweet Italian Sausage Seasoning: In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 teaspoons lightly crushed fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 3/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
How do you cook plant-based meat? ›
In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm one tablespoon of oil. Crumble the plant-based beef into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about three minutes.What is the disadvantage of plant-based meat? ›
Plant-based meat alternatives often contain more sodium than animal meats—in some examples up to six times more—and some of them contain added sugars, artificial coloring, and controversial additives like carrageenan and methylcellulose, which are bulking agents.How do they make plant-based meat taste like meat? ›
This often means the use of copious seasonings and spices, yeast extracts, enhancers like nut-based sauces and mushrooms, and coconut oil. Due to various ingredients and processes used, some brands of plant-based meat have actually accomplished the flavor of real meat…Does plant-based meat take longer to cook? ›
Because plant-based meat cooks faster than regular ground beef—thick plant-based burger patties, for example, take just 2 to 3 minutes per side compared with 3 to 5 minutes per side for similarly thick beef patties—be sure to begin checking for doneness on the early end of the time range to guard against overcooking.Can you fry plant-based meat? ›
You could microwave them, pan fry them, or grill them, but whatever method you chose, one thing was certain: you needed plenty of sauce and condiments to make it resemble anything with flavor. Fast-forward to today, and things have changed. A lot.Can you undercook plant-based meat? ›
What about undercooked plant-based meat? As with real meat, undercooking plant-based meat can come with the risk for foodborne illness. It's recommended that all plant-based meats be cooked according to the package instructions.Is plant-based meat inflammatory? ›
In conclusion, while the results of the main trial indicated several improvements in CVD risk factors, including TMAO, for the plant-based meats, no differences in the selected biomarkers of inflammation were observed(7).What does plant-based meat do to your body? ›
Is plant-based meat always the healthier option? As a registered dietitian specializing in nutrition, I tell patients that getting most of their protein from plants may lower the risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer and other chronic diseases.Is plant-based meat harder to digest? ›
Researches have shown that plant-sourced protein has lower digestibility as compared to animal protein. The presences of antinutritional factors (ANF) in plants make them hard to get digested (1).What is the most popular plant-based meat? ›
- Quorn Meatless Patties.
- Impossible Foods Impossible Burger. ...
- Daring Foods Chicken. ...
- Beyond Meat Ground Beef. ...
- Boca Original Vegan Veggie Burgers. ...
- Good Catch Plant-Based Breaded Fish Fillets. ...
- Beyond Meat Beyond Burger. ...
- Whole Foods 365 Meatless Meatballs. ...
What is the main ingredient in plant-based meat? ›
Ingredients that brands use in plant-based meat products can include : vital wheat gluten or seitan. soy and tofu. pea protein.What is burger King plant-based burger made of? ›
In the US, the Impossible Whopper features Impossible Foods' soy protein-based Impossible Burger. In the UK, the Rebel Whopper is made with soy-based burgers from Dutch brand Vegetarian Butcher, which also supplies to several of its other European locations.How long do I cook plant-based meat? ›
Heat non-stick pan or grill to medium-high heat. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side for a 4oz patty.How do you make Beyond Meat taste better? ›
- 1 package of Beyond Mince or Beyond Burger.
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (2g)
- 1 teaspoon paprika (4g)
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (5g)
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
- 2 homemade potato buns or Martin's Potato Rolls.
Heme is found in a protein called hemoglobin that is found in every living plant and animal, and is something we've been eating since the dawn of humanity. This ingredient not only makes Impossible Burgers taste like meat, but helps them stay juicy, moist, and slightly red at the center.Does plant-based meat turn brown when cooked? ›
The bean and rice proteins serve as the base for the beef. And the beet juice turns it all a meaty red while the apple extract helps the plant-based ground turn brown as it's cooked to replicate the same browning process you're familiar with in beef.Can I cook frozen plant-based meat? ›
Yes, frozen beyond meat patties can be cooked pulled straight from the freezer. These plant based patties are usually sold as frozen and you just need to unwrap them and start air frying. If you want to thaw them first then air frying time will be slightly less.Can you cook plant-based meat in an air fryer? ›
Season the patties with salt and black pepper on both sides, rubbing gently. Using a spatula, transfer them to the basket of your air fryer. Air fry for 8-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. You know they're ready when the inner temperature has reached 165 degrees F (74 C).What plant food is toxic when undercooked? ›
Red Kidney Beans
Uncooked or undercooked beans contain a large amount of toxin, glycoprotein lectin which leads to problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea within some hours of consumption.
