Skip to main content

Impossible burger meatballs vs. the real deal: Which one wins?

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We've already sampled the best restaurants that make Impossible burgers, but what if you want to cook meatless meat at home? Impossible Foods now sells their ground "meat" product in 12-ounce packages, so we decided to see how they fared with a classic Italian-American fare: Meatballs.

For this test, I made one set of meatballs using Impossible meat, and another made with ground beef and turkey. (The traditional recipe calls for equal parts of beef, pork and veal, but I went with the slightly healthier option).

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Each recipe used equal parts of milk-soaked breadcrumbs, parsley, chopped onions, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper. I used my mom's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. I then broiled the meatballs in the oven until they were browned. Both took about 10 to 15 minutes; I didn't time this part, but waited until each set had a similar level of doneness.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The next day, I brought the meatballs into our office, mixed them with some homemade tomato sauce (also known as gravy to some of you).

I had a few colleagues test both versions to see if they could pick out which was which, and more important, which they preferred.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nearly everyone was able to suss out which was the Impossible meatball, and which was the real thing. However, everyone was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the meatless meatballs, noting that they were pretty close to the real thing.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A few commented that the meaty meatballs were a bit more solid and drier, while the Impossible meatballs were a bit softer. I also noticed that the Impossible meatballs flattened out more in the oven than the real meatballs, which retained a rounder shape. This probably has to do with the fact that the protein molecules in the real meatballs are bound to each other more tightly.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Impossible ground "meat" costs $8.99 for a 12-ounce package, which comes out to $12 a pound. By comparison, a bone-in rib roast from the Brooklyn Whole Foods is $12.99 a pound, and regular ground meat can often be found for around $4 a pound. I used 24 ounces of Impossible meat, which made about 25 meatballs the size of pingpong balls.

So, if you want to make meatless meatballs that taste like the real thing, Impossible will do the trick, but it's a pricier option.

Where you can buy Impossible burger meat

For now, Impossible burger meat is sold only in limited locations on the East and West coasts.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.