The plant-based meat alternative market continues to grow, in part due to interest from flexitarians. This group tries to add in more plant-based options in place of their regular meat consumption a few days a week, often for environmental, health, or ethical reasons. To help make this addition more seamless in their weekly routine, they look for alternatives that are similar to what they are already eating. One way to do this is by achieving a raw-to-cooked effect. We’ll walk you through how to make this happen in the article below.

How it's Done

The raw to cooked look, especially for burgers, is very popular as it presents meat alternatives that look and behave similarly to their traditional meat counterparts. The key to achieving this effect is through the addition of color ingredients that can change with heat exposure.

Natural colors fit into this category and will allow the alternative burger to be cooked on the grill alongside traditional burgers and come out with the same charred and deep brown color.

Creating the Color Change

To achieve a raw to cooked transition, we take advantage of the inherent qualities of beet. Heat degrades the color of red beet, which is typically  seen as undesirable. But, in this case, the beet will provide a nice red color in the ‘raw’ patty that will fade as the heat is applied during the cooking on the grill or stove.

However, many customers find that beet alone does not provide the best color to the burger after it is cooked. That’s why we typically create blends with beet and either a plain caramel or cooked vegetable/juice concentrate color, like our Naturbrown® Apple. By combining these colors, the red beet fades while the burger cooks, leaving the rich brown color to take the spotlight. The result is a nice, cooked burger that would rival any traditional burger in appearance. You can see this with our popular Vegared blend in the image below.

Vegared color blend in raw to cooked burger

While Vegared is a popular blend, most customers find that a custom blend works best to differentiate their product or achieve the right ‘raw’ shade. To do this, additional natural colors, such as beta-carotene or Amaize® red, can be included with the beet and caramel to help shade the raw burger to the exact look that you envision. In the image below, you can see the addition of an anthocyanin added some purple tones to the raw burger and additional dark brown color to the finished cooked product.

custom blend in raw and cooked burger

Additional variations can be achieved by altering the dosage rate or by coloring fat inclusions for a more marbled look. Learn more in our webinars!

Want to try out the raw to cooked look in your meat alternative? Get a free   natural color sample kit for meat alternatives, which provides all the colors necessary to achieve this look. Or contact us to get started on your next project.

Related posts

3 Hot Industry Trends: Where Do Natural Colors Fit In?

As eating and drinking becomes a more complex experience, consumers have higher expectations for the nutritional profile and the ethical implications of their food selections.  Here we will address three macrotrends that are impacting food development

Natural Colors for Fermented Dairy and Non-Dairy

Natural Colors for Fermented Dairy and Non-Dairy Applications Fermentation is a fantastic technology we borrow from nature. It allows us to transform our food, improving taste, modifying texture, and prolonging shelf life through the production of organic

Coloring Different Plant Bases

A myriad of colors for a bundle of veggie bases Meat-free products come in a variety of formats and use a variety of base ingredients, all with their own specific requirements. Coloring different plant bases varies by base and desired end color. The most

Top 5 Considerations when Coloring Meat Alternatives

With so many different types of natural colors, choosing the right one for your meat alternative application can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re creating plant-based burgers, sausages, or mince, there are some important factors to consider when choosing a

Switching to Natural Colors in Confections

When you think of confections, you most likely imagine vibrant, colorful shades. To achieve those vivid hues, confections are typically colored with synthetics, but as consumers lean more toward ‘clean label’ options, demand for switching to natural

Do Natural Colors Have Nutritional Value?

Are natural colors healthy? Do natural colors impart nutritional value? Can we make functional claims when we use natural colors in our product? We get these types of questions often, especially with the increase in the “functional foods” market segment.


Natural Colors for Dairy-Free Cheese
3 Hot Industry Trends: Where Do Natural Colors Fit In?