Sous vide is a method of cooking that you normally wouldn’t associate with veggie burgers, but it works beautifully.
Before I go into details, I did have initial hesitations about plant-based burgers. Vegetarian burgers never really did it for me until I was introduced to the latest generation of plant-based meat substitutes. Now I may be hooked.
These aren’t the perfect health solution, but they are better for the planet and research has shown them to be healthier. They are lower in saturated fat and higher in dietary fiber than beef burgers, although sodium levels are higher.
Sous vide is a healthy cooking method, so pairing this with the benefits of plant-based meat substitutes may be the perfect combo. This article looks at all aspects of these products and describes how to sous vide veggie burgers perfectly.
What is a Veggie Burger?
Until recently, I always considered veggie burgers as bland and tasteless, just a patty of mushed-up vegetables guaranteed to break apart on the grill. Not anymore, the latest incarnations of veggie burgers set out to copy the experience of real ground beef burger patties.
Taste, texture, juiciness, even that pink interior of a perfectly cooked medium-rare burger are all mimicked by the latest generation of veggie burgers.
Brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are targeting their products to not just vegetarians, but meat-eaters too. They are marketed partially as a healthier alternative to raw meat products, but also as a planet-healthy solution.
According to Harvard Health, the production of these burgers uses considerably less water and produces less greenhouse gas emissions than meat-based burgers. (Source –
What is a Beyond Burger?
I could list the ingredients that make up a Beyond Burger, but it wouldn’t begin to tell the story. The ingredient list is extensive and doesn’t in any way give the reader a clue as to the distinct flavor.
However, it is worth mentioning a few of the major ones that combine to give Beyond Meat its flavor and texture:
- Pea Protein and Rice Protein – These are used to replace burger meat proteins.
- Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, and Coconut Butter – Used to add fat content
- Dried Yeast and Natural Flavors – Add to the beefy flavor
Other ingredients are added to improve the natural flavor, texture, and nutritional value of the Beyond Burger. These include vitamins B3, B6, and B12 to boost the nutritional value, and Beet Juice Extract color to make the burger look more like real meat.
The following table shows the nutritional values of a Beyond Burger compared to a ground beef burger.
|Beyond Burger (4oz, 133g)||Ground Beef Patty (4oz, 133g)|
How Healthy is a Beyond Burger?
The stats in the above table show that when compared gram-to-gram against a typical beef burger, the Beyond Burger contains fewer calories and less saturated fat than its beef equivalent.
This would suggest that Beyond’s plant-based alternative is the healthier option. This conclusion is supported by recent research which has shown that plant-based meat substitutes improved several cardiovascular disease risks, with no notable adverse effects.
While this sounds like good news, it is worth pointing out that there is no research on the long-term effects of eating processed, plant-based ingredients.
What is an Impossible Burger?
The approach that Impossible burger takes in mimicking the flavor, texture, and look of real beef is similar to that of Beyond Burger. The proteins and fats are all replaced by vegetable alternatives.
In the case of the Impossible Burger, the ingredients used to achieve this are listed below.
- Soy and Potato Proteins – This is the protein element of the Impossible Burger
- Coconut and Sunflower Oil – These oils add the fat content
- Heme – Heme is the iron compound that comes from animal proteins. This is the ingredient that makes it “bleed” when cut.
The Impossible Burger ingredient list also includes added vitamins and minerals, including thiamine, iron, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B12.
The following table shows how the Impossible Burger stacks up against a similar-sized beef patty.
|Impossible Burger (4oz, 133g)||Ground Beef Patty (4oz, 133g)|
The figures are similar to that of the Beyond Burger. The following table is a comparison of the Impossible Burger vs Beyond Burger plant-based products:
|Impossible Burger (4oz, 133g)||Beyond Burger (4oz, 133g)|
As the table shows, there isn’t a lot of difference. With the Beyond Burger being slightly lighter in calories and saturated fat.
How Healthy is an Impossible Burger?
Overall, this is a healthier burger than a real meat burger. However, it uses genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the soy and yeast to produce the crucial heme iron element. This rules it out as a choice if you are sensitive to soy.
The added nutrients, fiber content, and zero cholesterol are all positives. But it is high in saturated fats and sodium, both of which are linked to serious health issues.
Similar to the Beyond Burger, the Impossible Burger also relies heavily on processed plant products. There is more work to be done to establish whether this has any long-term health ramifications.
How to Sous Vide Beyond and Impossible Burgers
I love to sous vide meat. Sous vide steaks and burgers cook beautifully with this method. Moist, tender, and flavorsome, the meat cooks slowly in its natural juices and the results are outstanding.
The manufacturers of Beyond and Impossible Burgers make bold claims that whatever you can do with ground beef, you can do with their products. It was time to put my favorite burger technique to the test.
For comparison, I cooked them using the same method I use for meat-based burgers. The resulting burgers were Beyond belief, some might call it Impossible.
Here is how I sous vide cook veggie burgers:
- Heat the sous vide immersion circulator to the desired temperature and put it in the sous vide container. I set mine for 135°F aiming for a 90-minute cook time. This may take a bit of experimentation until you find the perfect temp and timing that suits you, but this is an excellent starting point.
- Lightly season the burger. Because they already contain enough salt for my taste, I only added a little pepper and a touch of garlic powder. This is easy to overdo, so for the first time, you might not want to use anything. Once seasoned, bag and seal your burger and place it in the sous vide bath.
- As the burger cooked, I prepared my toppings. I caramelized some onions in a pan and once they were done, I put them aside and retained the oil I used. I also grilled some bacon and sliced my gherkins. These are all optional and dependent on personal taste, but for me, this is what the perfect burger consists of.
- Once the burger is cooked and allowed to cool for a few minutes, it’s time for the sear! There is some debate to sear before vs after, but I prefer to sear after.
- Heat the same pan that was used for the onions to high heat, adding a little oil if necessary. Once the oil starts to “ripple”, it is hot enough. Place the burger in the oil and sear until a nice crust is achieved. Turn the patty over and sear on the reverse side. I usually place a slice of cheese on the seared side at this point to let it melt a little.
- Once seared, I drained the excess oil from the pan and while the burgers had another little rest, I toasted the burger buns in the pan. Let them absorb the wonderful onion and meat
- Assemble your burger and tuck in!
The results were far beyond my expectations. If you were to blindfold me and tell me that I was eating a prime beef burger, I doubt I would be able to tell the difference.
These are definitely products that will remain on my list of foods that work with sous vide!