Book Review: America's Test Kitchen's 'Cooking With Plant-Based Meat'

Learn how to use Impossible and Beyond meats to make mouthwatering dishes.

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America's Test Kitchen

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Earlier this year, America's Test Kitchen came out with yet another excellent cookbook aimed at vegetarians. This one is called "Cooking With Plant-Based Meat: 75 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes for All Your Meaty Cravings." 

Plant-based meat refers to products like those made by Impossible Foods and Beyond Meats—raw bulk plant-based alternatives that mimic real meat's texture and appearance—as well as preformed and seasoned sausages. 

The book does not include recipes for seitan, textured vegetable protein, tempeh, or tofu (though the latter is sometimes added to recipes with plant-based meat). It offers a word of caution against soy-based crumbles, which do not stick together in the way that plant-based meat does. Crumbles can work in certain dishes like tacos and chilis, where the meat breaks into small pieces, but should be avoided for things like meatballs and burger patties.

While many people may have heard of these plant-based meats, they may not know where to start with cooking them at home. They require different handling than ground beef, so the cookbook offers a lengthy introduction to its anatomy. Most plant-based meats contain a protein from soy, pea, and/or rice or potato; a combination of fats such as coconut and cocoa butters that are solid at room temperature and canola or sunflower oils that are liquid at room temperature; natural flavorings like yeast extract; and binders such as potato starch.

The introduction explains that plant-based meat cooks faster than animal meat, so cooks must pay close attention to doneness. Nor do plant-based meats shrink as much as animal proteins do when cooked, so 12 ounces of plant-based meat is equivalent to 16 ounces of animal meat, if you happen to be making a substitution.

The cookbook offers helpful tips for cooking plant-based meat that include using a nonstick skillet and greasing grills liberally, deepening flavor by browning thoroughly, reversing the standard cooking order and adding plant-based meat after other ingredients have softened, using less salt, adding extra liquid to saucy dishes, and boosting flavor with additions such as tamari, miso, smoked paprika, tomato, nutritional yeast, and more.

The 75 recipes that follow are easy, diverse, and mouth-watering. Many are plant-based takes on typically meat-based recipes, from appetizers like Jamaican meat patties, Spanish albóndigas meatballs, and pan-fried dumplings, to mains like smashed burgers, grilled kofte wraps, stroganoff, and tamale pie.

As usual with ATK's publications, the full-page photos that accompany every recipe are spectacular and enticing. Each recipe includes a paragraph titled "Why this recipe works" that explains the rationale behind the choice, what the various techniques strive to do, and how the ingredients work together to create a delicious final product. This paragraph is often longer than the recipe itself and is always fascinating to read.

Whether you're vegetarian or vegan, trying to reduce meat consumption for ethical or environmental reasons, or simply curious about these new plant-based meat products that have appeared on supermarket shelves in recent years, then this is a cookbook worth checking out.

"Cooking with Plant-Based Meat: 75 Satisfying Recipes Using Next-Generation Meat Alternatives" is available at, Barns & Noble, and