Finding gluten-free veggie burgers — ready-to-eat burgers suitable for both the gluten-free diet and a vegetarian or vegan diet — can represent somewhat of a challenge, since many of the meat substitute products on the market use wheat gluten as a primary ingredient.
However, the surge in popularity of both diets has led to a smattering of new gluten-free veggie burgers on the market — gluten-free vegetarians and vegans really do have a growing array of options.
For the most part, you can find many of these veggie burgers in the health food section of larger supermarkets. In addition, some can be ordered online.
Here's a rundown of what's available. I've included details of each product's ingredients (especially their soy content, since many people following the gluten-free diet also avoid soy), plus each product's potential trace gluten content (hint: lower is better) and possible risks of gluten cross-contamination in processing:
- Amy's. Amy's Kitchen makes two different gluten-free veggie burgers (both of which are suitable for vegans as well as for vegetarians): the Bistro Veggie Burger, with soy protein, tofu, mushrooms, brown rice, onions and pinto beans, and the Sonoma Veggie Burger, with quinoa, mushrooms, onions, garbanzo bean flour, gluten-free oats and walnuts. Both are manufactured in a shared facility. Amy's tests its products to ensure they contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten, which is the legal limit for labeling a product "gluten-free" (keep in mind that many people react to trace gluten levels well below the legal standard).
- Asherah's Gourmet. These burgers, made with organic quinoa, are both vegan and certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which requires that foods contain less than 10 parts per million of gluten (GF-10). Asherah's veggie burgers also are free of soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and shellfish, although they do contain coconut. They come in two flavors: Original and Chipotle.
- Bahama Rice Burgers. As you might guess from the name, these gluten-free and soy-free burgers use rice — more specifically, a rice-based ingredient the company has dubbed "risofu" — as their base. Five flavors of certified vegan gluten-free veggie burgers are available: Original, Grand Beach, Mediterranean, Jerkin'-Spicy, and Pineapple-Mango. The company also offers Tuscany Italian Rice Meatballs, plus Italian Sausage.
- Dr. Praeger's. Dr. Praeger's makes several veggie burgers, but only one of the products is gluten-free: the California Veggie Burgers. The burgers contain soy, plus carrots, onions, zucchini, string beans and peas. They are made on shared equipment, although a company representative tells me the facility utilizes a strict cleaning protocol, and Dr. Praeger's gluten-free products are made on separate days from gluten-based products. The company tests its gluten-free products to ensure they fall below 10 parts per million of gluten (GF-10 levels).
- Gardein. This company makes a variety of meat substitute products, some of which include wheat as an ingredient. To serve the growing gluten-free food products market, Gardein in early 2014 announced it would manufacture a new line of gluten-free products, including a veggie burger, a black bean burger, and a ground beef substitute. All should be gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million (GF-20 levels).
- Hillary's Eat Well. Hillary's markets three different gluten-free veggie burgers, all of which are vegan and certified gluten-free by GFCO (tested to GF-10 levels). You can choose from the World's Best Veggie Burgers (made with millet, quinoa, coconut oil, spinach, onion and sweet potato), Adzuki Bean Burgers (made with millet, quinoa, adzuki beans and mild green chiles), and Hemp & Greens Burgers (made with millet, leafy greens, hemp seed and herbs). All are soy-free, corn-free, yeast-free and GMO-free.
- Qrunch Foods. Veggie burgers from Qrunch Foods are made with organic quinoa, millet and vegetables, and are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, nut-free, egg-free and GMO-free. They're manufactured in a gluten-free facility, and they qualify as vegan, according to the company. Qrunch burgers (which are crunchy rather than soft) come in two flavors: Original and Spicy Italian.
- Sunshine Burgers. These organic, non-GMO, vegan burgers come in eight different flavors: Garden Herb, Quarter Pound Original, Loco Chipotle, Black Bean South West, Barbecue, Falafel, Shitake Mushroom, and Hemp & Sage Breakfast. All are free of soy, corn, oats, dairy, eggs, tree nuts and peanuts. The products are made on a dedicated gluten-free production line, but in a facility that also processes gluten grains. Sunshine Burgers tests its products regularly to make certain they contain less than 5 parts per million of gluten (GF-5 levels).
Store-Bought Veggie Burgers That Are NOT Gluten-Free
If you're eating gluten-free, you'll need to steer well clear of several popular brands of veggie burgers, since they use wheat gluten as a major ingredient in their products. Avoid Morningstar Farms, Boca Burgers and Gardenburger products — virtually all of their products contain wheat and gluten ingredients.
Gluten-Free Veggie Burger Recipes To Try
If you want to make your own gluten-free veggie (or vegan) burgers, here are a couple of recipes I can recommend:
- Gluten-Free Brown Rice Veggie Burgers — this recipe, from About.com's Guide to Vegetarian Cooking, is simple to prepare with brown rice, gluten-free bread crumbs and mixed vegetables.
- Gluten-Free Mushroom Burgers — this recipe uses mushrooms to provide the "meaty" texture. One note: if you're particularly sensitive to trace gluten, you may find you react to mushrooms (learn more in Are Mushrooms Gluten-Free?).
- Gluten-Free Quinoa and Cheddar Veggie Burger — if you're not vegan, you might enjoy this quinoa- and garbanzo bean-based veggie burger recipe, which contains lots of cheese.
Oh, and finally: if you want to put that gluten-free veggie burger on a gluten-free bun, here's the list of what's available: Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns