David matthews

Don't sleep on the vegan options

David Matthews
September 26, 2018

Who doesn't like a breakfast burrito? They're portable, contain all the nutrients you could possibly need from a single meal, and, most importantly, are very tasty. Taking the platform of a burrito and shifted it into the breakfast space? That's disruption, baby. I'm lucky enough to live near several high-quality mom-and-pop Mexican spots, but only one of them offers a breakfast burrito. It's really good, and so is their iced coffee, but it's about the same price as a lunch or dinner burrito. Since I mostly work from home, I've taken to making myself breakfast tacos and burritos once or twice a week, but I'm also very lazy, so I was interested in finding out what the frozen burrito market offered breakfast-wise. After schlepping around, I found 11 different breakfast burritos. Here are the results if the taste test, ranked from worst to best.

11. Engine 2 Plant-Strong Organic Potato and Green Chili Squarito Burrito

The first thing that jumps out is the cooking instructions, which is never a good sign. "Remove packaging. Wrap burrito in soaking wet paper towel." Cook on high, flip halfway through, etc, etc. This leads to a hot, wet paper towel that needs to be peeled off before you're supposed to let the burrito stand/cool for a couple of minutes. Fresh out of the microwave and un-blanketed by sopping-wet Brawny, you're left with a soggy-looking burrito that feels more like a banana leaf, making it more of a breakfast tamale, really. The “burrito” itself, which is dairy-free ("Kale Yeah," their website puns), doesn't get any less soggy after cooling, but has a pretty nice kick thanks to the green chili. Mostly the inside is potato puree, but there's corn, too. I'm not sure if this is a breakfast burrito, honestly. It's vegan though, and available at Whole Foods, so if you're vegan, this one is worth a look, but there are better vegan options available.

10. Good Food Made Simple Uncured Bacon

The potatoes are much chunkier than in the other ones that I tried before it, meaning each bite was a little more on the crispy side than the mushy side. The peppers are a lot bigger, too (adding to crunch), but not too hot or spicy, and give the burrito a smoky flavor. Unfortunately, the cheese is a little bland and the bacon is unnoticeable. The tortilla's fine.

9. Sweet Earth The Big Sur Breakfast Burrito (Vegan)

This Sweet Earth burrito also smells great. Unlike the Protein Lover's burrito, which had a whole-grain tortilla, this one is flour, giving it more of the burrito texture you know and love when you bite into it. However, since there's no sauce or cheese-like substance inside the burrito, it's a little dry in my humble opinion. Offsetting that, there's some kick from the peppers, but the seasoned tofu and seitan don't really add much more than the sensation of chewing through something that came off a pig or cow. It's densely packed though, so you at least get a lot of the rather bland filling.

8. Evol Spicy Uncured Bacon, Roasted Potato, Jalapeno, and Cheddar Cheese Burrito

The first thing I noticed about this one was that it has a very appealing smell—like something that comes wrapped in foil out of a food truck or big cart. That's a plus. The instructions don't mention wrapping the tortilla in a paper towel or anything before cooking, so it's very hot out of the microwave, even after cooling for a couple of minutes. The tortilla is very soft and the jalapenos are subtle, but noticeable—same with the bacon. The potatoes, though, are really mushy, more of a paste. It's on the smaller side, but still very filling.

7. Good Food Made Simple Chicken Apple Sausage Breakfast Burrito

The tortilla smells very fresh right out of the microwave. The cheddar cheese is stronger than in other burritos and is the dominant flavor overall. Neither the peppers or the salsa provide much of a kick, but do provide some added texture as the potatoes and sausage are mushy, except the last bite which for whatever reason had a big chunk of sausage in it. As far as these things go, this one's not bad at all.

6. Evol Lean & Fit

This one has a whole wheat tortilla, so it's a little tougher to chew, but the filling makes up for that. There's a lot of flavor from the gouda and onions (melted cheese solves most problems). Since it's under Evol's Lean & Fit sub-brand, there are about 75 fewer calories for it than the brand's other burritos. Given that and it's relatively exceptional taste, this is one of the best frozen breakfast burritos out there.

