Your Ultimate Guide to Meatless Grilling: The Best Plant-Based Burgers, Dogs and More
Grilling is on the schedule for at least 60 percent of Americans this holiday weekend, but if you're eating a plant-based diet, that means finding the perfect substitute for dogs and burgers that will satisfy your tastebuds and your dietary choices. Now you can have both tasty grillable vegan patties and dogs, and enjoy the thrill of the grill with the rest of the family. Just buy double, since they're going to love the taste of your plant-based options, too.
This year, more choices than ever abound that offer realistic meat-like proteins made from pea, soy, and other plant-based sources, so we tasted the best sellers and discovered some new ones. For those who don't love the taste of meat (even in a plant-based alternative), there are delicious, healthy veggie burgers to add to the grill this year. No matter where your food preferences fall, this guide to vegan grilling has you covered.
The 5 Best Plant-Based Burgers to Add to Your Grill This Labor Day Weekend
There is nothing more quintessential for grilling than a nice juicy burger. These days, you have a sea of delicious plant-based burgers that make animal meat seem antiquated. Of course, a common question is Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger? So we will get to that, but there are also many newcomer products that will satisfy your desire for a meat substitute.
Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Turk’y Burger is a winner on both taste and health; it’s soy-free, gluten-free as well as non-GMO, packed with 20 grams of protein while sneaking in three types of veggies, although you would never know. It is also high in iron, 50 percent of your daily needs, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat (versus some others that have higher saturated fat).
Trader Joe’s Protein Patties will satisfy everyone in your group since they are both meaty and a touch smokey in taste. We love all things Trader Joe's and they deliver a patty that is what you would expect from a meat alternative and could fool anyone who didn't know these are plant-based.
Beyond Burger has reconfigured its formula to be "even meatier" than the previous one if that is possible. The new version is still pea-based and gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
Impossible Burger is similar to Beyond but uses soy protein as its base (and is not non-GMO). Impossible also uses something called “heme” iron, which is what helps give it that true meat-like taste — and you will certainly be fooled when eating as it is a scarily realistic version of a beef patty.
As for the taste differences between the two, that comes down to personal preference, since both do an excellent job of impersonating a meat patty and will be sure to wow your guests. Both companies also both make plant-based beef grounds, for use in meat sauces, tacos, or any recipe that traditionally calls for a ground beef product.
Veggie Options to Add for a Healthier Alternative
Hilary's Black Bean Veggie Burger. If you are not into the meat-like new age burgers, Hilary's black bean veggie option gives you a robust taste but without the "faux" aspect of a meat alternative. Just be careful when grilling since these won't hold up over the flames as well as the meat-like patties.
Portabella Mushrooms. If you really want to go "au natural" there's always the option of putting a large portobello mushroom straight onto the grill and eating it as you would a burger! It's no accident that nature happened to make portabella mushrooms the perfect size to sit between two burger buns. You can season and marinate to your liking (some suggestions on spices and sauces below) and throw them on the grill.
And, speaking of buns, there are many to choose from, but for a healthier alternative to the highly processed and refined options, try Silver Hill Bakery Whole Grain Burger Bun, always organic and non-GMO. Or, for a gluten-free bun that holds up well try Little Northern Bakehouse Millet & Chia Buns.
Best Plant-Based Sausages and Hotdogs to Grill
Plant-based sausages are a growing part of the meat alternative market, which we suspect is due to the fact that they are simply delicious. Where you used to have few to choose from, now there is a full array of sausages to add to the grill. Check out Vejii or GTFO It’s Vegan, to choose some to taste test this weekend. Vejii has two-day delivery for all of its best-selling products, so you can get yours in time for the weekend.
Upton’s Naturals Plant-Based Updogs just might be your new favorite classic ballpark-style frank. They char up to perfection after just a few minutes on the grill. Packed with 19 grams of protein for each 160 calorie dog, your guests will be impressed by the taste and texture, and guilt-free nutritional profile, and ingredient list.
Sweet Earth’s Vegan Jumbo Hot Dog is reminiscent of a classic ballpark-style frank; they are made using a pea and potato protein base and deliver an authentic hot dog experience and grill beautifully. Sweet Earth also makes Green Chile Chedd'r Sausage Plant-Based Links, with the perfect amount of kick. These links pack in 13 grams of protein with only 160 calories (less than some of the other sausage meat-substitute sausages).
But for the go-big hearty classic sausage, you also can’t go wrong with Beyond Meat Sausages, absolutely delicious with a hefty structure and holds up well on a grill.
For Picturesque Grilling, Try a Skewer or Kabob
If you love a colorful grill and are serving veggie lovers, there is nothing more post-worthy than a skewer full of peppers, mushrooms, corn, and eggplant, or anything else you like to add. Why not just skip the meat substitutes and do a more whole-food plant-based option with a skewer full of fresh veggies. You can pack protein on as well, using extra firm tofu that will hold up to grilling, and get creative with your choices. Let the kids each load up their own and watch how much they love their vegetables (kids eat what they make themselves).
Great Vegan Sauces and Seasoning
Sauces and seasonings are often the secrets to impressive grilling. Sauces are cropping up everywhere, and vegan ones are getting easy to find. Pure Grit makes one that is all plant ingredients including cider, vinegar, tomato puree, agave nectar, tomato paste, molasses, and spices.
This Little Goat makes a line of spices that embody flavors from various cultures around the world. The “Cuba” is a perfect amalgamation of sweet and spicy, great to top on veggies or mix in with your plant-based “ground beef” for flavor.
Wildwood’s Zesty Garlic Aioli will make you forget about egg-based mayo and turn to this as your new go-to for your burger condiment.
For an unconventional fixing, Bitchin' Sauce will delight and impress. They have a wide selection of flavors that are nut-based, and function as either a dip or a spread.
If you want a delicious skewer marinade, try Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki with a flawless blend of sweet and savory flavors. Cleveland Kitchen makes a line of fermented vegetable-based dressings that come in a variety of flavors such as Miso Jalapeno and Sweet Beet for a light and healthful multi-purpose dressing.
Keep a Meat-Free Zone on the Grill to Make Your Vegan Guests Happy
When you are grilling up a plant-based burger most of your vegan or plant-based guests will appreciate it if you keep them to one side of the grill to avoid getting animal fat on them. This sounds like a small detail but to someone avoiding beef, it matters. Reserve a section on the grill that is a “meat-free zone" (and let them know you did so), and grill your veggies and other plant-based items on that MFZ side.
Happy grilling! Tag The Beet and use the hashtag #plantbasedgrilling to let us know what you're grilling up this weekend.