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Juicy Marbles Review: I Tried the Latest Fake Steak, and I've Got Thoughts

The makers of this fancy, new plant-based filet mignon have definitely seen an SNL sketch or two.

6.6

Juicy Marbles plant-based filet mignon

You're receiving price alerts for Juicy Marbles plant-based filet mignon

Like

  • Cooked quickly with a nice crust
  • A solid vegan substitute for corned beef

Don't Like

  • Didn't taste very much like filet mignon
  • More expensive than Impossible and Beyond, which taste more like beef

The plant-based faux meat floodgates have been open for some time now. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods were the first to go mainstream in hopes of siphoning sales from traditional vegetable-based burgers with more "realistic" meat creations. They've mostly been met with praise -- although not always from the die-hard vegan faction. Nowadays, you can find these soy-based meat imposters in nearly any supermarket, plenty of sit-down restaurants and a growing number of national fast-food chains, including McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Qdoba and Taco Bell.

Four Juicy Marbles steaks sealed in packaging

Juicy Marbles is a new plant-based steak that aims to emulate fancy filet mignon.

David Watsky/CNET

If you'd been impatiently refreshing Google hoping for a vegan filet to emerge, the wait is over. Well, not totally over since Juicy Marbles is currently on backorder, but you get the idea. Juicy Marbles is the first (at least to our knowledge) plant-based meat substitute that aims to replicate the coveted, and probably overrated, cut of beef known as filet mignon. The name serves a heaping helping of silly SNL energy but the brand is serious about delivering a tasty and meat-free alternative to the upscale steak. 

glamour shot of Juicy Marbles vegan steak

These Juicy Marbles look the part, but how much do they actually taste like filet?

Juicy Marbles

Filet mignon, a cut of steak from the small end of the tenderloin, is known to be exceptionally tender. It's also lean which doesn't translate to big flavor so you'll often see it accompanied by a rich sauce. I got my hands on some Juicy Marbles (stop it) recently to see if this modern and meatless take on the obligatory wedding-reception and cruise-ship entree was worth the money for a carnivore looking to cut back on red meat. 

Read moreImpossible Burger and Beyond Meat Burger Compared

Juicy Marbles' meatless version of the filet certainly looked the part when it arrived. But at $10 for each 5-ounce portion (sold in packs of four), I was certainly hoping this fancied-up meat substitute would taste the part too.

close-up shot of vegan filet mignon

The uncooked faux filet arrived slightly moist and fairly dense, with a vaguely meat-like smell. 

David Watsky/CNET

What da heck even are Juicy Marbles?

If you're familiar with the ingredient list from which Impossible Burgers and Beyond Meat are created, you won't find big surprises here. Water and soy protein concentrate form the base of the fake steak, along with wheat protein isolate, sunflower oil, natural flavors, beetroot powder, kappa carrageenan, methylcellulose, salt, yeast extract, iron and vitamin B12. 

The 4-ounce fake filet looks a whole lot like the real ones. It's a deep red in color and even has stripes of white running through it to emulate a real filet mignon's modest fat marbling.

Nutritional value of Juicy Marbles

According to the packaging, a single 5-ounce Juicy Marbles filet has 180 calories, 28 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fat. By comparison, the average beef filet mignon contains 227 calories, 22 grams of protein, zero carbs and 15 grams of fat. 

Beef is notoriously not great for you, healthwise, but this is still a pretty sound W for Juicy Marbles. However, none of that means much if they don't taste good. 

How does one prepare a Juicy Marble?

The directions that accompanied my Juicy Marbles plant-based steaks directed me to sprinkle each with salt and sear them in a hot nonstick skillet on all sides, not just top and bottom. And so I did. No type of cooking oil was recommended, so I used tea tree oil: a slightly nutty oil with a high smoke point. The moist, slightly dense cylindrical lump sizzled when it hit the pan. After about three minutes, I peeked underneath to find a crust was forming. I flipped it and seared the other side when it looked nicely browned but not burnt. Last, I rolled the Juicy Marble around on its edges to sear the sides. 

Juicy Marbles steak cooking in pan with nice crust

As instructed, I cooked the Juicy Marbles filet on a hot, nonstick skillet. It formed an impressive crust in just a few minutes.

David Watsky/CNET

You're probably wondering how it tastes, aren't you?

I served the glistening hunk of not-meat on a pillow of mashed potatoes, one of the filet mignon's most trusty sidekicks. When I brought my steak knife down on the Juicy Marble, it moved through the mass with almost no resistance. In fact, I probably could have used a butter knife. The inside surprised me a bit. The faux marbling had remained, but the texture was stringier than I'd imagined and looked more like corned beef or dry brisket. 

cooked steak on plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Like real filet mignon, the slightly bland Juicy Marbles steak might have benefited from a sauce.

David Watsky/CNET

The taste was also a lot like corned beef and not very much like pure steak. I did notice some layered meaty flavors, but overall it was rather bland and salt was the overwhelming taste. Some fake meats, including Impossible and Beyond, emit a fake meat juice made with beet juice and sunflower oil. This steak didn't have much of that, if any, making the taste and texture a bit less like real beef than some of the others I've tried. 

Inside cross-section of cooked Juicy Marbles steak

The inside was much stringier than a normal filet. It was akin to corned beef or brisket.

Juicy Marbles

Overall, I didn't dislike the Juicy Marble, but it didn't taste much like filet mignon -- not any I've had, anyways. It did, however, taste so much like corned beef that I might consider stocking a few for a St. Patrick's day bash if I knew a few meat avoiders would be in attendance. 

My vote still goes to a good homemade or store-bought veggie burger for regular plant-based grilling subjects. If it's a real beef-like experience you crave, but without the beef, I think Juicy Marbles still has a way to catch up to the category's pioneers, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

More plant-based picks