Gluten Free Veggie Burger Reviews

burger1.jpgA very long time ago, when I was transitioning into vegetarianism, a dear friend of mine came to visit. She is a master chef and artist and one of the first people to show me that gluten free food can not only be delicious, but beautiful as well. I remember that one day we happened to be at some health food store or another and she mentioned wanting a veggie burger. I made a sad face, and complained that “All the veggie burgers are made from wheat gluten.” She looked surprised, and said that she was fairly certain her favorite veggie burger was gluten free and said so right on the box. I was shocked to find out she was right. At that time, Boca Burger was gluten free and came in a variety of tasty flavors, both vegan and non vegan. I became an instant convert to the veggie burger- and left meat based burgers behind without a second thought. This burger had all the essence of a “burger” that I liked, and none of the meat. Yay! But imagine my dismay when a few years later that little company was bought out by a big bad corporation- in itself, not a problem, but when that big bad corporation immediately changed the recipe of my beloved boca burgers and based every single variety on wheat gluten aka “Seitan” (I think Celiac Chicks sum it up the most succinctly), I had what might be called a conniption fit. I wrote a number of cranky emails, to which I got a smooth, slippery, and absolutely indifferent response from their PR. Insert years of grumbling, complaining, and bitter remarks about vegetarian burgers here, please. To date, Boca still hasn’t bothered to create a single gluten free burger. Luckily, other companies were willing to step up and provide gluten free consumers with fabulous gluten free burgers that may even surpass the original Boca Burger. If you’ve never had a vegetarian burger, I highly recommend that you try one. They’re delicious, generally healthier than their meaty counterpart, and are a great way to get more healthful ingredients like soy, vegetables, and brown rice in the diet. (Depending on the variety.) There are even veggie burgers available for those with multiple allergies to things like soy and dairy. Here’s a run down of our fabulous options:

sunshine.jpgThe first gluten free veggie burger I found after my tragic loss of the B.B. was probably Sunshine Burgers. They are the healthiest and probably the most allergen friendly of the gluten free veggie burger options, although they do contain sunflower seeds. They’ve recently greatly expanded their varieties, and I have to say, they’ve never tasted better. Even if you’re soy intolerant, you can enjoy their vegan burgers in Original, Garden and Herb, Barbecue, and the Southwest varieties. These burgers are based on sunflower seeds and brown rice, which to my rather picky palate has a slightly mushy texture that can’t quite compete with a soy based burger for “mouth feel”. I also felt that their original flavors were somewhat bland, and were somewhat difficult to heat without burning. (Probably my fault rather than the burger’s fault, so take this with a grain of salt.) However, I have to say that Sunshine Burgers achieved glorious, glorious success with their recent flavors, especially the barbecue variety. (I haven’t found Southwest in my local stores yet, darn it.) The addition of pinto beans, smoke flavoring and generous spices makes it my new favorite, gluten free veggie burger, even though I still prefer the texture of a soy burger. It was darned good, and I was licking my fingers big time when I bit into a rich, “meaty” burger on a gluten free bagel, dripping with condiments. Mmmmm mmmm good. Sunshine Burgers can be found in the freezer case of your local Health Food store, but I have not found them in chain grocery stores. My entirely subjective rating? The original, 6/10, Barbecue 8/10

flamegrilled.jpg*GARDEN BURGER NO LONGER AN OPTION- see end note 10-08* GardenBurger thrilled me by being one of the first mainstream veggie burger companies to come out with several gluten free, vegan burgers. They even boldly mark the side of the box “Gluten Free.” According to their web site as of 7-20-07, their Black Bean Chipotle and Flame Grilled burgers, as well as their (Low calorie!) Veggie Breakfast Sausages are gluten free. Please read labels carefully and look for the gluten free stamp on the box, as ingredients can change. Personally, I love their Flame Grilled Burger, as it is the most evocative of the gluten free Boca Burgers of yore. Excellent grilled burger flavor- and probably the best texture, in my opinion, of any GF veggie burger on the market. They are made from soy, so not suitable for those with soy allergies, but are a great option if you are dairy, egg, and gluten free intolerant. You may be able to find at least one of two of the gluten free varieties in the freezer case of your chain grocery store, but a well stocked local health food store will probably carry a larger selection, including the veggie breakfast sausage. My entirely subjective rating? Black Bean Chipotle 7/10, Flame Grilled 9/10, and Veggie sausage 6.5/10. UPDATE 5-08: Gardenburger has changed the formula of their Flame Grilled Burger, so it is no longer gluten-free. At that time their other burgers (Black Bean Chipotle and the Veggie Sausage) were still be gluten-free. Here’s my Post about the change.
Update 10-08: Gardenburger no longer has any veggie burgers (or veggie sausage) that is gluten-free. Thanks for nothing, Kellogs. You’re now on my hate list. Chat with Boca Burger folks while you’re there. (Thanks to reader for this update!!!)