Plant-based meats are highly processed products, foods that have undergone processing (frozen, canned, dried, baked pasteurized) and contain additives such as “a lot of extra sugar, salt, oil, and calories.” Highly processed foods generally contain the big no-nos for a healthy diet, including dextrose and maltose — ...
How do you eat plant-based meat? ›
- Patties for Burgers.
- Ground "Meat" for Chili and Meatballs.
- Crumbles for Pizza and Pasta.
- Sausages for Cookouts and Breakfast.
- Pieces for Kebabs and Stir-Fry.
Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats. Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.Is a plant-based diet good for arthritis? ›
WASHINGTON, D.C.—A low-fat vegan diet, without calorie restrictions, improves joint pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.Does plant-based meat raise cholesterol? ›
Cholesterol is only found in animal products – meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs. There is no cholesterol in plant-based foods – even in high-fat plant foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds. So, it follows that a vegan diet is completely cholesterol-free.How often should you eat plant-based meat? ›
Plant-based proteins offer many health benefits and can be less expensive than meat. One way to get these benefits is to choose a meatless meal once or twice a week.Is plant-based meat good for weight loss? ›
Apart from highly processed meat substitutes, however, a plant-based diet can be helpful for losing weight. One of the biggest reasons for this is the fiber content of plants; foods that are high in fiber tend to be filling while also being lower in calories.Does plant-based meat have a lot of chemicals? ›
In recent years, more consumers are trying meat substitutes made with plants. But they're not made only with plants. Fake meat can have over 50 chemical ingredients—something you wouldn't realize if you're ordering at a restaurant.What is the problem with plant-based protein? ›
Plant proteins are not readily absorbed by the human body in comparision to animal based proteins. So, you will really need to increase your intake of plant proteins to make up for their less absorption in body. Also plant proteins tend to hinder the absorption of several minerals from your digestive tract.Is plant based meat good for IBS? ›
But there are tons of different IBS-friendly choices to help you live a sustainable lifestyle. Experiment with protein-packed options such as firm tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, and hemp hearts as a gut-friendly alternative to animal products.
Main courses of lean protein like chicken, turkey, and fish tend to digest well. Tender cuts of beef or pork and ground meats are other good options. Vegetarians might try incorporating eggs, creamy nut butters, or tofu for added protein. How you prepare meat can also affect how easy it is to digest.
What are 3 of the most famous plant-based meat brands? ›
- Amy's Kitchen. Amy's Kitchen is known for its frozen entrees and prepared foods, many of which are fully plant-based and contain vegan meats. ...
- Beyond Meat. ...
- Impossible Foods. ...
- Kellogg. ...
- Maple Leaf Foods. ...
- Pinnacle Foods. ...
- Quorn Foods. ...
Mushrooms are one of the most popular vegetables to replace meat due to their savory umami flavor and meaty texture.What are the healthiest plant-based meats? ›
- Tofu. ...
- Lentils. ...
- Black Beans. ...
- Chickpeas. ...
- Plant-Based Sausages. ...
- Plant-Based Chicken. ...
- Soyrizo. ...
- Vegetarian Deli Slices. Why it's great: “Many vegan and vegetarian deli slices are now made with lentils, which means they're much more natural, while still being high in protein,” says George.
The company decided to replace chicken with a plant-based meat-like product. One alternative is pea-protein mixed with soy, rice flour, carrot fiber, yeast extract, vegetable oil, salt, onion and garlic powder. Nuggets and boneless wings are offered.Is plant-based meat good for diabetics? ›
Bottom Line. You absolutely can try out a more plant-based eating pattern or go fully plant-based if you have diabetes. In fact, it might even help you manage your diabetes if it is a way of eating that you enjoy.Is plant-based actually healthy? ›
Is a plant-based diet healthy? Yes. A plant-based diet is considered to be nutrient-dense and packed with fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is a very healthy way of eating and can meet all of your nutrient needs.Why did Burger King stop selling the Impossible Whopper? ›
Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil attributed the weaker-than-expected results to running fewer value deals than the previous year, which saw U.S. same-store sales rise by 0.8%.Is the Impossible Whopper really plant-based? ›
The patty used in the Impossible Whopper is the “Impossible Burger 2.0” made by Impossible Foods—and it's completely vegan. The buns at Burger King are also vegan! The other Whopper toppings include tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, pickles, and onion, which are all vegan.What plant is the Impossible Whopper made from? ›
Big news for Burger King fans: After doing testing in select markets, the fast food chain has started rolling out its new plant-based Whopper nationwide. The burger is called an Impossible Whopper, and it's made with heme, a protein from the roots of soy plants that creates a meaty flavor.What are the tips for cooking impossible meat? ›
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12‑inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Using spatula, transfer 6 patties to skillet and cook until well browned on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip patties and continue to cook until browned on second side and meat registers 130 to 135 degrees, about 2 minutes.
