With each passing year there’s a new plant-based brand that hits the shelves. Some of these newer products fall flat, while others are truly pushing the flavor envelope forward and achieving surprising results.
For some time, before Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods changed the game, the plant-based burger occupied a bland landscape. Similarly, new plant-based alternatives are making a mark and showing what’s truly possible with the right amount of passion, palate and plants.
Below is a list of what we consider the best plant-based brands that make faithful alternatives to many of our favorite foods.
BEST PLANT-BASED BURGER
Kicking the list off with these two hugely popular plant-based burgers. Whether you rep OG beef flavored Impossible patties or Beyond Burger’s unique approach to flavor, you’re in for a great patty. Each of these patties are juicy, take well to seasoning and are easy alternatives for plant-based newcomers.
BEST PLANT-BASED SAUSAGE
Morning Star Farms mastered the plant-based sausage game a long time ago. Their Griller Burgers were legendary way before Impossible or Beyond were household names. Today, they continue to offer healthy and tasty plant-based proteins with the Hot & Spicy Sausage Patties being no exception.
BEST PLANT-BASED CHORIZO
If you enjoy your savory protein with a subtle kick, Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo delivers just the right amount of flavor. Made from pea protein with garlic, chipotle peppers and an imported Spanish smoked paprika, it’s a zesty and appetizing compliment for a wide array of dishes.
BEST PLANT-BASED BACON
Bacon is a favorite of meat-lovers worldwide. It’s also incredibly challenging to recreate. While many contenders have put forth admirable attempts, none successfully stuck the landing. Thankfully, Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon has done just that. It's generously flavored with hickory, sage and garlic. Unlike others, it can be cooked crispy or tender. Make sure to grab some next time you have a hankering for a BLT.
BEST PLANT-BASED MEAL KIT
In our ever-busy lives, having delicious on-the-go food options is essential. The Bay Area-based Nona Lim brand specializes in classic Asian street foods without MSG, artificial ingredients, preservatives or lots of sodium. The Dan Dan Noodles Bowl with Beyond Meat is a delicious marriage of savory broth and chewy Beyond Meat crumbles that can be ready to enjoy in 30 seconds.
BEST PLANT-BASED CHICKEN TENDERS
Gardein has been making plant-based alternatives for some time now, providing a range of classics that help preparing dinner easier. Found in the frozen section, Gardein’s chicken tenders are great for salads, sandwich wraps and as an easy snack for kids.
BEST PLANT-BASED CHICKEN FOR STIR FRY
This company focuses solely on making the best plant-based chicken possible. Managing to overcome the stringy, often sponge-like consistency that most chicken alternatives have, Daring’s plant-based chicken sizzles, shreds and serves just like the real thing. It goes great with Asian dishes like stir fry and fried rice. Aside from their Original flavor, they also offer Lemon & Herb, Breaded and Cajun.
BEST PLANT-BASED SPICY NUGGETS
Plant-based buffalo wings is one area with a high hit-or-miss average. As one of the pioneers in the plant-based space, Morning Star Farms has been making tasty alternatives for more than a decade. Their spicy nuggets have a great buffalo sauce flavor and chewy consistency that is perfect for dipping.
BEST PLANT-BASED FISH FOR COOKING
Omni Foods is truly doing special things with plant-based seafood. Using magic or something, they’ve managed to closely recreate the texture, taste and consistency of actual fish. Their Golden Fish Filets can be fried and baked to be the perfect plant-based centerpiece to your meal.
BEST PLANT-BASED FISH FOR SUSHI
Also doing amazing things with plant-based seafood is San Francisco upstart Current Foods. Their resident scientists managed to create a plant-based seafood alternative that rivals the taste, texture and nutritional density of actual seafood. With Current Foods Original Tuna Filet, you can make tasty sushi at home and help support ocean restoration.
