Veggie burgers have a reputation for being difficult and messy to make. A lot of recipes require a lot of chopping and then once we’ve finally got them together, we worry our patties are going to fall apart on the first bite. But don’t worry — in spite of the challenges, making your own veggie burger doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it can be fun!
I’ve had my fair share of homemade burger fails. Spending what seemed like hours in the kitchen — grating, chopping, losing my peeler beneath the mound of husks. The huge mess to clean later. Burgers that burned and fell apart on the skillet and ended up setting off the smoke alarm … only to result in me eating burger-crumb-tacos instead of actual burgers. So trust me, I’ve been there.
I even quit making veggie burgers for a while and before attempting another burger, I set some parameters for myself. I didn’t want to do a lot of chopping, I didn’t want them to be messy, and I wanted them to stick together when piled on a bun.
Once I set those goals, the execution was simple because I knew exactly what I wanted. Furthermore, I discovered that there was a simple, adaptable pattern that yielded really good burgers every time.
Here’s the formula for the perfect veggie burger:
1. The Base
Start your base with a good plant-based protein or a steady starch. A can or two of literally any bean will work: white beans, black beans, red beans, chickpeas … anything. You can also use cooked pulses (a pulse is dried pea, bean, or lentil) or cooked leftover rice.
This formula is rather flexible. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume that we are working with just one 15-ounce can of beans, which is about 1 1/4 cups after all the aquafaba has been drained away. (Aquafaba is the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas or white beans. It can be used to make vegan cookies, vegan mayo, vegan cheese, cake, bread, and many other goodies).
Then, place your beans of choice in a big bowl.
Add low-moisture veggies first. Carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, root veggies, beets, and so forth. All of these are great ideas. Peel them, give them a super rough chop, and dump them on top of the beans. You don’t need to worry about fine chopping because it’s all gonna go into the food processor anyway.
Next, add any other veggie you like. Kale, broccoli, mushrooms, peas, spinach, corn … you get the idea. These can be in equal proportion, or somewhat higher proportion, to the low-moisture veggies. You can skip the chopping again. If you’ve got a bigger hunk of veg (like a big broccoli head), you can break it up a little bit, but you can skip the heavy work.
Flax eggs (1 tablespoon flax plus 3 tablespoons water) are common binders in vegan baked goods, but you don’t want to use the flax egg here. Just use the flax meal because adding extra moisture to the burger is not a good idea.
A small handful of nuts (any nut!) or sunflower seeds will also work, as will as a little scoop of nut butter.
4. Kick up the Flavor
Add some nutritional yeast, crust garlic, seasoned salt, pepper, freshly picked herbs, or whatever strikes your fancy. The flavors and flavor pairings are pretty much endless. If Indian food is your thing, try adding a blend of curry spices. For a fresh-0ff-the-grill BBQ taste, add some tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, molasses, and liquid smoke. During the fall, you can try a classic autumn flavor combo of maple, sweet potato, and pecan.
Take everything you have so far and toss it in a blender until you get a coarse paste. Do not let it get to smooth, or it will be really hard to work with.
5. Add Final Textures
These are items that should be mixed in by hand, and not processed. Some of the things are too wet and might ruin the texture, some have flavor notes that would overpower the rest of the burger. Examples are apple chunks, jalapeños, blueberries, pineapple chunks, roughly chopped onion, and bell peppers. Even strawberries and edible wildflowers will work! Adding these flavors to your veggie burger will make the meal extra tasty. First, it adds another layer of texture, which is always fun. Jalapeños, berries, fruit, and flowers also add a layer of flavor and surprise. To wit, what’s better? A plain cookie, or a cookie with chocolate chips?
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Form the batter into patties — you should have anywhere between 8-10 — and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, flip, and bake for about 4-6 additional minutes. Woah! You’re done. Time to dig in.
If you’re a small household and can’t eat that many burgers in one sitting, fret not. You can freeze most veggie burgers as long as you wrap them well enough or store them in an airtight container.
So, now that you know how to make an awesome homemade veggie burger. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Sweet Potato White Bean Burger: white beans+sweet potatoes+parsley+bread crumbs+onion, garlic, and cumin
- Beet Black Bean Burger: black beans + beets +oats + dried onion, cumin+cardamom, salt, pepper
- Spicy Cauliflower Chickpea Burger: chickpeas: carrots+celery+cauliflower+flax+oats+ almond flour + onions+hot sauce
- Blueberry Hemp Burgers: chickpeas+carrots+spinach+hemp seeds+salt+onion+jalapeño+blueberries
When you’re ready to chow down, you can always jazz the burgers up with yummy toppings: avocado, an extra handful of fresh greens, beloved Sriracha, melted vegan cheese, kimchi, horseradish slaw, Shiitake bacon and caramelized onions, whatever. Bon Appetit!!
If you enjoy veggie burgers and want more, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App. For those that don’t have it, it’s a brilliant food app available for both Android and iPhone. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to cut out or reduce allergens like meat, dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, grains, and more find awesome recipes, cooking tips, articles, product recommendations and how-tos. The app shows you how having diet/health/food preferences can be full of delicious abundance rather than restriction!
Lead image source: Sweet Potato Burgers With Green Tahini