The Healthiest Veggie Burgers At The Grocery Store, According To Nutritionists

You won't see Beyond or Impossible on this list.
Whether you want a veggie burger that tastes like meat or veggies, these nutritionists have options for you.
Aleksandr Kaloshin via Getty Images
Whether you want a veggie burger that tastes like meat or veggies, these nutritionists have options for you.

Instead of loading your grill with only cuts of meat at your next cookout, consider sharing the heat with veggie burgers ― even if you’re not a vegetarian.

“Veggie burgers often incorporate a variety of vegetables, whole grains and legumes, which are rich in essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Sam Schleiger. “These nutrients are important for maintaining overall health, supporting digestion, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and promoting a well-balanced diet.”

But not all veggie burgers are created equal, or necessarily nutritious for that matter. The ingredients in veggie burgers often come from processed plant-based ingredients rather than whole foods. And the amounts of saturated fat are comparable to beef: the Beyond brand has 6 grams per serving, Impossible has 8 grams and beef has 7.6 grams.

“Some store-bought options may contain additives, preservatives or high-sodium content, so it’s important to read labels and choose brands that use wholesome ingredients,” Schleiger added.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet may be trending right now, but eating more vegetables really is good for your health.

“Veggie burgers are typically a great source of plant-based protein, and research shows plant-based eating patterns are linked to lower chronic disease risk and [can help] to manage metabolic conditions like diabetes,” said registered dietitian Caroline Young.

Here’s how to tell if your veggie burger is actually packed with vegetables.

What to look for on the label

With myriad options to choose from, making a decision can be overwhelming. But first, you want to seek out brands that use whole-food ingredients.

“Look for a variety of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices,” Schleiger said. “I recommend avoiding ingredients you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce.”

Food Additives

“These are ingredients that are used to prolong shelf life or enhance flavor and texture, but some can cause digestive discomfort or other health issues,” explained registered dietitian nutritionist Danielle Gaffen. She said emulsifiers such as methylcellulose, which is used as a binding or thickening agent, and xanthan gum, are common food additives.

“In animal studies, methylcellulose has been found to change gut bacteria composition in the gut microbiome, induce intestinal inflammation and increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut),” Gaffen said. “While we need more research in humans, it’s an ingredient that can be helpful to be aware of.”

Xanthan gum is made from a bacteria that ferments in sugar. It’s a common food thickening agent found in an array of food products, including salad dressings, soups, ice cream, juice, baked goods, baby food and even some veggie burgers. But consuming too much can cause digestive issues.

“In human studies, large doses of xanthan gum were found to have notable side effects, including increased frequency of bowel movements, increased stool output, softer stools, increased gas and altered gut bacteria,” Gaffen said.


You may not think about veggie burgers having high levels of salt, but you’ll definitely want to double-check, since each brand adds different amounts. “While some sodium is necessary for bodily functions, too much can lead to high blood pressure,” Gaffen said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Americans eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day for a healthy diet. The amount of sodium can range significantly per brand, which is why it’s important you check the label. An analysis by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found the sodium content in veggie burgers ranged from 200 mg to 700 mg per 100-gram serving.

Saturated Fats

Fats in veggie burgers may seem counterintuitive, but make sure you glance at the ingredient list for fats and oils.

“While plant-based, some veggie burgers can still be high in saturated fats, particularly if they contain coconut oil,” Gaffen said. “Too much-saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, increasing risk of heart disease.”

Schleiger recommends choosing veggie burgers made with quality oils, such as olive oil or avocado oil, but recognizes that they’re not always easy to find.

The American Heart Association recommends that people consume no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. For both Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, one serving has around half the daily limit of saturated fat. Some brands, such as Dr. Praeger’s or Hilary’s have 0.5-1 gram of saturated fat per serving.


“Veggie burgers are often made with common allergens like soy and nuts,” Young said. “If you have a diagnosed allergy, be sure to read the ingredient list at the store closely to ensure you are in the clear.”

Now that you know which ingredients to avoid, make sure you consider taste and texture, as this will influence if you enjoy eating a particular veggie burger. “In my professional opinion, the most important factor to consider when buying food is taste,” Young said.

These are experts’ top recommendations.

Dr. Praeger's
Dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burgers
This is a favorite of a couple of dietitians. Gaffen recommends this veggie burger for several reasons. “It incorporates five distinct types of vegetables, offers 5 grams of protein per serving [and] it caters to various dietary requirements by being both gluten-free and vegan.”

“I like their Black Bean Quinoa veggie burgers because they are vegan and gluten-free, have 5 grams of fiber per patty, and a nice kick of smoky flavor,” said plant-based registered dietitian nutritionist Ashley Kitchens.
Hilary Eat Well
Hilary’s Organic World’s Best Veggie Burger
“These veggie burgers are made from organic ingredients and offer a variety of nutrients from whole grains, vegetables and things like ground flaxseed and apple cider vinegar,” Schleiger said. “Hilary’s veggie burgers are free from common allergens, artificial additives and preservatives.”
Whole Foods
Engine 2 Poblano Black Bean Veggie Burger
Want a veggie burger that’s vegan and sans oil? Consider this brand’s black bean option. “This burger contains no cholesterol, is an excellent source of fiber, and packs a punch of flavor,” Kitchens said.
Amy’s Organic Black Bean Veggie Burger
“I like the variety of quality ingredients and think this can fit within a well-balanced diet, even if you include meat in your diet,” Schleiger said. “These veggie burgers contain organic, non-GMO ingredients and are simple in nature, yet provide a variety of nutrient sources.”
Dr. Praeger’s
Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger
For those who want the texture of a meat burger and plenty of protein but no meat, consider Dr. Praeger’s Perfect Burger. “If I want a veggie burger that mimics more of a traditional beef burger, I go for their Perfect Burger, which has 20 grams of protein,” Kitchens said.
Hilary’s Fiesta Black Bean Veggie Burger
Finding a suitable veggie burger can be tricky, especially if you have food allergies. This tasty burger may have you covered: It’s made with black beans and fava bean protein, along with plenty of vegetables. “The product is free from the 12 most common allergens, making it an excellent choice for those with specific dietary restrictions,” Gaffen said. Plus, it contains no food additives or artificial ingredients and provides 8 grams of protein per serving.
Dr. Praeger's
Dr. Praeger’s Kale Veggie Burger
Looking for an option that packs in plenty of protein and lots of vegetables? Opt for Dr. Praeger’s Kale Veggie Burger with 10 different vegetables, including spinach, sweet potato, corn and zucchini. “These veggie burgers offer a variety of quality ingredients along with 10 grams of protein,” Schleiger said.

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