Fermented foods, in this case wine and sauerkraut, bring extra flavor to dishes. These savory burgers are hearty and toothsome, and will turn omnivore heads at any cookout.

Mushroom Barley Grillers [Vegan]

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7 burgers


  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups minced mixed mushrooms (portobello and cremini are a good mix)
  • 3/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup sauerkraut, minced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 3/4 cups vital wheat gluten
  • Fine sea salt
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Bring the broth, wine, and barley to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The barley should be tender but doesn’t need to be completely soft as it will cook more when it is steamed.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, sauerkraut, garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened.
  3. Combine 2/3 cup of the barley, vegetables, barbecue sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, mustard, and liquid smoke in a large bowl. Stir together well. Add the vital wheat gluten and knead  and squeeze with your hands until strands of gluten form, about 4 minutes.
  4. Tear off six (10-inch) pieces of foil and prepare a steamer.
  5. Spoon 1/2 cup of the burger mixture onto each piece of foil. The vegetables and barley will want to fall out, but pack them into a 3 1/2 inch burger that is 1-inch thick. Fold the foil over the burgers to form a packet, but don’t seal it tightly as the burgers will expand a bit during steaming. Steam the burgers for 1 hour. Unwrap and chill on a plate in the refrigerator. The burgers must be cold for the best texture. When cooled, the burgers may also be frozen by placing pieces of parchment between the burgers and wrapped airtight.
  6. To cook the burgers, heat the grill to medium heat. Brush the burgers with canola oil and cook until grill marks appear, about 5 minutes. Turn over to cook the second side. Serve on buns with fixings of choice.  To cook indoors, heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. When ready to cook, spray the grill pan with nonstick cooking spray, and cook the burgers as above.


As burgers seem to beg for beer, I recruited Jim to do a pairing and here's what he chose. Having just spent a delightful few days down in Asheville, NC, our new Favorite Place, I would like to give a nod in the direction of Highland Brewing Co., whose beers are vegan-friendly. On our way out of town I picked up a smattering of various ales to take home, and I only grabbed one Highland Gaelic Ale. Usually my tastes are toward the dark side (of beer) but this beer had everything going on: a not too hoppy, malty flavor which accented the burger but didn't hop-annihilate it or stout-bury it. Handcrafted, small-batched, pure Asheville goodness in a bottle. I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT MORE! Now, I have to return to my new Favorite Town even sooner that I initially anticipated. This beer was incredible. Burgers were pretty damn good too. Here's hoping your summer grilling season gets off to a great-tasting start!


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  1. Hi Kristy!
    In the ingredient list, the barley is listed as dry barley, before it is cooked. Once it is cooked, you might end up with a bit more the 2/3 barley. If you do, just use the 2/3 cup rather than all the cooked barley. It’s tempting to throw it all in, but the texture isn’t as good that way. Just sneak a few bites of the barley, and you’ll be set. :)