Mistakes Everyone Makes When Cooking With Meat Substitutes

Whether you're a fake-meat junkie or a newbie to the world of vegan substitutes, cooking without meat requires a little practice. It's true that plant-based foods are designed to replace burgers, sausages, and chicken. However, they don't always cook the same way.

According to The New York Times, the difference comes from the fat inside the meat. Beef fat accounts for most of the flavor, texture, and juiciness in a burger, whereas vegan meat uses ingredients like coconut oil to create a similar effect. While beef fat doesn't fully melt until it reaches 140° Fahrenheit, hydrogenated coconut oil easily melts at 105° Fahrenheit and virgin oil liquefies at 75° Fahrenheit. As a result, cooking a thin vegan patty as long as you would cook a thin beef patty can cause the oil to seep out and leave the vegan meat dry and flavorless.

To combat this, professional chefs noted by The New York Times suggested that you create thicker patties out of vegan meat, such as Beyond burgers or Impossible burgers. A taller burger will retain more of the liquefied fat, and result in a juicier, more flavorful meal. But forming patties the correct way isn't the only mistake when it comes to cooking fake meats. As pointed out by Well + Good and CNET, many people don't cook fake meat enough, and often use the wrong cooking method to achieve their desired result.

These are the best cooking methods and practices for meat substitutes

One of the greatest advantages of cooking with meat substitutes is that you don't have to worry about food poisoning, right? Wrong. Food Safety noted that many plant and plant-based foods can harbor toxins, viruses, and parasites, which is why it's so important to wash fresh produce and thoroughly cook raw, packaged foods.

So, how long should you cook fake meat? Amanda Capritto for CNET stated that fake beef, such as Beyond meat, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit. This may seem high, especially because you could risk drying out the burgers. However, Beyond meat in particular should retain its enticing, pink color in the center because it contains red beets. Other plant-based meats, such as Quorn meatless chicken cutlets, should also be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.

In addition, Emily Laurence writing for Well + Good mentioned that those who sauté or fry their vegan meats should try baking them instead. Most brands of plant-based meat already contain plenty of oil and sodium, so frying can result in oil-laden, overly greasy food. In contrast, many fake meats do well in an oven, which gives them a crispy exterior and doesn't require as much oil to get the job done.