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Why does ImpossibleTM Burger taste like meat?

Impossible™ Burger is a cult classic that is loved by consumers of all ages who actively seek it out for its flavor, quality & meat-like performance. Because our meat is made from plants, people often think the Impossible Burger is for vegans or vegetarians. While we love vegans, our goal isn't to create another plant-based burger that satisfies their preferences. We knew if we wanted to radically transform the global food system, we would need to create a product that tastes like meat, for people who love meat, without the impacts of meat made from animals.

That’s why over 90% of Impossible Foods consumers identify as meat-eaters. 

As we scale our processes to meet the growing demand (while also dropping prices(opens in a new tab) to distributors), we hear more customers asking: 'Why does Impossible Burger taste like meat?' Today, we're spilling our secrets.

The key ingredient that makes Impossible Burgers taste like meat

When you eat an Impossible Burger, you’re not getting a run-of-the-mill veggie patty. We’ve spent six years researching and perfecting our recipe to create a plant-based patty that appeals to meat-eaters — and actually looks, tastes, and cooks like beef. 

But how do we achieve that burger-like experience with no meat?

In our research, we discovered that the molecule heme(opens in a new tab) is responsible for meat’s savory flavor, juicy texture, and unique smell. Heme is found in a protein called hemoglobin that is found in every living plant and animal, and is something we’ve been eating since the dawn of humanity. This ingredient not only makes Impossible Burgers taste like meat, but helps them stay juicy, moist, and slightly red at the center.

Because our mission is to create a food system that doesn’t rely on animal agriculture, we had to find a source of heme from plants that matched the properties of heme from animals. We surveyed heme proteins(opens in a new tab) from many plants and found the right one in soybeans—specifically soybean roots. 

In order to feed the planet in the most sustainable and scalable way possible, we generate heme by fermentation of genetically engineered yeast. The result is a magic ingredient that gives Impossible Burger the satisfying, crave-worthy aroma and taste of beef.

Watch this short video(opens in a new tab) to learn more about how we make heme. 

How Does Impossible Burger Taste?

So now that we know what gives it meat-like qualities, let’s get to the big question: How does Impossible Burger taste?

Some people assume that because Impossible Burgers are made from plants, they’re for vegans or vegetarians. While we love vegans, our goal isn’t to create another plant-based burger that satisfies their preferences. Instead, we aim to create a product that tastes like meat, for people who love meat. That’s why over 90% of Impossible Foods consumers identify as meat-eaters. In fact, vegetarians and vegans actually don’t love Impossible Burgers(opens in a new tab) because they say it tastes too much like meat (which we take as a compliment!).

Take a look at what experts from the food industry have to say.

What do chefs think?

“The Impossible Burger really blew me away with how it looks like meat, smells like meat. As far as I'm concerned, it’s meat.” -Chef Steve Banbury, Hopdoddy

"Nobody will miss the beef, Impossible (Burger) is delicious! It's just a damn tasty burger! I loved that Impossible (Burger) can be seared on the outside with a rosie juicy inside, just like a medium cooked beef burger" - Chef Craig Wong, Patois

“[Impossible™ Meat] handles like the most impressive product I’ve ever worked with. It has no shrinkage. It has juiciness. It has everything that you want in a meal. It is definitely the star of the show.” -Chef Mimi

What do the food critics have to say?

Taste testers at Food & Wine found(opens in a new tab) that the Impossible Burger even cooks like meat: “It sizzles in the pan, rendering crispy edges while staying juicy and tender. It smells like ground chuck, and looks like it, too, with a deep pink center, studded with just enough fat.” They recommended that in addition to burgers, chefs can use Impossible ground beef in “dishes where the meat shines, such as… sloppy joes, sliders, tacos, and meatloaf.”

“The Impossible Burger wins the fake meat-off if your goal is to replicate beef as closely as possible. It's the heme that makes this particular contest no contest. Impossible Version 2.0 is so close to the real thing in taste and texture that it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. “ - Mashable(opens in a new tab)

“I found that the Impossible™ patty tasted a lot more similar to beef than the Beyond patty. The Impossible Burger was charred on the outside with a pink center, just like beef, and had a juicier patty. If I closed my eyes and pretended, I could definitely be mistaken for real meat.” - Thrillist(opens in a new tab)

“Our culinary Sherlocks detected the [Impossible Burger’s] much-lauded steak-like ooze. “Juicy” was the consensus about the patty, which struck a meat-like pose by having a convincingly slightly pink center and browned exterior. - The Washington Post(opens in a new tab)

What about vegans and vegetarians? 

“I find [Impossible Burger] to be very real in taste and texture, which can be confusing to me, and I often find myself checking it to make sure it’s not a real burger!” Heather Nessinger, a vegetarian of about seven years told Chowhound(opens in a new tab).

“I absolutely love meat and honestly.....I prefer the taste of an impossible burger to a burger made with real meat.” – @BunnehSuccubus on Twitter(opens in a new tab)

“This was my first time getting the impossible burger and I was blown away. It tasted so much like meat I almost thought I ordered the wrong thing.” – Diana S., Yelp review(opens in a new tab) of Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Dallas, TX

Tweet from @6milesup(opens in a new tab)

Facebook(opens in a new tab)

Twitter conversation(opens in a new tab)

Tweet from @abbyandrewYT(opens in a new tab)

Experience Impossible Burger for yourself

Considering key factors like flavor, texture, and consistency, it’s clear that Impossible Burgers have won over everyone from respected chefs to food critics to everyday diners. If your restaurant serves omnivores and you’re looking for a plant-based option that actually tastes like meat, Impossible Burgers are for you. 

Request a free sample(opens in a new tab) today and test it out in your kitchen — we’re convinced that you’ll be blown away.(opens in a new tab)


*In a home usage study, 70% of 254 US consumers who cooked with Impossible Burger thought the taste was comparable to or better than ground beef from cows

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