Fast food meatless burgers ranked worst to first

The commercially sold veggie burger is 37 years old as of 2019, and in that time it's evolved quite a bit.

While some still say there's nothing quite like a real juicy burger, others argue that today's meatless burgers are just as good. The rise of Impossible and Beyond meat has made its mark, particularly on the fast food industry. 

Finally it's grabbing hold of the vegetarian and vegan market in an accessible way. Plus, it's finally allowing itself to compete with more traditional restaurants who have had veggie burgers readily available on their menus for years. While we're a little annoyed it took the fast food world so long to come up to speed, we are rather glad that meat-free options are now constantly being introduced.

That being said, not all meatless burgers are created equal. Some, frankly, left us regretting our life choices. Why are so many salty and mushy? Vegetarian-based burgers don't have to be boring any more, it's the turn of the decade for pity's sake! 

If you're wondering which fast food joints are worth visiting to try that latest meatless burger, we're here to help. Prepare yourself for some seriously "meaty" vegetarian fare between two buns. These are fast food meatless burgers ranked worst to first.

9. Burger King's Impossible Whopper

Ah the Impossible Whopper. Billed as a burger to trick meat eaters into eating fake meat, the Impossible Whopper has definitely made the headlines a few times. And while it may be the most popularized meat-free fast food burger, it's definitely not the best. 

For one, the toppings are soggy and the patty is dry. Yes, even with that char grilled treatment Burger King does, the patties just don't keep any sort of juicy consistency like the regular Whopper. Vegetarians and vegans can opt to get the patty cooked in the oven instead of having them cooked on the same grill as the meat patties, but pardon us if we don't believe it tastes just as good as if it was cooked on the grill... and if it does, what does that say about the quality of Burger King's Impossible Whopper? Yikes.

This over-hyped veggie burger does get a lot of credit for helping lead the way, but it's been eclipsed many times over by the competition.

8. Carl's Jr.'s Beyond Famous Star With Cheese

Competitor to Impossible Foods is Beyond Meat. These plant-based meat substitutes are made with protein from peas, mung beans, fave beans, brown rice, and sunflowers. This plus healthy fats from coconut, sunflower, and canola oil and cocoa butter makes for a much healthier burger while still being delicious and a great meat alternative. Their partnership with Carl's Jr. made the headlines and was quickly joined by other fast food and casual chains. Impossible may have been first, but Beyond did it better.

The Beyond Famous Star with Cheese from Carl's Jr. emulates everything we love from the chain, while still being veggie-friendly. It's juicy and has that charcoal taste from a real burger. However, it does clock in an insane 1500 mg of sodium, which is astronomical even by fast food standards. What is it with fast food veggie burgers and salt? If you like salty burgers, then go for it, but there is a distinct salty taste to this otherwise tasty burger. 

Carl's Jr. uses the second release of Beyond meat, though there isn't a huge noticeable difference from the original recipe. While it's a pretty good burger, it isn't particularly ingenious or anything, especially considering Carl's Jr.'s other veggie offerings. You can give this one a try or leave it; there's nothing too special about it.

7. Burger 21's Impossible Burger

Now this is how you treat an Impossible Foods patty. Topped with red onion, lettuce, and tomato, this brioche sandwiched burger is a treat to behold and leagues ahead of Burger King's version. Not that it's that much of a surprise, as Burger 21 is downright delicious and perfect for true burger lovers

All that being said, while their Impossible Burger is better than Burger King's, it's still not quite there. The toppings overwhelm the taste of the patty, which still can't quite maintain the juiciness that Beyond Meat's patties can. Perhaps this is just a defect of Impossible's burger patties in general. The meatiness taste is there, no doubt, as is the texture and smell, but they still dry out a touch too fast. Not even Burger 21 can fully save it.

It's worth noting that the Impossible Burger at Burger 21 isn't vegan as the bun contains honey, only making it vegetarian. It's entirely possible to ask for a plain wheat bun or a lettuce wrap instead to make it fully vegan, just ask at the counter.

6. White Castle's Impossible Slider With Smoked Cheddar Cheese

The trick to making the Impossible patties work is perhaps in White Castle's magic grilling of their sliders. Smaller in size, the Impossible patties at the famous chain don't dry out as easily. This is may be because it's cooked White Castle style, though it's missing the typical holes in the patty since it needs to be thicker to withstand the griddle. Steamed to perfection, some people even like the Impossible sliders more than the regular ones, which is indeed saying something.

Available at all White Castle locations in the United States, these bite-sized burgers are everything right about a fast food burger. And with a bit of bulk thanks to how the Impossible patties need to be cooked, they're filling after two or three. Even though they ring in at around $1.99 as opposed to the regular sliders (which ring up at around 72 cents), you'll need to buy fewer of them, so really, you might actually save some money. 