How do you make plant-based meat healthier? ›
Consider supplementation of key nutrients, like vitamin B12, if you are avoiding other protein sources. Opt for plant-based meat choices that are low in saturated fat and sodium. Eat plant-based meats with healthy foods and drinks, like whole grains and vegetables.What is the white stuff in Beyond Meat? ›
What are the white specks on the patties? The white specks are similar to marbling that you see on traditional beef burgers, but ours are made from coconut oil and cocoa butter. These plant-based fats provide melty, mouthwatering marbling to the Beyond Burger, creating a juicy texture similar to beef.Does Beyond Meat need to be seasoned? ›
Make sure to thaw the beyond burger meat before grilling. Cooking the meat from frozen will not yield desirable results. Season the patties before cooking. Seasoning the burgers is the key to enhancing their delicious flavor!What are the disadvantages of plant-based meat? ›
- They're highly processed and not as healthy as whole foods. “One con of plant-based meats is they're not always the better-for-you option, making it somewhat difficult to choose the best brands,” Lubeck says. ...
- More expensive than meat.
Plant-based meat alternatives often contain more sodium than animal meats—in some examples up to six times more—and some of them contain added sugars, artificial coloring, and controversial additives like carrageenan and methylcellulose, which are bulking agents.Why people don t like plant-based meat? ›
"They do not have the chewy, bouncy texture of a meat burger – they're often a bit mushy," she says. Few plant products have the same fibrous, chewy texture of a whole cut of meat, but one exception is jackfruit, which when unripe is fleshy like pork or chicken.Does plant meat taste like meat? ›
Sausages, burgers, or nuggets are the most common vegan products that you may find in the fridges or freezers. On top of that, when you buy any vegan item, you will realize that the taste is very similar to chicken, pork, beef, or any other animal that is normally eaten in your country.Can you microwave plant-based meat? ›
most of our fans eat them [Beyond Chicken Strips] out of the box, we recommend pan frying them, but they are totally microwave safe!Is plant-based meat healthy? ›
“No matter which way you slice it, plant-based meat has significantly more nutritional benefits than conventional meat,” says non-profit the Good Food Institute (GFI). “Whether it's introducing a new source of fiber to your diet or cutting down on cholesterol, plant-based products lead to better health outcomes.”Which plant-based meat taste best? ›
- Whole Foods 365 Meatless Meatballs.
- MorningStar Farms Veggie Bacon Strips. ...
- Amy's Veggie Sausage. ...
- El Burrito Soyrizo. ...
- Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky. ...
- Yves Veggie Bologna. ...
- Tofurky Deli Slices. ...
- Lightlife Smart Dogs. If you're a hot dog snob, these guys probably won't gonna do it for you. ...
Which plant-based meat tastes most like meat? ›
Beyond Meat Beyond Beef
Unadorned—just the patties, some salt, and a hot cast-iron for a pure taste test—Beyond tastes a bit more obviously like fake meat than Impossible. We still like this one a lot—it's gluten-free, soy-free, and a good source of protein.
Plant-based meats are highly processed products, foods that have undergone processing (frozen, canned, dried, baked pasteurized) and contain additives such as “a lot of extra sugar, salt, oil, and calories.” Highly processed foods generally contain the big no-nos for a healthy diet, including dextrose and maltose — ...What is the difference between plant-based meat and veggie meat? ›
True veggie burgers are made from vegetables and a small amount of binders. Plant based burgers are meat substitutes and often have a lot of manmade ingredients. I consider veggie burgers much healthier than any meat alternative–plant based or made with soy protein. What is the healthiest plant based burger?Can you cook plant-based meat from frozen? ›
Can you cook Beyond Burgers from frozen? Beyond Meat recommends thawing Beyond Burgers before cooking them for the best taste and texture, and to make sure they're heated all the way through. However, you can cook them from frozen if you're in a pinch.