juicy veggie burger

5 Best High Protein Veggie Burgers (All Vegan, Most GF)

[toc]With dining out taking a backseat due to the pandemic, perhaps you’re craving the next best thing; a decent vegan patty you can have at home.

Do veggie burgers have protein? Sure, all have some, but their ingredients will dictate how much. If you just want carbs, buy the ones made with potatoes.

If you want protein, you’re going to need the right brands in order to get a good amount.

First of all to be clear, we are talking about the pre-made frozen patties you can buy at the store.

You won’t find them at Trader Joe’s and Aldi, because they primarily sell their own store brand. Nor are you likely to see them (or at least most) at supermarkets like Safeway, Publix, and Supervalu. Walmart, Meijer, Target, and Kroger will have some of these brands on the list, but your best bet for finding them will be Whole Foods, Sprouts, or any local health food grocer.

How much protein is in a veggie burger? The answer varies greatly. Some, like Dr. Praeger’s brand, are delicious yet only contain 2 grams per patty with most flavors. Then there are others like Beyond Meat, which have over 10x higher protein content per serving.

So if you’re an athlete, bodybuilder, or simply want to make sure you’re getting this nutrient from your plant-based diet, you’re going to have to read the ingredient labels rather than just grabbing the one with the prettiest packaging (some of the nicest packaged ones are complete rubbish, by the way).

Veggie burger calories vs. regular hamburger?

cow in fieldHow many calories you will find in your average beef hamburger patty is going to be 200 to 250 calories, if not higher. We’re not talking about the large burgers from restaurants and fast food joints, but rather your typical homemade beef patty, made from either fresh ground or frozen chuck.

Your average burger patty will weigh between 1/4 (4 oz) to 1/3 pound (5.3 oz). Some people make 1/2 pound (8 oz) but most would say for beef, that much cholesterol and fat is bad for you in a single serving. Turkey burgers are better, but still not ideal.

The USDA National Nutrient Database lists 85 grams as the serving size for beef, but that is unlikely with most Americans! It’s only 3 ounces, which is less than a 1/5 of a pound. Plus, that’s the raw meat before it is cooked… afterward it will weigh even less due to water evaporation from grilling or frying it.

NDB No. Food Report Calories Per USDA Serving Size Protein Per USDA Serving Size Converted To Protein Per 100 Calorie Serving
23508 USDA Commodity, beef, ground, bulk/coarse ground, frozen, raw (1) 194 calories (85g serving) 14.76g 7.62g

Even with the 1/5 pound serving as you see above, it’s still about 200 calories and only yields between 7 and 8 grams of protein.

Compare that versus low carb and low calorie veggie burger brands. Even if they don’t have much protein – say only 4 or 5 grams per patty – they may only be 100 to 120 calories each. That means you can eat 2 for a total of 200 to 240 calories and get 8 or 10 grams of protein… which may actually be equal to or even more than a beef burger patty, yet with healthier fats and possibly lower calories.

However the purpose of this list is to focus on which veggie burgers are the best for protein. We’re aiming for even higher amounts than that per serving. This cheat sheet will help you accomplish that on your next grocery trip.

These veggie patties were all found at a single Whole Foods location in the Los Angeles area. Your location may have a different selection, but almost certainly will have some if not most of these brands.

The 5 best for protein content

1. Beyond Meat Beast Burger

23 grams protein and 260 calories

Beyond Meat beast burgerReview: Beyond Meat’s headquarters are literally a couple miles down the street from Superfoodly, so we’re very familiar with them. Their focus is on plant-based meat alternatives that actually have the taste and texture of real meat. Some people (i.e. omnivores) will like that, but vegans and vegetarians may not like the authenticity.

When it comes to protein content, they are the highest on the market per patty. For bodybuilders, they are a favorite for that reason. Their Beast Burger is gluten free, soy free, and non-GMO, however it is NOT organic. Many say it tastes like real meat. One unique health benefit is that it has DHA (omega 3) in the ingredients.

Ingredients: water, pea protein isolate, oil blend (canola oil, flaxseed oil, palmoil, sunflower oil, DHA algal oil), methylcellulose, carrageenan, potassium bicarbonate, caramel color, yeast extract, maltodextrin, potassium chloride, tapioca starch, sorbitol, calcium chloride, natural flavoring, spices, salt, vegetable extract mix (spinach, broccoli, carrot, tomato, beet, shiitake mushroom), l-cysteine hydrochloride, beet juice powder (flavor and color), natural hickory smoke concentrate, calcium sulfate, onion powder, onion extract, mesquite powder, sugar, pomegranate seed powder, ferric phosphate (iron), paprika extract (spice and color), garlic extract, cyanocobalamin (vitamin b12)

2. Sunshine Burger Quarter Pound Original

12 grams protein and 360 calories

Sunshine Burger quarter pound originalReview: Sunshine Burgers is a company founded by Carol Debberman, whose veggie burger recipe dates back to 1983. They have several flavors available and what makes them unique is that they use sunflower seeds, which are an excellent source of protein, as a staple ingredient.