What makes these veggie burgers so great though is their simplicity. It's what White Castle just does well. You don't need a bunch of fancy toppings to make a good burger.

5. Burger Fi's Beyond Burger

If you're not familiar with BurgerFi, we're sorry. The gourmet burger chain has some of the best fast burgers out there, and their veggie offerings are no exception. Already having the VegeFi burger, BurgerFi was looking to add another vegetable-based burger to its menu, and that's when Beyond came knocking. Originally it was only tested in eight of BurgerFi's stores, but was later rolled out to all locations. And thank goodness it was, because it's really dang good. It's cooked well, it's topped with the fresh ingredients that BurgerFi is known for, and has made more than one convert.

The Beyond Burger at BurgerFi can be served two ways at most locations: regular and green style. The regular burger is with cheese on a non-vegan bun, while green style is sans cheese in a lettuce wrap. Some locations, on the other hand, offer vegan buns. 

The fact is, the Beyond burger is a great addition to BurgerFi's already amazing menu and can show how fast food chains can do veggie burgers right.

4. Burger 21's Black Bean Burger

Before there was fake meat, there were black bean burgers. Using black beans as a meat substitute in burgers can be traced back, well almost, to the dawn of the veggie burger. The first commercially sold vegetarian burger came from SEED, a London restaurant, that used aduki beans. Similar in structure, beans as a bases for a patty just makes sense. When done right, they're moist and meaty, with a great texture that gives you the same satisfaction of meat without being too much like actual beef. A lot of black bean burgers get a bad reputation because they're often mushy, falling apart at the first bite. But not Burger 21's Black Bean Burger.

No, Burger 21's black bean offering is seared just right to keep it together, and to offer a nice crunchy crust. Top that with the avocado, cilantro cream, red onions and tomatoes, and you've got yourself a seriously tasty burger. There's a smokey quality to it that gives it an extra depth of flavor; more than their Impossible offering anyway. It's a delicious bite and then some, and if you're wondering which of their veggie choices to consume, we'd suggest this one over the fake meat one any day.

3. Shake Shack's 'Shroom Burger

When you go to Shake Shack you're probably going to be looking at their extensive menu of burgers that are out of this world. However, you may be bypassing all that beef for something a bit more vegetarian than expected. That's because the Shake Shack 'Shroom Burger is one of the best things on the menu. 

It's drool-worthy and satisfying to boot. What really makes it is the cheese.  A mix of ooey gooey muenster and cheddar cheese is stuffed into a fried portobello mushroom, and it's a combination to die for. It's just dang delightful. It's not the texture of meat per se, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for in flavor. Also, there's the fact that's it's fried. It's greasy and crunchy and delicious and what's not to love? It's a deep-fried burger!

Did you know that you can also get the beef burger with the 'shroom burger? If your'e just looking for a meaty and veggie treat, get The Shack Stack.

2. Carl's Jr.'s Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger

Okay, sometimes a burger is just so decadent and ridiculous that it will taste good by default. That is definitely the case for the Beyond BBQ Cheeseburger at Carl's Jr. There's a rich and tangy BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, onion rings, and a delicious Beyond Meat patty. Based on their Western Bacon Cheeseburger, it's a perfect compliment to their other Beyond burger, and doesn't feel out of place at all despite being meatless. It's just another great tasting and sounding burger from Carl's Jr. And it turns out, this is very much what was intended.

"We're always looking for the next great way to innovate and deliver the most craveable burgers, and we're thrilled to continue our partnership with industry leader Beyond Meat to bring new and exciting flavors to our customers," said Patty Trevino, the Senior Vice President of Carl's Jr. Brand Marketing. As one of the first chains to adapt meatless burgers, Carl's Jr. is leading the way, and this is a great example of that. 

Who says that veggie burgers have to be boring? Put onion rings on them! Put BBQ sauce on them! See, Carl's Jr. is doing it right. We're curious what will be next on their menu.

1. Burger Fi's Vegefi Burger

The fact is, meatless burgers are at their very best when they're not trying to emulate meat at all. BurgerFi's VegeFi burger is simply the best. 

It's crispy and light, while still having the meatiness expected of a burger thanks to the mix of quinoa and vegetables. It's the bite of the vegetables that give it depth of flavor, and the quinoa gives it that nice crunch while not being heavy. It's fresh and delicious and what a good vegetable-based burger can be. This is because a lot of vegetarians, flexitarians, or just people seeking out a veggie-based burger are looking for just that... a vegetable-based burger. Not a burger masquerading as meat, or bleeding like meat. Sometimes vegetable patties are just simply better. No one does it better than BurgerFi.

There is white cheese in the patty, so one drawback is that the VegeFi isn't vegan and can't be made vegan. In that cas,e you'll need to default to the Beyond Burger at BurgerFi (which is still a great choice).