Which is the best plant-based meatball? What a delicious question to answer

Impossible meatball package

CNET / Brian Cooley

At the intersection of nutrition and fun lies the meatball, a whimsical ball that can also anchor the center of a plate. Impossible Foods’ first meatballs wade into an area that ignites culinary beliefs as much as nutrition.

Impossible’s new plant-based meatballs are launched in a very tasteful Homestyle variant. Where rival Beyond Meats’ Italian meatballs taste a lot like its base meat, Impossible goes all in with flavors of garlic, oregano, onion, black pepper and soft umami. The consistency is finely chopped meat mixed with spicy breadcrumbs, perhaps due to being a mixture of their existing burger and sausage meats. Beyond’s meatballs are a bit coarser and tougher and look more like a meatball that is exclusively meat.

Let the religious war begin: Few food statements are as close to family tradition as this one.

Impossible and Beyond meatballs

The Impossible Foods meatball (left) has a finer “grinder” than the Beyond Meats version (right).

CNET / Brian Cooley

Impossible meatballs go straight from the freezer to the oven for about 15 minutes, making them easy to cook. Alternative cooking methods include simmering them in hot sauce, heating in the microwave or using an airfryer, but frying is not on the list. (I have already demonstrated that deviating from Impossible’s cooking instructions can sometimes yield good results.)

Impossible meatballs close up

Impossibles meatballs are a mixture of their plant-based burger and sausage meat, a mixture that seems visible when you cut into one.

CNET / Brian Cooley

For one last taste test, I gave Impossible meatballs nowhere to hide, and tossed them in a simple spaghetti aglio olio with fresh parsley and chili flakes. Their very spicy taste put the main role in the dish, aided by the fact that I mixed the tasty dirt from the frying pan, which is essentially soybean oil and browned pieces of meatballs.

Impossible meatballs and spaghetti

CNET / Brian Cooley

Imposible meatballs have 12 grams of protein in a meatball serving of three, with the absence of cholesterol, which is a hallmark of plant-based meat. Impossible claims that its product requires 75% less soil, 85% less water and creates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal meatballs, but most of us still rank taste, texture, price and perceived health benefits over benefits to the environment or animals. Impossible Meatballs launches in about 3,000 Walmart stores in a new frozen section dedicated to plant-based foods, priced at $ 6.48 for a bag of 14 1-ounce meatballs.

Ate plate of spaghetti

CNET / Brian Cooley

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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