They’re organic and non-GMO. If you’re looking for something more whole food based without a laundry list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, these are a great choice. The spices give them a rich taste.

They’re also good for food allergies since they are wheat free, gluten free, corn free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, peanut free, and tree nut free. Our only complaint about them is that the patties are fully pre-cooked and in our opinion, a little too cooked which might mean higher acrylamide content than they otherwise would have.

Ingredients: organic cooked brown rice, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic carrots, organic spices, sea salt.

3. Sweet Earth Za’atar Burger

19 grams of protein and 240 calories

Sweet Earth Za'atar veggie burgersReview: Because we’re gluten free, we can’t comment on the taste of their products since all of them use seitan (vital wheat gluten) as their primary source of protein.

That being said, we’ve heard from plenty of satisfied customers and the fact that their product is so widely distributed across the country shows that they must be making a good product. This is actually the 2nd highest protein vegan veggie burger on the market, after Beyond Meat’s Beast burger. Unfortunately, neither are low sodium (both around 400 mg) so if that’s a concern for you, it may be best to double up on the Engine 2 patties instead.

We’re listing the Za’Atar flavor because it is has 1 gram more of protein than the other flavors from Sweet Earth Foods; Santa Fe and Teriyaki each have 17 grams.

Obviously, celiacs and those on gluten free diets should avoid this brand. Likewise for those sesame allergies since some of their products (like this one) contain the seeds.

Ingredients: Sweet Earth seitan (water, vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, kombu), garbanzo beans, za’atar spice blend (sesame seeds, sea salt, oregano, cumin, sumac), vitamin wheat gluten, spinach, flaxseed meal, bulgur*, farro*, quinoa*, green lentils*, carrots, tofu* (water, organic soybeans, calcium sulfate), tahini, green onion, textured vegetable protein, olive oil, toasted sesame seed oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, cilantro, fresh mint, okara, non-GMO soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), spices *organic

4. Engine 2 Diet Poblano Black Bean Burgers

6 grams protein and 130 calories

Engine 2 black bean pattiesReview: Created by a Texan firefighter, you may have heard of the NY Times bestselling Engine 2 Diet book, which is a game plan for a plant-based diet which among other things, eliminates refined oils.

We’ve read the book and are familiar with (and agree with) the science he presents about oils… because they’re so calorically dense (100 to 120 calories per tablespoon), by simply cutting them out, it’s an easy way to reduce calories in your diet.

His Engine 2 food line is only sold at Whole Foods and he has 3 different patties, but our favorite is the poblano black bean because it’s the highest in protein.

Something unique is that they are one of the only low sodium veggie burger brands on the market (100 mg per patty). They’re not the highest protein, but since they have no added oils, it means they’re low calorie, so you can easily double up and eat 2 patties (or 3!) and not feel bad because of how low their fat or sodium content is. With other frozen food brands you rarely can do that because of all the salt. This one is also gluten free.

As far as flavor is concerned, these are definitely not spicy, so you may want to add some hot sauce for heat.

Ingredients: black beans, cooked brown rice, tomatoes, rolled oats, poblano pepper, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, sea salt, cumin, coriander, black pepper

5. Carla Lee’s Nut Burger’s

9 grams of protein and 290 calories

Carla Lee's Nut BurgersReview: Taste wise, we would say these compare most closely with Sunshine Burger brand, because both use sunflower seeds as well as some higher-end ingredients. However Carla Lee’s – as the name implies – also uses nuts, specifically cashews. If you have a cashew allergy you will have to avoid all of their products because they all use cashews.

As you will see in the ingredient list below, they use all organic and non-irradiated spices. They are one of the best high protein veggie patties if you insist on organic. The only bad thing is that yes, their price is higher because of that.

You can’t call them low sodium, but 360 mg per patty is about 100 to 200 mg less than what you see with most of Boca, Gardenburger, Morningstar, and Amy’s veggie burgers.

Ingredients: organic brown rice, organic carrot juice, organic sunflower seeds, organic cashews, coconut aminos, (organic coconut sap and sea salt {less than 1%}), organic expeller-pressed sunflower oil, organic spices, sea salt

Other options

male bodybuilder working shoulder musclesMorningstar, Gardenburger, and Boca burgers are also options to consider. They all have respectable amounts of protein but we didn’t include them in the list because almost none of their products are vegan, as they frequently use eggs or milk/dairy binding agents.

We’re also not a fan of ingredients contained in some of their products. However they are widely distributed, even at normal grocery stores, since they’re owned by major food companies (Morningstar Farms and Gardenburger = Kellogg, Boca = Kraft). While not suitable for vegans, they’re all vegetarian friendly as long as you eat eggs and dairy.

Sometimes your best option might be to use a good vegan protein powder. With those, you can get 15-20 grams of protein per scoop, which may only be around 100 to 150 calories. Do that before or after dinner (we use the chocolate for dessert!) and that way at meal time, you don’t need to worry whether your burger patty has enough protein. You can just buy the brand and flavor you enjoy the most. If you need a recommendation, check out this one on Amazon. We eat it almost daily!