BEST PLANT-BASED SHRIMP
New Wave Foods was one of the first to market with a plant-based shrimp substitute, and it still stands out as the gold standard. Made from algae, their vegan replica is nearly identical from a texture standpoint, and the sweetness and flavor are a close match too. It’s exceptional as a fried shrimp substitute.
BEST PLANT-BASED EGGS
The road to the perfect plant-based scramble has been a bumpy one. That’s not surprising considering yolk is an interesting consistency that changes once cooked. Thankfully, our innate desire to achieve the impossible has resulted in JUST Egg liquid mix. With super simple ingredients and a great egg-like taste, this is the closest you’ll get to the real deal.
BEST PLANT-BASED CHEESE SLICES
In the beginning, plant-based cheeses were bland and refused to do that thing we love cheese most for doing — melt. But thankfully, over the past few years things have improved considerably. With a cheesier taste, chewy consistency and satisfying melt game, Violife “Just Like” slices are the best dairy-free pick that’ll give you the experience you’re looking for.
BEST PLANT-BASED SHREDDED CHEESE
If you prefer a shred over a slice, Violife also makes excellent, melt-happy shredded cheese too. With four types of shreds to enjoy from Colby Jack to Mozzarella, Violife has your meal plans covered.
BEST PLANT-BASED CREAM CHEESE
Kite Hill’s almond-based dairy products are well renowned, and it's pretty hard to find a tub of this stuff ‘cause it keeps flying off the shelves. When you do score one, though, the combination of chive with the slightly tangy, rich plant-based cream cheese will be a taste bagels won’t be the same without.
BEST PLANT-BASED MAC AND CHEESE
Easy to prepare and great for those on the go, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mac is the creamy plant-based alternative you’re looking for. It comes in a microwavable plastic container and includes two hearty servings of dairy-free deliciousness. The taste isn’t quite cheesy, yet is richer and more filling than what you’d expect from vegan mac. It also has a dash of cayenne pepper for a subtle kick.
BEST PLANT-BASED MILK
I’m totally unsure who discovered that you could squeeze milk from oats, but they deserve a medal or something. Oatly comes in as our top pick as best plant-based milk with its well rounded yet subtle oat flavor. While not exactly dairy-esque, the oat-y flavor compliments all the usuals from cereal to smoothies, or simply drink it straight up.
BEST PLANT-BASED ICE CREAM
Many brands are trying their hand at plant-based ice cream hoping to achieve the rich and creamy roundness the dessert is known for. From brand to brand, experimenting with a range of base ingredients like almonds, cashews and even avocado means results may indeed vary. Van Leeuwen began with only an ice cream truck before expanding nationwide. With a good selection of plant-based flavors, you’re sure to find something for your sweet tooth. I definitely recommend their super delectable pistachio flavor.
But wait there’s more! In my experience, most plant-based brands miss the mark with Cookies & Créme. They either lack the creamy consistency, an authentic flavor or only use small cookie bits. Basically, there’s always something off. While Van Leeuwen has great Cookies & Créme adjacent flavors, they do not offer the traditional mix. Thankfully, well known plant-based brand So Delicious has answered our Cookies & Créme dreams with their new Wondermilk series, which features a crazy combination of ingredients like coconut, organic cane sugar and sunflower.
BEST PLANT-BASED YOGURT
Landing as our top plant-based yogurt pick is Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative. The popular brand has successfully sidestepped the often chalky, liquid consistency of most plant-based yogurts. Available in several flavors, each bite is a creamy and sweet treat for your taste buds.
BEST PLANT-BASED BUTTER
Creamy and rich, Earth Balance makes plant-based butter that spreads, melts and tastes like the real thing. In addition to their Original Buttery Spread, they have a wide selection of butters that perfectly compliment your preferred slice of bread.
Besides the health benefits that eating plant-based foods have, many of these brands also support great causes. The awesome thing about it all is that plant-based food is only going to get better. Next time you’re looking to add more plants to your plate, try one of these.