wildwood.jpgWildwood offers a very different vegetable burger that is made from soy that has been processed into a kind of Japanese/Korean tofu burger. We encountered these kind of burgers in Japan, and enjoyed them, but they are a little different from traditional veggie burgers. Apparently in 2005 a Korean natural foods company, Pulmuone, merged with a California local company, Wildwood, famous since 1978 for their brown rice and tofu sandwiches. You can see these dual influences in their attempt to establish themselves in mainstream and ethnic fresh and natural food markets. I’m most interested in their veggie burgers that are available in original, shitake, and southwest flavors that appear to be gluten free. They’re a nice, reasonably healthy burger that will appeal to anyone who likes a tofu style burger. I’d give their original flavor a 7/10, with the caveat that strictly speaking, it’s more like a tofu steak than a burger. Good thing I like tofu steaks! These burgers will probably not be available in regular grocery stores, but may be available in select health food or specialty stores in the refrigerator section.

bistroburger.jpgAlthough they were a bit late on the scene, I am thrilled that Amy’s Kitchen finally came out with a frozen, gluten free veggie burger with their new Bistro Burger. They are a much beloved company for many members of the gluten free community for offering delicious, relatively healthy gluten free and vegetarian frozen meals and soups along with their mainstream line of products. I actually emailed them several times asking them to introduce a gluten free burger to their product line, so I felt a little thrill when I heard that they had finally released the Bistro Burger. I’ve tried them, and think they’re quite tasty. The Bistro Burger includes brown rice, mushrooms, tofu, and beans- hoping no doubt to utilize the best characteristics of each ingredient to create the perfect fusion burger. I liked them, and think they have improved on the texture of the Sunshine burger, but they also tend towards a mushy, bean or rice texture that I don’t like as much as the burgers relying more heavily on a soy base. Unfortunately, including tofu also makes them unsuitable for those with soy allergies. Nevertheless, I’m very happy that they’ve answered the plea from their gluten free customers and have to give them a solid 7/10 for being a satisfying, hearty burger. The main photo for this post was taken of an Amy’s bistro burger on a rosemary bun from Davis’ Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe. Because this is a new product, I haven’t seen them in mainstream grocery stores. Large health food stores or stores that give Amy’s some serious freezer space should be getting some in stock any day now.

franklinport.jpgFranklin Farms gluten free veggie burger are often favorably reviewed on gluten free veggie forums. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try these burgers as they don’t seem to be available in the Bay area, but I have heard that the portabella burger is delish, and I’m sure that the Original and Chili-bean varieties are also tasty. I have heard reports that they are gluten free, but have not confirmed with the company, so please read the label carefully and contact the company if in doubt.

tofupups.jpgOn the tofu front, while obviously they are not, strictly speaking, burgers- Tofu Pups are gluten free. They don’t have a lot of flavor on their own, but slathered in enough condiments anything can be edible. As a college student following the KISS philosophy, I often would slice them in half, put them in a corn tortilla with cheese and nuke them for 30 seconds or less- until the cheese melted. They weren’t half bad that way, although it doesn’t sound all that appealing to me now. They also don’t grill very well, IMO, as the rubbery “shell” doesn’t absorb much flavor and tends to stick rather badly to the grill surface. I’d give them a 5/10, but I’m glad they exist as at least one option for a gluten free veggie dog. Happily, these tofu pups are available in the refrigerator section of many mainstream grocery stores as well as health food stores.

solburger.jpg On my quest to find gluten free veggie burgers, I also heard good things about a Canadian company called Sol Cuisine that has some gluten free veggie burgers and gluten free veggie ground “beef.” Their products are available nationwide in Canada and on the West coast and the Midwest in limited supply. If you can find them, they have Original, Vegetable Burger Aux Legumes, Spicy Bean, and Falafel Burger varieties. I haven’t tried the burgers, although I think I did have the ground “beef” long, long ago.

So, to make a long story short, all of the burgers listed, to the best of my knowledge, are gluten free vegetarian burgers. And you thought it was tough being a gluten free vegetarian! Be heartened- and do your own taste test. What is your favorite gluten free veggie burger, and why? Please comment!

If you would rather make your own burger, try recipes from one of these books:
Vegetarian Burgers
or
Meatless Burgers: Over 50 Quick & Easy Recipes for America’s Favorite Food.
Not all of the recipes will be gluten free, but many of them should be adaptable.

It’s burger season- get ready, get set- get grilling some gluten free veggie burgers!


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40 Responses to “Gluten Free Veggie Burger Reviews”

  1. What a gorgeous looking burger, now I want one!

    :)

  2. I like the Tofu Pups best as a pizza topping, sort of a gluten-free vegetarian pepperoni replacement.

    I didn’t realize until now that Sunshine Burgers and Sol burgers were two different things. We’ve had the Sol burgers at my house — our local grocery store sells them — but I don’t remember much about them.

    I’ve also had the WildWood soy burgers. They were okay, but after a while the smell started reminding me of foot-odor — and then I didn’t want to eat them anymore. So I guess that’s kind of an underwhelming review here.

    I miss the convenience of prepackaged burgers; my current favorite is home-made from scratch in the food processor. They’re not too hard to make, and I make a dozen at a time when I do make them, so that I can grab a few and eat them with no preparation needed.

    Oh — and seitan isn’t an evil substance. It’s kind of a spongey soy-sauce tasting meat substitute that I used to love before I went gluten-free. I didn’t know that Boca Burgers had once been gluten-free. I wish I’d tried ‘em back then.

    I’ve had the GF GardenBurgers. I think I liked them, but worried that they contain yeast, which I’m allergic to. I should try them again sometime. The one I had was by accident, when I accidentally swapped burgers with our gluten-free exchange student. We each ate each other’s burger by mistake, and only figured out that we had swapped when we were most the way through. The GardenBurger tasted good, and the yeast content in it didn’t bother me.

    Thanks for posting the burger reviews. This is a neat topic!

  3. I love reviews. I am not a vegetarian, but also not adverse to a veggie burger either. A great quick lunch. Thanks for boiling all this down..I think I am heading toward that flame grilled for another quick lunch option.. :)

  4. Hi Valerie,
    Using Tofu pups as a pizza topping is a great idea- I’ll try that.

    No, no, I’m quite sure that seitan is evil. Quite, quite sure. It has ruined more veggie products for me than… well, any other ingredient. ;)

    I believe that the garden burger yeast is nutritional yeast, which is not supposed to bother people with an allergy to the type of yeast for baking. But, you might want to contact them about this. :)

    Funny how small things can eventually turn you off of a product. (“foot odor”- haha). I’ve had the same things happen to me.

    Glad you enjoyed the review- I learned a bit of new info myself. I had never seen or heard of Sol Burgers before researching the topic and now I’m eager to try them. Too bad they don’t sell them around here.

    -Sea

    Hi Dianne- sounds like it’s time for a veggie burger!

    And Hello Slacker Mom- I think veggie burgers are a great quick snack, whether you’re veggie or not. Hope you enjoy your burger!

    -sea

  5. Thanks for the round up – I had only found the Gardenburger varieties!

  6. I wasn’t thrilled with the Original Sunshine Burger, but the Southwest version is delicious!

  7. Hi Catherine- I was a little surprised by all the variety myself, to tell you the truth.

    Hi Julie- Good to know- I will have to check out the Southwest version. And if you haven’t tried it- Barbecue is really yummy as well. :)

    -Sea

  8. You are so good at blogging on a regular basis! I am not a vegetarian, but always loved veggie burgers, esp the traditional gardenburger. Thanks for your list and I will pick up some GF veggie burgers next time I go to the store! I pretty much thought there was just one variety out there, so happy to be corrected! I have been meaning to try your southern fried tofu and will do so soon! Happy Cooking!

