Six Washington Post staff members, two of them vegetarian, blind-tasted 37 veggie burgers (cooked according to the package directions) from 16 manufacturers and scored them from 1 to 10. Few burgers got more than a 6 or a 7 from any single taster, and many got much lower scores.
In general, the tasters weren't happy with the whole lot. But if you want to throw some veggie patties on the grill and don't have time to make your own, here are some brands that might work with the right condiments and buns -- and many others to avoid. Results are in order from highest- to lowest-scoring brand.
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Prices listed are based on actual retail price charged at points of purchase, including Costco, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods Market and Yes! Organic Market. Prices vary by store.
Brand/ Varieties tasted/ Price per patty/ Score/ Sample comments
Dr. Praeger's/ California, Bombay Curry/ $1 / 4.9 / "Nice to see recognizable produce."
365 Everyday Value/ Meatless Burgers/ $1 / 4.8 / "Meaty, hearty, tastes like a real cookout burger."
Qrunch/ Plain, Green Chile, Spicy Italian, Sweet Curry/ 97 cents / 3.8 / "Crunchy, grainy, decent spice."
Don Lee Farms/ Veggie Patties / 97 cents / 3.5 / "Mushy"; "greasy, but nice to see veggies."
Morningstar Farms/ Garden Veggie, Grillers Original, Mushroom Lover's, Spicy Black Bean/ $1.09 / 3.3 / Mushroom "reminds me of Indian vegetable pakoras."
Gardein/ Ultimate Beefless Burger/ 82 cents / 3 / "Close to meaty" but with "an artificial off-taste."
Asherah's Gourmet/ Chipotle/ $2.17 / 2.8 / "Like a baby food of burgers"; "way too much cumin."
Amy's/ All American, Bistro, Black Bean, California, Quarter Pound, Sonoma/ $1.25-$1.75 / 2.7 / Black bean is "spicy mush with a few tasteless veggies."
Organic Sunshine/ Black Bean South West, Garden Herb $1.46 / 2.5 / "Slathered with cheese, it'd be all right."
Lightlife/ Backyard Grill'n, Farmer's Market, Kick'n Black Bean/ $1.10 / 2.4 / "An attempt to replicate ground beef; not successful."
Gardenburger/ Original, Black Bean Chipotle, Portabella, Veggie Medley/ $1 / 2.2 / "Big veg bits; bland binder flavor."
Sol Cuisine/ Mushroom Rice, Spicy Black Bean/ $1.12 / 1.6 / "Weird aftertaste"; "a waste of ingredients."
Boca/ All American Classic, Grilled Vegetable, Vegan/ $1.25 / 1.4 / "I would spit it out if I could"; "is this for people?"
Hilary's Eat Well/ Hemp & Greens/ $1.75 / 1.3 / "Tastes like a box"; "tastes like a spinach cookie."
SoyBoy/ Okara Courage Burger/ 89 cents / 1.3 / "I can't relate it to anything I have ever eaten."
Dominex/ Eggplant Burgers/ $1.42 / 1.0 / "Rubbery little bite"; "it tastes like an ashtray."