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Cooking Tips

When Working with Plant-Based Meat, Mind the Salt

There’s a reason you need to be careful about seasoning your plant-based protein.
By Published May 13, 2022

Plant-based meats are the perfect substitute for ground beef when you’re trying to cut back on your meat intake. And the results are surprisingly delicious—you can hardly tell the difference! But just because they produce a similar end result doesn’t mean it’s a simple 1:1 swap in a recipe. 

By now, we already know how to inject smoky flavor into plant-based meat and the best pans to use when cooking it. But there is one thing that really can make or break your plant-based meaty meal: the salt content.

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Salt is added to plant-based meat during processing, making it inherently more salty than regular ground beef. So if you’re swapping Impossible meat for ground beef in your tried-and-true meatloaf recipe, hold off on your heavy-handed salt pour. 

While the sodium content varies by product, our test cooks found that you can use ¼ teaspoon less salt overall in recipes made with plant-based meat than in equivalent recipes made with animal meat.

Whether you reduce it by using unsalted instead of salted butter, cutting down on supersalty ingredients, or simply holding back on the amount that you add throughout the cooking time, it will make a big difference to the final product.

Luckily, our new cookbook, Cooking with Plant-Based Meat, is full of recipes that already account for the extra salt in Beyond and Impossible meats, so you don’t have to do any mental math. The book also gives suggestions for other ways that you can amp up the flavor of your plant-based meat without adding extra salt, including a few basic pantry staples that will do the job. Soy sauce (reach for the lower sodium version, if possible), nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and even dried mushrooms are all listed as possible meaty flavor boosters.

So the next time you decide to sit down to a delicious dinner of meatless mapo tofu or plant-based beef tacos, you can rest assured that you won’t be oversalting your hard-earned meal.