One of the more unique items in Aldi’s growing selection of vegan offerings is probably the Earth Grown Vegan Plant-Based Beefless Crumbles. The name alone — beefless crumbles — draws attention, and perhaps some skepticism and some laughter.
I decided to give the beefless crumbles a try. But I wondered how best to serve a soy and vegetable protein imitation of meat. The front of the package features a large picture of tacos, and that seemed as good as anything. I picked up a packet of Aldi’s Casa Mamita taco seasoning mix and planned a family taco night.
Aldi’s beefless crumbles were $3.39 at time of publication, and they are sold frozen in a 10-oz. package that contains four servings. Each serving packs 12 grams of protein and has 90 calories, 0 grams of saturated fat, 380 mg of sodium, and less than 1 gram of total sugars. These are cholesterol free. One serving also gives you 4% of your daily value of calcium, 10% of your iron, and 10% of your potassium.
Ingredients are: filtered water, soy protein concentrate, onions, structured vegetable protein (isolated soy protein, wheat gluten, wheat starch), seasoning (sea salt blend potassium chloride, seat salt], tapioca dextrin, yeast extract, sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dehydrated onion, grill flavor [from sunflower oil], cane sugar, spices [including celery seed], dehydrated red and green bell peppers, salt, tomato powder, molasses, spice extractive, citric acid), isolated soy protein, soybean oil, wheat gluten, soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt, alcohol, wheat), methylcellulose, yeast extract, malt extract, and natural flavor.
The beefless crumbles only need to be warmed up in order to eat them. They can be prepared on the stove top or in the microwave.
To prepare on the stove, heat 2 tablespoons of desired oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add one serving of frozen beefless crumbles to the pan and saute for 2 minutes or until heated through.
To prepare in the microwave, put one serving of crumbles into a microwave-safe dish and cover. Heat on high for 45 seconds or until heated through.
When I made our beefless tacos, I used the stove top method. I poured the entire bag of crumbles onto a skillet that had been heated with a drizzle of olive oil. The beefless crumbles have a different type of smell — hard to describe or compare to anything else — that immediately gives away the fact that they are not real meat.
I then added the taco seasoning plus the 2/3 cup of water the taco seasoning envelope says to add when preparing with traditional meat like ground beef or ground turkey. I stirred the seasoning and water into the beefless crumbles and let it all heat on the stove for about 5 minutes. That was a few minutes longer than the instructions on the crumbles bag said to saute them for, but I wanted to give the taco seasoning and water some time to fully heat and absorb into the crumbles. I stirred the mixture frequently, and the slightly longer heating time did not seem to affect product quality.
The beefless crumbles then went into flour tortillas with shredded cheese, avocado salsa, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and lettuce.
Overall, they were decent tacos. My family could all tell that it wasn’t ground turkey or ground beef, but with all the taco toppings, we mostly didn’t notice the difference all that much.
My 10-year-old who leans toward being a vegetarian and usually eats her tacos without meat (only cheese, salsa, and sour cream) actually put several large spoonfuls of the beefless crumbles on her taco after we told her it was not meat. My carnivore 7-year-old ate more than three fourths of her taco before stating that she did not like the meat substitute.
My husband and I thought the tacos were fine, and the texture was very similar to ground beef. We knew they would not taste exactly like regular tacos, and we were okay with that. If given a choice, though, we would be more likely to choose regular meat.
Aldi’s Earth Grown Vegan Beefless Crumbles have a funny name and are available as an ALDI Find (Special Buy). They are a meatless option composed primarily of soy protein and vegetable protein. The crumbles made for a decent family taco night in my house. They do not taste exactly like meat, but we did not expect them to, and they have an unusual smell. The texture is a good imitation of ground beef, though, and when served in tacos with a variety of toppings, most of us thought there was not a huge difference in taste compared to regular meat. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, Aldi’s beefless crumbles seem like an option worth considering.