Make Your Own Meat Alternatives

You don’t have to shell out for name brand meatless meats in order to get your fix.

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The Impossible Burger is possibly the most popular meatless meat in the country. Beyond Meat, MorningStar, and Gardein have all been riding a recent wave of plant-based protein demand as well. Whether for environmental, health, or ethical reasons, people are cutting down on animal protein and turning to fake meats. You don’t have to shell out for name brand veggie meats in order to get your fix, though. Synthesize your own meat substitutes with these Saturday Evening Post-tested recipes.

Red lentil, couscous, sweet potato meatballs

These “meatballs” are packed with nutrition and flavor. They can serve as a punch of protein in so many dishes, but you might just end up eating them by hand with a zesty barbecue dipping sauce.

  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup dried couscous
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp vegetarian bouillon
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)


  1. Cook the lentils. Bring the water to a boil, then lower it to a simmer until the lentils are done.
  2. Dice the sweet potatoes and boil them until they slide off the tines of a fork.
  3. Cook the couscous according to instructions.
  4. Sauté the onion and garlic lightly in olive oil.
  5. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir thoroughly. Alternatively, you can blend everything together in a food processor for a smoother texture. Pulse the food processor several times, making sure you don’t overmix.
  6. Form the mixture into 1-inch diameter balls, and space them out on an oiled baking sheet. Cook at 400° F for 10 to 15 minutes, then flip the meatballs and lower the oven temperature to 350° F. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Serve them in a marinara sauce with parmesan and fresh basil, or make meatball subs.

Beet, chickpea, quinoa burgers

The high iron content of beets gives these burgers a beefy taste that will satisfy vegetarians and meat eaters alike. If you want to make a meatless burger, make it this one.

  • 4 medium beets
  • 1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
  • ½ cup dried quinoa
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ cup ground walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Roast the beets whole at 400° F until you can poke a fork to the center of them. Let them cool, then peel the skins off.
  2. Cook the quinoa according to instructions.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Alternatively, use a food processor for a smoother texture. Pulse the food processor several times, making sure you don’t overmix.
  4. Form the mixture into patties and space them out on an oiled baking sheet. Bake at 350° F for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  5. Serve your beet burgers on a bun with your favorite fixings. For a delicious twist, top these patties with arugula, heirloom tomato slices, and avocado.

Tofu chorizo

With only a few ingredients (and a whole lot of spices), you can make a tasty chorizo substitute to dress up your favorite dishes. Whoever said tofu is bland never tried this surefire crowd pleaser.

  • 2 blocks extra firm tofu
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pepper (to taste)


  1. Remove the tofu from the package, and press it to eliminate excess moisture. Wrap the blocks in paper towel and set a cookbook (or something else with weight) on them.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in oil. Crumble the pressed tofu into the pan, making chunks similar to the size of chorizo. Cook the tofu for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until most of the water has cooked off, then add in the spices, vinegar, and soy sauce.
  3. Continue stirring the tofu until most of the moisture has cooked off. Serve your tofu chorizo in tacos with cilantro, jalapenos, and lime, or mix it in with a breakfast skillet.

Seitan, white bean chicken patties

This one is not for anyone following a gluten-free diet. Seitan, the protein-rich product with particularly meaty texture, has taken vegan restaurants by storm over the years, but you can make it yourself. And it’s not as difficult as you might imagine! Follow steps 1-3 to make basic seitan. You can use it in a myriad of recipes that call for chicken, or continue for frying instructions.

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ cup vegetable broth (for recipe) + 6 cups vegetable broth (for cooking)
  • 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper


  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • pepper
  • ¾ cup almond milk


  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup vegetable or peanut oil


  1. Combine vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir. Add the ¾ cup vegetable broth.
  2. In a separate bowl, empty the white beans and mash them with a fork. Add the mashed beans to the seitan dough.
  3. Knead the dough until it is somewhat elastic. Form patties from the dough and space them out on a deep baking sheet (They will grow significantly, so make them small). Pour the remaining broth over the patties to cover them, and bake them at 350° F for an hour, flipping them halfway through.
  4. Cool the seitan patties on a cooling rack, then mix together the batter (dry ingredients first, then wet). Cover each patty completely with the batter, then coat with breadcrumbs.
  5. Heat the oil to medium-high heat, and carefully fry each patty, cooking three to five minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  6. These versatile “chicken” patties can be used in a vegetarian chicken parmesan, chicken sandwiches, or a piccata.

Featured Image: Magdanatka on Shutterstock

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  1. Nicholas, these are great ideas I’d love to try out, especially the tofu chorizo. These selections are healthy and are not dependent on cholesterol raising, artery-clogging cheese! More Americans really need to take a good hard look at what they’re eating, and realize cheese is a chief culprit in the obesity crisis and more!

    The cheese industry is a greedy, brain washing industry. It’s up to the individual to look out for their own health. Making your own food with recipes like these are good examples of taking the control you need to these days.


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