  9. Hey there! Thanks for plugging Wildwood’s Tofu-Veggie Burgers! We’ve posted a link to your site in our blog and links page…

    Take care!
    Aaron @ Wildwood

  10. [...] For some time now I have suspected that I was in a vegetarian sandwich rut. When I get busy, I make one of two things- either a GF vegetarian burger and make myself a burger with GF bread or a bagel, ketchup, mayo and mustard with fresh basil and tomato slices, or a I make a hummus/avocado/basil/cheese sandwich. They are good, don’t get me wrong, but considering all the variety I usually enjoy in my gluten free feasts, it has occurred to me that my sandwiches/burgers are a little boring. This is why I recently picked up a copy of the cookbook Vegetarian Sandwiches: Fresh Fillings for Slices, Pockets, Wraps, and Rolls and started experimenting with some more interesting sandwiches. This week I made both a black bean veggie quesadilla and a grilled portobello and sun dried tomato feta sandwich inspired by my new book. Of the two, the Portobello sandwich was the real star, and scored big points with the DH, who had freshly returned from an extended camping trip with his dad. The ingredients are simple, but result in an uber flavorful vegetarian burger- and I’ve modified the recipe to be extra calorie conscious. Enjoy! [...]

  11. [...] for a substitute? Checkout this roundup I did of Gluten-Free Veggie Burger Options. The Gardenburger info is outdated, but I will adjust once I know the full story. Hope this helps! [...]

  12. Oh wow. Thanks for saving me time, Sea! I used to be addicted to Boca Burgers until I couldn’t eat them anymore. They were my all time burger; although, now I make my own. I’m not much of a convenience food person. Still, this makes me happy to know there are some market options for future reference!

    I did try tofu pups and I think I have a mouth texture issue with them..they’re so rubbery. The Garden Burger breakfast sausage, however, is something I’m definitely looking into!! I miss my breakfast meats! Then again, I could always make my owwnn…

  13. Thanks for all the information. I am a vegetarian with a newly discovered wheat gluten sensitivity and was puzzled when I ate my favorite vegan bocca to sadly have the same reaction as when I ate it on bread…then just today read the ingredients !! I could not believe that they contained wheat gluten!! how upsetting…but I feel better now knowing there are other choices…thanks so much for all your research!!

  14. What is the bread pictured with your burger? GF?

  15. Hi Heartsong,
    Every photo in my blog is of 100% gluten free food, including the hamburger bun pictured. Looks tasty, doesn’t it? :) I usually bake my own bread, but in this case, the bun pictured is from Farmer’s Kitchen Cafe, a GF restaurant in Davis, Ca. I bought a couple of the buns and had one with a veggie burger.

    -Sea

  16. Hi Sea,

    I was just coming here to double check you listing and see if you had the Sol Cuisine burger and sure enough you do. I found them by fluke in a market by me that I have never visited before, kind of funny since I’ve been searching every single store I enter for the past month. I’ll let you know how they taste!
    -M-Elle

  17. UPDATE 10-08: Gardenburger (i.e. Kellogs) has changed the formula of =all= of the veggie products noted above. Now they all contain wheat… thank you Kellogs.

  18. Thank you for the update, Lisa. Noted in post above. Darned Kellogs anyway.

    -Sea

  19. Kellogs sucks. I wrote them an email, which I am sure will be ignored. they suck for ruining the sausages. Truly lame.

  20. Gaile, Thanks for sending them an email. I hope that Kellogs/Gardenburger powers that be wallow in guilt, but alas, I doubt it. sigh.

    -Sea

  21. I love the Amy’s Bistro Burger!they do NOT upset my fussy sillyak tummy, with Heinz ketchup and Bush vegetarian baked beans. Yum. Right now I’m using Glutano’s corn bread for rolls,(nuke till soft, but your’s looks so good. I’m finding Amy burgers at small & med sized independant health food stores on the east coast US. Gardenburger & Boca both know where they can go!

  22. I too am a vegetarian looking for a good gluten-free burger. I loved my Boca’s but now can not eat them due to recently becoming gluten-intolerent — I tried the Amy’s Bistro and did not like the texture at all. So if anyone has a vegie burger that has great taste and a texture more like the flame grilled Boca’s, please let me know. I am just new at this Veg-gluten-free diet. I could use any tips!!

  23. Thanks for posting this! I am a gluten-free vegan that is soy intolerant, and thanks to your posting now I know that there is actually a veggie burger that exists that I can eat, yea!

  24. I dindnt understand which veggie burger that was gluten,and soy free in the blogs.
    I have an 8yr son that is gluten,casien,and soy intolerant
    and he really misses eating burgers.

    would really be thankful for any help.

  25. Angie, Sunshine burgers are gluten, casein and soy free.

    -Sea

  26. [...] Book of Yum GF Veggie Burger Review [...]

