Life

All The Best Plant-Based Fast-Food Burgers, Ranked

There are some solid reasons to eat plant-based burgers over their traditional meat counterparts. For one, you might not eat meat but don’t want to miss out on the delicious experience of savoring a good burger. Two, while plant-based “meats” (yes, we realize that’s a misnomer in itself) aren’t impeccable for the environment, they’re significantly better than livestock. And while the new generation of veggie burgers aren’t crazy good for you (their sodium levels can often exceed real meat), they’re… veggie-based. Therefore they can offer a lifelong meat-eater a gateway to more vegetable-driven eating decisions.

Or you maybe you’ve simply had your fill of bacon burgers and chicken sandwiches and feel eager to try something new. Travel your tastebuds and whatnot.

Whatever the case may be, if you’re in the (rapidly expanding) market for a plant-based fast-food burger, we’re here to help. We’ve gone on the hunt for the best of what’s out there and we’ve ranked them based on taste. Or, we should clarify, “taste for those who also enjoy meat.” If you’re not a meat-eater at all, your palate might not crave umami the same way the carnivores among us do.

Check our favorite plant-based fast-food burgers below!

8. A&W — Beyond Burger

A&W

Calories: 500

When I first bit into this burger, I actually said aloud: “This is the saddest burger I’ve ever eaten.”

If you’ve never had a plant-based burger, don’t let A&W’s be your introduction. It’s about as boring as it gets. This sandwich is served with your standard lettuce, tomato, and red onion, with pickle chips and A&W’s Papa Sauce smeared on the bun. That can be a winning combo, but in this case, the final product is incredibly bland.

The Bottom Line

Somehow worse than a thing Burger King made, which is something.

Find your nearest A&W here.

7. Burger King — Impossible Whopper

Calories: 629

It’s refreshing to see BK avoid snagging the bottom spot, even if this is still pretty close to the bottom. But that doesn’t mean Burger King’s Impossible Whopper is good. Not by a long shot.

This has that unmistakable BK charred flavor you’ve come to expect from a Whopper, only this version is grainier (instead of nervy, which is also not ideal) with a sort of nutty flavor — making it abundantly clear that what you’re eating is not meat. Still, the overall experience remains quite similar to eating an actual Whopper. This means if you love the Whopper, you’re going to love this.

Speaking personally, I don’t love the Whopper nor do I love this. It’s served up with a charbroiled “meat” patty on a sesame bun with mayo, ketchup, the worst lettuce you’ve ever seen, onions, and pickles with the option for cheese. Since I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian I get the cheese, always. It makes it marginally better.

The Bottom Line

Almost exactly like eating a Whopper. Take that how you will.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

6. The Habit — Veggie Burger

Calories: 470

The Habit’s Veggie Burger is a considerable step up from A&W and Burger King’s plant-based options, in that it’s actually palatable. Featuring a vegan-friendly all-veggie Morning Star patty on a wheat bun with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, the real star of this burger is the sweet mustard dressing, which pairs perfectly with the surprisingly savory veggie patty.

It doesn’t taste anything like meat, and that’s a good thing here. This patty isn’t trying to fool your tastebuds into eating something you’re not. If you really want to level up the experience, get it topped with avocado.

The Bottom Line

Delicious and probably the best option for serious vegans who want a legit vegan fast food experience.

Find your nearest The Habit here.

5. Carl’s Jr/Hardees — Beyond Fiery Famous Star

Carl

Calories: 770

Carl’s Jr would’ve ranked higher if they didn’t foolishly drop their Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger, which was essentially a Western Bacon Cheeseburger without the bacon — meaning it came doused in BBQ sauce and loaded up with crispy onion rings. I can’t for the life of me figure out why the heck they’d get rid of such a beautiful stoner-friendly veggie-based creation.

Please, a moment of silence for a fallen comrade.

Moving on.

Carl’s Jr’s current best plant-based burger is the Beyond Fiery Famous Star, which comes topped with pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeños, and what Carl’s Jr calls “Fiery Sauce” (which, as far as I can tell, is some sort of blend between a citrus-y and spicy habanero sauce, tamed down by mayo). Underneath the charbroiled patty are crispy white onions, tomatoes, and a single sad leaf of lettuce.

The patty here retains Carl’s Jr’s signature charred flavor, but instead of being a grain-filled sandy mess like the Impossible Whopper, this actually has a great savory flavor — reminiscent of the chain’s more high-end burger selections, if not slightly drier (which is why the Beyond BBQ was so good). Carl’s Jr also makes a Beyond Famous Star without the fiery sauce and jalapenos, it’s a tad boring but will suffice if you don’t dig spice.

