The 15 Best Veggie Burger Brands, According To Nutritionists You Won’t Even Miss The Meat. By Nikhita Mahtani And Marissa Miller Jun 30, 2021
If you’re trying to cut back on meat, there’s no need to feel an overwhelming sense of FOMO every time you catch a whiff of a Whopper with cheese. Thanks to continued interest in plant-based and vegan eating, veggie burgers are easier to find and better than ever—and the perfect way to beef up your nutrient intake sans the actual beef.
In fact, plant-based burgers can now be found at many restaurants all across the U.S., and veggie burger brands like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger are practically ubiquitous. “Plant-based burgers have become a great, popular alternative to regular burgers because they have almost the same amount of protein as a regular burger, as well as less saturated fat, trans fat, and little to no cholesterol,” says registered dietician Krystal George.
Compared to their meat-based counterparts, veggie burgers tend to be very low in saturated fat and high in fiber, which is beneficial for heart health, according to nutritionist Brittany Modell, RD. Plus, certain brands fortify their patties with essential nutrients typically found in meat (like vitamin B12, zinc and iron). Plus, not only are they sometimes a healthier choice for you, but they’re also better for the planet, since meat consumption is linked to the release of greenhouse gases.
There’s also the convenience factor: “Veggie burgers are easy to freeze and to always have on-hand for a quick lunch, dinner, or snack,” says nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
If you’re ready to munch on one, but the bigger-than-ever selection has you overwhelmed, though, not to worry. Here are a few tips.
“When shopping for veggie burgers, look for ones that emphasize whole foods, such as whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds,” says Modell. “If you do not recognize ingredients or see ingredients that aren’t real food, think twice.” (If you’re keto, look for a patty made entirely of non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and seeds.)
Otherwise, make sure a patty provides five-plus grams of protein and a few grams of fiber to fuel your body and keep you from feeling snacky an hour after your meal. If a veggie burger is low in protein and fiber and you don’t want to skip it, though, get creative with nutrient- and fiber-dense toppings, like fresh veggies, hummus, and guac, and opt for a whole-grain or sprouted bun, Modell suggests.
“In my book, a veggie burger is a plant-based burger with mostly vegetables & legumes,” explains George. Veggies burgers that fall into this category include a black bean burger, chickpea burger, or any burgers made with brown rice, potatoes, carrots, oats, mushrooms, or other vegetables or legumes as the main ingredients.
But when it comes to ingredients that are harder to recognize like vital wheat protein, wheat gluten, pea protein, or soy protein isolate or concentrate— they’re safe, but have them in moderation, says George. These ingredients are made from plants, but are processed into flours, or powders, to be made into textured, mock meat, and may be lower in nutritional quality than the whole food, plant-based ingredients mentioned above.
That being said if your fave veggie burger brand uses those ingredients, don’t despair. Just look at the bigger picture of what’s on your plate, says George. “When it comes to food, it’s important to not classify it as good or bad, but to focus on the total nutritional quality (vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients).”
In terms of total nutritional quality, George says that aside from the five grams of protein rule, one should also look at fat content and sodium. “When looking at veggie burgers or plant-based burgers, look for patties that range from 200-300 mg of sodium, or even less, as well as 10 percent or less of saturated fat,” she adds.
Now that you’re an expert on veggie burgers, stock your kitchen with better-for-you plant burgers by adding the following nutritionist-recommended veggie burger brands to your cart.
“These burgers are made of simple ingredients and contain just 0.5 grams saturated fat, but a whopping eight grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein,” says Modell. “Overall, they seem like a great alternative to meat.”
With three grams of net carbs per serving, these are also pretty keto-friendly.
Unlike the other burgers on this list, which are frozen, the Neat Burger is a dry food, shelf stable option made from pecans, garbanzo beans, and spices. It’s soy and gluten-free, and has only whole ingredients, making it a winner in George’s book.
Pretty much a cult staple at every fast food restaurant these days, the Impossible Burger might be a bit more processed than some of the other burgers on this list, but they use soy to hit its whopping 19 grams of protein content.
“These Sweet Heat Beet veggie burgers are loaded with six vegetables and a blend of flavor that boasts a whopping 19 grams of plant-based protein in each serving,” says Taub-Dix.
Pair them with a salad, add them to a Buddha bowl, or just throw them on a whole-grain bun with a sliced tomato.
If you’re missing cheese on a plant-based diet, this patty helps fill the void with vegan cheese that’s made with nutritional yeast, but it does up the sodium content quite a bit, says George.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume 2,300 mg or less of sodium a day. So, if you find yourself consuming a patty that is more than 300 mg of sodium, be mindful of the sodium content of the toppings, condiments, and hamburger bun, which tend to have hidden amounts of sodium, says George. This one packs 630 mg.
“These burgers are made with organic vegetables,” says dietitian Layne Lieberman, RD. “The ingredients are clean and recognizable.”
With a slightly mushier texture, these are a good pick for anyone who loves mushrooms, Lieberman suggests.
Get your burger with a side of greens. While you’d have to substitute extra protein on the side to meet your goals with this burger, it boasts an incredible roundup of ingredients, including kale, quinoa, red peppers, spinach, broccoli, and tons more veggies. It’s super low in saturated fat and sodium, which makes it a healthy option for meat-skippers.
“I love this option because it works for so many individuals with food allergies or specific dietary restrictions,” says nutritionist Alison Massey, RD. That’s because it’s gluten, dairy, and soy-free, making it a good option for most kinds of diets.
“At 20 grams of protein per serving, these burgers are satisfying and delicious,” says Massey. They’re also gluten- and soy-free, non-GMO, and a great option for those with dietary restrictions.
Plus, these contain just three grams of net carbs, so they fit into a keto diet pretty easily.
“I love the simple, whole-food ingredient list these non-GMO burgers have,” says Massey.
Bonus: They provide a solid eight grams of protein per serving.
“I love that I can see the real, whole foods—such as edamame, black beans, and carrots—within each patty,” says nutritionist Rachel Berman, RD.
“I understand the entirety of the ingredient list and the nutrient profile is also excellent, with a good amount of fiber, protein, and not too much sodium.” (Oh, and Berman just so happens to think they’re delicious, too.)
“I love Field Roast because their ingredients read like actual recipes, not science experiments,” says dietitian Desiree Nielsen, RD. “Perfect for those intolerant to soy, they come packed with more than 20 grams of protein, so they really satisfy.”
“The Gardein burger relies on soy concentrate and isolates for protein, but I love their commitment to non-GMO ingredients,” says Nielson. They’re super tasty and pack an impressive protein punch.
“Hilary’s burgers are gluten- and soy-free, which is rare in the veggie burger world,” Nielsen says. “They grill up nice and crisp, and are made from real food, which I love.” The only downside: They only have four grams of protein, so pair ’em with additional protein, like hummus and a sprouted bun. Per serving: 160 calories, 7 g fat (0 g saturated), 21 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 230 mg sodium, 4 g protein
Yep, Dr. Praeger’s again because they’re that good. “Available almost everywhere, these won’t break your food budget, are delicious, not too salty, and full of whole vegetables and recognizable ingredients.” says Lieberman of the veggies patties, who’s also impressed by their nutritional profile.
The California burger, specifically, is made with a mix of carrots, peas, broccoli, and spinach.
Women’s Health US