By now, you've probably heard of The Impossible Burger, the meat-less burger that claims to convincingly mimic the flavor, smell, and texture of a beef burger. Much has been written about the Impossible Burger's meaty taste and the fact that the patty "bleeds" like a real beef burger—a quality it gets from it's so-called magic ingredient: heme.
So much, in fact, that we decided not to dedicate any more digital space to explaining what heme is (spoiler: it comes from soybeans) or analyzing the size of a heme burger's carbon footprint. Instead, we thought we'd cut to the chase and ask the obvious question: how does the Impossible Burger taste?
Luckily for us, two of our editors have already had the chance to sink their teeth into an Impossible Burger. And, they had very different feelings about it. Here's what they had to say:
I had an Impossible Burger at the popular Chicago burger joint Kuma's Corner. My mom and I decided to split one traditional beef burger and one Impossible Burger because we wanted to see if it tasted like meat, but we didn't want to be completely disappointed if we hated it.
We both thought the Impossible Burger was pretty tasty. We actually agreed that if someone had served it to us without telling us what it was, we probably would have thought it was a beef burger, albeit one that tasted a little different than normal. But we would have just chalked it up to some strange spice or topping.
With that said, this particular Impossible Burger had some great toppings—avocado mash, cheddar, cherry tomato jam, roasted garlic mayo, baby arugula, and red onion. I'm not sure I would like it dressed in just ketchup and mustard. But I did like the one with the fancy toppings, and that gives me hope for a future filled with tasty meatless alternatives. - Colleen Loggins Loster
I also tried the Impossible Burger at Kuma's, substituting the meat patty in their "Goatsnake" burger (toppings: herbed goat cheese, poblano sweet-corn relish, lemon vinaigrette, deep-fried onion rings).
I'd say that of all of the burger substitutes out there, the Impossible Burger looks the most like a real burger, which is more important than you might think. It looks like meat, has a nice red tint like a burger cooked medium or medium-well. It's appetizing to look at it, and doesn't have an odd, obviously fake appearance like some other veggie patties.
I had mixed opinions eating it. While it does a pretty good job of mimicking the texture of meat, I didn't think it tasted very much like a real beef patty. I'm not sure it helped that my wife and I were doing a taste test with an actual-beef burger—being able to do a side-by-side comparison really lets you get down to the details. An actual burger is much more savory and has more grease.
But I would definitely try it again, since I think there is some promise there. I'm also not sure if the exotic toppings for our specific burger best complemented the Impossible patty. In particular, the herbed goat cheese didn't seem to mix well. It's not impossible (pun intended) that different toppings would better fool my taste buds. - Andy Seifert
The takeaway? An Impossible Burger can be a convincing substitute for the real thing—IF you choose the right toppings.