I would have been better off not reading the ingredient list. In the top spot: something called “pea protein isolate.” Not what leaps to mind when I envision a juicy, tasty burger. But Beyond Meat, known for its plant-based offerings in grocery stores, says that pea protein isolate is why its new Beyond Burger “looks, cooks and tastes like fresh ground beef.”
Let’s put that to the test. A package of two quarter-pound patties goes for $5.99 at Whole Foods. At home, I peel off the plastic wrapper and poke the light pink patties, which give off a strong but not unpleasant odor. Slipped into a greased cast-iron skillet and flipped halfway through, they cook in six minutes. I can’t help but marvel at the texture. The outside has turned black and crackling in the pan, but the middle has stayed juicy, and, unlike so many black bean burgers and other veggie varieties, it all hangs together. It even “bleeds,” oozing a pink liquid that’s derived from beet juice. Details like that explain how Beyond Meat spent more than seven years coming up with this 21-ingredient blend.
But does it taste like beef? Even dressed with all the trimmings and squeezed inside a Martin’s potato roll, it doesn’t taste like meat to me. But it tastes great, with its own distinct meat-free identity. Billed as soy-free, gluten-free and non-GMO, these patties seem destined to beat down all veggie competitors. Make some space on the grill for one this summer.