As a vegetarian, whenever I go to summertime barbecues I usually come prepared with my own meatless sustenance to throw on the grill. Lately that something has been Beyond Meat’s burgers or sausages, because, well, they’re delicious.
When confronted with plant-based meat that looks a lot like the real thing, the person manning the grill often gets confused. Do they cook these plant-based patties just like a regular burger? How long do the sausages need to stay on? Do they need any sort of special treatment?
I usually just leave the grillmaster to it and make do with the end result. But in the spirit of journalistic research, this week I decided to fire up the grill myself (for the first time ever!) and figure out how to optimally cook Beyond’s plant-based offerings. Here’s the guide I put together from my findings:
- Heat the grill. Charcoal is obviously preferred since that’s how you get that smoky flavor that screams “hey dummy, it’s summer!” Usually 15 minutes or so is enough for the grates to get screaming hot, which is what you want in order to get a nice sear on the outside of your “meat.”
- Bring your meat to room temperature. Though Beyond Meat aims to be sold alongside meat in grocery stores, I often find it in the freezer section. Be sure to bring your burgers and brats to room temperature before you grill them, lest you end up with a fully cooked outside and a frozen interior.
- Oil your burgers/sausages. Beyond’s packaging instructs to lightly oil the surface of the burger and sausages so that they don’t stick to the grill grates. I brushed the outside of the meat with some canola oil and it worked beautifully — no stickage at all. Oiling the grates themselves would also work using an oiled paper towel or grilling spray. Just make sure to do it while the grill is cold so you don’t risk burning yourself.
- Cook for a short time over high heat. The best part of any grilled meat (or “meat”) is the smoky char, so make sure your grill is really hot before you put down your Beyond patties or sausages. Cook them a few minutes on the first side (I found that two minutes was enough), check to make sure the bottom is brown and caramelized, then flip (for the burger) and turn (for the brats) and cook another few minutes.
- Don’t press down! This one really only has to do with the burgers. As with meat burgers, you don’t want to press down on your Beyond patties with your spatula. Yes, it makes a nice sizzle sound. But it also causes all the fat (in this case, coconut oil) to squish out of the burgers, which means they’ll be less juicy.
In the end, grilling Beyond Meat isn’t a whole lot different than grilling regular meat. I was worried the burgers might fall apart when I flipped them or the sausage casings would stick, but I was surprised by how easy they were to cook.
In fact, they might actually be easier to grill than regular meat. Beyond’s website instructs cooking the burgers and sausages to 165°F internal temperature but I didn’t fuss about that. Since Beyond’s meat is plant-based, it doesn’t carry the same risk of salmonella or E. coli as pork or beef, so undercooking isn’t as much of an issue.
There’s also a little more flexibility in terms of timing. Overcooked Beyond burgers aren’t great, but they’re much more palatable than the tough hockey puck of an overcooked beef burger. During my tests the plant-based sausages also stayed moist and juicy, despite the fact that I got distracted and left them on the grill for much longer than the suggested six minutes.
My taste testers (who are both meat eaters) and I agreed that while we wouldn’t mistake Beyond’s products for real meat, they were plenty delicious. Delicious enough that they would even seek them out at a restaurant or in the grocery shelves.
They have plenty of opportunity to do so. Beyond Meat products are served at over 15,000 restaurants, including all Carl’s Jr. and Del Tacos nationwide. They’re also available at more than 35,000 grocery stores. And based off of Beyond’s first earnings call this week, there’s a lot of expansion — both in retail and in restaurants — coming down the pipeline.
That’s good news for summer barbecues.