Plant-based burgers: Ingredients, benefits and more

Plant-based burgers have taken the culinary world by storm, offering an appealing and sustainable alternative to traditional beef burgers.

appealing and sustainable plant-based burgers

In this article, we'll dissect the plant-based burger ingredients, uncover the health benefits, and explore how chemicals and other ingredients are used in plant-based burger meat production to reveal the science behind how texture and taste in plant-based burger meat are created. 

Let’s start where the process does: pulling out the basic ingredients.

Plant-based burger ingredients:
what’s in a plant-based burger?

Plant-based burger meat is crafted using a variety of ingredients, each chosen for its unique contribution to texture, taste, and nutritional profile. Some common ingredients found in plant-based burgers include:

  • Proteins: Soy, pea, fava, wheat, chickpea and lentil are all high in protein and serve as a hearty base for the patty, contributing to its meat-like texture.  These ingredients are most often added as powders in the form of protein concentrates or isolates.
  • Fats: sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, or coconut fat is added for juiciness, but also to improve the mouthfeel and provide a rich, meat-like taste.
  • Flavorings: Natural flavors of onion, pepper, paprika and an abundance of other herbs and spices contribute to creating a sensory appeal in plant-based burgers. But to create a similar taste experience to that of meat, producers also add flavorings, like yeast extracts and sweeteners.
  • Colors: Plant-based burgers that mimic meat-burgers need to have an appealing color that is similar to that of the real deal. To get it right, producers use naturally derived colorants.
  • Binders: Methylcellulose and hydrocolloids are common binders for making sure the plant-based burger has good texture.

Depending on what kind of plant-based burger patty you want to make, some ingredients will be more relevant than others. For instance, if you want to mimic meat as much as possible to give that meat-like experience, proteins and texturizers (which we explore in the next section), are key components.

Plant-based sausage ingredients

What chemicals are in plant-based meat?

While the term "chemicals" in context of plant-based burger meat might raise concerns, it's essential to understand that the majority of ingredients used in plant-based burger meat are derived from natural sources and are entirely safe for consumption.

Here's a closer look at some key components:

Protein isolates: Derived from beans or legumes, protein isolates provide the protein structure needed for the patty. Although protein isolates are highly processed, they are natural components, not chemical plant-based-burger-additives.  

Flavors: Flavors can be both natural and synthetic. For instance, fermented soy products or aromas from vegetables are considered more natural flavors to enhance the eating experience in plant-based burgers, while MSG is an aroma that’s sometimes produced synthetically to provide a savory umami-like taste. 

Preservatives: Plant-based burgers may contain natural preservatives like vitamin E, which is an alternative to synthetic preservatives. But in other instances, they may include synthetically produced preservatives too like propyl gallate or sodium erythorbate.   

Leghemoglobin: This molecule, derived from plant sources, is responsible for the meaty flavor, color and juiciness of plant-based burgers. It's created using fermentation techniques, not synthetic chemicals. 

Texturizers: Ingredients like methylcellulose, derived from plant fibers, are used to create the desired texture, but it could also be more natural-sounding texturizers such as potato protein. Like methylcellulose, some of the natural-sounding texturizers come with drawbacks like adding to your ingredient list. You can learn more about this in our white paper on 5 reasons why texture in plant-based meat fails.

Plant-based enzymes:
The secret behind perfect textures, amazing taste, and simpler labels

Enzymes are the unsung heroes that make plant-based burger meat stand out in terms of texture and taste.

Enzymes are catalysts that speed up reactions, and different enzymes have their own unique impact on a substrate.

The great thing about enzymes is that they are not ingredients as such, they are more often used as processing aids. That means they don’t need to go on your label – and that’s a plus for consumers who are increasingly scrutinizing long labels.  

Enzyme used in Plant-based sausages to increase texture and flavor

Here's how enzymes work in plant-based burgers


Transglutaminase can be used to bind proteins together, creating a cohesive and meat-like texture in plant-based patties.


Lipases can be used to mimic the fat content and mouthfeel of meat, ensuring a satisfying burger experience.


Proteases are key enzymes when it comes to breaking down protein materials from soy, pea and wheat gluten. Once the proteins are broken down, you’re able to turn glutamine into glutamic acid using a glutaminase enzyme and that way achieve a natural umami-like tasting experience. Learn how it works in this video.

Plant-based burger benefits

When you choose a plant-based burger over a meat one, you’re not just doing good for you, you’re doing good for the planet. Going for plant-based burgers comes with so many benefits!

That’s because producing plant-based burger meat generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions, requires less water, and reduces land usage compared to conventional meat production. Also, to some, there’s an ethical perspective that matters a great deal – and that’s animal welfare.

Some plant-based burgers are also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. What’s more, these patties are most often based on legumes or peas that are high in protein, making for a nutritious alternative that’s also allergy-friendly because they generally don’t contain common allergens like gluten or dairy. And that makes plant-based burgers available to a broad audience.

Person eating a plant-based burger

The art of getting texture and taste just right
in plant-based burger meat

The allure of plant-based burger meat is in great deal thanks to the plant-based burger ingredients that help replicate the mouthwatering experience of traditional burgers. The texture is often meaty and juicy, thanks to the clever use of ingredients like plant-based burger enzymes and plant-based proteins.   

Plant-based burger meat offers versatility, allowing for various flavors and ingredient combinations, catering to diverse palates. Whether you prefer a smoky barbecue flavor, a spicy kick, or a classic savory taste, there's a plant-based burger to satisfy your cravings. 

Elevating the sensory experience, one bite at a time

Plant-based burger meat is not just a culinary trend; it's a delicious and sustainable evolution in the world of food. With carefully selected ingredients and the magic of plant-based enzymes, it's no wonder these burgers are winning hearts and palates worldwide.

So, go ahead, take a bite, and savor the future of plant-based dining, one delectable burger at a time. Your taste buds and the planet will thank you for it.

Man eating a plant-based burger and enjoying the sensory experience one bite at a time

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