  27. thanks for sharing… i appreciate the work you’ve done to save me some valuable time.

    blessings

  28. Now the trick is to find out where they are sold! none of the stores i have looked in have GF veggie anything!

  29. Hi Breanna,
    I’d check out your local Whole Foods. They should carry the best variety. After that, try other health food stores. Finally, gourmet grocery stores in your area may carry a few, especially Tofu Pups and possibly Amy’s bistro burger. Good luck! You can also contact specific companies with products you are interested in and ask who carries them in your area.

    -Sea

  30. Other than Wildwood’s tofu-veggie burger, the other burgers that are available in my area (mainly Amy’s Bistro and Sunshine burgers) are so loaded with grain that eating them in a GF bun or any kind of sandwich tastes to me like a grain patty between two slabs of grain! No matter how may condiments, lettuce, tomato, etc., I add, it’s way too many carbs, and actually painful for me to digest, and I feel too sluggish afterwards. Plus, it irks me how much sodium is in these products. All that salt is just not healthy for anyone. The sodium content in too many processed foods is horrifying.

  31. You can always make your own veggie burgers using whatever foods agree with you. There are many recipes online using just beans or just tofu. This is the best way to control carbs, sodium, and other undesirable ingredients.

    Of the Sunshine Burgers, falafel is my favorite, and it is the lowest in the “grain” carbs.

    Ingredients:
    Organic raw ground sunflower seeds
    organic brown rice
    organic chick peas
    organic split peas
    organic tahini(ground toasted organic sesame seeds)
    organic sesame seed paste
    organic parsley,organic cumin powder,organic garlic, salt

    Brown rice plays a relatively minor role, or is at least balanced by beans and seeds.

    For those who can tolerate carbs (and sunshine burgers are made from healthy brown rice etc, hardly white processed flour) these gluten-free burgers offer convenient, tasty options. And, there’s always Wildwood. *shrug*

    -Sea

  32. I am glad to find a recipe without gluten. I am pretty sure that I have a problem with it.. at least a sensitivity. I am interested to see how this recipe turns out. My husband says he does not like “bean” burgers but we shall see. I found a recipe for oatmeal walnut burgers and those were actually quite good but I am looking to expand my knowledge and learn now to avoid replacing meat with something that will be just as hard on my body

  33. [...] Just want to buy one? Read my article reviewing the gluten-free veggie Burger options [...]

  34. Just for your information, Sol Cuisine are the ones supplying Burger King Canada for their veggie burger. It’s not the same burgers as they sell in stores, however. Their stores burgers are thicker and bigger, I prefer the thinner ones from BK.

  35. I happen to LOVE tofu pups. I’ve tried all kinds of veggie dogs and these are my fave. I’m so happy to hear they are also gluten free.

  36. I am a lacto-vegetarian (no egg, meat, poultry, fish) and now gluten intolerant. I may also be allergic to dairy but for now am seeking gluten-free, EGG-free “meat substitutes”. I have been enjoying Dr. Praeger’s “all natural” veggie burgers (delicious, available at CostCo), but, alas! they contain oats!! Amy’s gluten-free burger may be the only VEGAN burger left for me!

    I’m trying to find a substitute for Tofurkey sandwich slices–which contains wheat! Everything else I’ve found so far has wheat and/or egg white!

    Any assistance will be appreciated. Thank you!!

  37. It’s all about the texture. The Sunburgers taste fine, but the mushy texture is a turnoff. I can deal with the taste with condiments… but would be really grateful for a GF veggie burger with the right texture!

    Shopping again for these at WF this weekend… will look for some of the brands mentioned here.

  38. I was glad to find this information. I suffer from IBS and I’m considering all my options. I haven’t had any red meat in some time and really miss having burgers.

    One of the things that I know that I should not eat is garlic, which makes finding a pre-made gluten-free burger near impossible to find. I haven’t tried making my own burgers yet. (I’m a bit lazy.)

    Note that I don’t eat dairy either but I do eat eggs, chicken, and fish.

  39. Thank you so much for this thorough review!! What type of buns did you use in the picture above or any sandwich you eat? I can’t seem to find a “normal” tasting bun. Thanks!

  40. Thanks for the info. My family has been vegetarians for years but we just found out my daughter has celiac. So now I’m on the hunt for gluten-free meat alternatives. Any suggestions for saugage or chicken? We used Morningstar and Quorn in the past, both, unfortunately, made with wheat. Thanks!

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