5. Sweet Earth Get Focused!

Smells great! A little soggy out of the gate. This one comes in a whole grain tortilla, but the sogginess mitigates the wrap's chewiness. Like the other Sweet Earth options (according to their website, there are several more, but I have not tried them), this one is densely packed, and is in fact the only one where the tortilla split along its side during a bite. That said, the filling is good. The peas provide a bit of a crunch, and the meatless Tuscan grounds are the dominant protein here so their seasoning is much more noticeable. Coupled with the smoked gouda, there's just more flavor here than in some of the other ones, and since it has kale in it, I don't feel like a complete trash person for eating it. I wouldn't be embarrassed to have one of these again. Its promotional copy also promises to "defog your morning brain," but the ingredients don't list dexedrine, so I don't really know what that claim means.

4. Good Food Made Simple Sriracha Scramble

I found these at Target, so there's a good chance the Target near you has them in stock. The tortilla became a little hardened from the microwave, but was much softer after the first few bites. It's not super spicy, in fact there's barely a kick. While it doesn't taste bland, it's as if the different ingredients are all speaking over each other. The melted cheese and avocado make each bite very smooth, but everything else seems to have the same consistency. It's certainly not bad, and pretty good when taken into account that it's one of the few vegetarian options that can be found at a chain store.

3. Amy's Kitchen Breakfast Burrito

It's worth noting that the Amy's Kitchen brand was the most common brand that I found in my search (21 stores spread over two evenings spent in a host of different neighborhoods in Brooklyn). It's abundance gave me some hope that it would the surprise best burrito. It wasn't the best one, but it was, of the three sampled, easily the best vegan option. The flour tortilla was still pretty soggy after the microwave/cooling period (the instructions called for placing it on a plate and covering it with another plate), but the salsa and beans mask the bland rubberiness of the tofu and the potatoes are diced into little cubes that provide some resistance to each bite. It's the McDonald's of frozen breakfast burritos, but McDonald's is pretty good at what it does.

2. Sweet Earth Protein Lover's Functional Breakfast Burrito

The packaging promises "all the flavor of a Meat Lover's Pizza, without the meat," which is quite the boast, but this bad-boy lives up to it. Out of the microwave, it passes the smell test as an aroma of pretty-legit-smelling fake bacon (Fake-on? Facon?) is immediately apparent. The burrito itself is densely packed, making it one of the most filling, and, honestly, the "Benevolent Bacon," as its packing describes it, is on par with the bacon you'd find in the freezer aisle at the grocery. The "Savory Grounds" don't have the same taste as crumbled ground beef, but the texture is identical, and they've been seasoned to a good degree. The potatoes are much less mushy than some of the other varieties of breakfast burrito that I sampled here, too, which is always a positive. My only complaint is that the cheddar cheese wasn't more noticeable as that would have helped paper over the imitation meats. That said, it's the best vegetarian option.

1. Evol Egg and Green Chile Burrito

It's not listed on the package, but this one contains potatoes and pinto beans, which, really, are the tastiest beans you can get. So, with the chiles, you're basically eating an egg, beans, and home-fries burrito, which is as good as it sounds. It is also a lot spicier than the aforementioned Sriracha Scramble and is wrapped in a flour tortilla, which just taste better in the frozen burrito format. I liked this one.

The vegetarian or vegan options taking the top five spots in my rankings was not something I expected when I started this exercise that will require some exercise to help me recover, but it makes sense as the meat used in these can't possibly be that great. That said, if I'm hankering for a breakfast burrito and don't have the requisite supplies in my fridge, I'll bite the bullet and head over to the mom-and-pop shop that makes theirs with chorizo, but I'll undoubtedly stop off at one or two stores along the way to see if they carry any of the frozen ones that are good. 

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