TASTE TEST: THE BEST VEGGIE BURGERS
BEST VEGGIE MEDLEY
Lightlife Light Burgers -- Veggie
While some vegetable-based burgers fall apart or turn soggy when heated, these patties retain their perfectly round shape. Once you chomp down, the chunky pieces of carrot, corn and red pepper "practically explode in your mouth." In a good way! ($3.49 for a box of 2 patties, at grocery stores)
Try it in: Hollywood Star
Stack a whole wheat english muffin with a Lightlife Light Burger, creamy dressing such as green goddess, feta cheese, sprouts and avocado.
This patty is as filling as sirloin, thanks to its hearty base: portobello and cremini mushrooms with brown rice. "Bonus points for real veggies!" chirped one taster, who noted spinach threaded through the burger. Panelists loved the garlicky, Asian-tinged flavor, which is mellowed by mozzarella. ($3.79 for a box of 4 patties, at grocery stores)
Try it in: Mushroom Banh Mi
Spread mayo and sriracha on a sub; add a Gardenburger Portabella patty, shredded carrots and cilantro.
Amy's All American Veggie Burger
This smoky organic fave is crammed with stick-to-your-ribs ingredients like mushrooms, oats and potatoes. Walnuts add meatiness, and molasses sweetens the deal. Trust us: The strange-sounding combo works. Panelists raved about its "crispy outside and soft inside," and even likened it to beef. Line up, skeptical carnivores! ($4.99 for a box of 4 patties, at grocery stores)
Try it in: The Classic
On a mayo-slathered sesame seed bun, layer Amy's All American patty with sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions, grilled tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pickles and ketchup.
Many of our panelists were waxing nostalgic after tasting this cheddar-filled soy burger. One taster compared the patty's flavor to the chicken nuggets he ate as a kid, and another said it reminded him of "cheesy mashed potatoes mixed with sausage." Bonus: The gooey grillers pack just 100 calories each. ($3.49 for a box of 4 patties, at grocery stores)
Try it in: Reuben Melt
Top buttered rye bread with thousand island dressing, a Boca Cheeseburger, swiss cheese and sauerkraut and grill it up.
BEST BLACK BEAN
MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger
Whole roasted corn, juicy black beans and fresh-tasting diced tomatoes make this winner stand out from the pack. "I'm from Texas, and this definitely tastes like Tex-Mex!" raved one panelist. Mild green chiles give the Southwestern-inspired burger just enough heat. Ol&etilde;! ($4.29 for a box of 4 patties, at grocery stores)
Try it in: Burrito's Little Brother
Put a MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean patty in a potato roll with salsa, sour cream, jack cheese and pickled jalapeños.
Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in June/July 2010.