10 Meatless Ground Beef Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

There are many compelling reasons to consume less meat. The negative environmental impact of farmed animals is extreme, and the negative impact on the animals themselves is quite obvious. Cows, in particular, are some of the worst offenders — no offense to the cows, of course. But if you love meat, especially beef, you may bristle at the idea of giving it up. Well, what if we were to tell you that you don't have to? That's the truth when you're eating the best of the best meat alternatives because your taste buds would never guess the truth. As far as they are concerned, you're eating all the beef you want. As far as the cows are concerned, you're their hero.

It's a lot easier to create a vegetarian substitute for some kinds of meat than others. Ground beef, for example, has a distinct advantage over a steak because it's often a component of a dish rather than the focal point. But it still has to be delicious. So we tasted and ranked 10 brands of alternative ground beef products. This way, you'll never even have to taste a difference when you switch over.

10. Everything Legendary Plant-Based Ground

Sadly, we have to give Everything Legendary a fairly bad rating. It's neither a competitive meat alternative nor an enjoyable eating experience. It was too wet yet dried out when cooked. It didn't taste much like meat, more like vegetables that are a little past their prime in the bottom drawer of your fridge. The worst part was neither the taste nor the texture — it was the smell. All manner of ingredients could have been in there, for all we knew from a sniff. And while we can't say that breaking out some ground beef is always the sweetest scent, it isn't usually quite as hair-raising strong. But we're going to be generous and say it was a particularly bad, or old, package. Or maybe we cooked it wrong somehow. Either way, since smell is so key to achieving a good taste, it was hard to determine if we could enjoy the flavor.

Still, we think it's great that newer companies are breaking into the plant-based meat alternative market, and we wish them all the best. Hopefully, Legendary can steadily hone its craft and improve its products, and we're so excited to see where they end up. This one just happened to be not our favorite.

9. Quorn Meatless Grounds

Quorn Meatless Grounds one wasn't our favorite. The packaging is fun, and the nutrition is all there, but the flavor and texture are hazy and hard to pin down, not quite meat, but not quite a vegetable. It's a little hard to tell what you're eating, which may bring up traumatic memories of "mystery meat" in your school cafeteria. At least we know it isn't that, right? Once prepared, we found that it had a slightly chewy quality. We disliked the texture because it really did not resemble ground beef all that much. Instead, it was like the burnt, chewy ends of roasted vegetables got swept into a bag and marketed as an all-new product, so we're not exactly huge fans. We tried adding lots of spices and sauces to cover it up. Our go-to sauce for coating the ground "meats" was a jar of mid-range tomato sauce, and let's just say that in no universe would this have fooled us into thinking it was Bolognese. No amount of Rao's can make this particular vegan alternative appetizing. 

One last caveat: Quorn uses an interesting tactic to create its meat substitute — mycoprotein. Essentially, it's a fungus or mold, and a handful of allergic reactions made the national media. Be careful out there, consumers! All that to say, Quorn's offering was one of our least favorites.

8. Good & Gather Plant Based Ground

Good & Gather Plant Based Ground is simply not good. We're sorry to have to say it because we want all meat alternatives to taste just as delicious — if not even more delicious — than "real" meat. But this does not even come close. It's very mushy; unpleasantly moist meat is never a good thing. When we're chewing away, it takes way too long due to a mouthful of weirdly textured, sinewy threads. We're unsure what gives this plant-based meat that similar bit of off-putting stringiness. Maybe it's the fibrous parts of the vegetables used?

We would not advise you to buy it unless it's the only one available and you're a devoted vegetarian, but as we always say, when we disfavor a product, there's the chance we picked out a particularly bad item from a particularly bad batch. If we decided to try this product again, we would forgo the basic salt and pepper we used for this taste test and instead take some of the pressure off the "meat." Try a middle-eastern inspired blend that employs spicy, savory, and sweet notes thanks to turmeric and cinnamon, or maybe a bright, citrusy blend with lots of attention-grabbing lime zest or lemon pepper.

7. MorningStar Farms Veggie Grillers Crumbles

We had to put MorningStar Farms Veggie Grillers Crumbles in the middle of the pack because the flavor is almost there, but the texture needs some work. This one made a good effort but ultimately fell toward the bottom of the chart once we had gotten the opportunity to taste and rank everything. We get the point that ground beef, or any ground meat, often serves as a savory and protein-rich foundation for soaking up whatever sauce it's cooked with. Sometimes, the flavor of the meat really barely matters when you're contending with the spicy taste of chilis in adobo, the acidity and garlic of marinara, or the creaminess of a kid-friendly alfredo.

But the meat should still be able to stand on its own feet. All the more reason to go meatless once in a while — and the same goes for an alternative. This one would fool no one; it's not close to real meat. Now, that's not always an instant negative review because sometimes we actually really loved the taste of the products even when they didn't make us think we were carnivorous at the moment. But the taste here was clearly vegetal as opposed to meatlike. The texture was the main issue, being far too squishy. However, strong flavors and aromas could boost the resulting dish if you decide to go with it.

6. Lightlife Smart Ground Plant-Based Crumbles

And now we're into the top five, all of which are perfectly advisable and acceptable plant-based meat alternatives to buying for your next Meatless Monday or any day of the week if you're a practicing vegetarian. Let's make one more amendment: Any day of the week because we think these will all satisfy even a meat-lover well enough to make the cut. Lightlife Smart Ground Plant-Based Crumbles has a touch of nice juiciness and a flavor that is almost too rich to be real meat. Can you believe that? Well, think about how the intense faux-birthday cake flavor of certain snacks starts to be too acute to actually resemble a good slice of home-baked cake ... okay, we're going to stop comparing cake flavor and meat flavor, but we think you get the idea. 

This one tasted, at least to us, more like ground chicken or turkey than beef. It had a lighter flavor and texture, less savory and more porous. Still, it's a great access point to plant-based meat-like foods, and we think we could make a lot of good recipes using this one. In such an innovative and burgeoning food "field," an average product is a big step in the right direction. Carry on, Lightlife; we like what you're doing over here.

5. Beyond Beef Plant-Based Ground

Beyond Beef's Plant-Based Ground falls just shy of the top three because (somewhat surprisingly) it had some stiff competition. But it's still a great choice because, overall, it tastes good and does a highly adequate job of meat mimicry. It would also be a super fun one to play around with. Try serving it without fanfare to, for example, a company of mixed ages (your spouse and kids, for example) and seeing if any or all of them suspect something is slightly different from usual. We wouldn't be surprised if someone spoke up, but we also wouldn't be surprised if no one knew the difference. (There is, however, a difference between Impossible ground "beef" and Beyond ground "beef," though people often think of them interchangeably.)

As you have seen, many of our less-preferred products could do better with a heavy hand of seasonings and spices. But we know we've tasted a good one when even just the salt and pepper do the job, revealing plenty of surprising depth in the plant-based meat itself. If you want to really put the product to the test, use a recipe that highlights rather than disguises the ground beef, like this one. Feel free to blame us if you have to bring out the peanut butter sandwiches — but please give us credit if everyone asks for second helpings.

4. Plant Boss

Plant Boss turned out to be the strangest item we picked up. Why? Because search as we might across the supermarket frozen and refrigerated aisles, we finally found Plant Boss in the dry foods section. Yes, this product is shelf-stable and rattles when you shake it like a bag of Cheetos. How could it possibly work, much less have the gall to boss around the other options? Don't worry; it's okay to be scared. We get it. But plant-based meat is on a whole new level of innovation, and when we taste a product that's actually good, we have to give it the respect it deserves.

Even though it tasted pretty amazing, the price point is high for the amount you get. Its texture resembles real meat, and the flavor is savory and spicy. If anything, and always ironically, it has too much flavor. Almost like the salty, seasoned crumbles at the bottom of a box of chili-spiced crackers. (Nearly $7.00 for what purports to make around a pound.) Accessibility is key to a good plant-based alternative, or you're going to end up having people wanting to make the switch but getting frustrated. However, if you're low on fridge or freezer space or maybe looking for something to have on hand for that one vegetarian relative who sometimes drops by unannounced and stays for a few meals, this fits the bill (even if it stretches your grocery bill for the month).

3. Wegmans

We were all about the ease and convenience of the bag, and the crumbles themselves looked promising when we opened it. The smell, meanwhile, gave it away as definitely not the meat we're used to. Sautéeing it exacerbated the smell, but at least it wasn't as bad as some others — it wore off after just a few minutes. Besides, nothing some garlic and onion wouldn't be able to cure! When we actually scooped up a spoonful to try, we found it pretty delicious.

As with many of these products, it is a little dry, for sure, but far above serviceable. With some salsa, guac, and lots of Mexican seasoning, you could have yourself a really good taco night and expect us to come back for seconds. We could taste the difference between Don't Have a Cow and plain old cow, but not in a bad way. As long as we didn't want a perfect mirror image, both in taste and appearance, we have no problem with plant-based meat being a treat in its own right without competing for first place with animals. Wrong food group, but you know the old saying: "It's like comparing apples and oranges." This is a top contender for the best and definitely one of the most convenient, so we have to hand it to Wegmans. Just another reason to make it our favorite grocery store, on top of things like it being a fantastic place to work for its employees.

2. Gardein Plant-Based Ground Be'f

This one earns the silver medal because it's a verified safe space for the alternative-curious. There is no need to fear because this product is not at all scary. It does not taste like you're eating anything besides regular, good old-fashioned ground beef. Sure, not the best ground beef of all time, but not the worst, and not your three-year-old's shoelaces, either. You're going to be just fine, and you'll probably never know the difference unless you ask. It boasts an impressive juiciness that, as we have discovered, is difficult to achieve in a ground beef dupe. 

From the very first taste, we were nearly convinced that this was ground meat. That's because of the touch of greasiness that reminded us of freshly cooked taco meat (you have to admit to liking it a tiny bit, don't you?). It's part of the whole ground meat experience; besides, fat does equal flavor indeed (as long as there isn't too much fat that camouflages any flavor with an entirely unappealing sheen.) No, this is just the right amount, making the product taste beefy and keeping it moist. There's nothing worse than dried-out ground meat, which we found in a few of the lower-ranking items. We did not expect Gardein to be so good simply because the name sounds like it's going all-in on the plants and probably would not taste like meat, but that's on us.

1. Impossible Plant Based Beef Ground

If we did not know any better, we would absolutely believe we were eating meat with Impossible Plant Based Beef, no questions asked. Even more importantly, we would think we're consuming some truly excellent ground beef. So be warned, vegetarians, because if you're eating this product already, the secret is out; this is a delicious food no matter what your dietary restrictions or lifestyle may be. Now we just need the perfect alternative milk. Then, we might be able to free the cows from their servitude forever! Not to be too gruesome here, but this tastes like meat. It's got that nice amount of fatty flavor and texture that beef does, and neither too much nor too little. There's some gaminess that we would never have imagined could be reproduced by food scientists. The "meat" browned well in the pan, a touch of a sear arising on the crumbles as though they really were once part of a cow. We would love it in some of our favorite street tacos.

We could make all sorts of (mostly very bad) puns about how impossibly good this stuff is, specifically at pretending to be ground beef, but we shall spare you. The marketing team at the company has probably done more than enough to drive the point across.