Frozen veggie burgers: the reason that vegetarians are still invited to and ridiculed at barbecues. These prepackaged patties are the ultimate vegetarian convenience food (besides, like, actual vegetables). Sometimes they attempt to replicate meat with mystery ingredients, other times they are just a hodgepodge of beans and grains smashed together. Veggie burgers are one of the most mainstream meat alternatives and as a result there are thousands of options to choose from. This can be intimidating.
The idea of comparing veggie burgers must be credited to my wonderful mother. I saw her this past weekend when I visited home, where I also ate bagels, binge watched America’s Next Top Model, and got a haircut. Considering the limited amount of space (and money) I have, I’ve decided to test two burgers at a time.
Our first veggie burger battle is between two Trader Joe’s options: the Thai Sweet Chili burger and the Vegetable Masala burger. I chose these two burgers because they were both in my parents’ freezer.
The first up: Trader Joe’s Thai Sweet Chili Veggie Burger. The suggested way of cooking these is in the oven, but I’m too impatient for that. I cooked it in a pan on the stove, about five minutes on each side.
This burger is slightly crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside, but not in an unappealing way. It’s neither chewy or dense, which someone looking for a classic burger might prefer. The texture reminds me of Japanese potato croquettes. Perhaps baking these would lead to a drier burger, but again, I am impatient and realistically would never preheat an oven for less than 200 calories. There are small chunks of carrots that provide some liveliness to this otherwise mono-textured burger. The flavor is slightly spicy, sweet, rich, and savory. There is no need for condiments, although ketchup would work. I recommend pairing this with a sturdy bun or toast because a soft hamburger bun would provide no contrast whatsoever. I finished the entire thing and will definitely purchase more in the future.
The competition: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burger. Full disclosure, I’ve had these many times. I fried it in some oil, about five minutes on each side.
This burger is distinctly potato-y, unsurprising, considering it is primarily made of potatoes. As a result, frying them in a saute pan made the outside super crispy. They are fairly sturdy, with a variety of textures from the chunks of potato, carrots, and corn. The flavor is sweet but pretty spicy: too spicy for my mom, but perfect for me. The package suggests it’s made with “authentic” Indian spices and this definitely has some samosa-esque vibes. I like to eat these with ketchup to combat the spice, but it’s unnecessary. You probably could top this on a hamburger bun, but I eat it on toasted whole wheat bread for a greater contrast of flavors. Overall this is super delicious and more exciting than the typical frozen burger. I will continue to buy and cherish them.
Point for point, the Masala burger wins this one. I highly recommend both of these burgers for anyone who isn’t looking for an actual burger-replacement but something tasty to pull out of your freezer as a snack. You could also pair these with rice and any assortment of vegetables for a complete meal. Or, bring them to a barbecue and gird your loins.
Here’s a picture of suburbia: