Where’s the beef? Who cares? You don’t need meat to make a big, juicy burger that’s bursting with flavor. Vegan burgers are incredible! Of course, you can make fantastic vegan burgers with tofu, tempeh, TVP, or seitan, but you can also make awesome burgers with vegetables. When you know the tips for making flavorful burgers that won’t fall apart, you can create burger masterpieces with almost any vegetable. Choose any vegetable you love, choose a grain or flour for binding, maybe nuts for texture, and season liberally. That’s all it takes to make any burger out-of-this-world. The only limits are those of your imagination…and your pantry. Here are 10 examples of plant-based foods you can use to make awesome burgers:
Lentils have been a stand-in for meat since the beginning of time. Lentils are hearty and have the texture that can replace ground meat easily. They come in a variety of colors such as green, red, brown, and black. They cook up quickly, are inexpensive, and a small amount goes a long way. Try a Lentil and Brown Rice Burger, a Red Lentil Burger with Kale Pesto or a vegan BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich with Sweet Miso Cole Slaw. My favorite way to make lentil burgers is to add some hot sauce and make Buffalo lentil burgers.
2. Chickpeas and Black-Eyed Peas
Chickpeas are so amazing and versatile. You can eat them in salads, roast them until they are crunchy, or you can turn them into fabulous burgers. Think of falafels, but bigger. I make the most incredible chickpea burgers and serve them with Tzatziki sauce on top. Chickpeas are the main ingredient of the World’s Healthiest Veggie Burger Patty as well as in actress Mayim Bialik’s Big Bang Vegan Chickpea Burger Patty. On the other side of the color spectrum from chickpeas are black-eyed peas. These legumes, also known as pigeon peas, are perfect for burgers because they have a taste and texture that’s not too beany or grainy. I use them in my Black-Eyed Pea Burgers with Mississippi Comeback Sauce. Both chickpeas and black-eyed peas are very mild in flavor, so don’t be shy with the seasonings.
3. Red Kidney, White, and Black Beans
Beans are a fantastic ingredient to use in burgers. They are inexpensive, healthy, filling, and hold together really well. The flavors will vary depending on which type of beans you use – red beans tend to have a stronger flavor than white or black beans. If you want to try using white beans, I would suggest these Quinoa and White Bean Burgers. The dark red color of kidney beans makes for a “beefy” looking burger as in these Kidney Bean-Walnut Burgers. Black beans are taken to an exotic place in these Hoisin Black Bean Burgers with Spicy Sesame Sauce. Can’t choose? Use a combo of beans to make these Black and White Bean Burgers.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables; I could eat it every day. We all know broccoli makes a great side dish and we love putting it in stir-fries, but did you ever think of making a burger out of broccoli? Yes, you can! These Baked Broccoli Burgers with chickpeas and couscous are packed with flavor and topped with a homemade tahini dressing. Go green!
When summer comes and you have so much zucchini that you’re not sure what to do with them all, send them to me. I’m serious, but if you want to keep it for yourself, try making burgers with zucchini. Shredded zucchini mixed with sweet summer corn make up these delicious Zucchini and Corn Veggie Burgers that are soft and fluffy on the inside and crisp and golden on the outside. This burger would be perfect with an endless number of dipping sauces; I’m thinking a red pepper aioli would be incredible.
Eggplant is a favorite vegetable of mine. It has a rich taste and it’s very versatile. It can be sliced, cubed, baked, sauteed or, you guessed it, made into burgers. Eggplant burgers have a really decadent flavor, smooth and creamy. These savory Eggplant Burgers are baked and made extra creamy with cannellini beans. This Portobello Eggplant Burger is topped with Cauliflower Cashew Cheese. One of my most popular recipes is my Eggplant Crunchburger. It’s filled with sauteed eggplant and vegan cheese and topped with a horseradish-mustard mayo and potato chips for extra crunch.
Beets are nature’s candy. They are sweet, delicious, and perfect for salads, but they have another side to them. Beets are also earthy and work well in savory dishes, especially when roasted as in these Roasted Beet Burgers. The beets are mixed with black beans and walnuts to create these amazing patties that are as delicious to eat as they are beautiful to look at. A perfect complement to beet burgers is a cumin-scented ketchup.
When you want that meaty taste, that umami, mushrooms are the way to go. Their flavor is rich, earthy, and meaty, especially cremini or Portobello mushrooms. They are healthy and filling and can replace meat in any recipe especially burgers. Portobello mushrooms are even the perfect burger shape for instant Portobello Patties. You can grill the caps whole as in these Portobello Mushroom Burgers or saute a bunch of minced mushrooms to make this Mushroom Barley Griller. Or, how about topping a Portobello with vegan garlic pesto to make this Pesto Mushroom Burger? Yes, please!
Potatoes are not just for side dishes. They can be the main ingredient in so many dishes including burgers. Mashed white potatoes can be mixed with cauliflower as in this Spicy Cauliflower Potato Burger or with eggplant for this Moussaka Burger with Béchamel Cheese Sauce. If you prefer beautiful orange sweet potatoes, try a White Bean and Sweet Potato Burger, a Maple Sweet Potato Pecan Burger, a Sweet Potato and Kale Patty, or this Raw Yam Burger with a side of Daikon Fries.
You hear the word “pumpkin” and you probably think of Halloween, but pumpkins are great all year round. Think about it: depending on the size, one pumpkin can give you four or more cups of orange goodness. Pumpkin and other squash are hearty, sweet, savory, and filled with beta-carotenes. These Amazing Pumpkin Burgers are soft and delicious and would taste extra-good on a homemade burger bun.
These are just 10 suggestions of vegetables that can be used to make burgers, but the possibilities are endless. What are your favorite vegetables to make burgers with? Give us your ideas in the comments below.
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Lead image source: Zucchini and Corn Veggie Burgers