Impossible Foods finally started selling its new fake ground beef in grocery stores. Well, more specifically, you can buy Impossible Burger 2.0 at Gelson’s Market in Southern California, but the company plans a nationwide rollout soon. We got our hands on a couple of bricks of the stuff and cooked up some burgers and tacos. They tasted good! The feeling of raw Impossible chuck between my fingers, however, is something I will not soon forget.
One adjective stands out: slimy. Impossible not-meat is essentially based on soy and potato protein, and the formula also includes sunflower and coconut oil to simulate the presence of animal fat and also help it sizzle on the grill. The magic ingredient, the company says, is something called heme, a molecule that exists in actual blood that gives the Impossible burger a meat-like taste. There’s also a binding agent, methylcellulose, which is also used to make ice cream and jams and stuff. I’m not sure exactly what gives raw Impossible its slimy consistency, but beware that it feels a little unsettling.
Things get more unsettling when you get the raw Impossible in the pan. This is how we cooked our taco meat, and we were immediately impressed to see how the Impossible Food browns up just like beef. We were less thrilled by the smell that somewhere between buttered popcorn and crushed up peanuts, with just a hint of ammonia. The odor probably won’t bother you if you’re cooking on a big stove with a powerful hood. In our tiny Brooklyn kitchen, it was overpowering. Once we got outside for the burger portion of the test, however, we didn’t catch any of that buttery, nutty scent.
The extent to which there’s not much more to say about the difference between cooking Impossible fake meat and actual ground beef is a testament to the company’s technology. The finished Impossible taco meat looked identical to our finished ground beef. The finished Impossible burgers were a little bit crumbly but biting into them reveal a surprisingly beef-like texture. The Impossible burgers did lack the greasy bite you get out of a proper hamburger, but with the right amount of toppings, you might not be able to tell the difference. Ditto for the tacos.
So go forth vegetarians and pretend to eat meat. Understand that the Impossible food doesn’t taste like very fine meat, like the ribeye you might get at a fancy burger restaurant. It tastes a little bit like fast food meat. But if your alternative is the Beyond Burger—which we also tested and could not eat because it was so awful—Impossible is a pretty incredible option.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Impossible burger contained animal protein. It does not! The Impossible burger is made from plants. We regret the error.