- Nestlé’sSweet Earth brand is launching a plant-based burger to compete with burgers from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
- It’s called the Awesome Burger, and it will be available in grocery store meat aisles this September.
- Nestlé sent me two frozen Awesome Burgers to cook at home.
- My verdict: the Awesome Burger didn’t mimic the texture and taste of beef as well as its competitors do. It definitely evokes the flavour of meat, but it tastes more like nutty spam and has the texture of a salmon burger. While it’s pretty satisfying in its own way, there’s still room for improvement.
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Plant-based “meat” is the future, and food giants like Nestlé want a bite out of the market, too.
Burger King recently announced it is taking its Impossible Whopper national, and Impossible Foods just won its battle with the FDA over the right to sell its plant-based “meat” in grocery stores. Its main competitor, Beyond Meat, is already there.
But when the Impossible Burger hits the aisles in September, it will be next to yet another competitor: the Nestlé-owned Sweet Earth brand. Sweet Earth’s Awesome Burger will be available in the meat section of grocery stores in September, along with the brand’s ground beef alternative, Awesome Grounds.
Unlike Impossible and Beyond, Nestlé’s Sweet Earth brand sold vegan and vegetarian meat alternatives before turning its focus towards plant-based “meat” that mimics beef. Also unlike Impossible and Beyond, which spent years on R&D for their products, Sweet Earth repportedly spent only about a year and a half developing its Awesome Burger.
The Awesome Burger is higher in protein, fibre, sodium, and calories than its Impossible and Beyond counterparts, according to FoodNavigator. It’s made out of yellow pea protein, whereas Beyond gets its protein from green peas and Impossible gets its protein from soy.
Nestlé sent two frozen Awesome Burgers to my Brooklyn apartment for me to try. Having only one stomach, I enlisted the help of my intrepid foodventuring vegetarian roommate, Jen. Armed with a frying pan, canola oil, and some scrapped-together burger ingredients, we set off together into the great culinary unknown.
The Awesome Burger came with handy-dandy cooking instructions. They are pre-seasoned and salted, but you can add your own seasonings, too. I chose to cook mine plain.
Straight out of the package, the burgers didn’t quite have the look, texture, or feel of ground beef patties. They were stiffer, smoother, and pinker.
When they went into the pan, a delicious nutty fragrance filled the room. The scent reminded me of spam and pine nuts, or perhaps of meaty popcorn.
I was surprised by how much they frothed. Maybe I’d added too much oil, but the patties also produced their own oil.
As they cooked, they shrank much like real burgers, and a red oily film oozed from their skin.
There was a lot of foam as well as some globs of beef oil-like fat. They were starting to look crispy.
They didn’t quite reach the dark brown of beef, but rather stayed a pork-like caramel brown.
There was a visible layer of crisp on the outside.
The patties actually reminded me of salmon burgers, which tend to have a similarly crispy outer texture and caramel brown colour.
I plopped the Awesome patties onto toasted ciabatta and topped them with slices of tomato, onion, and avocado.
The Awesome Burger looked more like fried spam or a salmon burger than like a beef burger. But appearances can be deceiving.
Not in this case, though. The texture was very similar to that of a salmon burger, and the taste was very spam-like. The patty was very crispy on the outside, although that may simply be because I’d added too much oil.
It did taste vaguely meaty, but not at all like beef. I thought it tasted kind of like processed meat. As my ex-carnivore roommate Jen noted, it didn’t burst with flavour the way beef burgers do.
It also tasted like Worcestershire sauce — somewhat wine-like and vinegary. But it wasn’t as salty or flavorful as a beef burger. Jen felt it needed additional seasoning. Still, it was pretty satisfying in its own way.
I’d use it as a substitute for a salmon burger. I enjoyed its nutty, spam-like flavour and outer crisp, but it didn’t imitate the taste and texture of beef as well as its competitors. For a year and a half of development, though, it’s not bad. And hopefully Sweet Earth will make like Impossible and Beyond and continue to improve its recipe.
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