The Bottom Line

We suppose it’s theoretically still possible to order the Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger, simply order a Western Bacon and swap out the meat for a Beyond patty and ditch the bacon. What does that have to do with the Beyond Fiery Famous Star? Nothing, we just wish we had a reason to talk about what Carl’s Jr used to have.

This entry is good, not great.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr./Hardees here.

4. Johnny Rockets — Gardein Black Bean Burger

Johnny Rockets

Calories: 330

Johnny Rockets Gardein (yes, that’s how you spell it, it’s not a typo) Black Bean Burger has been quietly available at Johnny Rockets for a few years now, and, judging by sight alone, it doesn’t look too notable. But on the tastebuds, this burger is surprisingly delicious. The patty is of the garden variety, so no meat mimicking here, instead you get a grilled patty made of primarily black beans with bits of rice, corn, and what I think really sets it apart from the competition — bell peppers.

Note to every other plant-based burger out there: Add bell peppers to your sandwiches, even if it’s on top of an Impossible or Beyond patty. They add such a depth of delicious peppery flavor to anything. The Johnny Rockets Gardein Black Bean comes topped with green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, and can be easily upgraded with the inclusion of fresh avocado and grilled onions. The burger is served on an oat-crusted whole wheat bun, which adds a nice sweetness to each bite.

The Bottom Line

A delicious black-bean-based burger. Add avocado and your favorite sauce (Johnny Rockets BBQ, every time) to heighten the experience.

Find your nearest Johnny Rockets here.

3. Fatburger — Impossible Fatburger

Fatburger

Calories: 526

For me, a good plant-based burger is either a burger that perfectly mimics meat or a one that makes me not miss having a juicy piece of beef.

Fatburger’s Impossible Burger fits the former criteria — tasting strikingly like a real burger. The consistency is a near match, with a deliciously charred patty that falls apart in your mouth just like a regular Fatburger. The stock Impossible comes with “The Works” which consists of mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, relish, and mustard but totally vegan customizations are possible and Fatburger makes sure not to cross-contaminate cooking utensils.

If you’re not vegan, definitely order this baby with cheese. One slice of American, one slice of Swiss.

The Bottom Line

Strikingly similar to Fatburger’s Original Fatburger. So similar to meat in taste and consistency, in fact, that you could definitely trick your friends into believing they are biting into a genuine Fatburger.

Find your nearest Fatburger here.

2. Shake Shack — ‘Shroom Burger

Calories: 550

Not at all vegan, but delicious nonetheless, Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger features a fried portobello mushroom as its patty stuffed with a blend of melted muenster and cheddar cheese topped with lettuce, tomato, and Shake Shack’s Shack sauce.

The ‘Shroom burger has a deep-fried and crispy exterior that breaks away into a warm molten cheese center which, for better and worse, totally masks the flavor of the portobello mushroom itself. So while it doesn’t taste anything like a portobello, it still provides that a savory umami base packed with flavor, which really helps you to not miss meat at all.

The Bottom Line

A top-tier veggie burger but, sadly, not an option for vegans.

Find your nearest Shake Shack here.

1. Umami Burger

Calories: 1020 (For Impossible Umami Burger) / 870 (For Impossible Truffle Burger)

This is easily the best plant-based burger currently on the market. Period. nd of article.

I’m sincerely sorry that it’s only available in SoCal, NorCal, New York City, and Chicago (and the Bahamas or Japan if you’re out there), but it is what it is. Because Umami Burger isn’t widely available to everyone, I seriously considered not including it at all, but… it’s just too f*cking delicious to ignore.

As good as Shake Shack’s ‘Shroom Burger is, it doesn’t even come close to the work of art that is the Umami Impossible burger, which is better than most fast-food beef burgers on the market. The flavors come in waves here, with an initial savory burst that subtly mellows out into a gradient of flavors that run the gamut from deliciously earthy to the type of lean meat flavor you might find from a fancy grass-fed burger.

And yet, this thing is still incredibly juicy (like a high-fat burger), melting in your mouth and offering a rich balance and contrast to the crisp pickles, caramelized onions, bright tomatoes, and umami-laden Umami sauce (which probably contains fish sauce and MSG, vegans beware).

There are actually days I want an Umami Impossible over a real burger. That’s high praise. If you really want to take things to the next level, grab Umami’s Impossible Truffle Burger which swaps out all the toppings for a mix of truffle aioli, truffle fondue, and a truffle glaze.

The Bottom Line

Eating a plant-based burger this good makes meat feel totally uneccasary.

Find your nearest Umami Burger here.

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